English Cocker Spaniel Breed Magazine - Showsight

fewer, more e ffi cient steps; therefore he can work for longer periods of time. Th e standard calls for a dog’s withers to be well laid back and the upper arm to return, or lay back, the same distance and at the same degree as the scapula. Th e ideal angulation is for the front to form a 90 to 100 degree angle, with the highest point of the shoulder (withers) to be directly above the elbow, which is also directly above the back of the front foot when properly sta- tioned. Th e reason for this is mechanical advantage: the front legs can reach forward in a projected line that follows the degree of layback of scapula. Th e upper arm needs to be same length as the shoulder. An upper arm of equal length coupled with length and layback of shoulder makes for optimal length of stride and propulsion. Th e bottom left photo is our Cocker’s standing outline with an image of balanced movement over it. Note the 45 degree angled lines over the front and rear legs. Th is illustrates equal reach and drive. To allow freedom in front and correct front reach, the head also drops to about a 45 degree angle. In the show ring, when a Cocker is “strung up” with the lead held

vertical and taught, the head stays in a more upright position, which doesn’t allow the Cocker opportunity to show correct, sporting dog movement. Th e dog with an inadequate front cannot reach to its nose. It is completely wrong for a gundog to be short strided in front. If the scapula is more upright, the upper arm and foreleg cannot reach to vertical line dropped from the nose of the dog, causing a shorter stride. Neither can the dog with a shorter foreleg have a stride of su ffi cient length, or have ideal leverage to propel the dog for- ward. Also, a dog with a more upright fore- leg does not have the ability to have an ideal range of motion and it tends to have a more upright pastern as well. Any of these faults cause the dog to take more steps during the course of an hour, a day, its lifetime. Neither does the dog have any need to reach past the nose. Anything more that the described ideal creates wasted motion, wasted energy. While flashy and eye catching, this type of movement is atypical of a correct Cocker and is of no use in the conditions under which the breed works in the field. It should no more be rewarded in the ring or

is more typical of a weight lifter, capable of pushing through dense cover and car- rying heavy game, as opposed to the type of muscling found on a gun dog that runs over large, open fields. Th e amount of trappy terrain a dog needs to go through is in proportion to the amount of bone and muscle a breed needs. In human form, think of a runner’s build as opposed to a weight lifter’s. Th is is why we say the Cocker is rounded and con- toured and is not made of angular planes with long, flat muscle type. Th e standard states: “His gait is charac- terized more by drive and the appearance of power than by great speed. He covers ground e ff ortlessly and with extension both in front and in rear, appropriate to his angulation.” To carry the dog, his front needs to move e ffi ciently. We want strength and endurance, not speed. Th e ideal, e ffi cient stride allows the front foot to reach for- ward to a line dropped vertically under- neath the nose, landing just behind the nose, in order to push o ff when it is under- neath the dog. Th is allows the dog to take


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