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Ryman Hips

Hip Dysplasia In The Ryman-types

When we first began breeding Ryman-Type setters the prevalence of hip dysplasia was by far the biggest challenge to overcome. It was almost impossible to find any dogs that were OFA certified and didn’t have serious problems in the background. Hips in the Ryman-Types have come a long way since then. More breeders are at least getting OFA evaluations, and a few have a very good record of producing dogs with normal hips. Buyers have also become more informed and many will not take a pup from a litter unless the parents are normal, which has helped. Because enough of the breeders have been working on hips for years it is currently easier to find a pup from parents with a decent background in Ryman-Types than it is in any of the other field English Setters.

Recently it has become fashionable to blame hip problems in Ryman-Types on Carl and Ellen Calkins. Calkins’ breeding practices that have been blamed for the prevalence of hip dysplasia include: not following George Ryman’s breeding plan, not outcrossing enough and/or inbreeding too closely, breeding dogs that were too large, and ignoring hip dysplasia in their dogs (they are said to have “refused to address” the problem).

The Calkins’ supposed refusal to deal with hip dysplasia needs little comment, except to say that any breeder who knew about it, bought dogs from them anyway, and bred them extensively can’t say hip dysplasia occuring many years later is the Calkins’ fault. As a breeder you are responsible for what you produce, in your first litter, and in every litter thereafter.

The other “causes” are part of a litany of old misconceptions about hip dysplasia that continue to be asserted by individuals who have no knowledge of what hip dysplasia is or what causes it, and they need to be addressed.

  • Within a breed, size has NO relationship to incidence of hip dysplasia. Larger dogs have it and smaller dogs have it. If you breed dysplastic dogs they will produce more hip dysplasia regardless of their size. What matters is the number of genes they are carrying for the disease.
  • Outcrossing in and of itself does nothing to reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia. As a hypothetical example, if 95% of the dogs from your line are dysplastic and you outcross to a dog from virtually any other line you will reduce the incidence of dysplasia in the resulting pups. That’s not because it was an outcross, it’s because the dog from the other line carried fewer genes for dysplasia. If your line has only a 5% incidence of dysplasia and you outcross to a dog from the above mentioned line, you would certainly increase your incidence of dysplasia.
  • Inbreeding (or linebreeding) in and of itself does NOT cause hip dysplasia. In reality linebreeding to a dog with superior hips and a superior record of producing good hips can be a very effective way to reduce HD. The opposite is of course true and linebreeding to a dysplastic dog would be an effective way to increase the incidence of dysplasia.

These myths and old wives’ tales have been proven wrong in the scientific literature. Presenting them as “fact” promotes poor breeding practices that serve to perpetuate a devastating disease

October Setters