Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

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Osteochondritis Desicans

France-flagGermany-flagNetherlands-flagItaly-flagFinland-flagAugust 2013


OCD is a loose bit of cartilage within a joint.  It can occur in the elbow, shoulder or joints of the hind limb.  Dogs usually have shoulder or elbow OCD.  When it occurs in the elbow it is considered a form of elbow dysplasia.  The condition is painful and may require surgery.  It is possible for OCD to be caused by trauma, but not by the usual sort of bumps and bruises normal for an active dog.  The disease is frequently seen in larger, heavier-boned breeds (Rottweilers, Bernese Mountain Dogs) and dogs that mature rapidly.  Large, heavy-boned, or fast-maturing Aussies may be at increased risk for OCD.

Dogs with OCD will be lame in the affected limb but the lameness may be intermittent.  If your dog is lame, even occasionally, consult your veterinarian.  All breeding Aussies should be screened for elbow dysplasia.  The screening process may reveal OCD in the elbow.  If your dog is affected with OCD surgery may be indicated.  If the dog is active in performance events OCD may impact its ability to continue.

Except in cases where severe joint trauma is associated with OCD, the disease should be presumed to be inherited.  Current veterinary thinking indicates that this disease may be part of a larger complex of inherited diseases that includes hip dysplasia.  Breeders should take note if OCD occurs in a family of dogs in which hip dysplasia is a problem.  Dogs with OCD should not be bred.