Hind Leg Joint Problem – Luxating Patella

Pure bred dogs tend to have more genetic health problems than mutts. One of the prevalent problems with Jack Russell Terriers is Luxating Patella. It is recommended that you do not breed your Jack Russell Terrier if your dog has this condition since it is hereditary.

This condition is most common in toy and miniature breeds of Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Pekingese, Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers and Boston Terriers.

Luxating patella is also know as “trick knee.” I remember my mom saying she had a problem with “trick knee” when she was young. The kneecap slips out of place.

luxating patella on left side
luxating patella on left side

In luxating patella the kneecap (the patella) slips out of the smooth groove in which it normally rotates on. If it slips medially, it slips towards the opposite leg. If it slips laterally, then it slips towards the outside of the leg. When it does this the dog cannot extend his leg properly, so he will hold his affected hind leg up. He will have difficulty bearing weight on the leg until the ligament snaps back into place.

This condition can be temporary where you will see your dog running and notice that he is running with one hind leg up. Then you may see him running as if nothing happened if the knee slips back to where it is supposed to be.

Half of the dogs who are affected by this have a problem with both knees. If your dog only has a minor case of this problem, the biggest problem will be the development of arthritis or a possible torn knee ligament. Severe cases usually require surgery, and the result will be better if the surgery is done before arthritis occurs. If your veterinarian is not well experienced with this type of surgery, ask for a referral to a surgical specialist.

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19 comments to Hind Leg Joint Problem – Luxating Patella

  • Gina

    Hi..this sounds exactly what maybe the issue with our female jack who was ok one minute and after a play in the yard with the other two came in the house holding up her back leg!..Does this fix itself in time?…She stills seems like she isok just does not bear weight on it that much.
    Gina

  • Hey,
    If your jack favors that leg a lot, you might want to get it checked by a vet. There are different grades of luxating patella and some require surgery to prevent a painful arthritic condition in the future.
    Susan

  • shirley s

    I recently saved my jack russell, he was lost and we adopted him. I notice when he walks he is perfectly normal… but when he runs he holds up one hind leg, is this normal or should i be worried?

  • It would be best to have your dog checked by a veterinarian.

  • I notice that with my 7 month old pure bred jack rusell terrier, male. Petei, that he has been fine but ever since a few days ago, and i am not too sure if its just because he tends to run into walls sometimes (hes really hyper and clumsy)…that he just when standing still will sometimes put more pressure on his left back leg verses his right one. and when he wakes up in the morning he seems to always be limping a little bit but he can run just fine n sometimes after running for a bit, he will pick up his left back leg again n wait a few minutes, but not once have i ever seen him cried or whine, im takin him to the vet on monday i just hope that he doesnt haev a serious case of it, after all i hope he doesnt have it at all..what do u think?

  • kate lenahan

    my 13 year old jack russell alfie has all of a sudden started to appear a little vague and showing discomfort on his back legs. The vet said all his vital signs were fine ie its not a stroke and it doesnt appear to be an inner ear infection causing him loss of balance. he is fine one minute and then a bit wonky when walking the next minute and stares a bit into space. he was absolutely fine a few days ago – his heart etc is also in good condition – the vet thinks its a bad lower back and suggested to give it time to heal but alfie’s slightly delayed reactions and head tilt worries me – any suggestions?

  • I hope you can figure out what is wrong with Alfie. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer from your vet, try a different veterinarian. Could he have been injured? Are you around him all the time to know whether he has had any seizures? The reason I ask is because spacing out can be a sign of epilepsy, but that is usually caused by trauma to the head (at least in people). I’m not a vet, so I certainly cannot give medical advice. Since it could very well be a problem with his back or legs, it seems like an xray would help answer whether it is his back or legs. If you find out, please let us know.

  • PLEASE RESPOND WITH ANY SUGGUESTIONS.
    Problem … “Mickeydog” is now 10 years old and has almost no use of either of his hind legs(no knee-jerk reaction w/the rubber hammer tap). Mickeydog falls,slips and drags his little “ars” around which is heart renching to witness/see, as he was always an avid playful friend and hunter! All the happy playful personality is there … but the backlegs don’t work, he needs a wheelchair … no joke; it breaks my heart!! We have done blood tests and xrays and the vetinary neuro-surgeon just is not financially in the cards.
    PLEASE EMAIL ME WITH ANY EXPLANATION OR SUGGESTIONS ASAP WITH A SINCERE ADVANCE THANK-YOU!

  • Have you tried to build wheels for his hind legs? There is a dachshund near my mom’s house that has a cart with wheels for his back legs. If you Google “wheels for dogs back legs” you will find pictures of the ones that are for sale. They actually do call them wheelchairs.

  • Does anyone know if the treats for healthy joints work for this joint problem in JT’s? Also, my JT is limping on the front leg so it looks like his joint problem is located there and not on the hind legs. I’m thinking it’s the same problem, but can’t tell from the literature if it ONLY happens on the hind leg? Any help here would be appreciated…want to try the “joint enhancer chews” if they work, but not sure if this is even his problem and if this is just a attempt to sell more treats. Thanks from one JT fan to another!

  • Joeanne

    Our little 2 year old JR Helen just had bilateral patella surgery. Earlier this summer I had her out for her daily run, swim in the river and some ball. I threw the ball and I could hear cry and she stood in place looking at me and her right hind leg was pulled up. I was concerned and physically checked her out everything seemed fine and within a minute she walked off and seemed okay. Over the next couple weeks she continued having similar injuries to that same leg. Then everyday she ran she was suffering the same thing. We made an appointment with our vet on a Saturday, he immediately upon a physical check along with our concerns diagnosed her and she was scheduled for surgery the following Tuesday. The first couple of days were difficult (hell) and we never thought she would walk again or be the same dog physically again. We were literally cursing ourselves for putting her threw the surgery. Our vet was very good and called us everyday asking how “we” were doing (I guess he knew we were going to be scared) with patience he explained we were going to be worried about how to keep her quiet and not running in a couple days. I didn’t sleep the first couple of days at all because she sleeps with us at night and we were concerned that she might jump off the bed or we might accidentally hurt her. She also hadn’t gone to the bathroom for over 24 hours. Everything did turn around the third day and here we are on the 9th day post op and I am supposed to keep her quiet for another 5 days and I’m wondering how we will make it. Our vet has asked us to only walk her small amounts for the next 5 days, but everyone know JR’s don’t walk!

  • linda

    We have a 10 year old jack russell. We noticed a couple of weeks ago he seemed to be loosing control of his hind lets. He wobbles, or when standing one hind leg rests in front of the other, etc.. Monday night his hind legs actually did the splits then last night he hopped off the chair and his hind legs just folded when they hit the floor and if took him a few seconds to get up and start walking. We have specialists in Houston looking at him and they have done all kinds of Xrays but so far nothing diagnosed? ANY ideas JRT Lovers.

  • Linda

    Our JRT occasionally carries his hind leg. He’s very active and nothing slows him down. Upon inspection the leg he carries looks swollen at the knee. The knot is about the size of a pecan. It doesn’t hurt him. I’ve tried applying ice but the knot has not gone down. Am wondering what it could be and if joint meds would help. am unemployed so I need an inexpensive cure. any ideas?

  • e hedley

    Help my three year jack Russell on thurs was playing in garden she stopped cryed out held up her back leg and just stood there . Took her to vet they said she had broke her patella ???? She could feel it crunching and her leg was really swolen no x rays were taken, she got anti infamatorys and i was told to keep her really quiet and bring her back on Friday . But she really not herself very unjack Russell still not walk on Anything but toes and sometimes not even that vet spoke about op when should I worry and take her back is a week too long .

  • emma

    My jack Russell mollie was playing in garden and cried out held up her back leg took her to vet and they said she had broke her patella vet could feel it crunching and leg was badly swollen they said to keep her calm and give anti infamatorys and take her back in a week no xrays were taken but talked about op . she is really sore sometime walks on her toes and sometime dose not put any weight on the foot at all she is really not herself unjack russelly. When should I panic and take her back? Should i wait a week ? help

  • Wayne

    To Whom It May Concern:
    I just got a JRT puppy 3 months ago. Everthing went fine, until I found out there was an egg-sized lump growing on her back, close to her upper leg. What should I do? Is that a tumor. My puppy is only 8 months old, how can she get a tumor? I am so worried now. The lump I touched was soft but it was so noticeable and quite big. What should I do? Please let me know. I am so worried and anxious now.

  • I have found that dogs bring much more joy into our lives than how our lives would be without them. Dogs are a blessing to people.

  • Loralee

    I have noticed recently on my 9 year old JRT that he is having a really hard time going up or down my stairs…. takes him a long time and sometimes he just stops and stares at the stairs as if it too difficult to even attempt. He has been very healthy up until this point. He is the shorter leg version of JRT. Any suggestions as to what could be wrong or does anyone have same issues with their JRT? Thanks

  • Christoper Torina

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