English Cocker Spaniel Breed Magazine - Showsight

Shape of Ribs at about T2 and T6


incorporated in a breeding program, than any other movement fault which inhibits the Cocker from functioning correctly. Here is a dog that is unable to extend its front to its nose, yet is kicking way too far behind with the rear. Th is is a compen- sation caused by a straight front (upright scapula and short upper arm), combined with an over angulated rear. Additionally, a dog with ideal angula- tion has more area for muscling. Imagine a 90 degree triangle and that of one with shallower angles and you can see that it leaves less space for carrying a well- developed musculature. Th is shoulder is tipped forward, instead of being laid back towards the rear of the dog. It places the withers well forward of the elbow. When in motion, the dog will look as if he is falling over his front, which is exactly how he is made to move. Due to the incor- rect placement of the scapula, the neck juts forward and is very restricted in its range of motion, a true detriment in the field. Th at standard states: “Chest deep; not so wide as to interfere with action of fore- legs, nor so narrow as to allow the front to appear narrow or pinched.” Th e dog has to have good spring of rib in order to house heart and lungs of su ffi cient capacity. Th e rib needs to extend downward to at least the dog’s elbow. A shallower ribcage crimps space for heart and lung expansion. From the front, the rib needs to be heart-shaped at its widest point. If one were to take sliced transverse images from the elbow forward, the shape is significantly narrower than a slice taken from its widest part, far- ther back. Th is is because as the dog reaches forward, the legs should begin

to converge. Th is aids in smooth, more for- ward movement. Th ink of yourself if you try to run: when you begin to move faster, make an e ff ort to keep your legs as they hit the ground as wide as they are when standing. Th at causes a stilted, side to side movement, not conducive to good run- ning. Same with a sporting dog! Consider that a Cocker is a smaller, wider breed than other sporting dogs. If its width is su ffi cient, its front legs will never converge on the same line (single track- ing), or even come close to it because it is a wider breed with wider muscle for its size than other, taller, dogs. Pasterns: the standard states “pasterns are nearly straight with some flexibility”. Th e pastern needs to have enough angula- tion to “give” upon landing. An absolutely upright pastern will act more like a post, with no natural give. A pastern with too much bend will not have enough strength and will cause more strain to ligaments and tendons. Compare the greater slope of the front pastern with that of the rear. Th is is because the front has to deal with more concussive forces and needs to be more shock absorbing. In the words of Anne Rogers Clark, second generation English Cocker breeder and ECSCA Past President, “In any breed, the whole dog is hung on its front end. How the neck is set, how its topline is, all go to the front. Must have forechest out in front. We’re getting a lot of English Cock- ers whose fronts drop straight down, a so- called Terrier front where they’re laid back in shoulder, are short in forearm and their fronts are way out in front of them with no forechest—it’s totally incorrect for a Cocker. Got to have some forechest!”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Patricia Janzen is an artist/illustrator and English Cocker fancier who grew up drawing and enjoying the company of cats, dogs and horses. Her fi rst show dogs were Gordon Set- ters, where she also tried her hand at fi eld tri- als with them. She settled on English Cockers in the early 80s, breeding and showing under the Ebonwood pre fi x. She has always bred in a limited way but not without a share of suc- cess. Having studied painting and medical art, she now combines her love and learning of animals and art. At present she paints and is working on two AKC illustrated standards.


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