Understanding PennHIP: A Revolutionary Approach to Evaluating Canine Hip Health

by | Apr 23, 2024

PennHip xrayAmong the numerous health issues that can affect dogs, hip dysplasia ranks among the most prevalent and debilitating. However, thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine, particularly the development of techniques like PennHIP, there’s hope for better diagnosis and management of this condition.

What is PennHIP?

PennHIP, short for the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program, is a method developed to assess canine hip health comprehensively. Unlike traditional methods such as the, which primarily focus on identifying hip dysplasia in mature dogs, PennHIP aims to predict a dog’s risk of developing hip dysplasia early in life.

 How Does PennHIP Work?

PennHIP utilises a series of radiographic techniques to evaluate the laxity, or looseness, of a dog’s hip joints. This method involves three specific views: a distraction view, a compression view, and a hip-extended view. These views allow veterinarians to measure the degree of hip laxity, which is a key indicator of a dog’s susceptibility to hip dysplasia.

The PennHIP Procedure:

  1. Distraction View: In this view, the veterinarian applies a controlled force to the dog’s hips, causing them to be pulled apart. This manoeuvre helps assess the laxity of the hip joint.
  2. Compression View: Following the distraction view, the veterinarian applies pressure to the hips to evaluate how tightly the joint fits together when compressed.
  3. Hip-Extended View: This view provides additional information about the hip joint’s structure and alignment.


Interpreting PennHIP Results:

PennHIP results are expressed as a distraction index (DI), which quantifies the degree of hip laxity. A higher DI indicates greater laxity and a higher risk of developing hip dysplasia later in life. By identifying dogs with increased laxity early on, veterinarians can implement preventive measures and breeding strategies to reduce the prevalence of hip dysplasia in future generations.

Benefits of PennHIP:

  1. Early Detection: PennHIP enables early detection of hip laxity, allowing veterinarians and breeders to intervene proactively.
  2. Accurate Assessment: The PennHIP method provides a more precise evaluation of hip health compared to traditional methods.
  3. Breeding Decisions: Breeders can use PennHIP results to make informed decisions about which dogs to breed, helping reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia within specific breeds.


PennHIP represents a significant advancement in the field of veterinary orthopaedics, offering a revolutionary approach to assessing and managing canine hip health. By identifying hip laxity early in life, this method empowers veterinarians and breeders to take proactive measures to improve the well-being of dogs and reduce the prevalence of hip dysplasia within canine populations. As awareness and adoption of PennHIP continue to grow, we can look forward to a future where fewer dogs are affected by this debilitating condition.

We generally recommend PennHip screening at 4-5 months of age. Detection of problems at this age can allow us to advise you of what can be done to minimise the progression of the disease. Alternatively, if your dog’s hips have severe hip dysplasia, there is corrective surgery that can be performed to alleviate future problems.

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