From mechanical principles and postmortem observations of coxofemoral joints of dogs, a hydrostatic mechanism influencing hip joint stability was discovered. This discovery led to the development of a stress-radiographic positioning method to quantitate hip joint laxity in dogs. The method incorporated 2 views with the dog in supine position and hips at neutral flexion/extension angle: a compression view, with the femoral heads fully seated in the acetabula; and a distraction view, with the femoral heads at maximal lateral displacement. An index measurement method was formulated to quantitate the relative degree of joint laxity appearing in either the compression or distraction view. Clinical evaluation of 6 dogs was done to compare the compression/distraction method with the standard hip-extended radiographic method. Also, the stress-radiographic method was performed on 16-week-old Borzoi and German Shepherd Dogs to compare the characteristics of inherent hip joint laxity in these breeds. In all dogs tested, hip joint laxity was masked by the standard hip-extended view as indicated by a 2.5-fold improvement in sensitivity to hip joint laxity of the new method (P less than 0.00001). Moreover, the mean hip joint laxity of 16-week-old German Shepherd Dogs exceeded the mean hip joint laxity of Borzois by 79% (P less than 0.00001). Reports in the literature document the incontrovertible association of hip joint laxity to the development of hip dysplasia in dogs. We believe the ability to accurately quantitate hip joint laxity will provide key diagnostic and prognostic criteria for the selection of pet dogs, and more importantly, breeding stock.