FCI vs Pennhip and OFA hip and elbow certifications

Greetings all!  I've spent the last few hours reading this and that about the difference between Pennhip, OFA and FCI hip and elbow certifications.  I see the Pennhip and OFA is common in the States and it appears as if FCI is preferred in SA (feel free to correct me).  As I'm here in Kenya and will need to send my film off to either the US or SA, I'd like to know which evaluation method is preferred by the masses.  For those of you in SA, is FCI the way for us to go?  I'll need to be able to provide my Vet with the correct instructions so as to properly "shoot" the x-rays for evaluation.  Your comments are very welcome.


This is what I found on http://www.sabt-usa.org/HipAndElbowCertification.aspx:



"In the USA there are basically two types of hip testing methods available:

  • PennHIP has a predictive model that is based on measuring the laxity of the main hip ligament.
  • OFA evaluates the dog's hips at the time the x-rays were taken.  OFA does not certify dogs under the age of 2 years.  But OFA will release preliminary evaluation results of the dogs at a much younger age.

The FCI supporting countries, to include most of Europe plus many other countries over the world, have their own (FCI) hip testing method.  The SABT recognizes FCI hip and elbow certification."


And this is what was on http://www.canismajor.com/dog/pennhip1.html:


"PennHip and OFA: A comparison"

"OFA x-rays can be done by any veterinarian, with or without anesthesia or muscle relaxants. The x-rays are examined by three radiologists who report their findings to OFA; the dog is rated severely dysplastic, mildly dysplastic, fair, good, or excellent or may be given a non-rating letter requesting submission of new x-rays in six months.

Although dogs must be two years old or older to get an OFA rating, the foundation will evaluate preliminary x-rays on younger dogs.

Recent studies of the OFA method of hip evaluation reveals a wide variation in the conformational grade assigned by different radiologists. Not only might one radiologist disagree with another, but may even contradict himself and give different grades to the same film on different occasions. Tests comparing positioning shows that the hip-extended position used by OFA tends to drive the femoral head into the socket, masking the amount of laxity and artificially improving the look of the hip joint.

As part of the strict quality control with PennHip, all x-rays must be taken under anesthesia to provide the greatest amount of muscle relaxation. This is particularly important when using a special positioning device called a distractor to help demonstrate hip laxity.

To maintain the integrity and validity of the PennHip method and its ongoing research, all x-ray films taken are submitted for evaluation. This prevents corruption of the data which occurs when films are screened and only the “best” are submitted for consideration.

PennHip evaluation reports are not pass-fail. Instead, each dog is ranked compared to other dogs of that breed. A dog with a percentile ranking of 30 percent has tighter hips than 30 percent of the dogs evaluated. In other words, 70 percent of the dogs evaluated have tighter hips than the patient."

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I come from Denmark and there have been large Discussions on the hip test is best, PennHIP or FCI, and have my dog PennHIP tested and he is 0.24 and 0.29 and was very proud of it, but there were people who said that it was best to get his dog FCI tested, so he became FCI tested, and there he was B hips, and I talked with a breeder about it and we agreed that I should try to take my dog's X-ray images for some more Veterinary doctors and hear what they thought about them, I went to three animal doctors and there was three different results, so I do not think that you can use the FCI test to improve the hips, so it would be nice with a test all breeds and associations could be agrees. Regards Torben
I was wonder, is it then possible that if a dog tested say B hips on the FCI method it could mean that it could came out better when it was tested the PennHip method?
I do not think they do the pennhip method in SA as far as i know they only do the FCI.
my dog was first testet with pennhip and is scor was very god 0,24 and 0,29 that in the best 10 male boerboel in the world
Hello Torben, as Jenny and Rene has already said we do not have Penn Hip avaliable in SA only FCI.
In my opinion, no scheme will improve hip scores, it is what the breeders do with the hip score that matters.
From what I have seen of Penn Hip reports I do wish we had the method here in SA as it does give more info. However, the way the penn hip is done, from my understanding it cant realy be compared to the other methods in terms of scores as it measures are totally different. When looking at the international Hip grading schemes, namely FCI, OFA, BVA a comparising in scores can be done, ie, OFA 1, BVA 0 and FCI A1 are all equal.
From your post it seems that you are not happy with your B score rating on the FCI system. Why? This is actually a very good rating. Your pennhip score is also very good when looking at pennhip method. (from my understanding anything under 0,30 is the recommended ratings to breed to as in pennhip opinion 0,30 and below is less likely to develop DJD) I find it very interesting that your pennhip score of 0,24 and 0,29 was a B rating on FCI. I am very interessted in seeing how other penn hip scores "compare" to the FCI or other International hip grading schemes, especially since it appears that the current breed average on pennhip scores are DI 0,54. (i.e. if a pennhip rating of 0,24 is rated as a B on FCI, what will a pennhip of 0,54 score on FCI system)
Kind regards MAndy
ps: Well done on both your Pennhip and FCI score.
Hello Mandy
Do not misunderstand me, I am very proud of my dog's hip results, but I can not understand the three different animal doctors can give three different results on the same x-ray images, I had a - b1 - b, I chose the outcome from the animal doctor who had made PennHIP test on my dog and he gave b1, but I am sorry that it is the vet's eyes that determine what score your dog get, because if you are a breeder and comes with many dogs, so will the vet know probably give a slightly better outcome for the grower is not satisfied with the outcome so yesterday he was just another animal doctor when you get tested his dog with PennHIP then takes vet just x-ray and send them to the Veterinary school of Pennsylvania, and the people doing nothing but looking at PennHIP x-ray images, and I know that there are people working to get in PennHIP to South Africa
Sincerely, Torben
Hi Torben, your comment "I can not understand the three different animal doctors can give three different results on the same x-ray images" I think many of us also feel this way and it is extremely frustrating. I believe that "reading of plates" can be up to 30% subjective. Torben I just wanted to ask the other results you got were these done by qualified radiologists? We here in SA have only 4 qualified radioloiogists that are allowed to read the xray for a official report. Hopefully pennhip will come to SA soon, the last I heard from our big hospitals was that the cost involved in the training etc was huge plus there were some "legality issues". Kind regards
yes they are all recognized animal doctors and are all able to see on x-ray pictures and judge them, so this is my rating very badly that breeders are forced to rely on expensive doctor's assessment, when trying to improve the breed hip problems and I have asked many animal doctors here in Denmark which hip testing they believe is the best and it says they are PennHIP and they say that the breeder uses PennHIP testing has come a long way to grow hip problems from their breeding
Torben I saw the pin hip test been done in Denmark,I was very much inpressed with it,I also know that Shawn and Anne have made a remarcable inprovement to the hips and elbows of their dogs in the last few years with the pin hip test.I think a lot of breeders would like to do that test here but it is not jet available to us.
Chris, if you can get 30 or so vets interested in learning PennHIP, our vet will help them get a PennHIP course in South Africa, this will save them travelling to the USA. He is good friends with the chief instructor at PennHIP and has promissed to help organize it.

Torben, we exclusively use PennHIP and have done so for 11 years now. In the beginning our average PennHIP scores were about 0,68 and now they are about 0,42.
To my knowledge there are about 10 Boerboels in the world with a score of 0,30 or lower, and 8 of them come from breeding with dogs from our kennel.

If PennHIP gets introduced to South Africa, it is very likely that the average score in South Africa is very near the original average score that Boerboels scored 11 years ago (0,65), so breeders who expect good scores might well be disappointed. This is because the average scores for Boerboels outside RSA has improved to 0,53 (was 0,65). So breeders will have to set their sights low in the beginning and work towards the lower scores with time. You have to remember that our own average scores (0,42) are a result of up to 6 generations of pennHIP testing.

In breeding dogs, PennHIP suggest that as a minimum criteria, the dogs need to be on the better side of the breed average, breeders in RSA must not take this litterally, the actual breed average is higher than the breed average that PennHIP show. The goal must always be to improve your own dogs, not to waste good breeding material. In other words don´t make the mistake of only basing breeding decisions on one factor.

Hello Anne and Shaun I think with 11 years of testing with Pennhip you have more experience regarding this method than anybody else on this site. Well done on reducing your average from 0.68 to 0.42. What I know about pennhip is limited; only what I read on their web, comments posted on forums and having seen some pennhip reports. I understand that the method is different to FCI and more info is given etc. What I would like to ask; from your experience, (if you dont mind) what is the average age you test your dogs, what is the best age to test, do you test more than once, do you use pennhip only or any other international scheme? In Torben case his dog rating with Pennhip was 0.24 and 0.29 and FCI B1. A lot of breeders here in SA are getting A2, B1, B2 FCI ratings. What would their average pennhip rating be? Can a comparison be made between these methods, e.g. if 0.24 0.29 is = to B1 what would a A2 FCI rating be = to, or 0.54 pennhip be for FCI? As far as I know most breed organisations recognise FCI OFA and BVA ratings, I am just wondering how and where they would draw the line for Pennhip in terms of stud registers etc. Kind regards Mandy
Kind regards Mandy
Hello Mandy, "what is the average age you test your dogs" We usually test our dogs just before they are appraised, so that can be any time from they are 1 year old to 3 years old.

The good thing about PennHIP is that you can use it as needed in your breeding program. To be elligable for a fully accurate PennHIP result, the dog only has to be 4 months old. However we would only use it at this age if we were considering the pros and cons of keeping a particular dog in the breeding program. An example could be that we were in doubt about 2 dogs from the same litter, we could get them tested at 4 months and choose the dog with the tightest hips, the other dog would be young enough to rehome without problems. The disadvantage of using PennHIP at that age is that you only get a picture of the likelyhood of the dog developing DJD at a later stage, although the laxity of the hips will not change very much (<10%) from when it is 4 months to when it is 2 years, we personally have more faith in waiting until it is more mature, as it is more likely that any damage would show, so such a dog would definately be tested again before breeding.

"do you use pennhip only or any other international scheme?"
Only PennHIP, the usual HD test (OFA type) is built in to the PennHIP, and if there is DJD it will also be graded (light, light/moderate, moderate, moderate/heavy and heavy). It should be noted that HD and DJD are 2 different things, DJD is the actual damage that has been inflicted on the hip joint.

The 2 systems cannot be compared scorewise. One of them measures the tightness of the joint and gives an empirical result as this has been proved to have an effect on lhe likelyhood for developing damage, and the other system looks at the position of the femurhead within the hip socket, as Torben shows (the result varied from vet to vet), there is a high degree of difference of opinion as to results. Personally, if we had a breedingprogram that only included "a" or "b" hips and we knew that any result we received would be open to debate depending on who evaluated the picture, we would look for something else.

" I am just wondering how and where they would draw the line for Pennhip in terms of stud registers etc." I do not know, I can tell you that all the dogs that we sent to the SABT stud register (about 17)(when we were members of SABT) were accepted into the register, and that was only with PennHIP results. So obviously SABT does accept this type of hip testing. From what I gather from EBBASA, they are still unsure about where they stand, I got the impression from Linda Swart that EBBASA were very keen on getting PennHIP introduced to South Africa.

Thanks for the info Shaun. I was not aware that SABBA accepted pennhip scores for the stud register. Hopefully this method of testing will come to SA in the future, until such time we here in SA has no other alternative but to test via FCI method. I have personally always found it extremely frustrating that with FCI you only get a rating and not an explanation of some kind of how the "rating" was arrived at. I have personally seen xray that are totally different, with obvious huge differences in terms of joint fitting into socked etc yet the dogs obtained the same "rating" . However, my one vet recently suggested in stead of asking for hip certification, we should ask for a clinical report, apparently this will give more info?? (my question is why can it not be incorporated into the actual certificate) Something to look into for the next dog we have to have xrayed. Kind regards



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