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German Shepherd Dog > Cow Hocks (20 replies)

by Runag on 26 January 2012 - 23:01

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I have a 9month old male - he has very wobbly back legs and appears quite cow hocked.  He is very big (too big for the breed standard) and has grown rapidly, weighing 40kg.  I fed him Royal Canin from 7 weeks, starting with puppy and now on junior.  He also got raw turkey mince.
He doesn't appear to be in any pain but his gaiting is not good and he sometimes seems to flick out his left back leg.  Apart from that, he is very active and happy.  I took him to the vet today and he immediately put him on anti-inflammatory and pain relief tablets despite him showing no signs of pain.  He wants me to take him back next week for x-rays and is already talking about operations.  I have read elsewhere on the forum that cow hocks don't always mean HD and that they might straighten up as he gets stronger.  I paid £600 for him.  Any advice welcome.

by dogshome9 on 27 January 2012 - 00:01

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Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 05:06 am

Sorry that you have to worry so much about your boy, wow 9 months and already 40kgs he is big. No cow hock does NOT have to mean that he has HD.

Did you see his parents?

Were both parents hip scored and did you see a copy of their results?

Please be aware if your vet takes xray and tells you that your puppy has Hip Dysplasia / ask your vet to have them assesed by a Radiology Specialist.
I must stress this as at the moment I am dealing with a vet who euthanaised a puppy that I bred because he told the owners she had HD, I sent a copy of the xray to a Radiology specialist and found out she had excellent hip and would have scored well within our scheme.

Meanwhile low impact exercise only, swimming is best if you can find a suitable place to go or walking on the beach.

by workingdogz on 27 January 2012 - 00:01

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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:42 pm
Your pup may just need to figure out where all his body parts are 
Some of those big lanky ones take awhile to "get it together".
You may want to take him to a park and let him climb on the kids
play equipment so he can start to figure out where all his legs go etc.
Walking in sand/plowed dirt will help tighten up ligaments too.
As will swimming.

by Runag on 27 January 2012 - 00:01

Posts: 149
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 09:18 pm
Thanks for the advice.  I did see his parents and the hip scores were 4/3 for Sire and 5/7 for Dam.  I checked back on as many of his ancestors as I could and they were mostly ranging between 4 and 12 with one exception of 14.  I feel that the vet is too hasty and the pup does have to be hip scored at 1 year before I would be allowed to breed from him.  Of course if he has bad hips I wont anyway.  I am just worried as I love him to bits.  He is doing very well in his beginners Schutzhund and has a fantastic nose for tracking!  I am close to a beach but it is hard to get him in to swim as he doesn't like going out of his depth.  Do you think I should wait until he is 1 year or get the x-rays now?

by Rik on 27 January 2012 - 00:01

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Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 03:41 am

At this age, no reason to suspect any thing other than over angled and maybe loose ligaments.

If the dog is in no pain, I would not even do x-rays until ready to certify. No reason, from what you describe for the drugs either. Some vets get confused over the GSD rear, especially when over done.



by dogshome9 on 27 January 2012 - 00:01

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Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 05:06 am

I agree with Rik, if he is not in any pain why give meds?

Wait for the xrays and take him walking on the beach, if he is not keen on the water go in with him, don't force him in just encourage him  (no idea as to where you live so you might be in the middle of winter ?)

I no longer live near the coast and I really miss those beach walks -- so good for my puppies -- really strengthens those back ends, encourages them to drive more.

by Runag on 27 January 2012 - 00:01

Posts: 149
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 09:18 pm
Hi, live in the North of Scotland so yes, it is freezing cold with horizontal rain!!  Thanks for all your help folks, it has set my mind at rest. Will phone the vet tomorrow and cancel till he is 1yr. (NO more meds either)  Have posted some pics for you to see.

by dogshome9 on 27 January 2012 - 00:01

Posts: 1468
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 05:06 am

Hey he is one handsom boy, love that strong head and beautiful colour.

I thought that you might live someplace where it is rather cold right now.
Although here in OZ right now it sure does not feel like summer here on the southern highands NSW.

Good luck with your puppy let us know how he develops.

by workingdogz on 27 January 2012 - 00:01

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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:42 pm
Holey crap he is big for 9mos!
Lot's of walking, good looking pup, congrats

by TingiesandTails on 27 January 2012 - 02:01

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Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:43 am
I agree with Rik and I would keep him as slim as possible. Extra weight always means stress on the ligaments and bones. Hope you can return the pain meds and get your money back!

by hunger4justice on 27 January 2012 - 15:01

Posts: 611
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 04:45 pm
Young dogs, puppies are often cowhocked and grow out of it.  I have one dog that was cow hocked as a pup and has beautiful lines now.  Not at all anything indicating HD.  I would RUN AWAY from the vet that is willing to poison ...treat your dog with medications proven to cause death in a young dog showing no signs of pain. 

RUN AWAY from any vet that is already talking about operations.  Even at one, unless there will be marked improvement in the quality of life why do it?  Get a second and third opinion before considering drastic treatment on a dog showing no signs of pain. 

Remember too, large GSDs can get PANO and that would cause periodic lameness and at times severe pain but it goes away and has absolutely nothing to do with HD or any other structural problems.  I would not ever again take my dog to that vet.  Sorry, so very sorry dogshome9 that you are facing that infuriating situation where an incompetent vet killed one of your pups.    

by Red Sable on 27 January 2012 - 17:01

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Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 09:55 pm
He's a beautiful looking dog.  In the standing picture, it doesn't look that serious.
I know I was envisioning much worse.   

 I'm thinking he will improve as he matures.

by SitasMom on 27 January 2012 - 19:01

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Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2008 01:33 am
how much time does he have to run and play?
do you have a place where the dog can walk and run in loose sand or dirt?
he may need to learn more coordination..and build muscle.
it is possible to post a video of him walking and trotting?
nice looking dog!
Find a german shepherd club near where you live and ask where they take their might get a vet that understands how a gsd is built and what the normal gait looks like.

by teckel on 27 January 2012 - 22:01

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Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 04:30 am
I love how the Dyson is his constant companion!  Beautiful boy!

by Runag on 28 January 2012 - 00:01

Posts: 149
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 09:18 pm
Ha ha ha!  They do kind of go together! 

by Olga Ashley on 28 January 2012 - 05:01

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Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2003 12:25 am

Can you post a picture of his hocks?  From the stand picture it does not look like he is really cow hocked.  Some youngsters, especially large/tall ones, can go through periods of being cow hocked which many times corrects itself with maturity.  Do keep him lean, on a lower protien diet, and NOT too many walks/runs on concrete (this can stress young joints, especially in a very large young dog).  If he has no pain, he should NOT be on any pain medication/anti-inflamatory, which are in your case VERY unnecessary and can damadge his internal organs as well as potentially have horrid side effects.  He should be on a glucosamine joint supplement of some sort if he isn't already.  A lot of vets are not familiar with the structure of a German Shepherd, far less the structure of a developing German Shepherd.  You should absolutley NEVER use that vet again, I would NEVER trust or use a vet who would prescribe pain/anti inflamatory meds to a dog NOT in pain!!!  That to me is not a vet with the best interest of your dog at heart, but with the best interest of his/her bank account!  Do his x-rays at 1 and get him hip scored, until then (unless he is showing signs of distress) enjoy your boy and try not to worry about it.  If his cow hocks do worry you, bring it up to the breeder or discuss it with other GSD people or a vet that is knowledgeable in GSDs.  BTW, your boy is just beautiful!!!! Stunning pigment, very good head and expression! Best of luck and keep us updated!

by Runag on 04 February 2012 - 18:02

Posts: 149
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 09:18 pm
Hi, have got a few videos but am having problems trying to upload.  Format is mp4.  How can I upload?

by FlashBang on 27 February 2012 - 15:02

Posts: 127
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2010 05:09 pm
We had a male with cow hocks until we started taking him swimming and runs in the pasture (at the age of 2.)  His cow hocks corrected themselves, probably due more to the regular swimming than the running.  He does not have HD.  His parents did not have HD (and had OFA-good and OFA-excellent H&E.)  He's now a little over three years of age and has nice clean hocks (though he's neutered so it doesn't really matter as far as breeding/showing goes :) )

by Sangar on 28 February 2012 - 23:02

Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:11 pm
I had similar issues with my showline dog. Take a look under 'Puppy stands on his hocks'. My dog is 16 months old now and still cow hocked, but they are not as loose as they used to be. Apparently, glucosamine is very good for their ligaments. Someone on here advised me to buy Hokamix Joint Plus which I did. At £76 for 700g, it's very expensive.

Recently I purchased to glucosamine tablets from They were £14 for 240 tablets and I just put them in with his food. These tablets were recommended to me by a breeder who has my dog's half sister (same sire). The half sister was hip scored 1:2 and the breeder swears by those tablets.

by AnnetteTL on 14 March 2012 - 22:03

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Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:38 pm
Hi Runag, Just came across your thread "cow hocks", and grabbed my attention. I also have a 9month old GSD boy with exactly the same problems as you have described.....he weighs in at 42kilos(!!!), and is not overweight at that, just VERY big!! I noted your post was in January, so wondered if there has been any change/improvement in the situation? My vet has not been so drastic as to suggest surgery, though doesn't seem overly concerned either. Would be interested to hear how things are....appreciate the description of the "horizontal rain" by the way..... I also live on the east coast of Scotland, and we get that kind of rain here too!! AnnetteTL

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