Showsight Presents The Russell Terrier

INTERPRETING THE RUSSELL TERRIER BREED STANDARD

The next type of balance is one that is specified in the breed standard and this is the balance that refers to the symmetry between the forequarters and hindquarters. This is horizontal balance. Angles are equal and balanced front to rear. The length and angle of the scapula (shoulder blade) and humerus (upper arm) should, approximately, equal those of the pelvis (hip) and upper thigh (Fig 2). A person well-familiarized with the skeletal anatomy as it lies beneath the skin and musculature can palpate the criti- cal points of measure, but a simple trick can also be used as a first test of horizon- tal balance. Draw circles in your mind to generally encompass the shoulder and the hip (Fig 3). Are they similar in size? Obvi- ous mismatches will be evident, even in puppies (Fig 4). Balance is also displayed by being able to draw an approximately level line from the point of the shoulder to the point of the hip, and by being able to draw a level line that bisects the humeroradial (elbow) and femorotibial (stifle) joints (Fig 5). Balance must also exist between the fore and hind limbs when looking down from above. When looking down on the dog, the width of the hindquarters is equal to the width of the shoulders. Scapulae that are “pinched,” mean- ing that the top of the shoulder blade tilts inwards toward the spine with the shoulder forced out, can create a wider-appearing forequarter than hindquarter. Of course, a Russell Terrier with a barrel chest (round) or a slab chest (narrow and flattened) instead of the correct oval shape are likely to lack balance with the hip when compar- ing the fore and hind limbs from above. A mismatch in forequarters and hind- quarters is not uncommon in Russell Ter- riers (Fig 6). This general imbalance is too frequently overlooked in our breed in exchange for awarding smaller details— sort of like missing the forest for the trees. Breeders and judges alike should look at the “forest” first; the overall balance and symmetry of the dog. The breed standard for the Russell Terri- er does not specify numbers or ratios for the various proportions that create the desired symmetry. It just says balanced—balanced image, balanced dog, balanced lengths of bone, and balanced angles. Can we better elucidate what balance means by consider- ing the general biomechanics of dogs?

WHEN LOOKING DOWN ON THE DOG, THE WIDTH OF THE HINDQUARTERS IS EQUAL TO THE WIDTH OF THE SHOULDERS.

Left: Fig 2. Angles are equal and balanced front to rear, approximately 90 degrees. Yerusalimsky’s Postulate #2. Right: Fig 3. Balanced Circles

Fig 4. Left: Unbalanced; Right: Balanced

Fig 5. Parallel lines run from the point of shoulder to point of hip and from the elbow to stifle joints. Yerusalimsky’s Postulate #4. Courtesy of Irina Degtiar, www.ALGRAFS.ru

Fig 6. Unbalanced

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