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Jack Russell Cross shows the jack russell hop & skip walk. VIDEO

jack russell hop skipThis is Chops a jack russell cross that I professionally dog walk in Newport, Australia.

Previous to working full time in the dog services industry, I had never known or seen such an interesting little hop or skip in a dog's step, but many of the jack russell breed in particular seem to have this anomaly in their walk. So what causes it?

If you research jack russell and the word skip or hop, you will no doubt come across a lot of conflicting information. However the most probably correct answer seems to be "patella luxation".

Patella luxation is " also known as "slipped stifles," is a common problem in small dogs. It is caused when the patella, which has three parts-the femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap), and tibia (calf)-is not properly lined up. This causes lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait, sort of like a skip or a hop. It is a condition that is present at birth although the actual misalignment or luxation does not always occur until much later. The rubbing caused by patellar luxation can lead to arthritis, a degenerative joint disease." (http://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/jack-russell-terrier)

Another forum suggested that the skip is " in fact, not a sub-luxating patella, but a condition of the hip known as "Perthés Disease" where the top of the femur, instead of being round like a ball fitting into the socket on the hip is irregular and pointed." (vetclick)


The irony with any medical conclusion is that most of the owners of these dogs become accustomed to the little hop in their dogs step and they have never witnessed their dog have any particular lameness.

And while many web sites say it is particular to small dogs, you may wonder why the jack Russel crosses in particular seem to have this issue more than any other small dog.

And if it is true, the why do so many of the jack russell crosses that come from shelters have it. Surely if these dogs are strays and breed with other breeds, there would not be a strong inbreeding issue of the hop or skip? That is of course unless the fox terriers or other major interbreeding dogs also have the condition, or the condition is dominant across the breeds.

Because the issue does not seem to cause the dogs pain, most people just put it down to a cute curiosity of the breed. And in fact I have seen many jack russell's with this issue run at high speed for sustained periods when tracking rabbit tracks.

The forum that suggested that it was a femur issue also said that the dogs leg can be x-rayed and the bone corrected, but it will only relieve pain and not cure the condition as such.

Anyway, this is not a medical dog site, but a dog walking site, providing information and entertainment where appropriate. If you have not seen such a curious site as the jack russell skip or hop as it walks, Chops will provide you with the perfect instruction in this!

Article by Bruce Dwyer. Like this article? Then please use a LINK reference to  www.dogwalkersmelbourne.com.au

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