Patella is the official name of the kneecap. A patella dislocation, therefore, means a loose kneecap. There are different forms of dislocations. The most common is a medial dislocation. This means that the kneecap shoots inward toward the inside of the knee. We often see this in small breed dogs. Lateral luxation, with the patella sliding outward, is sometimes seen in large breeds, often in combination with a twist in the thigh.


The knee joint is formed by the femur and tibia. There is a groove in front of the thigh where the patella is normally located. Attached to the patella is the knee tendon, which in turn is attached to a leg comb in the shin. For some dogs, the trench in the thigh is shallow and the knee tendon attachment is too far inward.


Medella patella luxation is especially a problem with smaller breeds of dogs, such as Terriers, Poodles, Chihuahuas, Papillons and other lap dogs. However, it also occasionally occurs with the larger varieties.

Other than a managed breeding program, there is no way to prevent dislocations. Climbing, jumping and the like do not influence the occurrence of a dislocation.


The dog’s complaints depend on the severity of the luxation. We have different ways If the patella only occasionally pops, we speak of a habitual luxation. Dogs that have this occasionally walk a few steps with one leg raised. The patella moves out of place. After a few steps, he shoots backwards and the dog continues as usual. For domestic dogs this need not be a problem, but for a show dog it is a surprising defect.

It gets worse when the patella is lying down and only jumps up from time to time. Then we are talking about stationary luxation. These dogs have trouble getting up and walking. They go behind with O-legs and a kind of frog pass. The dog usually suffers a lot from this. The worst form is when the patella is totally out and cannot be put back in place.

These animals cannot stand normally and must paddle with their hind legs to move forward. When examining animals, not only should the location of the patella be noted, but also the position of the femur, the curvature of the bone in the tibia and the depth of the trench in the femur.


Animals with a very slight luxation, with the patella only luxating occasionally, do not necessarily need to be operated on. If the patella shoots out of place more frequently, or is even permanently wrong, action must be taken. The only way is operative. With a slight dislocation, it is often sufficient to move the knee tendon attachment slightly.


The condition is an inherited defect. Therefore, it is advisable not to breed with animals with a clear dislocation. The exact method of inheritance is unknown, but is likely to be based on several factors, such as HD.

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