Further Articles in this series:
Ethics & Breeding Front Assembly Type & Style Type

One Person's Opinion:

by Patrick Ormos
Phi-Vestavia kennels, USA

 Structure and Movement (1)

 Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your Corgi go?
With lowered head, and level back,
And four feet all in a row.

 How does your Corgi move?  What does s/he actually do?  What should s/he do?

 The reality is that very few Cardigans actually move as they should move.  Actuality and ideal are often very far apart.  What we are hoping for is usually far more than what we must settle for.  Unfortunately, many people have never seen one of the "great movers" of the breed - and their mental image of how a Cardigan should move is influenced by the best that they have actually have seen.  A confusion begins in our mind's eye between actuality and ideal...for all of us...and if we have never seen a "great one" then our mind's ideal is the poorer for it.

 STEP 1 in our discussion of Cardigan movement will be a good, hard, clear-eyed look at what we actually have in our kennel.  I will suggest a fairly "easy" way to take some basic objective measurements of your dog.  This is a simplified version of a much more complex set of potential measurements ...but it will do to get us started.

 Get a good video camera which will take slow motion film, a good and discrete friend or two who will help, a dog that you don't mind being really honest about, a geometry set, a weighted length of string (about 12 inches), a piece of putty or plasticine or masking tape, and a stable grooming table...oh, and some treats for the dog.

 Set up the camera on a tripod, fairly low to the ground, say waist height or lower, with a knowledgeable person running it.  Move your dog coming and going...first time at normal show speed, second time slowly, third time very fast.  Take a slow motion and a normal speed sequence with the dog moving at a moderate speed.  Do the same for the dog moving around the camera at a trot, again moderate speed and faster speed.  You'll be amazed at what a difference the speed at which you move your dogs makes to how your dogs look!  Again, slow motion and normal speed sequence.

 Now, you are finished with the video equipment.  Put it away.  Give the dog a tidbit.  Give your friend a drink. Let the dog play for a few minutes.

 Take the protractor (that's the half circle with lines radiating from the centre and which measures angles) from the geometry set, attach the weighted string to the front in the centre of the base (at the 0,0 point) with the plasticine, or putty, or masking tape, so that the string will swing freely and hang straight down at all times.  This will give you a 90 degree angle to the horizon, or a perfect vertical (because of gravity...that's why you weight the string).

 Put the dog on the grooming table in a show stack (four square with the hocks perpendicular to the table...not stretched out - I told you this would be brutally honest, don't look at the topline just yet!)  Make sure that the front feet are under the shoulder blades and elbows, and not in front...i.e. that the dog is not bridging.  Have a friend hold the dog for you so that s/he stays in this position...they should talk to him/her, rub the tummy, etc.

 Take the prepared protractor, turn it so that the base is on top (i.e. it's upside down) and so that you can read the angles, the string will be hanging down in front (between you and the protractor).  Find the spine of the shoulder blade, a straight line running from the forward point of the shoulder joint to the top of the shoulder blade (often erroneously called the withers).  Place the base of the protractor along this straight line thus forming an angle upwards.  The string will hang down.  Read either angle formed by the string and the protractor and note it.

 If the angle which you have marked down is less than 90 degrees, then the shoulder layback = 180 - (x + 90), where x is the angle which you have measured.

 If the angle which you have marked down is greater than 90 and less than 180 degrees, then first subtract x from 180 to get x', and then the shoulder layback = 180 - (x' + 90).

 I promise you that the math never gets more complicated than this...simply because I can't do it if it does!  Now, if you've done that correctly, you will have discovered that your dog has a shoulder layback of aproximately 25-30 degrees.  A dog with a good shoulder will have 35 degrees layback, and an extremely good shoulder will be greater than that (35-45 degrees), but they are very rare...BUT THEY DO EXIST!

 When I judge I put the palm of my hand snugly over the shoulder blade, with the middle finger running along the spine, and I estimate the shoulder layback by looking at the line which that makes...what angle does my hand lie at to the table top or to the floor, 20, 30, 45 degrees?

 Now give everyone a treat, dog, yourself and your helpers.

 We can do the same thing for the angle of the pelvis.  This helps in discovering whether the dogs we are breeding have flat or steep pelvic structures...which influence how they will move.

 Find the forward high point of the pelvis (very noticeable in Afghans, slightly less so in Cardigans), and the "tail bone", the lower end of the pelvis (the ischium tuberosity).  Run an imaginary straight line from one point to the other, place the base line of your protractor along that line, and drop the weighted string, read the angle so formed.

 Once again, if the angle is less than 90 degrees, then the angle of the pelvis is 90 - b (the angle which you measured).

 If the angle is greater than 90 and less than 180 degrees, then subtract b from 180 = b', and the angle of the pelvis is

90 - b'.

 Note that this is the angle of the pelvis and not the angle of the croup.  The angle of the croup is less than the angle of the pelvis, and is NOT a structural angle, but rather an aesthetic one.  That is, it does not affect movement, whereas the angle of the pelvis does.  We have spoken about "croup" for years in dog show circles as a close aproximation to the pelvis angle, realizing that there was some connection.

 Praise everyone involved.

 Take a set of dividers from the geometry set, cover the points with cotton wool and masking tape, and then use them to measure the lengths of the following bones (as best as possible): shoulder blade, upper arm, pelvis, upper thigh, lower thigh, hock

Do not try for tremendous accuracy, aproximations within a half inch will be good enough for our purposes.


 Well, what do we have?

 We have a number of objective measurements (or close aproximations) for some fairly important angles and bones in the Cardigan body - bones and angles which play an important part in Cardigan movement.

 If you have had the energy to do several dogs, now is the time to lay out the measurements and compare them.  How do the dogs compare in terms of shoulder laybacks?  Are they all around 30 degrees?  Is there one with a layback of 38 degrees thay you had overlooked?  What about bone lengths?  Do the pelvis, shoulder blade, upper arm, and upper thigh all come pretty close to being equal in length?   Is the upper arm quite a bit shorter?  (In Cardigans more than one inch is quite a bit!)  How about hock lengths...are they long or medium or short?   How do you think that affects (a) movement, (b) rear angulation, (c) topline?

 Breeders are forced to make choices every time they breed a litter.  Who will I breed to?  What will I keep?  What should I breed for?  Informed decisions are better decisions.

 Everything that you looked at with your dog, and which I have talked about here impacts on your dog's movement.  Movement is NOT independent of structure...it is almost totally dependent on structure (with a little bit of temperment thrown in).  The more we can understand about structure, the better moving dogs we can hope to breed.  At least, that is one person's opinion.



P. Ormos


Structure and Movement (2)

 Last column I suggested some ways in which we could take some basic measurements of our corgis.   Keep track of these more objective measures of the dogs.  You may find them interesting to refer to as we go along.

 How does the corgi move from the side?  Do Pems and Cardis move the same way?  I will stick my neck out and suggest that they do not move in the same way.  Granted that all dogs move by putting one pay in front of the other, and granted that they are both small, dwarf dogs, nevertheless I think they do have differences in their particular style of movement.  As breed specialists it is our responsibility to be clear about these differences, these unique qualities which go into making up type.  Otherwise we will try to argue that Corgis move like Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, and Skye Terriers!

 The Cardigan is a bigger, longer and heavier dog than the Pem (or should be, cf. the relevant standards).  That difference should show in the movement.  The correctly built Cardigan will be well angulated in the front, and correspondingly well angulated in the rear.  The Pem moves more lightly, with more "bounce" (not to suggest that the Pem bounces, though).  A Cardi moves with more "seriousness"...boy is this difficult to describe!  Put two of them together, and just watch the difference - then you'll understand what I'm trying to get at.

 A fluidly-moving Cardi will reach out with the front leg.  Reach is not measured while the paw is still in the air!  Some dogs will compensate for various problems by unnecessary lift in the front.  Yes - it may look spectacular, but does it actually do anything? Front reach is measured when the paw actually sets down again. Only then can one see if there was any real reach, or was it just a lot of flamboyant action up in the air?  Does the paw break at the pastern during the forward reach, is it beginning to hackney?  Again, a dead giveaway that this is compensatory movement is when that straightish line from elbow to paw tip gets broken at the wrist (pastern).  Some people like to say that good reach  extends to the nose, beyond the nose, to the eye, etc.  This is sheer nonsense, and almost impossible to judge!  First, if the dog extends all the way past its nose that is absolutely no guarantee that the dog will actually set down past its nose.  Second, with current handling practices, it is very difficult to see the dogs moving NATURALLY (i.e with their heads lowered to just above the level of their topline).  Most "show dogs" are gaited with their heads up (it looks "classy"), and thus the front reach is completely distorted.  Some are even trained to pull hard on the leash and are gaited with their heads pulled back, thus throwing the front completely out of balance, and usually throwing the rear out, too.  Quite, quite awful!

 As the paw sets down it begins to absorb the impact & weight.  The pad/foot will flatten slightly, the pastern will bend, and the whole mechanism will compress like a spring.  As the dog's weight passes over the supporting paw, the spring uncoils and pushes the dog forwards.  The paw now lifts and swings through the air, pastern bent, to begin unfolding and extending forwards again to repeat the process: strike, support, swing.  For more detail I recommend you read Curtis Brown and/or Casey Gardiner.

Meanwhile the rear, in beautiful coordination with the front, is going through the same three phases: strike, support, swing.  The rear paw reaches underneath for a firm grip, striking the ground, the hock joint will bend and the "hock" will lower towards the ground.   During the support phase the stifle will bend and the hock joint will straighten and then finally as the weight passes over the support leg, the hock joint and stifle will open up and the paw will push off the ground, extending rearward in a full follow through.

 When this all happens in a beautifully coordinated fashion it is just plain poetry in motion.   Any imbalance to the whole will show during the gait! A balanced dog, moving naturally, will follow through AS MUCH AS IT REACHES.   An unbalanced dog, moving naturally, will try to balance itself, and therefore distort the ideal gait.

 If the dog lifts his front paw during extension about 2 inches off the ground, and lifts the rear paw during follow through about six inches off the ground, then the dog is probably not balanced!  There could be all sorts of problems:  lack of shoulder angulation, flat pelvis, overangulation in the rear, etc.  Just as a break in the straight line during forward extension indicates a problem, so a break in the straightish line of rearward follow through indicates a problem.  In many Corgis there seems to be very little follow through at all.

 Efficient movement is a necessary goal for any herding dog.  That means covering the most ground with the least effort.  At least, that's what this one person thinks.  How about you?




Patrick Ormos


Structure and Movement (3)

 Continuing with our look at Cardigan side gait, let's go right back to the front.  There seems to be two schools of thought about shoulder layback.   One school (McDowell-Lyon, early R. Page Elliot, Casey Gardiner) argues for a 45 degree shoulder layback, measured along the spine of the blade.  The other school (Curtis Brown, later R. Page Elliot, P. Burnham) argues for a 30-35 degree layback, measured along the spine.  That 10-15 degrees is a significant difference!

 Some of the difference can be explained in the way in which they gather data.  Curtis Brown measures and extrapolates an average for the breed.  He also works from what he finds in nature, as observed in zoos.  In essence, Brown discusses the ACTUALITY, i.e. what currently exists in the breed.  On the other hand, Gardiner measures and extrapolates a theoretical ideal.  While admitting that very few dogs have ever actually measured up the theoretical, the important fact for her is some actually have done so.  In essence, Gardiner discusses the THEORETICAL, i.e. what should exist in the breed.  Clearly there must be some logical relationship between these two thinkers, and between these two theories.   Both mirror two different ways of thinking scientifically about a problem, one inductive, the other deductive. However, the connections between them have yet to be fully explored.

 Personally (One Person's Opinion), I opt for a theoretical ideal of 45 degree layback of shoulder.  I fully understand that actually finding a dog with such a layback may be very difficult.  But, that does not remove the goal from the realm of the possible, it just makes it more challenging.  The actuality that I live with as a breeder is that many shoulder laybacks are between 20-30 degrees!  A shoulder with a 35 degree layback I would consider a good shoulder, even though not yet ideal.

 The upper arm should be almost equal in length to the shoulder blade, and set at approximately 90 degrees to the shoulder blade.  Some dogs will have an open shoulder, that is the angle will be greater than 90 degrees. If this angle becomes too large, and the bones are equal, then the whole assembly is moved forward on the rib cage.  The resulting front movement will be stilted and short.  If the dog has extreme rear angulation as well, then it will compensate in some way for the imbalance between front and rear.

 A short upper arm (one of the major faults in our breed today), will inevitably steepen the shoulder layback, and affect the movement.  The back edge of the shoulder blade is normally over the elbow...thus is the upper arm is very short, the blade must be tilted up, and the angle opened so that the back edge will still be over the elbow, and the dog will have some sort of static balance.  A short upper arm will cause the lift I have spoken about earlier, and the break in the pastern, and a tendency towards almost a hackney action.   This can be very flashy in the ring, but it is very, very incorrect for any kind of sustained, efficient movement.

 A forward placed shoulder assembly will help the dog give the impression of (a) lacking forechest/prosternum, (b) being long in body/outline, (c) being rather short necked, and (d)being artificially high in wither.  The extra length will also interfere with the coordination of front and rear.

Moving towards the rear, the pelvis affects movement.   When correctly angled it allows the under reach and full follow through necessary for efficient movement.  When steep it actually increases the under reach, but decreases the follow through.  Conversely, when flat it restricts the under reach and affects the follow through, often causing a deviation.   This may be a kick up movement, a sickle hock like movement, etc.

 Croup angle was the external and visible means of seeing the pelvic angle.  But, the croup is not an exact analogy for the pelvis, since the angle of the croup results from the combination of the pelvis angle and the set on of the tail.  The croup angle, even when correct, is considerably less than the pelvic angle.  A correct pelvic angle and high tail set may mimic a flat pelvic angle and a medium tail set.  You must feel the bones to actually see what is under the hair.  The effect of the correct pelvis + high tail is fairly minimal, I would even say negligible.  But the effect of the flat pelvis + medium tail is quite strong.

 A true "gay" tail (carried over the back and actually touching, or almost touching, note: look at the angle at the root of the tail and the croup, in a "gay" tail it seems to be 90 degrees or smaller) affects movement by tightening and pulling on the rear.  It would seem that a rear with a "gay" tail is very restricted.  A "happy" tail (again, look at the root of the tail and the croup, the angle will be greater than 90 degrees) is often carried quite normally at some times, and will wag very excitedly at others.  Also, often a "gay" tail is very high set.  It is a hoot to watch a class of stud dogs walking around stiff-legged with their tails straight up, or nearly so, trying to figure out who is the "alpha" in the class...unfortunately it usually interferes with their movement, too!

 This is only one person's opinion, if you have another, why don't you write to us.



One Person's Opinion


Patrick Ormos


Structure and Movement (4)

 For the last several months I have been trying to raise issues related to Cardigan structure and movement.  We began with a general introduction to measuring your Cardi, and then moved on to several considerations about side gait.  Let's move on again with a few words about the back, and then concern ourselves with coming and going.

Certainly a level back is to be desired for the Cardigan Corgi. That eliminates the back which looks like it belongs on a Dandie Dinmont Terrier.   We need to differentiate between the strong, level back and a rigid, straight back.  They may look fairly similar when standing posed, but are quickly separated when moving.   The rigid back is just that.  When moving there will be no give to the back at all...it will look as it there is a piece of metal pipe welded to the vertebrae, or as if they are fused together in one piece.  Now, if having a one-piece fused vertebral column were really a good thing for dogs, I would imagine that over the centuries some breeds would have begun to actually develop such a thing!  But, that rigidity is a liability during movement, it is not a strong back.  You try walking around with your back help absolutely straight, and with no bending...you'll quickly feel how much of a liability it is.  When we have lower back pains then we humans move that way "naturally" and very gingerly as a way of avoiding pain. A Cardigan needs a strong, flexible back for power and maneuverability.  Such a back will have a slight elastic stretching and contracting motion (like a bowstring) during the trot.  This allows for movement of the body from side to side, up and down, and for the deep curvature of the spine when the Cardi breaks into a full gallop and brings those rear paws well under the long body.  The English commentary on the standard speaks of a slight S curvature from just behind the withers to the tail.  Again I need to point out that this is slight, and the effect is to have a level topline (though not necessarily a completely flat one). The so-called "natural" toplines which have been pointed out to me have usually been exaggerated S curves, i.e. bad toplines!

Despite the fact that many judges put a great emphasis on "clean" coming and going, I consider that side movement will usually tell more about a dog's basic structure.  A dog may indeed move "true" coming and going, and yet be very restricted from the side.  A dog who is balanced, with tight ligamentation, though poor angulation, will probably move "true", and many judges will consider this to be "sound" movement.  In my opinion they are quite wrong. How can a Corgi be "sound"/"clean"/"true" if it so deficient in front and rear angulation that it is really not going anywhere at all.  A mincing  Corgi, or one with a stiff, stilted gait is incorrect.  To judge the Corgi on coming and going alone and not to take side movement seriously into account turns the Corgi into a toy dog with wind-up movement, rather than a full-fledged member of the Herding Group!

Now, having said all of that, how should a Corgi come and go?

Our first clue is the dog's ribbing.  How are Cardigan ribs shaped?  The standards call for "ribs well-sprung."  That would seem to eliminate the tubular pvc type of ribbing we see on some corgis.  The flat, slab-sided (but deep) ribbing is equally objectionable.  What about the big rounded rib cage, usually with a flattish chest (fore-chest/prosternum)?

A wide round rib cage will push the shoulder assembly out of alignment.  We know that the shoulders have "lay back" (seen from the side), but they also have "set on" or "lay on" (seen from the front).  This is the angle measured off a vertical at the point of the shoulder.   Normally, the elbows are closer together than the shoulder joints, just as the upper edges of the shoulder blades are closer together than the shoulder joints. (NB:  Often people will point to the upper edges of the two shoulder blades and call this the withers...this is incorrect.  The withers is actually an area of the vertebral column, the first 9 thoracic vertebrae.) A round rib cage will push both the top of the shoulder blades out from the body, and the elbows out from the body.  Looking from the front, it will appear as if the shoulder assembly is "straightening out".  Also a round rib cage will begin to lose depth of body.

On the other hand a more oval shape (perhaps upside-down-pear shape is a better description) gives depth of body, and has a flattening of the ribs (underneath the elbows) which allows for free movement of the elbows without pushing them out and away from the body.  The prominent breast bone which the standards call for can now be seen, in front of the shoulder joint, not the flattish chest of the barrel ribbed distortion.  All of a sudden, from the front, the Cardigan will actually look rather more narrow in the chest (as compared to the many incorrect, broad-chested Cardis which one sees currently). 

As the legs move forward on this type of ribbing, they will inevitably tend towards single tracking.  A Cardigan who is clearly parallel tracking is absolutely wrong! Such movement indicates (a) too wide a chest, or (b) too straight a front, or (c) too short a leg, or (d) too round a rib cage, or (e) too fat a dog.  It certainly does not show a "clean" moving Cardigan.  Often the dog will also show signs of paddling or extra lateral (side to side) movement as further evidence that parallel tracking is incorrect for this breed. As the dog comes at you, on a loose lead, watch for head movement.   Is the head relatively stable, or does it bob up and down, or weave side to side as the dog has to work hard to maintain some sort of dynamic balance during movement.  If this kind of action is there to any extreme, then there is some kind of problem behind it.

At least, that is one person's opinion.  What do you think?

One Person's Opinion


Patrick Ormos


Structure and Movement (5)

 Well, this series has certainly evolved into something much bigger than I had originally planned.   Perhaps you have different ideas about some of these things than I do.  Please write them up and send them in - that's how I got started with this series.  I can't be the only opinionated Corgi breeder out there.

Curtis Brown classifies the Cardigan as a breed with a "wrap around front" (with which opinion I certainly agree), and adds that the difference between the Cardigan and the Pem is the "crook in the knee" of the Cardigan.  Further, he even postulates a functional reason for the crook in the knee by analogy with the rhinoceros: i.e. to allow the paw to land flat, rather than on its edge, an advantage for a breed with much of its weight in front.  By deduction then, the Pem, while needing the wrap around front, does not require the crook in the knee modification due to its lighter weight.  What happens to the Pem front then as the weight of the Pems increases?  I think that Brown certainly raises some interesting issues, but I wish that he had pursued them a bit further.

It must be admitted from the beginning that Cardigans have changed over the years.  It is no longer acceptable to show an extremely bowed front with feet pointing very east and west.  We consider it untypey and unsound. Nor do we want a front with no crook at all, just straight bones from the elbow down...this would leave daylight between the fore-arm and the chest, and is not typical of the breed.   Cardis must have this wrap-around front, with a slight crook which allows the feet to point straight ahead or slightly east and west (perhaps SSE and SSW would be better).  This slight turn out is usually seen on the heavier males (35-40 lbs.). [A male in condition above 40 lbs is a very big male indeed, just as a bitch above 30 lbs is big, and above 33 lbs is very big. My own personal ideal weights are 30 lbs for a bitch and about 35 lbs for a male.]  The English standard's interpretation (cf. 1984 CWCA Yearbook) would seem to support my suggestions about fronts.  Exhibitors who try to convince all'rounders that their fiddle-fronted dog or bitch is correct are doing a disservice to the entire breed for the sake of a few tawdry ribbons.  And their interpretation will change with their next dog...then it will be straight fronts which are correct, or something else, perhaps one leg crooked and the other straight...?!

In summary, a good Cardi front will fit closely around the ribs and follow them all the way down.  There will be no daylight showing between inner arms and rib cage.  The pasterns will be closer together than the shoulder joints.  There will be a curve to the radius and ulna (the fore-arm) as they follow around the lower part of the chest.  At the pastern joints there is a slight crook to line up the legs below the pasterns straight ahead, with perhaps a slight turn out of the paws in heavier dogs.  The entire front will look balanced and solid.

As the dog moves forward (towards you) the front leg extends and rotates slightly inward as it descends to set down fully on the pads (not on the outer edge).  The legs clearly converge towards the center (were they another five to six inches longer they might actually single track).  There is no unnecessary motion - no flipping up, down, or sideways of the pastern - no high stepping - just a clean, strong, full movement, with no choppiness or stilted action.

Few of us are ever lucky enough to have seen dogs which move like that.  The front is perhaps the hardest set of qualities to breed for in dogs - I don't know why.  But, once you've seen one of the great movers in your breed - or even in another breed - you will never, never forget it.  If you can get videos of these two dogs who were contemporary to each other, you will see the kind of front movement which I am trying to describe in words.   Both dogs are National Specialty winners, both were big winners in their time. AmCh Eastwyn Miss Friendly and AmCh Rollingwood Gee Whiz had superb fronts, and used them well...at least, in this one person's opinion.


One Person's Opinion


P. Ormos


Structure and Movement (6)

 If you have followed this series of articles all along then you will remember that the angle of the pelvis is important for a proper follow through as the dog moves. What does that look like as the dog moves away from you?

The rear pads will be completely visible, including the nails, as the dog moves away.  There will be no noticeable kick up.  If you can not see the whole set of pads, then probably the dog is not following through as fully as we would like.  On the other hand, if the rear leg is lifted high (too much daylight under the lifted paw) then the dog is kicking up in the rear.  Both faults tell us to recheck the pelvis angle and/or the rear angulation.

What else could we see?  I remember one dog with a lot of rear angulation who did little inward half circles in the rear with his legs, even though he was parallel tracking.  It was very interesting to watch this dog go away from you!   Many dogs do all sorts of hitches and bumps as they move away - all indicating that there is some sort of a problem there.

Occasionally we see Cardis who move cleanly and powerfully, and are parallel tracking.  We also see Cardis who move with a powerful gait and a tendency towards single tracking, or actual single tracking.  Which is correct?   I have read opinions which have gone every which way on this question!

In my own opinionated way, I'll give you my ideas, too.   I can not see any logical or theoretical reason why this (or any) breed should move one way in the front and another in the rear.   I am thoroughly convinced that Cardis should tend towards single tracking in front, and therefore I must say the same about the rear.   Otherwise it simply doesn't make sense.   (Please note that none of this applies to the English Bulldog, a breed which is often the exception to everything.)

I know a bitch with moderate angulation, hocks slightly longer than I like, and tight ligamentation who single tracks beautifully.  In fact she makes a gorgeous \/ with her hocks and leg bones as she moves away, with no extra movement whatsoever. I know another bitch with moderate angulation, a better set of hocks, good ligamentation, who moves with a clear tendency to single tracking, but does not single track.  I know others who parallel track. A male I know drives off with great power, short hocks, lovely angulation, looser ligamentation, and he shows a clear tendency to single track in the rear also.

To my mind, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about rear assemblies in Cardigans, and just exactly how they work.  I do have my own opinions...but they are still quite open to a good argument from another point of view.

Currently I am more and more convinced that moderate angulation is what the Cardigan requires, not extreme angulation. I look for dogs with short hocks and good strong hock joints for muscle attachment and leverage.   I also check to make sure that fibula-tibia bones (the lower thigh) are not too long by comparison with the femur (upper thigh), and that the femur is about the same length as the pelvis.  I am also on the lookout for narrow rears.  It seems to me that we have a problem with narrow rears in the breed.  A good, strong broad rear gives better muscle attachment, better balance, and allows for easier whelping.  Taken together that gives us a strong, moderately well angulated rear with nice short clean hocks and a strong hock joint.  The entire rear assembly is characterized by curves, rather than sharp angles, and has strong well-developed muscles.

Going away, you can see nice straight columns of bones inclining inward from the hip to the pads, pushing off strongly, showing the full pad behind, with no wobble or other discernible extra motion.  The whole thing moves smoothly and with fluidity, in coordination with the front assembly.  When I was still involved in German Shepherds there was a sable bitch who was described as a well oiled, smoothly moving machine because her movement was so precise and so smooth.  There is no reason that a Cardigan can not move as smoothly and with the same kind of coordination, though obviously as a Cardigan and not as a GSD.

A good rear is very important to a good moving dog, but absolutely useless without a good front to match it.  For some reason we in North America are in love with rears - and put up with some very bad fronts indeed!  This holds true for many other breeds as well.  We must learn to put more emphasis on the front than on the rear.  For some reason, it seems easier to breed a good rear than a good front.  Once we have good rears in a bloodline we can usually keep them with a little work.  Fronts are very difficult to get, and even more difficult to keep.  They should be a key goal for all breeders, right up there just after breed type.

This concludes our series on Structure and Movement.   I hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.  Remember - this is only One Person's Opinion.



Return to articles overview