Cruciate Ligaments


What is a cranial cruciate ligament rupture (CCL)?

Cranial cruciate ligament ruptures are the most common stifle problem in dogs.  The cruciate ligament stabilizes the stifle joint by keeping the femur (thigh bone) and tibia, the leg bone below the stifle in proper orientation.  Ruptures occur due to ligament degradation over time.  A wide variety of factors play a role in this, probably including some degree of heredity.

How do I know if my dog has a cranial CCL?

Affected dogs exhibit lameness in the affected leg and an unstable gait.

How is CCL diagnosed?

In some cases diagnosis can be made by manipulation of the joint.  X-rays and ultrasound may also be used.

What does having CCL mean for my dog?

The condition can be extremely painful and requires treatment.  In a dog the size of an Aussie, surgery is necessary to stabilize the joint.  If surgery cannot be done for some reason, a knee brace may help.  This is a career-ending injury in a working or performance dog.

How common is CCL in Aussies?

It is common.  According to the ASHGI Health Survey about 2.5% are affected, with a third affected in both stifles.  The unilateral cases were almost all on the right.

Are cranial cruciate ligament ruptures inherited?

To some extent they probably are.  If multiple cases have occurred in a family of dogs, a hereditary component should be assumed to be involved.

What do cranial cruciate ligament ruptures mean for my breeding program?

 If multiple cases have occurred in a group of related dogs, affected dogs should not be bred.  Their first-step relatives (parents, offspring, full and half siblings) should be bred only to mates with no recent family history of CCL.