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 Slipped Hocks
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dashinsam

USA
283 Posts

Posted - 09/20/2007 :  2:21:58 PM  Show Profile  Visit dashinsam's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I am curious what experience,if any, people may have with slipped or double jointed hocks in sled dogs. The reason I ask is because many purebred breed standards list this as a serious fault or even disqualification. One notable breeder judge who has developed a method for evaluating 8 week old puppies in which she proclaims that she can select the structurally superior ones, Pat Hastings, actively checks for double-jointed hocks in her "puppy puzzle" method for which she has sold I'm sure thousands of videos and books. It is a method widely used by fanciers actively involved in conformation shows. Pat states that slipped hocks are a serious fault that weakens the joint and promotes injury in the dog as it ages. Recently I witnessed two litter evaluations, both sled dog breed litters in which a protoge of Pat found numerous slipped hocks on puppies. Presumably those puppies would not be "sound" sled dogs according to Pat.

While I am familiar with the term "slipped hocks", I have never heard of dogs with arthritic hocks. I can't find any disorder in any of my veterinary books associated with slipped hocks. In fact none that I have even have a listing in their indices for slipped hocks. Using the method the evaluator used, I went out and looked at some of my alaskan huskies and found some of them seem to have "loose hocks". These are dogs, mind you, that have been running in our team since they 8 months old and have put hundreds of miles on in training and racing. One is 9.5 years old and has never been injured a day in her life. I did a google search on slipped hocks and the primary canine references I find to it are associated with individual breed standards and Ms. Hastings or people associated with her. Does anyone have any information in their regard? Have they had dogs that have been unable to work because of the laxity in their hock joint or who have suffered subsequent injury to the hock or arthritis?

thanks Jill

Jill Wilson
The Dashing Kennel
Racing Siberian Huskies

hnewman

USA
543 Posts

Posted - 09/20/2007 :  7:24:31 PM  Show Profile  Visit hnewman's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Jill
How does the test for slip hocks work? In other words how do they "move" the rear leg and joint?

Do you know of any dogs that have been evaluated at 8 weeks and slipped hocks was noted and as adults is the condition there? Just curious.

Thanks
Helen

Prairie Isle
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dashinsam

USA
283 Posts

Posted - 09/20/2007 :  9:31:11 PM  Show Profile  Visit dashinsam's Homepage  Reply with Quote
In Pat's video, and from what I've seen in watching people who have attended her seminars, the dog is placed in a standing position with weight evenly distributed. In the case of a puppy the dog is usually on a table and the examiner faces the side of the puppy and places several fingers on the back of the hock pressing forward. Now in the video Pat doesn't say how hard to press, but I was told by a person who has been to several recent seminars and has had her evaluate several of her litters in recent years to press forward until the puppy either picks up the foot and steps forward or the joint collapses forward. If it does the latter, the hock is said to be doublejointed.

As for following a puppy through to adulthood, according to Pat yes they would. But that is part of my question. I just checked a few more of our alaskans and several of them would seem to have slipped hocks by this definition...so I am really beginning to wonder about all of this, because I can't see that if these dogs do have "slipped hocks" that it has had any affect on them. Either this is not a correct method for evaluating hocks or I have to wonder how serious this really is....

Jill Wilson
The Dashing Kennel
Racing Siberian Huskies
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Black Hole

USA
277 Posts

Posted - 09/21/2007 :  3:52:30 PM  Show Profile  Visit Black Hole's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Jill,

I am very skeptical that you would find slipped hocks in any of your sled dogs, let alone several of them. I think perhaps that you would need to get your hands on a dog with genuine slipped hocks in order to see and feel the difference compared to a normal dog. I have only ever seen one sled dog (a Siberian) with slipped hocks, and the difference was really easy to feel.

I am not entirely sure what you mean by "loose hocks", but slipped hocks are not at all the same as flexibility of the joint. I just went and checked one of my sled dogs so that I could better describe the difference to you. A flexible joint can be flexed or extended quite far with gentle, steady pressure. It was very easy for me to push my dog's hock forward until the joint was straight up and down (i.e. 180 degrees). However, there was tension, sort of like when you push sideways on a stretched rubber band or bungee. A slipped hock will fold forward with virtually NO pressure, and the dog will be unable to resist it. I hope this has clarified the difference between pushing the joint forward, and the joint "collapsing" forward. How far forward it goes, i.e. past 180 degrees, is probably irrelevant.

Because a slipped hock can "collapse" forward, a dog with this condition does not have the leverage to drive forward from the rear. A dog like this may actually appear to have fluid movement when running loose but will not be able to generate much power under load. His power will come from the front rather than the rear. The dog I met with this condition was doing 30 mile runs with no trouble, but he was running in a team of slow pets. The muscle he developed from all the running probably helped protect the joints even though it could not improve them.

I have known a dog who could not work because of laxity in the hocks, but this was a sideways laxity, not slipped hocks. This dog's hocks could be pushed sideways (towards each other, say) with almost no pressure. His body had compensated for the resulting instability by calcifying the joints to the point where they no longer flexed enough for him to be able to sit like a normal dog. This happened early in life, before he was worked. He did get worked up to 40 mile runs but got progressively sore and had to be laid off. He now has a great deal of arthritis in his hips and is on supplements and no more running. The last time he ran even just a mile or two, he was very stiff afterwards.

I would consider slipped hocks to be an extreme fault in a working dog. Could you share which pure breeds have that as an actual DQ?
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dashinsam

USA
283 Posts

Posted - 09/21/2007 :  5:20:20 PM  Show Profile  Visit dashinsam's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks Blackhole,

I think I would need to feel a dog that definitely had "slipped hocks" and then compare to a "sound dog" in order to see the difference. Are most veterinarians capable of making those determinations, I would hope?

As for breeds, I believe that it is with some of the smaller breeds actually where there is a dq for slipped hocks. I don't believe it is mentioned in the alaskan malamute standard. It is mentioned in the Samoyed standard but is not a disqualification.

Jill Wilson
The Dashing Kennel
Racing Siberian Huskies
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hnewman

USA
543 Posts

Posted - 09/23/2007 :  08:13:46 AM  Show Profile  Visit hnewman's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Black Hole
Even though this was Jill's question, thanks for the description. I did some reading on what Jill asked and what I found in my canine rehab book mentions it being similar to a double jointed situation. And also that it has to do with the ligaments and the tendons surrounding the joints--hocks are composed of multiple joints.

I checked all of my dogs, Samoyeds, Alaskan malamutes, Hedlund Husky and my 15 yr. Golden--none of them have hocks the way you described them. All of them moved their foot and with a few I felt more flexibility but there was resistance there and nothing buckled or collasped.

I guess I have a difficult time with all the things I have been told one can tell from the 8 week evaluation on pups---things have not fully developed and things do change....

Helen

Prairie Isle
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