What Is Luxating Patella in Dogs?

Check out some common causes, symptoms, and treatment options of luxating patella in dogs. Learning more about this condition is critical to your furry friend's well-being.

Jan 17, 2024By Nikita Hillier
what is luxating patella in dogs

Luxating patella in dogs is a relatively common condition that affects a dog’s knee joint. This issue can significantly impact a dog’s quality of life. In this blog, we will take a deep dive into the world of luxating patella and the challenges that come along with it.

Some dogs may be more susceptible to this condition than others, so it is important to understand some preventative techniques. Bulldogs and some terrier breeds can develop this condition if they overexert themselves.

Unravelling Luxating Patella in Dogs

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Also known as floating kneecap, luxating patella happens when the kneecap (patella) moves out of the place where it usually sits, which is the groove of the femur (thigh bone). This painful and very restrictive injury can cause soreness in dogs and cause them to walk poorly or cease walking completely.

The discomfort dogs deal with when dealing with this issue can be excruciating. However, the severity of the condition will vary. Some dogs may just have some occasional discomfort, while others will have consistent pain.

Usually, luxating patella is genetic, meaning that some breeds are more likely to experience it than others because of their build. This is what makes it so important to only adopt dogs from ethical breeders. They consider many factors when mating a mommy and daddy dog together, including whether a parent deals with luxating patella.

Breeds Prone to Luxating Patella

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While luxating patella is fairly common in dogs, it is more commonly seen in certain dog breeds. This puts a huge emphasis on the fact that it is largely genetic. The anatomy and size of certain breeds are often to blame for their susceptibility to this condition.

Understanding which breeds are at risk can allow both dog owners and veterinarians to be proactive and monitor any signs of luxating patella. Check out the list below to see which breeds will most likely be affected.


Although only small, these little companions are known for their large personalities. However, they are unfortunately very prone to luxating patella due to their delicate bone structure. A lot of these dogs have odd conformation that makes their kneecaps misaligned anyway, so further pressure on their joints and bones could lead to luxating patella.


Pomeranians are prone to quite a few health issues, orthopedic issues included. Their compact size and genetics make them super susceptible to luxating patella. Keeping up to date with regular vet check-ups can make a huge difference when it comes to maintaining their joint health.


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Even though these dogs have a very distinct appearance, they still struggle greatly with luxating patella. Their unique body shape, alongside their long back and short stature, puts a massive amount of strain on their knee joints. This is why regular monitoring is crucial.

Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire Terriers are super affectionate and energetic companions that are prone to severe joint issues, including luxating patella. Their lively and energetic nature puts a lot of stress on their joints. A lot of proactive measures should be put in to maintain their overall health and well-being.

French Bulldogs

While luxating patella isn’t as common in French Bulldogs as it is in others, it still occurs quite often. They are known for having a heavy, compact, and muscular build, which can put a lot of intense pressure on their kneecaps. Owners need to be aware of any potential signs and keep up to date with regular visits to their veterinarian.

Addressing concerns properly and quickly is the key to managing this condition.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

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This charming breed is predisposed to luxating patella. Their genetics and small size contribute directly to the likelihood of them developing this condition.

Shih Tzus

Shih Tzus are very susceptible to luxating patella. Their unique body structure and size make them much more prone to joint issues than other breeds. This is why preventative care, along with regular veterinary checkups, is crucial.

Preventing and Managing Luxating Patella

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While luxating patella is most commonly genetic, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce the risk and manage the condition properly. Follow the steps below to prevent and manage luxating patella in your canine companion:

  • Healthy weight: By maintaining a healthy weight, your dog can take a lot of pressure off their joints. After all, obesity puts major stress on a dog’s delicate frame.
  • Regular exercise: Keeping your dog engaged with regular exercise can help them build and maintain muscle around their joints. This is very important for breeds prone to luxating patella.
  • Genetic screening: Responsible breeding will involve genetic screening for orthopedic conditions. Breeders should prioritize health.
  • Supplements and nutrition: Joint supplements containing chondroitin and glucosamine can make a huge difference in supporting joints. Some DIY dog meals can greatly decrease your dog's chance of luxating patella.
  • Early intervention: The key to it all is early intervention. If luxating patella is diagnosed early, prompt medical attention can stop the condition from worsening and improve any pain the dog is dealing with.

Other Common Joint Conditions Dogs Have

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In addition to luxating patella, here are some other common joint conditions that affect dogs. These include:

  • Osteoarthritis: A joint disease that is degenerative and comes with age. It often causes extreme stiffness and pain.
  • Hip dysplasia: This is a common and painful malformation of the hip, causing pain, arthritis, and an inability to walk correctly.
  • Elbow dysplasia: The abnormal development of the elbow joint. Most commonly, larger breeds deal with this.
  • Cruciate ligament injuries: Ruptures or tears in the cruciate ligament can result in odd movement, stiffness, and pain.
Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!