OFA Rating Information

Malinois OFA Rating Information

Malinois OFA
Rating Links
OFA Rating Information

Malinois OFA Rating:
Hips 1-500
Hips 501-1000
Hips 1001-1500
Elbows 1-500
Elbows 501-1000

Malinois OFA Rating:
Hips A-D
Hips E-L
Hips M-R
Hips S-Z
Elbows A-M
Elbows N-Z


I hope the information provided in this article will spur you to do extensive research on each condition that a Malinois can be tested for. Additional research on your part will empower you to make a decision you are comfortable with when you begin to encounter the variables between breeders and what each selects to test or not test for. Talk candidly with the breeder about your feelings, negative and positive, over the tests they do and the tests they opted not to do.

If you are looking for a Belgian Malinois puppy you've probably heard over and over again that you need to ask about the parents, grandparents maybe even the g-grandparents OFA ratings and other recommended health checks. A major red flag moment is if you ask what OFA rating the breeder's dogs have and they answer back "My dogs don't have those problems so I don't have to test". How do they know that? How does anyone know their dogs are not suffering from a particular condition if the testing isn't done. But, just what OFA rating and other health checks, in the Belgian Malinois, should you be asking about? And why are they important?

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals maintains the OFA rating databases, a semi-closed database, of orthopedic health for Belgian Malinois. Semi-Closed means that any results can be withheld from public viewing at the discreation of the person applying for certification. A Malinois may pass one certification process but fail to pass another and the results of the fail never be made available to the public.

Currently there are five conditions that OFA ratings are maintained for because they are considered to impair the level of health and longevity of the Malinois; Cardiac, Patellas, Hip Dyplasia, Elbow Dyplasia, and Thyroid function. A second organization, CERF, examines and maintains records for a sixth rating; eye abnormalities.

Testing for OFA consists of having x-rays taken by veternarians experienced with the correct techniques or blood panels run at designated labs for Thyroid function.

OFA X-rays:

X-rays are submitted to OFA who then follow their standard procedure of having three Board Certified Radiologists read the x-rays, each Radiologist then issues a determination. Ultimately one of two things happen: 1. An OFA Rating Certificate is issued, if the dog is within the accepted normal range as determined by 2 out of the 3 Board Certified Radiologists, or 2. The dog's owner is notified that the dog has failed to meet the medically accepted range of normal critieria and why.

OFA Blood Panels:

The Blood Panel requires a blood sample be taken by a veterinarian and sent to an OFA approved laboratory. The laboratory of choice 'must' be contacted prior to drawing the blood to obtain the proper forms and instructions for submission. Complete instructions can be found at OFA Applications.

Too many breeders still maintain that orthopedic health is not a problem with the Belgian Malinois and that simply is not true. While the degree of incidence is considerably lower than say the German Shepherd, as seen from the OFA Rating viewable on the OFA Stats page (scroll to Belgian Malinois, select and click show stats), orthopedic problems do occur in differing percentages depending on which condition you are checking results for. The Malinois is a high drive dog that can and will work through the pain felt in spite of suffering from one or more orthopedic conditions.

OFA Rating, Malinois Hip Ratings

Hip Dysplasia (HD):
when seen radiographically, is the failure of the femoral head to fit into the hip socket. This malformed fit, at its worst, can render a puppy crippled by just a few months of age or in more moderate cases the adult dog can begin experiencing osteoarthritic changes at an early age which progressively worsens until simply walking can be very painful.

OFA ratings indicating passing are normal (obsolete), excellent, good and fair, and the dog receives an OFA rating. If under 2 years of age then the finding is labeled as a Preliminary finding, sometimes called a "Prelim", over 2 years of age and the dog is issued an OFA number. When the dog fails to pass the OFA rating the owner is provided his level of HD involvement on a diagnostic form. This level ranges from borderline, mild, moderate to severe.

For in depth information visit the OFA HD Information page

Reading the OFA Number:

Example: BM-0000G26M-PI
  1. The first two alpha characters indicate the breed of dog the rating is for: BM = Belgian Malinois
  2. The next set of numeric characters is the actual number of the rating:
  3. The next alpha character denotes the actual OFA rating for the dog it's assigned to: F = Fair, G = Good and E = Excellent
  4. The last set of numeric characters is the age in months of the dog when tested
  5. The alpha character following the age indicates which sex the dog is: M = Male, F = Female
  6. The last alpha characters indicate whether the dog is permanently ID'd in some manner: PI = Permanent ID, NOPI = No Permanent ID and T (obsolete) = Tattoo

Another rating system is PennHip. PennHip does not directly rate hip dysplasia but instead rates the degree of laxity in the hip joint. PennHip is outside the scope of this article on OFA Rating Information, but, a search for PennHip in any major search engine will provide you with links to many informative websites.

OFA Rating, Malinois Hip Statistics
OFA RegistryOFA Rating# Evaluated %Abnormal%Normal

OFA Rating, Malinois Elbow Ratings

Elbow Dysplasia (ED):
isn't quite as easy to describe or to diagnose. There are three different conditions that can cause DJD* (degenerative joint disease) in the Malinois. Determining which condition may take a number of different procedures, x-ray, MRI or Arthroscopic surgery depending on which condition is suspected.

  1. FCP - fragmented medial coronoid process: The coronoid process is a small portion of bone at the end of the ulna, in large breeds it has a tendency to fragment, that fragmentation causes degeneration of the joint in the form of arthritis.
  2. OCD - Osteochondritis occurs when the cartilage within the joint develops a flap exposing the bone underneath generating pain. OCD can occur in conjunction with FCP
  3. UAP - Ununited anconeal process is another part of the ulna and usually causes more subtle lameness than FCP or OCD. It is not a commonly seen condition and is most frequently associated with the German Shepherd and other large breeds.

*Special Note: DJD can be diagnosed without any of the above three conditions being present. When this happens the cause is unknown, leaving one to wonder if such cases are inherited or injury related.

OFA Rating, Malinois Elbow Statistics
OFA RegistryOFA Rating# Evaluated %Abnormal%Normal

OFA Rating, Malinois Patella Ratings

Patellar Luxation:
The kneecap of the dog floats in a groove on the front center of the dogs stifle protecting the stifle joint. Held in place by the groove itself and ligments Patellar Luxation is when that kneecap slips off the groove to the inside (Medial) or outside (Lateral) of the leg. In small or medium breeds the medial form is usually presented; in large and giant breeds the lateral form is the most common.

A number of structural conditions; a shallow femoral groove, weak ligaments and/or malalignment of muscles and tendons, responsible for straightening the joint, can all contribute to predispose the dog to luxating patellas.

At this time there is insufficient data in the OFA rating database to conclusively say that Patellar Luxation is not a problem with the Malinois. If the condition is diagnosed then an OFA rating of Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3 or Grade 4 will be assigned; each level indicating increasing severity. As more and more breeders begin to test for Patellar Luxation they will increase their opportunity to catch incidences early and breed away from dogs that x-ray positive for the condition which can keep it from becoming embedded in the gene pool.

OFA Rating, Malinois Patella Statistics
OFA RegistryOFA Rating# Evaluated %Abnormal%Normal

OFA Rating, Malinois Cardiac Ratings

Congenital Cardiac Disease:
Targeted to eventually find and identify cardiac heart or great vessel malformations present at birth there is no clear cut distinction between what is normal vs abnormal. Diseases like subaortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy are difficult to track which means that the OFA Cardiac database is really just a fact finding tool at this time.

As the database builds similiarities and dissimiliarities will begin to surface that will make this an increasingly value source of information for the breeder attempting to avoid inherited cardiac conditions.

At this time a phenotypically normal dog is defined as:

  1. One without a cardiac murmur -or-
  2. One with an innocent heart murmur that is found to be otherwise normal by virtue of an echocardiographic examination which includes Doppler echocardiography

OFA Rating, Malinois Cardiac Statistics
OFA RegistryOFA Rating# Evaluated %Abnormal%Normal

OFA Rating, Malinois Thyroid Ratings

Thyroid (hypothyroidism) Disease:
Thyroid Disease can appear at any age in the dog but, has a tendency to make its appearance between 2-5 yrs of age. A precursor of Thyroid Disease is the appearance of the marker for autoimmune thyroiditis, thyroglobulin autoantibody formation. The formation of the antibody at any age is an indicator that the dog probably has genetically inherited Autoimmune thyroiditis.

Hypothyroidism, the generally accepted canine form of Thyroid Disease, is about the body's immune system attacking the host body. This opens up a whole long list of symptoms that can be indicative of a dog deficient in thyroid production.

OFA Rating, Malinois Thyroid Statistics
OFA RegistryOFA Rating# Evaluated %Abnormal%Normal

OFA Rating, Malinois Ratings

The complete OFA Rating Picture:
OFA Rating, Malinois Statistics
OFA RegistryOFA Rating# Evaluated %Abnormal%Normal

Canine Eye Registration Foundation

Eye Abnormalities:
Eye exams can be done at any age because some eye disorders can appear at any age. The Sire and Dam of a litter should have CERF rated eyes within a year of the litter being bred. CERFing is accomplished by having a checkup with a certified ophthalmologist. To increase your understanding of the abnormalities checked for during the examination go to CERF.

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