Hip dysplasia is the hip disorder that most people are familiar with, but there are other conditions which can affect the hip area. One of these is Legg Calve Perthes Disease, a disorder of hip joint conformation.
In dogs, it's most often seen in miniature and toy breeds between the ages of 4 months to 1 year of age. LCPD has been shown to have hereditary components and does occur occasionally in Havanese. In the OFA data base, only 435 Havanese have been tested for LCPD. This is only approximately ¼ of Havanese tested for hip dysplasia. Of these, 99.8% are normal and only 0.2% are abnormal. These statistics would seem to indicate that the incidence of LCPD is quite low, however we do hear about it from time to time. It is very possible that the real incidence is higher than that.
A Havanese with LCPD will not have a normal reading on a hip xray. When reading an X-ray for Hip dysplasia, you can also request that they check and confirm that the dog is free of LCPD. While not a test required for a CHIC number for Havanese, this is an easy health test to certify as it is read from the existing X-ray and certification is at no extra charge.
The Havanese is an active little breed that is known for having spurts of energy where they do the famous run-like-hell and other energetic displays that last for brief periods then stop as suddenly as they started. These exuberant outbursts of activity are normal and common in Havanese. The madcap dashes, high leaps and sudden turns rarely have repercussions, however, occasionally a sprain or strain can occur. If a sudden lameness occurs and the leg just doesn't seem to improve, or if a gradually worsening subtle lameness is noted, it may be time to make a trip to the veterinarian. In a young active Havanese within the 4-12 month age range, these may be the first signs of LCPD. A simple x-ray can determine the diagnosis.
There are many different grades of LCPD, from mild to severe. Treatment for LCP varies depending on the severity. In mild cases your Havanese may require limited activity and possibly an anti-inflammatory medication. In more severe cases where your Havanese has severe pain and may become lame in the affected leg, surgery may be required. Surgery is done by removing the femoral head and neck, by doing this the bone on bone contact that is the source of the pain is eliminated. After the surgery is performed your Havanese will require some rest, recuperation and therapy; over time a false joint is formed by muscle and tissue and your Havanese may have a complete recovery.
LCP is believed to be an inherited disease, although the mode of inheritance in Havanese is not known. Because there is a genetic component, it is recommended that Havanese affected with LCP not be used in breeding programs.
As a breeder wanting to make informed decisions regarding their breeding program, x-raying your Havanese for Hip Dysplasia and LCPD is extremely important. Most Havanese are compliant therefore at the time of the x-rays most do not need to be sedated or anesthetized. Some veterinarians do prefer to use a mild sedative as they feel they get a better reading, but in many cases it is not necessary. There is no pain associated with an x-ray and a whole lot of gain for the breed. If you have already tested for hip dysplasia, take a moment to send in a request for LCPD certification. There is no additional charge for certification when an LCPD certification is done from an existing hip X-ray.
* a condensed version of this article published in Dogs in Canada Breedlines in March 2009.