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Administrator & Alpha Bitch of the Wild Bunch
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OFA (the main hip/elbow certification organization in the US) will not certify hips until the dog is 2 years old. That's where the 2 year rule comes from.

But prelims can be done much younger than that. The earlier they are done (younger the dog), the greater chance of things changing as the dog finishes growing and maturing. So prelims done at a year are more accurate in terms of predicting the final hip status than prelims done at 4 months. Generally, hips that look bad when young are not going to improve. But hips that look good when young may change and not be good at adulthood.

I like to do prelims early (6-8 months old) so I have a general idea of the dog's joints. This tells me if it will be ok for the dog to participate in physically strenuous activities, and if there is a problem with the hips, the sooner it is identified the more options there are for treatment and the better the long term prognosis. But doing the hips again at adulthood is a good idea, to make sure any changes haven't occurred.
 
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