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6/mo Old German Shepherd With Weak Hind Legs

24563 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Xeph
Hi all. :wave: I've been a lurker of these forums on and off but I never posted because I always found answers to my questions by searching. Anyway, this seems like a cool forum, so I figured I would join and get an opinion.

I have a 6.5 month old WGSL German Shepherd. Now, I'm not sure what it is because the problem could be a combination of many different tings, but it seems that he has a lot of angulation (his dad is angled a bit but his mom and siblings both have very straight backs), low hocks, and lack of muscle in the rear legs. He bunny hops sometimes and runs when he should be just fine trotting. I thought these were surefire signs of hip dysplasia, so I had a prelim x-ray done on his hips and spine.

The thing is, they came out VERY good. Hips are tighter than 70% of German Shepherds in the PennHIP registry, spine looks great, and the radiologist told me he would be very, very surprised if the pup turned out to have HD later in life.

The suggestion was to give it a year and if I don't see improvement see an animal physical therapist to have him worked so he can get the right posture and then if that shows no results, pursue a further diagnosis. I don't want to subject a puppy to a ton of testing because I know it can be really bad for them and I was hesitant to even do the x-rays (pennhip requires sedation which can suppress the immune system).

He seemed to be normal/the same as his siblings until around 4 months, then differences started being really obvious. He went from having a relatively straight back to suddenly having a really steep croup/angulation. What were previously slightly low hocks became really low and he started arching his spine a lot to compensate (giving him a very roached look when his spine isn't roached). I started sand walking him and walking him through water (with some swimming) and noticed his spine straighten out a lot, but there's still an obvious problem. Since he doesn't appear to be in any sort of pain I've gotten the OK from the vet to continue doing working dog sports with him, but I'm still concerned.

I think it could honestly be a lack of muscle and I'd need to build that up. I noticed when he actually does push off and straighten out his hind legs (instead of being sickle-hocked) his back looks straight like his brothers. The trouble is, he very rarely does that on his own. Also, to note, his calcium and phos numbers are good and he gets high quality food so it's not diet that's causing it (though at present I don't give supplements).

Any ideas of what this could be? Suggestions for building muscle? That'd be helpful, thanks.

Here are some photos for reference:

And a video of him walking:
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I don't think the problem is the hips. I just saw this on a rescue site. The problem was the ligaments in the hocks were weak and so couldn't support the legs. I'm not saying that's definitely what's wrong with your dog, but I'd get a second opinion from an orthopedic vet. I mean, west German show line GSDs are severely angulated, but that's beyond just the line.

The rescue dog was given surgery that fixed the problem. It was Noah's Ark rescue in SC. I don't remember the name of the dog, but look under Abused Dogs, it was a GSD. (seriously graphic stuff there, just so you know.)

Anyway, I personally would not have that dog in sports until that's dealt with. Please do let us know what happens. I do wonder about all these dogs. I hope they're okay, but hardly anybody ever updates.
His mom's back was rock solid straight, even at the same age as him. His siblings are straight too. The thing is that when he straightens out his spine and actually stands up on his hocks he looks significantly straighter and his back doesn't have that extreme angulation (steep croupe, but the back itself doesn't slope that much). However, because he's down so low in the rear he appears to have extreme angulation in the slope, which isn't the case (at least not when he stands the way pups his age *should* stand).

I have a list of orthopedic vets to possibly visit printed out, though I'm hesitant to see them until he's older. A consultation would be bests but I won't do any MRI type stuff until he's fully grown because of how stressful it can be for him. I think I'll see one this summer.
Simple answer: Ligaments are weak and dude has a CRAP TON of rear. That said, rear can mellow out as the dog ages. 6-12 months can be a HIDEOUS stage for GSD puppies. My youngest American bitch (8 months) went badly cowhocked and 5 months and has now grown out of it. Her siblings all did the same. My almost 19 week old working line puppy has rear out of "no where" and is standing cowhocked currently, and has gone all wonky in the back end.

Another issue is that his spine isn't straight. His pelvis is pushed forward and he has a super steep croup, which forces his whole hindquarter assembly forward.

The best thing for this puppy is to swim swim swim! If he can balance, I would also start doing core building exercises, which will involve him sitting up to beg (he must sit on his haunches, and not stand up on his hind feet).
Who are his parents?
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