The Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America

Hip, Hip Hoorray

AKC GAZETTE March 2020
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column

In prelude to the presentation to be given by Dr. Lonnie L. Davis, DVM, renowned canine X-ray expert at the CWCCA national specialty, to be held at the Roberts Center in Wilmington, Ohio, thought should be given to the hip X-rays of our uniquely designed Cardigans. If you have ever seriously studied the structure of Cardigans at all, you inevitably have encountered the terminology that this is an achondroplastic breed. This means having leg bones that do not grow to normal size, causing the dog to be of a disproportionately short stature, known as achondroplastic dwarfism. Achondroplasia is genetic, meaning that it is passed down from one generation to another. Though in some cases achondroplasia is a spontaneous genetic mutation, it is actually a desirable trait in some breeds. Some of the most common achondroplastic breeds, besides our beloved Cardigan, include Bulldogs, Skye Terriers, Dachshunds, and Basset Hounds. Thus our breed name is quite appropriate when broken down to its origin:Welsh corgi, a compound of cor, meaning “dwarf,” and ci, meaning “dog.”

Dr. Davis, from Troy, Ohio, has vast experience with a wide variety of dog breeds, including Cardigans. He has commented that it can be very difficult to obtain an accurate and realistic OFA rating of our breed due to some of its distinctive characteristics. The need for an OFA or other form of hip assessment is not limited to conformation dogs only. In order for any breed to perform their various jobs correctly, they must be physically capable. The basis for any athlete, albeit canine, equestrian, or human, to not break down during their activity is directly related to bone structure and its attachments. This is true for herding, agility, rally, Barn Hunt, coursing ability, and most any other competitive or leisurely activity you choose to indulge and challenge your Cardigan.

When you are off to your favorite veterinarian for that coveted OFA reading of “Excellent” on your current dog or bitch, make sure that they are knowledgeable not only in general, but specifically with regard to Cardigans. Yes, our breed is built somewhat differently than the average dog. You should seek out someone experienced in achondrosplastic breeds. Find out their success rate with all breeds, and specifically Cardigans. Some veterinarians will provide additional X-rays at a reduced cost if the original submittal does not obtain a positive rating. It has been reported that some dogs required five submittals before obtaining a fair rating. It all came down to one thing: positioning. The person performing the X-ray must be well versed in proper positioning techniques to obtain that optimum reading. 

Learning and applying the techniques that give the best representation of the animal can be the key to success. This is even more so when faced with the additional challenge of the achondrosplastic Cardigan. Remember that a canine must be at least 2 years of age before an official rating can be obtained, but you can do preliminary X-rays if you have any concerns beforehand. Please be aware that a specimen who indeed shows the classic signs of dysplasia will not and should not receive a positive rating. No amount of positioning will change that.

Of course, once your X-ray leaves the office, you are now at the mercy of those who are assigned to read and evaluate them. Did they have their morning coffee, and have they looked at 10 Doberman X-rays prior to seeing this stubby-legged Cardigan appear on their screen? All the more reason to obtain the best example possible by a skilled professional for final consideration.

-David L. Anthony

First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, March 2020.

© Copyright* the American Kennel Club