Russell Terrier Breed Magazine - Showsight


Left: Fig 14. Natural dip in vertebral column of all dogs where the spines change orientation. Right: Fig 15. Using the breed standard and biomechanic principles to create the beginnings of a blueprint for the balanced, rectangular silhouette of the Russell Terrier.

Neck The neck is, technically, part of the topline of the dog, even though many breed standards use topline to refer to the back only. The backline and the neck together play an integral role in “type” by forming much of the recognizable silhouette of the dog. …neck of sufficient length to allow the terrier’s mouth to extend beyond its forepaws when working. The neck should be approximately two-thirds the length of the back. If it is set on correctly, there will be a slight arch or crest at the top just behind the ears (i.e., nape). Then, the neck should flow down with a slight arch and merge smoothly into the withers. The neck should conform to the balance of the dog. It should be strong without being heavy. A swan neck or ewe neck is also undesirable. SUMMARY The two descriptors used most often in the AKC breed stan- dard for the Russell Terrier are “rectangular” and “balanced.” Although the standard does not specify numerical ratios for the desired proportions that go into forming the rectangular silhou- ette, we get insights into a template for the breed by combin- ing a study of basic biomechanical principles with key aspects in the standard (Fig 15). Despite attempts at defining the perfect dog, there will never be a mathematical equation for describing the best silhouette for the Russell Terrier (or at least, I hope not) because part of the process will remain an art. “It takes both the left and right sides of the brain. The right side is the creative, artistic side that sees the beauty, the symmetry, and the nuances of the breed. The left side interprets the standard in a more intellectual, logical way.” –Narelle Hammond Breeders must understand and acknowledge the science behind nature’s construct of animals and apply relevant prin- ciples to their breed’s standard, recognizing the responsibility of directing a breed’s development to a “type” that preserves intend- ed function and maintains our different breeds. Part One of this article focused primarily on proportion and substance; Part Two focused on the balance of the whole and the parts. Part Three will review those aspects that direct the charac- ter of the breed; the head, tail, expression, and movement, along with the remaining aspects described in the breed standard for the Russell Terrier.

TOPLINE The definition of topline varies… or at least people’s com- mon usage of the term varies. Most breed standards will use topline to mean that part of the dog from the withers to the base of the tail. Anatomists, however, use topline to refer to the entire upper profile of the dog, from the top of the head to the base of the tail. Then, the backline is that part of the topline from the withers, caudally. The Russell Terrier breed standard states: Topline: Level while in motion. We know this does not mean that the head of the Terrier is carried on a level with the back, such as might be seen with a Pointer at work. So, the topline in this breed standard refers to the back, loin, and croup. …slight arch of the loin from muscling that is felt rather than seen. The Russell Terrier has a straight and level back that extends from the withers to the base of the tail. It is not dipped or arched or sloped. This differs slightly from the standard for the Parson Russell Terrier, which states that a “very slight arch over the loin is maintained.” The back can be anatomically defined by the thoracic verte- brae, and the loin defined by the lumbar vertebrae. The croup, however, is an area represented by the fused sacral vertebrae, plus those caudal vertebrae encompassed by the pelvic bones. Together, all three parts (back, loin, croup) should be level, which means even and parallel with the ground. The three parts are in a ratio of 2:1:1 per Yerusalimsky’s biomechanical model of the dog. He writes that the solid topline is necessary for motive thrusts; to transmit the energy efficiently. Interestingly, on radiographic examination or close palpa- tion, all dogs of all breeds have a dip at the 11th thoracic ver- tebra arising from a change in the orientation of the vertebral spines at this position (Fig 14). So, in a smooth-coated dog, this might be seen, but should not be penalized. Often, dogs with an incorrect upright shoulder and/or straight upper arm will have a topline that slopes down from the withers to the tail. In addition, dogs with an incorrect over- angulated rear may have a back that slopes backwards. The topline can also slope in the opposite direction, mostly seen during movement in an unbalanced dog.

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