What is Legg-Calve-Perthes (LCP) Disease?
This disease is described by the spontaneous degeneration of the femoral head
in the hip causing the joint to collapse and osteoarthritis to set in. It is yet
another disease that is more commonly found in small dog breeds such as the
yorkie, although it is more common in other toy breeds. This disease is only found in
small dogs and is thought to have derived from the breeding down of these toy breeds
in size. This caused the vein supplying blood to the hip joint to also be very tiny and
the joint does not get enough blood supplied and it deteriorates.
What are the symptoms?
It usually affects dogs that are 5-8 months old, but may be diagnosed in
puppies 4-12 months old. You will begin to notice a gradual lameness in one or
What can we do about it?
LCP is believed to be an inherited disease, although the mode of inheritance is
not known. Because it is thought there is genetic component, it is
recommended that dogs affected with LCP not be used in breeding programs.
Because the degeneration and onset is spontaneous, screening adults proves to
be difficult. There is no genetic testing currently available for LCP. Breeders
who produce a yorkie with LCP may want to refrain from repeating the same
breeding. Relatives can still be bred with caution as long as they are clear of the
disease. They should be screened via x-ray at 1 year old prior to breeding.
How Is LCP Diagnosed?
LCP is easily diagnosed with x-rays of the hip region and femoral head. The
evidence of LCP is said to be unmistakable to a radiologist.
How is LCP Treated?
Some mild cases may be treated medically for a short time or for life. More
severe cases require corrective orthopedic surgery to remove the femoral head
and neck. This procedure is called an FHO (femoral head osteotomy) and
should be performed by an experienced surgeon. The recovery for the surgery can be
long but it is realatively painless after the initial 10 day healing period. You will just have
to work with your yorkie to help them build up the muscles in their hip joint and leg.
* Please notify your breeder if your puppy is diagnosed with LCP as he/she
would want to know so they do not repeat the same breeding again.
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