Dog Training World Forums Website Help Forum Help 4-month old GSD puppy hind legs are "wobbly" Reply To: 4-month old GSD puppy hind legs are "wobbly"

  • Michael D’Abruzzo

    July 16, 2016 at 11:16 pm


    A lot of German Shepherds have “loose” hips.  This doesn’t mean that she has hip problems but it just means that it is a looser fit and will be more prone if you do not do everything right (this is why German Shepherds are at the top of the list for hip problems).  Penn hip tests can confirm this and this stays consistent from about 4 months to adulthood in the measurement.   I wouldn’t be overly concerned about it because if you care for the hips properly until the she develops more muscle mass to support those hips you will notice less wobble as the pup gets older.

    BUT, what you do NOT want to do with this pup is take her “jogging” with you on hard surface or any forced exercise for that matter.  That will be a huge destroyer of developing joints. Let her run at her own pace on soft surface like grass.  Also, make sure her weight is kept as lean as possible without her being unhealthy. Muscle is good, but fat is very very bad. Any excess weight is probably the number one thing that will destroy the hips while she is growing. An extra 5 lbs at this age could make the difference between joint problems or not.  Also, be sure to have her on a diet with the correct calcium/phosphorus ratio.  A good sign is if her ears remain standing while she is growing.

    No puppy is born with hip dysplasia.  You can have two clones of the same puppy that are raised two different ways and one can need hip replacement and the other will be fine.  But, the dogs with looser hips are the ones that are prone to problems if you dont baby them and do everything perfectly.  It is at these stages of development that will make or break the pup.

    To recap:

    1. NO forced exercise or taking the dog for “jogs” until the puppy is fully developed.

    2. Keep the puppy LEAN. Tucked belly, be able to easily feel the ribs.  Just do not have the pup so skinny that the lumbar spine above the hips are protruding.

    3. DIET.  I have raised many many german shepherds on lifes abundance at www.dogtrainerfood.com  the “all life stages formula” and have never had a hip problem. But there are other decent foods out there.  I can only speak what has worked for me.

    4. Joint supplements.  I put all my dogs on either “agility” found at the link above or Glycoflex 3.  Unless your puppy is on a well balanced raw diet, none of the kibble formulas really have enough nutrients to support joints into old age.  If I am not giving my dogs raw food with lots of raw cartilage, I feed a good kibble with a quality joint supplement to make u what is needed for teh connective tissue, synovial fluid (that lubes the joints), and replenishment of the wear and tear on their own cartilage.

    Dogs have the ability to replenish their own cartilage in the joints that breaks down naturally as they move around.  It is when the breaking down is done faster than the replenishing is when you have problems.

    A looser fit will have more wear and tear from the knocking around of the joints and therefore you need to do everything perfect so they are not destroyed by the time the dog has more muscle mass to support herslef better.

    Last thing is that I do not spay or neuter large dogs until they are completely finished developing physically.  Both females and males will have a harder time with lean muscle mass if you do this too soon and knock off their body chemistry.  Of course there are pros and cons to spaying early vs late or at all, but strictly talking about joints it is better for them to stay intact until finished developing.  I like to wait at least a year but spay before 2 years of age (to decrease the girly problems of an intact female not being used for breeding).

    In my opinion it is between 4-6 months of age that is most crucial.  This is when the adult teeth are coming in and the body will pull away nutrients from the rest of the body to help with the teeth.  You will see the ears start to droop more during this time if the nutrients are not balanced and for sure that also means the hips are being pulled away from too.

    I hope this helps. Any questions let me know.

    PS you can watch this video of some 7 month old pups that I had.  You can get an idea of the LEAN body type during development that promotes healthy joints.  The last pup in the video was maybe even a little underweight by most standards, and I remember I turned up his calories during that time, but developing dogs experience less long term health problems by being a little underweight as opposed to a little too heavy.  Since I sometimes need to place working dogs I always need to make hips a priority or else a huge investment in a dog and training can go out the window if the dog experiences lameness due to hip problems.  Just about every young imported dog kept in lean shape for this reason too.