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Do Wolves Get Hip Dysplasia?

Wolves do get hip dysplasia, although far less often than most domestic dogs do. The main reasons behind that are environmental rather than genetic, which is why wolves don’t get this disease as often as dogs do.

Because wolves are not conditioned to the same environmental factors as most domestic dogs, they don’t usually develop the same problems with their hips.

Do Wolves Get Hip Dysplasia

However, dogs live in different environments to their “wild cousins” in wolves, so they suffer from different diseases that humans are also unknowingly at fault for. Some of the most common factors that might cause and worsen hip dysplasia in domestic dogs include:

  • Slippery floors, staircases, and other unnatural environmental factors
  • Not enough exercise or too much of the wrong type of exercise
  • Wrong diet
  • Other environmental factors

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a common disease for canines that causes the hip ball to slip out of the hip socket, which means the hip is partially or fully dislocated permanently.

This problem might cause dogs and wolves to become permanently disabled or unable to move one of their legs completely, which might cripple it. This means that most canines that have hip dysplasia will struggle to lead normal lives.

Some wolves and canines only have mild hip dysplasia, which might or might not worsen as they age. This problem is partially conditioned by genetics, but it’s also largely dependent on external and environmental factors.

Unfortunately for wild wolves, there’s no way of treating hip dysplasia in a controlled environment, so the younger wolves that suffer from this condition might not live to an old age.

It will prevent younger wolves from moving easily, but also from socializing with other wolves, which might lead to the fact that the wolf pack will abandon the wolf with hip dysplasia. And as such, the lone wolf would have little to no chance of surviving on its own.

Read More: Do Wolves Change Color as they Age?

Why Do Wolves Not Get Hip Dysplasia as Commonly as Domestic Dogs?

This is a hotly discussed topic among many home dog owners and canine enthusiasts. It is becoming more and more clear that hip dysplasia (along with many other diseases and disorders) is caused by environmental conditions set forth by dog owners rather than because of genetics.

Several authors and PhDs in dog and veterinary medicine agree that hip dysplasia is not necessarily a genetically-conditioned disease, but rather caused by external factors.

The number of wolves and canines that get hip dysplasia because of genetics is significantly lower than originally believed some years ago. This thesis is further strengthened by the fact that poorly processed dog food is at fault for many dog diseases and problems, including hip problems.

In fact, a recent study has acknowledged that almost all, if not all, puppies are born with normal hips and don’t show signs of hip dysplasia. However, it’s still not clear why some dog breeds get hip dysplasia more often than other species.

Most researchers agree, however, that external factors are more commonly at fault for hip dysplasia than others, including:

  • Not enough exercise for domestic dogs
  • Living in unnatural environments with slippery floors, steps, and other surfaces that can cause damage to a dog’s hips
  • Poor diet and low-quality processed dog foods

Wolves don’t have to go through those factors, so they don’t get hip dysplasia so often. In fact, hip dysplasia is not one of the primary diseases of wolves, and it’s certainly not as widespread as with domestic dogs.

It’s also been established that by around 1930, not many dogs had hip dysplasia, and it was only increased when commercially available foods became the norm for domestic dogs. This is a strong indicator that these foods don’t provide nearly enough nutrients to keep a dog’s joints (including hips) healthy.

Wolves, on the other hand, enjoy a relatively natural diet that will provide them with nutrients needed for stronger bones and joints, so they don’t develop these problems connected to commercial food.

How Many Wolves Get Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia with wild wolves is extremely rare, and you probably wouldn’t be able to find a wolf with this problem in the wild very easily.

These problems still happen in the wild. However, mother nature is a force in itself and it’s unforgiving. This means that wolf pups that do get hip dysplasia will usually not survive for very long.

All this means that finding a wild wolf with hip dysplasia would be nearly impossible; however, hip dysplasia in wolves is a bit more common for wolves that are kept in captivity.

The exact number of wolves that get hip dysplasia in the wild is not yet clear, although it’s believed that the number is below 5% of the entire wolf population. A wolf with mild hip dysplasia can still live a relatively normal life, although their problems will only worsen as they age, and they’ll eventually become too strong for them to survive for much longer.

Read More: Do Wolves Die Alone?

What are the Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Wolves?

The most common signs for hip dysplasia in wolves include:

  • Limping on one of the legs
  • Inability to move properly or swiftly
  • Hopping
  • Difficulty getting up and standing up
  • Not using one of the legs much

As already mentioned, these symptoms are not very common with wolves. Most of the wolves that display these symptoms at an early age will normally not survive for long, as they might get abandoned by their pack.

It’s a sad state of affairs but the unlucky few that do have hip dysplasia in the wild will not be able to withstand the cruel character of Mother Nature.

So it’s uncommon to notice these symptoms with one of the wolves within a pack, and it’s much more common for lone wolves. However, finding such a wolf is so rare that there have not been many sightings like that at all.

Read More: Why do Maned Wovles have Long Legs?


Hip dysplasia is seen as a harsh disease and hard to treat, especially considering that many domestic dogs get it. It can be a cruel and painful condition to watch, as it can cripple and completely destabilize a healthy canine.

For wolves, hip dysplasia is far less common. That’s because they are not exposed to the same environmental factors as dogs are, which include poorer diet, unnatural surfaces, and a lack of exercise.

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