canine structure

I wanted to talk about structure this morning with regards to movement and action. The more dogs I see the more I realize how important structure is. With people breeding dogs to their personal likes and dislikes many dogs are suffering the consequences.

Structure; a complex system considered from the point of view of the whole rather than of any single part.

Structure plays an important part of daily life; it can be the difference between happy go lucky or constant pain. In the wild a wolf with a compromised structure will suffer and may even die. Survival of the fittest is cruel but reality in the wild yet our domesticated dogs can suffer the same pain although we are here to care for them.

One can look at canine structure as a whole but it can be one fault that brings the integrity to a screeching halt. Since the existence of the canine; man has had a hand in manipulating their physical structure. Many dogs that we have today were created for specific purposes; most of these purposes are now long gone. What we are left with are physically manipulated dogs with problems. Take the long breeds; dachshund, pekingese and dandie dinmonts, all suffer from back issues.

The flat faced breed or brachycephalic like the bulldog, pug, pekingese have respiratory issues that owners need to deal with. These breeds have a high rate of sleep apnea which is something an owner should be cautioned about.

Then there are the short legged breeds; again the dachshund, pekingese, corgi and bassett hound. These dogs can suffer from skeletal and leg disorders caused by having abnormally short legs. Here is an article on the genetics of dwarfism in dogs.

Other than these three obvious structural issues the every day dog can suffer just like humans from a lack of muscle mass or small variations in build. Now there are many people who have no intention of participating in racing, swimming, tracking, flyball or agility with their dog. For those people the risk of their dog being injured is far less; obviously. But for the average Joe with a dog; you are going to want to hike, run and play with your dog so structure plays a big part in your everyday life.

Let's take my dogs for instance; all three are very different in structure. My little Jack Russell is built like a tank; she has average length legs (she's not a pudding) and is pretty much average in just about everything else. But she is stocky no doubt which makes her very durable. Her lack of length of neck and legs helps her to maintain good structure in movement and she has rarely been injured because of it.

Luke and Tilley are both standard poodles; Tilley is an amazing athlete, Luke is not although he is incredibly fast and can run like the wind he tends to injure himself often. Tilley is compact in every way for a poodle; she has amazing angulation in her rear and shoulders. Her neck is on the short side which does not do her well in terms of a "show dog" but as far as an athletic body goes; she's got it all. Luke on the other hand is a more show type poodle. Long in every way which does not do him well in the athletic department. He has a very deep yet narrow chest; he can be knocked over easily. He is very long necked and long legged which makes maneuvering a greater task for him and he is much more prone to injury. I can't tell you how many times he has tweaked some part of himself which results in days of rest.

So structure is a vastly important part of having dogs and playing with dogs. If playing is a big part of your life whether in the form of a competitive sport like flyball, agility, frisbee or dock diving then you need to take extra care when adding a new canine member to your family. Many breeders now a days are taking a closer look at structure in movement and the sporting dogs. As they say; beauty is only skin deep. Not only is skeletal structure important but the tissue which surrounds the skeleton is just as important. Without the supporting muscle and tendons you have a weak skeleton; which is prone to injury.

None of us want our dogs in pain; whether it is from an injury or genetic fault from birth needing surgical repair it is simply pain for our dogs. And this is yet another reason to NEVER EVER purchase a dog from a pet store; millers don't care about the life of a dog down the road. As long as they get that money they don't care who they hurt on the way.

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