Legg Perthes disease is found in small breed dogs, where
destruction of the head of the femur bone occurs due to loss of blood supply. Some breeds prone to this disease are West Highland White Terrier, Poodles, Fox Terrier, Shih Tzu, Pug, Silky Terrier, Bichon Frise, Schipperke, toy breeds, Miniature Pinscher, American Eskimo Dog, Bichon Frise, Chinese Shar Pei, Schipperke and Shetland Sheepdog.
There may be a genetic component to the problem. While the cause is not completely understood, it begins with the loss of blood supply to the neck of the femur (thigh bone). As a result the femoral head becomes necrotic (death of animal or plant tissue) and eventually dies. The hip joint is then malformed and arthritis results. One or both hips can be affected.
It occurs at about 3 months old when the ball (femoral head) of the hip joint begins to deteriorate. A puppy usually shows signs of lameness by 4-10 months old. Diagnosis is through x-rays. Because the conditions are similar to hip dysplasia, x-rays are necessary to determine the disease.
Treatment varies depending on the severity of the disease. Removing the femoral head through surgery has proven successful. The hip joint does not return to normal function but it slows the formation of arthritis.