The term hip dysplasia means poor development of the hip joint, and describes an developmental disease in young dogs of many different breeds. Unsound hip joints are a common problem in many breeds, and hip dysplasia can be a serious problem in any dog that is to be trained for a demanding activity. Hip dysplasia may be diagnosed by x-ray between six months and one year of age, but this is not entirely reliable, and dogs intended for breeding should be x-rayed when fully mature. Two years of age is considered to be the minimum age for accurate determination of sound hips. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals is a organization with trained veterinarians that examine thousands of x-rays and grade the hips they see. Dogs that are past a minimum age and have good hips are certified Fair, Good, or Excellent; hips that show signs of arthritis and hip dysplasia do not get certified. Needless to say, both parents of the puppy you are considering should have OFA certification. The more OFA numbers in the pedigree (including littermates of the parents, grandparents, and previous offspring of either parent), the better off your puppy is. However, as the inheritance of hip dysplasia involves multiple genes, breeding only OFA certified dogs only lessens the chances of HD in the puppies, not eliminates. Dogs not intended for breeding but who will be active in obedience, agility, hunting, etc. should be screened between 6-12 months of age. This way if there is a problem that shows up this early, you have several options for corrective surgery that are best done at this age. And if your pup shows no signs of hip dysplasia at this point, you can more comfortably continue with your planned activities without worrying that you are making a problem worse down the line. If your puppy has a persistent, unexplainable limp, he should be x-rayed to determine if hip dysplasia or something else is the cause. On the other hand, Golden’s and other retriever breeds often seem to have high pain thresholds and do not show signs of pain. An x-ray does not always show you how your dog feels, as many dysplastic Golden’s are completely asymptomatic, especially when younger. Others that do display symptoms can often be helped with either medicinal or surgical intervention to alleviate the pain.