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X-legs in dogs – causes and consequences


X-legs in dogs – that exists?! Absolutely, and it’s not that rare. The X-shaped position of the front or hind legs, also called cow-hocked or genu valgum, is one of the most common deformities in dogs. The knock-kneedness occurs primarily in larger breeds of dogs and becomes apparent as early as puppyhood. It results from too rapid growth as well as improper nutrition during puppy and young dog age. Both the hindquarters and the forequarters can be affected by the malposition.

Especially often affected breeds X-legs in dogs

  • Great Dane
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Great Swiss Mountain Dog
  • Newfoundland
  • Mastiff
  • Saint Bernard

The causes of knock knees in dogs

The so-called knock-kneed position is already evident in the first 5 months of life. Since it is mainly large breeds that are affected by the disease, it is primarily thought that the deformity occurs due to rapid growth and weight gain during puppyhood. Irregularities in bone growth and malpositions occur. In addition to the size and weight of the dog, the diet can also play a decisive role. Too much protein and calcium promote the development of the deformity.

Incidentally, the malposition does not begin at the level of the knee joints or in the ankle joint, but already in the areas of the hip joint and pelvis. X legs in dog

These are the typical signs X-legs in dogs

In addition to the change in leg position, affected dogs relieve the hindquarters. This in turn leads to poor muscling and limitations in joint mobility. As a result, arthrosis develops. Many dogs also exhibit lameness, which can be intermittent or permanent.

Diagnosis X-legs in dogs

X-legs are of course externally quite recognizable, A final diagnosis is made by means of an X-ray examination.

The treatment options

If a knock-kneed condition is detected in time, a cure can be achieved by means of a strict diet and extreme restriction of movement. Improvement is usually seen within 1-3 months. If the dog is already fully grown, the deformity could only be corrected by means of surgery, whereby the bones are set in such a way that the gait is as physiological as possible. X legs in dog


It is important to pay attention to a balanced diet already in puppyhood. Under no circumstances should calcium be added “arbitrarily” and under no circumstances should attempts be made to push the dog’s growth. Basically, one should avoid overloading and incorrect loading, by walking too long, jumping, starting sports too early, etc. Hours of walking as well as climbing stairs and jumping down objects is therefore taboo during the growth phase.

How does knock-kneedness in dogs affect their locomotion?

Due to the malposition, the dog cannot take the “thrust” from the hindquarters as it should. Therefore, the power transmission to the front does not work correctly. Many affected dogs compensate for the lack of thrust from the hindquarters by increasingly pushing forward from the forequarters,

Are there exercises that can be used in a supportive way?

Especially when dogs are still young, or of course if you want to avoid surgery, you can improve the stability, mobility and muscling of the hindquarters with active exercises. At the same time we can relieve the forehand and improve the gait by movement training. In order to avoid diseases such as osteoarthritis and muscular tension, I recommend that you train your dog accordingly in order to reduce poor posture and strengthen the affected areas as much as possible.

Did you know that knock knees can also be caused by muscular problems? In this article you will learn everything about it.

Do you have any questions about x-leggedness in dogs? Feel free to ask them to me in the comments!

All the love, your Tina

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