I bought an expensive 18 month old import working line long haired (long coat) German Shepherd adult male for many thousands of dollars. This dog had a very impressive pedigree loaded with generations of titles and certified hips. He also had a Pre-lim Good hip rating and normal ratings on his elbows (I can’t remember if this was through the vet or the OFA).


Below are the Prelim X-rays.

Pre-lim hip x-rays for a long coat (long haired) German Shepherd

Pre-lim elbow x-rays for a long coat (long haired) German Shepherd

These ratings can change in dogs prior to the age of 2 years old, and that is why the OFA requires the dogs to be 2 years old for the official rating.

My goals were to use this long haired German Shepherd as a stud dog, and of course I wanted to do the right thing and make sure he didn’t have hip dysplasia, so I took him to my local vet for OFA hip and elbow x-rays. This procedure cost me about $400.

About a month later my OFA results came back, and supposedly my dog had Mild hip dysplasia. I was devastated since it had taken me almost a year to find this dog. I did research on the Internet, studied his hip x-rays, and had suspicions that he had not been lined up properly for the x-rays and appeared crooked to me. Below is the x-ray where the dog acquired an OFA MILD HIP DYSPLASIA CERTIFICATION.

OFA Mild Hip Dysplasia X-rays for a long coat (long haired) German Shepherd

OFA Mild Hip Dysplasia X-rays for a long coat (long haired) German Shepherd

So I took him to a second local vet, who charged me approximately another $400. He took x-rays and said my dog had Mild Hip dysplasia and it wasn’t worth sending the x-rays to the OFA.

Vet said Mild Hip Dysplasia X-Rays for a long coat (long haired) German Shepherd

X-Ray above was taken by my 2nd Vet who said that my long haired (long coat) German Shepherd had Mild Hip Dysplasia.

At this point I was very distraught. I went home, and reviewed the dogs prelim OFA x-rays where he had received a Good rating, and then I reviewed the second and third set of x-rays taken by two different vet hospitals. I believed he was crooked in the x-rays, and you can’t get a Good OFA rating if a dog is crooked.

I called the first vet I had used to x-ray him, and told him that I thought my dog was crooked in the x-rays and that is why he didn’t get a good OFA rating. The vet disagreed with me and thought the dog was positioned fine, but agreed to do a second set of x-rays to send to the OFA. If the dog was rated with Hip dysplasia a second time, then I’d owe him the expense of the x-rays and OFA fees.

So we took a second set of X-rays and he was still crooked in them. The OFA rated him as having FAIR hips with no hip dysplasia, and the vet didn’t charge me for the second procedure. This was my THIRD TIME I had this poor boy x-rayed by vets for the OFA submission! Below are the x-rays that the dog received an OFA fair rating for.

OFA Fair Hips X-Rays for a long coat (long haired) German Shepherd


But I still was not satisfied. I felt that this dog had Good hips, but didn’t want to waste any more money on vets who didn’t know how to properly position the dog.

A few months earlier I had questioned a man driving a van with hunting show dogs at a WV convenience store. I liked his van and asked him if I could see inside. During our conversation he told me that he had driven from NY (if I remember correctly) to OH to have his dogs x-rayed for the OFA certifications. He also mentioned going to a field trial to show his dogs. This meeting happened prior to me having so many problems getting my dog properly x-rayed, so I didn’t think to ask him why he was driving his dogs so far for OFA X-rays. He was in a hurry so our conversation was pretty short. But he did give me a real estate business card.

After my dog received the OFA Fair rating on hips, I decided to try and track down the vet that the breeder from NY drove to see in OH. The number on the business card was bad, I had a terrible time tracking down his kennel, but after several days I was successful. Once I contacted the kennel they gave me the vet hospital’s name. It was Troy Animal Hospital in Troy OH.

I contacted Dr. Davis and emailed him my X-rays and he reviewed them for a modest fee. After he had reviewed the x-rays, he thought that my dog might have OFA GOOD hips and that he was improperly positioned in the X-rays.

So I rented a van, loaded up about 3 of my dogs including the one who kept being X-rayed crookedly, and made a 8 hour round trip journey to Troy OH.

Once there, Dr. Davis and his crew were wonderful with my dogs. He believes that un-sedated dogs get better results, so two of my dogs were X-rayed un-sedated. Unfortunately the dog who was getting the bad X-ray results was the one we had to sedate because he would not co-oporate.

After we finished the x-rays, I loaded up my dogs and drove home with high hopes that everyone would get OFA Good ratings now that they had been properly aligned and X-rayed.

I anxiously awaited the OFA results, and probably pestered the OFA with my phone calls due to my impatience. I also checked the website daily.

Anyway, to my great joy…all three of my dogs passed the OFA Hip and Elbow ratings! No hip dysplasia! The dog that began this whole ordeal…ended up getting a OFA GOOD Hip rating! So these are all the ratings that this dog acquired during this ordeal.

Below is the x-ray where he acquired an OFA Good rating on his hips.

 OFA Good Hips X-rays for a long coat (long haired) German Shepherd

 OFA Good Hips X-rays for a long haired (long coat) German Shepherd

So to sum this up. One dog…the SAME dog…has received THREE different OFA RATING CERTIFICATIONS. 1st – Mild hip dysplasia, 2nd- Fair Hips, 3rd – Good hips. I sincerely believe that these different ratings were due to positioning during the x-ray procedure.


1st Vet – OFA Prelim X-rays (before he was 2 years old) – Hips Good – Elbows Normal

2nd Vet – OFA X-rays at 2 years old – Hips Mild Dysplasia – Elbows Normal

3rd Vet – X-rays not submitted to OFA – Hips Mild Dysplasia

4th Vet – OFA X-rays by Dr. Davis at Troy Animal Hospital – Hips Good


Anyway, from that point on I took all my dogs to Dr. Davis even though I had to rent a van and make an all day trip because it was worth it every time.

A local trainer who was aware of the ordeal I went through for the OFA hip rating didn’t take my advice and go to Troy for her dog, and instead took the dog to a local vet in my area (that I had not previously used), but other people had. Her dog came back with a rating of Mild Hip dysplasia.

After getting the bad rating,  she decided to take my advice, and took her dog to Troy. After those X-rays were submitted to the OFA, her dog was rated with OFA Fair hips with no hip dysplasia.

Therefore the moral to this story is that I believe most vets do not know how to properly position dogs for hip x-rays. I spent about $2,000 for an OFA Good hip rating for ONE DOG due to my local vets not knowing how to properly align my dog. Once I found a vet who knew what he was doing my dogs received OFA hip and elbow passing scores.

Even if Dr. Davis is to far for you to travel to, he can review your x-rays and let you know his opinion. If you would like to read more about proper positioning for OFA X-rays, click here.








  1. Betsy June 23, 2017 at 10:58 AM #

    Surely Dr. Davis isn’t the only bet in the US who knows how to position a dog for HD X-rays. What about Cornell NY?

    • Kelly Peet June 23, 2017 at 11:40 AM #

      Hello Betsy,

      I have not used Cornell, therefore I am not qualified to comment about them.

      I am just relating my experiences.

      Dr. Davis has dogs flown to him from all over the world for hip/elbow certifications. He has done a great job with my dogs, therefore I personally will always use him.

      He holds clinics for vets to attend so that they can learn how to properly position an UN-SEDATED dog for the x-rays. This ensures that the OFA has accurate x-rays to evaluate. Everything hinges on proper positioning of the dog. If the dog is not positioned properly and those x-rays are submitted to the OFA, then the dog may be diagnosed with hip dysplasia, even if the hips are good.

      I’ve often wondered how many dogs with good hips are falsely diagnosed with hip dysplasia due to improper positioning.

  2. Teresa June 24, 2017 at 1:07 AM #

    THank you for posting your story, especially the pictures. My girl got a Mild rating from OFA and I am considering redoing her x-rays at a different clinic.I have several friends who have resubmitted their MILD ratings with new x-rays this year who have also passed with Fair or Goods on the second x-rays. Wish the system was better!

    Not sure how to find a Dr. Davis on the West Coast, but will start looking…..

    • Kelly Peet June 24, 2017 at 1:25 AM #

      Hi Teresa,

      Thanks for letting me know that my article was helpful. Do you have rotties? I used to raise and breed them. Got my first one while living in Germany.

      I’d suggest contacting Dr. Davis and see who he recommends on the West Coast. He can also evaluate your dogs x-rays even if you aren’t going to take her to him.

      Please Let me know how it turns out!

  3. Kathy Wood June 24, 2017 at 8:21 PM #

    I use Dr Davis

    A few years ago I had 6 Goldens here with Excellent ratings and 1 good. I totally believe positioning is the most important factor. I love his methods in getting my dogs to relax without sedation. One of the worse ones went to sleep and peed!!! She was so relaxed. I’m only a 2 hour drive from him. But well worth it.

    • Kelly Peet June 24, 2017 at 9:59 PM #

      Hi Kathy,

      Thank you for the feedback. I agree with you…positioning is extremely important for an OFA x-ray. You are fortunate to live so close to him! I’ve heard of people flying their dogs in from other countries 🙂 Takes me about 8 hours to drive roundtrip, not counting the time in the clinic. I feel so blessed to have tracked him down! I was pulling my hair out for days trying to locate who the guy from NY took his dogs to for the OFA. I spent more on my dogs 3 bad x-rays from other vets who didn’t know how to properly position than most people do buying a puppy 🙁 I also feel bad about the radiation my dog was needlessly exposed to.

      I can’t

  4. Cindy Bradford June 26, 2017 at 10:40 AM #

    where is Dr. Davis located?…..

  5. Carolyn Haug August 15, 2017 at 4:40 PM #

    I am currently dealing with a possibility of my dog having hip dysplasia. My question for you is, did your pup have a positive Ortalani sign? It tests for laxity in the hips.

    • Kelly Peet August 15, 2017 at 4:59 PM #

      Hi Carolyn,

      I don’t know anything about Ortalani signs. My dogs final OFA hip results were Good once he was positioned properly for the x-rays. I’d highly suggest that you find someone like Dr. Davis to take the x-rays. He can also review any x-rays you may already have.

  6. helen August 26, 2017 at 10:55 AM #

    Hi, hope you dont mind but i live in canton ohio and looking for a shepherd or dobie puppy, been looking for a year now. lost my shepherd last year to DM. My 11 year old girl has been grieving since the loss so i thought i get her a new BF. But I cant find anyone reputable thats not a mill and checks for DM. I cant travel far, and dont have 3000 for a pet. But taking a chance maybe someone might read these post and have one or know someone in Canton. TY Helen

    • Kelly Peet August 26, 2017 at 1:01 PM #

      Hi Helen,

      I am very sorry for your loss. I understand your concern about finding a dog or puppy that doesn’t have DM.

      Unfortunately, a puppy or dog from a breeder that does check for DM will often cost more because the breeder is actually risking a lot by testing, and usually has a lot of money invested in the dog. A good breeder usually doesn’t make much money off breeding due to all the expenses associated with producing a good physically and mentally healthy pup.

      For example, if a breeder pays $3,000 for an import puppy, spends 2 years of time and maybe more thousands training and titling the pup, and spends another $1,000 (this is the average price I paid for OFA due to needing to travel, etc.) obtaining the OFA hip and elbow certification, they could easily have around $10,000 in one dog.

      If the dog tests positive for DM, then they have lost all that time and money in addition to having to part with a dog they might really love a lot because it can not be used in the breeding program.

      Even if the breeder tests the pup before investing any more money, it could easily be a $3,000 loss if the pup tests positive. Pups imported from Germany and Czech are not usually tested for DM even though they may come from world class pedigrees, and they rarely come with any guarantees.

      In addition…a dog that tests positive could be very difficult to re-home.

      Therefore a breeder is often risking a puppy or dog worth thousands of dollars coming up positive for DM when tested since the DM gene is common. A positive result (I’m not talking about a carrier) means the dog or pup will not be used in the breeding program and the dog will have to be re-homed at a great financial and possible emotional loss to the breeder.

      I would highly suggest that you reach out to high quality breeders that have dogs with exceptional pedigrees, OFA hip and elbow certifications (not pre-lim), that title their dogs in schutzhund/IPO, DM test, and ask them to keep you in mind when retiring an older dog from the breeding program, or when they have a puppy born that might have some type of defect that would make it ineligible for breeding and showing. Contact these breeders monthly to check in and see if anything has changed. Sometimes these breeders have long haired German Shepherd puppies in the litter even though the parents are standard coats. Expect these breeders to be very picky about where the dogs and pups go. Ask them their requirements.

      You might also be interested in reading an article that I wrote about “What is a Long Haired German Shepherd and the Myths Surrounding them.” CLICK HERE TO READ IT.

      I also highly recommend that you consider a standard coat German Shepherd in your search if you aren’t already doing so.

      Adoption may be another option. I’m beginning to see long coats becoming available for adoption. I love helping them find homes and have even begun a Long haired German Shepherd adoption page that you can see HERE. But…here are the problems with adoptions…you still have to pay for the dog. It may be $300-$600, and you may have to travel or have it shipped. In addition most are not checked for DM or OFA hip and elbow certified. They may also have emotional or behavioral issues that may need to be worked through. For example…an un-socialized improperly trained German Shepherd may be dangerous to owners and to other people. It may take a very good, and expensive trainer to turn the dog around, hopefully before someone is seriously mauled, and sadly there are some dogs that can never be turned around.

      I think adoptions are wonderful, as long as people know what they might be getting into and are properly prepared to spend the money and time to ensure that everything works out okay.

      I personally prefer looking for owner surrenders. These are dogs that people cannot keep for one reason or another. They might be moving, getting married, having personal health issues, etc. and can’t keep the dog any longer. They can give you the history, tell you all about the dog, and might even agree to DM and OFA hip and elbow testing if you pay the expenses. My first 3 German Shepherds were owner surrenders, and it worked out really well for the dogs, the previous owners, and myself. It also got me hooked on the German Shepherd breed!

      Therefore, for reasons I mentioned above, you will not usually find good breeders on Craigslist, local papers, etc. A good breeder has many, many thousands of dollars and time invested in the dogs and pups. They often have waiting lists for a litter that will sell for thousands per pup. But…if you search for a breeder using my 3 recommendations

      1. OFA hip and elbow certification (Prelim OFA certification does not count)
      2. DM testing
      3. Schutzhund / IPO titling

      and ask them to keep you in mind if they have a pup or dog that they can not breed or sale, maybe you will get lucky.

      The other options are to look into adoptions or owner surrenders.

      Hope this helps in your search and I wish you all the best.

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