28 July 2011

Structure and the Performance Dog

I'll make this brief, so I don't accidentally turn it into a lecture. Structure is something I tend to see first when I look at a dog, so if I'm next to you at a trial and I comment on a dog's body, try not to think ill of me; it's a habit. Structure is ONE of the traits that can make or break a performance dog. A dog with a great mind and horrible structure may get far for a while in a sport like agility, but eventually they will be either limited in speed or ability, or limited by injury. But I also feel strongly that a dog with mediocre structure and a great mind can do amazing things, as long as they are healthy. I feel that horrible structure should not be bred no matter what, but a dog with some minor flaws but a great mind could potentially be bred, as long as they are healthy (and the family is healthy of course). That said, I do take structure into account when choosing a puppy. I want a dog within certain limits of anges front/rear, and there are a few structural flaws I absolutely will not accept because they limit the dog's athletic ability and sometimes make it prone to injury. i want moderate angulation in the rear, and hopefully matched by the same in the front, however many border collies are straighter in the front than they are in the rear, and this is not the worst flaw on earth. i would prefer a dog not be too overmatched because that CAN cause issues in dogs rushing to jumps, their rear overpowering their front, and not having the front end available to flex at the last minute and save the bar.

Structure limits the dog, or enables the dog. I could go on about how each fault affects the dog's motion, but that would be a heck of a long post, and I'll stuff it for now. Maybe I'll prepare a seminar on it some time. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that if your dog is not in pain, or caused pain, by doing what you're doing, there's absolutely no harm in it. I do hate when evaluators tell owners "your dog is put together so badly you shouldn't do agility!". If the dog isn't hurting, and it's willing, who are they to say no?

Structural talk aside, here's a lovely example of a young dog. I like how his rear is nicely angled, but without having that overangulated look that some BC's have. His butt is hairy, so keep that in mind when looking at the angles. His shoulder is quite nice for a BC, and much better laid back than many. Nice neck, nice topline. Only thing he does wrong right now is that he toes out a bit - but he is not even 11 months old right now, and I am absolutely sure he is not done filling out yet, so that will resolve. And if it doesn't, that is hardly a major fault!

Here's Mr. Gorgeous!
All Zet Air Attack Strafe at 10 months, 3 weeks old. 

No comments: