PennHIP and OFA Certification


Chesapeake Veterinary Surgical Specialists offers PennHIP and OFA certifications, which are radiographic screening methods for canine hip dysplasia evaluation.  Canine hip dysplasia is a genetically determined developmental abnormality of the coxofemeral joint in which the hip does not fit together properly.  Hip laxity produces abnormal development of the femoral head resulting in degenerative joint disease, physical dysfunction and varying degrees of pain for the dog.

Dog owners or breeders have 2 major choices when it comes to formal radiographic assessment of their dog’s hips. Certification is provided by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), or hip laxity assessment can be obtained from the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP).

The OFA ( is the oldest method of assessing dysplastic hips, and currently maintains registries of several inherited diseases in dogs and cats, including elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, congenital cardiac abnormalities, as well as hip dysplasia.  Certification is provided when radiographs are taken at or after the dog is 24 months old.  Submission of x-rays to the OFA are blindly assigned to 3 veterinary radiologists who grade the hips into one of 7 categories: excellent, good, fair, borderline, or mildly, moderately, or severely dysplastic. The first 3 categories are eligible for OFA certification.

The PennHIP method of diagnosing canine hip dysplasia assesses the quality of the canine hip and quantitatively measures canine hip joint laxity.  PennHIP is more accurate than the current standard in its ability to predict the onset of osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the hallmark of canine hip dysplasia.  The PennHIP method has several differences from the OFA approach, including the ability of assessing puppies as young as 16 weeks of age.  This is important for breeders or working owners who wish to breed or begin a dog’s working career before 2 years of age.  PennHIP radiographs can only be taken and submitted by veterinarians or technicians certified on the PennHIP method.

For more information about PennHIP and OFA, please give us a call or read more about PennHIPPennHIP is offered at our Hunt Valley location only.  Please call Hunt Valley for more information or to schedule an appointment for PennHIP certification.