FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION
Figure 6. The Scapula
Figure 8. Spine of the Scapula (Blue)
Figure 7. Spine of Scapula in Profile
Figure 5. Prosternum and Sternum
“WHENEVER YOU DISCUSS THE DOG’S BONE STRUCTURE, YOU MUST REMEMBER THAT THE BONE
HAS NO WAY OF CREATING MOTION—IT IS A SUPPORT STRUCTURE ONLY.”
Figure 10. Gently move your hands back and forth.
Figure 9. Placement of hands to palpate spine of the scapula.
What we consider to be the point of the shoulder is the outside "bump" of the end of the humerus or upper arm (Figure 12 "B") with the inside "notch" (Figure 12 "A") , which is the ball and socket joint of the shoulder blade/upper arm junction. For most breeds, the upper arm is longer than the shoulder blade, but the landmarks we can palpate often give the impression that the upper arm and shoulder blade are equal in length. From the point of the shoulder, it is easy to palpate the land- mark formed by the end of the upper arm at the elbow. The upper arm should "return" back underneath the dog's body to be posi- tioned approximately under the wither at the highest point of the shoulder blade. (See Figure 12C.) This position is what is meant by “return of upper arm.” (See Figure 13.) The connection between layback and reach is just one com- ponent of the front assembly on a dog, and it is a significant one to understand. I have known some dogs that could actually "out- reach" their layback! These dogs were few and far between and they usually have had more relaxed ligaments throughout the body. Also, some pups seem to move so well in the front reach department and seem to have such lovely reach of neck until they mature, when the forward stride becomes shortened, and they take on a stuffy look. Once those muscles develop and the ligaments tighten up, you can see an appreciable difference in their gait and outline. The forward reach is usually about the same angle as the
shoulder blade at rest. The length of the upper arm can also affect forward reach, and a short upper arm also shortens reach in front. Whenever you discuss the dog's bone structure, you must remember that the bone has no way of creating motion—it is a support structure only. It takes muscles to move those bones. Over- all conformation is determined not only by the condition of the muscles but also by their size, shape, and distribution in conjunc- tion with the dog's skeleton. Some dogs have shorter, "bunchy or weight-lifter-type" muscles; others have longer, sleeker, "runner- type" muscles. (Think Bull Terrier and Whippet as examples.) You don't want bunchy muscles on a Whippet, nor do you want to see the sleeker, long-distance runner muscles on a Bull Terrier. A dog with upright shoulders and straight stifles may have the same length of back as a better-angled dog but will look much shorter overall. A dog with a shortened front reach will also have some bounce over the withers due to pounding—the front leg is pounded into the ground by the rear-drive of the dog. A dog with lesser rear angulation will not produce as much pounding or bounce when accompanied by straighter front angulation, simply because they are more in balance (there's that word again!). The final area to be addressed in examining the front assem- bly is the placement of the shoulder blade on the side of the dog's chest. When the shoulder blade is set correctly on the side of the chest, there will be a nice rounding of the chest. If the shoulder blades are set too far forward, they will then point towards each
110 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MARCH 2022
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