Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs)
row of dogs

Breeding a Better Dog

based on the application of Breeding Values derived from OFA Hip and Elbow scores and pedigrees

Our Purpose

•  To enable data-driven selection to improve the orthopedic health of pure breed dogs for breeding and purchase based on their genetic potential for good hip and elbow conformation.

• Estimated breeding values (EBVs) provided are derived from statistical models combining pedigree relationships with Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) Hip and Elbow Scores, all of which were provided by the OFA ( and are in the public domain.  Some dogs will have elbow EBV's even though they were never phenotyped because the bivariate model uses their hip score to estimate their elbow score.  The two traits are genetically correlated.


Major Beneficiaries

•  Pure breed dog breeders
•  Pure breed dog buyers
•  Pure breed dog pet owners -current and prospective
•  Veterinarians
•  Researchers



About our Database

•  We calculated breeding values for all pure breed dogs registered in the public OFA database.
•  In order to maximize accuracy of the estimate, only dogs in which over 400 individuals are represented in the public OFA database were used for the calculations.
•  We provide breeding values and inbreeding coefficients. Inbreeding coefficients are artificially decreased because we do not have access to all records on pure breed dogs born in the USA.

Scoring Methods

•  OFA scores are ranked with excellent hips being given a 1 (the lowest score) and worsening scores given a 2, 3 and so on, with 7 as the worst score.
•  Elbows are ranked similarly, however, only four possible scores are used.
•  Therefore, lower estimated breeding values indicate better hip and elbow genetic quality.

•  Hip EBVs range from -1.027 (best genetic quality) to +1.781 (worst genetic quality) over all breeds.
•  Elbow EBVs range from -0.154 (best) to 0.682 (worst) over all breeds.

•  Accuracy of the prediction is based on the number of progeny and relatives available to estimate each dog's genetic quality.  The more progeny and relatives available in the calculations, the higher the accuracy.  Accuracy ranges from 0 (least accurate) to 1 (perfect accuracy).  The accuracy is decreased because we can only use and release public records.

•  The hip or elbow EBV is also presented in graphical form accompanied by an error (feathering) that surrounds the estimate as well as the average hip and elbow EBVs for the breed of interest. This visual information allows the viewer to relate the genetic quality of each dog in respect to the error of each estimate.   We suggest you identify dogs in the lower quarter to lower half of breeding values for the pool of suitable dogs for your breed. The data used to create the breeding values offered here was drawn from dogs born up to 2014.

•  The concept for this graphical presentation was illustrated by Dr. Tom Lewis of the Animal Health Trust, Newmarket, United Kingdom, during a seminar he presented at the Tufts Annual Dog and Cat Genetics Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, Sept. 27-29, 2013. His presentation was entitled “Comparative Analyses of Genetic Trends and Prospects for Selection Against Hip and Elbow Dysplasia in 15 UK Dog Breeds.”

•  You can read the related research article describing the criteria used for determination of OFA hip and elbow scores here.  A new paper is in process describing the results of our new analyses.  This new paper will clearly show the detrimental effect of not placing all OFA records in the public domain.



1.  Go to 'Search' page.

2.  Enter breed from pull-down menu or Registration/OFA#/Name if seeking a specific dog. (See screen shot of Search page below).

3.  Select sex if sire or dam are preferred.

4.  Impose an age criterion if you wish to find suitable living mates.

5.  To select dogs for best genetic orthopedic quality for hip conformation, enter a Hip Criteria value below 0.0 and then relax (increase) or strengthen (decrease) this value until you have selected a set of suitable mates.

6.  Enter an Elbow Criteria value below 0.3 and decrease this number until you have a suitable set of dogs.

7.  You can also select a level of accuracy (rank 0 as lowest to 1 as highest) for both hip and elbow values.  Accuracy over all breeds ranges from 0.0 to 0.93.

8. Once you have selected prospective breeding dogs, rank the dogs by inbreeding coefficient.  If possible, select the dog with higher accuracy (closer to 1.0) for breeding (those in the lower half or quarter of the EBV range, and lower inbreeding coefficients).  This strategy should maintain genetic diversity while decreasing the effect of deleterious alleles from the breed.  More stringent criteria can be imposed for breeds with large effective populations.

image 1

If you select Labrador Retriever with hip criteria below -0.5 and elbow criteria below 0.0, then you should retrieve the following list:image 2

Practice mating favorite pairs in silico

•  Using the 'Mate Compare' button on the right side of the return list (above image), you can select two dogs (as shown) and produce a virtual mating to observe the likely genetic quality of the offspring.

image 3

•  Therefore, based on this example, if you know there are pups available from a mating of these two dogs, then, on average, these pups should have better hip and elbow quality than pups whose breeding value is higher (toward '0' or higher).  Generally, 15-20 offspring would need to be produced, by mating the same sire and dam, to acquire reliable information regarding the genetic quality of these two dogs.  The application of breeding values obviates this waste and delay and will produce healthier dogs faster than using visual observation of pedigrees to select breeding pairs.