I want to discuss substance today; it has been a looming topic for me for a while. I am mad and need to vent. What am I mad about? Dogs and their lack of substance. I am talking about purebred dogs; and the fact that many of those who intentionally breed dogs and exhibit them are ruining them. Let's just take Luke for example; yes Luke is the base reason why I am mad. Luke was a show prospect, he could have ended up in the conformation ring spending months or maybe years of his life being on exhibit. Okay, so he was and is a beauty to behold but if you happen to really get a hold on him the smoke and mirrors are replaced with reality. The reality that he has very little bone and muscle mass.
Yes he has over the years lost muscle mass, it happens to the best of us as we age. But when you do not start out with a great deal you are in trouble when the loss starts. Having been around purebred dogs now for over 37 years I've seen and had my hands on a lot of them. Dog breeds that were big, buff and meaty way back when are not so much now. What I am seeing in so many breeds is that people are going for image, that wow factor. Strikingly long necks, legs and reach. Big hair, more of it, flashy movement, a firecracker in the ring and that floating on air gate. That gate that is taking much of the substance away.
Tilley was an amazingly muscled dog; she was built to perfection. Her movement was easy and she made unbelievably athletic feats look like a walk in the park. She was squarely built, her legs and neck were much shorter than the dogs that you see in the show ring today. But she could work, she never tired and when you grabbed her leg it had substance. She was extremely well muscled; so much so that after a good long run her legs would get pumped up like a body builder. As beautiful as she was, she was one buff girl.
When I talk about substance I mean the beef, where the heck has all the beef gone in our dogs? I am not speaking about one breed, I am talking about them all. As the article below says, they may be structurally correct but have a huge muscle and bone deficit.
Substance: the actual matter of a thing, as opposed to the appearance or shadow; reality.
Grabbing hold of Luke's ankle area and comparing it to Elsa's makes me shudder. His bones are fine and the muscle that should be there to support them, lacking. Whereas Elsa's are good sized, more solid with lots of beefy muscle around them. This comparison is something I use to do with Tilley and Luke, especially on bath day. I see a lot of dogs today that have got the bod, they look good from far but are far from good. Lacking in bone and muscle will be a price they pay as they age.
Dogs who are lightly boned and muscled cannot work like a beefier type can. Dogs do not have to be cumbersome if they have substance. When they have nice muscle they can move much easier and do not get injured like the lighter substance versions. Beauty versus brawn? I say that they can have both and deserve both. She I run my hands down a dog I want to feel a well muscled back so that bones are protruding too far. When I grab a leg I want to feel that there is a good sized bone in there, not something that makes me cringe with fear of breaking.
Let's be honest, humans created all the breeds. They designed them to their desires. Now humans are tweaking them, fine tuning what once was. Get out a history book and look at the original versions of your breed and see the difference, it is pretty huge in most. I will say that there are breeders out there who feel strongly that dogs should be able to work, play and have fun without breaking. These breeders are keeping the dogs well boned and muscled.
Dogs are literally in our hands aren't they? Is it fair to be designing them to a shell of beauty where they suffer for our desire? NO. They need good bones, good muscle and of course health and a good temperament. When I see or feel the leg of a dog lacking in muscle it makes me sad. Legs of a young dog should be full and beefy, no something resembling a chicken wing hanging from their body. As you can tell I am passionate about this. Our dogs deserve the best from us and if part of that is creating them then we best be doing our best there as well.
While I was doing some research on muscle loss I found this good article on the subject.
Rottweiller, bones, muscle and power