Genetics, breed, conformation and body condition are factors which may contribute to the development of orthopedic disease in our pets. There are other risk factors that the relationship is more difficult to interpret, such as sex, alteration status and age. While genes and conformation are outside of our control, weight management however is one influential factor which you can manage to help your pet prevent development of orthopedic disease. 

Body Condition

From a mobility standpoint obese pets are at a higher risk of arthritis, cranial cruciate rupture, and intervertebral disc disease. These pets are also at a higher risk of cardiovascular dysfunction, respiratory conditions, cancer, hypertension, decreased immune function, and endocrinopathies. In our patients we see at Dogwood Veterinary Clinic for orthopedic disease, weight management is imperative in the pets we are treating. For example, getting the pet to a healthy body condition aids in recovery of patients after surgery for cranial cruciate rupture and also helps prevent rupture in the other limb. We can help by recommending a daily caloric intake and rehabilitation guidelines based on your pets current orthopedic function. We also discuss body condition and weight management during all of our wellness visits, to help prevent a pet’s weight from increasing risk of orthopedic disease. 

Genetics and Conformation

Genetics also plays a large role in risk of orthopedic disease. Research has found that in diseased joints certain genes are either up or downregulated when compared to normal joints. In addition, there are several chromosomal regions found to have a correlation with joint disease. Several conformational traits have been found to show a correlation to joint disease, unfortunately there has not been much research in finding corresponding genes to these traits. We do believe these genes and traits relating to orthopedic disease are heritable. If it is possible to learn if there is a family history of orthopedic disease, it may help you to understand increased risks facing your pet. 

Age, Sex, and Alteration Status

There are some confounding factors that make it difficult for research to evaluate correlation between sex, alteration status and age on orthopedic disease. In regards to alteration status, there is research helping us to determine the best age to spay and neuter based on your pet’s breed, risk of orthopedic disease and risk of various types of cancer, and there is no one size fits all answer as to when to spay and neuter your pet.  We are happy to consult with you at Dogwood Veterinary Clinic to help determine the most advantageous time to spay or neuter your pet. 


I will list some of the most common orthopedic diseases and predisposed breeds. Of course this is not a direct correlation, so please don’t assume if you have one of the breeds listed that your pet will undoubtedly suffer from this condition! At Dogwood Veterinary Clinic we will help you to choose when to spay or neuter your pet, choose a healthy diet, and create a feeding schedule and exercise routine that can help keep your pet active and happy. 

Cranial Cruciate Rupture. Large breed active dogs.

  • Labrador retriever 
  • Rottweiler
  • Newfoundlands
  • Staffordshire Terriers
  • Mastiff 
  • Akita 
  • St. Bernard 

Luxating Patella. Small breed dogs.

  • Chihuahua
  • Boston terrier
  • Toy poodle
  • Yorkie 
  • Pomeranian 

Hip Dysplasia. Medium to Large breed dogs

  • Labrador Retriever 
  • German Shepherd 
  • Golden Retriever
  • Great dane
  • St.Bernard

Elbow Dysplasia. Large to Giant breed dogs

  • Labrador retriever 
  • Bernese Mountain dog 
  • German Shepherd 
  • Golden retriever 
  • Rottweiler 

Intervertebral Disc Disease. Chondrodystrophic dogs, with short legs and long backs.

  • Dachshunds
  • Corgi
  • Beagle
  • Basset hounds
  • Shih Tzus


At Dogwood Veterinary Clinic your Louisville Animal Hospital we can discuss with you how we can help minimize your pet’s risk of orthopedic disease. Call today to schedule an appointment with a Louisville dog surgeon and Louisville Best Vet.