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Im interested in starting a discussion comparing and contrasting conformation, soundness, and correct structure of various breeds.

What Im wondering is if there are common traits that span various breeds that are considered to contribute to soundness.

So breed enthusiasts lay out what is right within your breed and we will compare...
 

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In my breed, angulation is a big deal. An unbalanced dog can't work, and so even if the degree of the angulation isn't ideal, as long as the shoulder matches the rear, it's acceptable.

Long legs- to keep the dog above snow as it pulls.

Strong front- again, don't want a dog to wear down, plus, a big dog with bad structure won't be able to pull as much as a smaller dog wtih excellent structure.

A longer back- dogs with longer backs are better suited to work then dogs with shorter backs- the pressure in regards to pulling is distributed over a greater surface area.

Correct feet/toes- a samoyeds feet sort of act as a snow shoe in artic condictions. A dog that has overly high toe arches would have damaged feet before too long.

ANNND some stuff is just for looks- they say the silver tipped coat helps the dog blend into the snow, and the inside of the ears must be furry.

The tail must be long, so that the samoyed can curl itself in a ball in the artic conditions. That way, it can cover its mouth and nose to warm the air before it reaches the lungs.

In the olden days, they used to try to dock the tails of the sammies they used for artic expiditions. When the dogs started dying of pnemonia, they learned how important a tail is! Sad what we've done to dogs through the years...
 

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I see this is kind of an old thread, but it's certainly an interesting one that deserves discussion. I wanted to share some observations from my breed, the Sheltie.

I compete in agility and have always had an active lifestyle that includes my dogs. Having dogs that age gracefully and live long is very important to me. We are told that good conformation begets soundness in a working dog and my experience certainly bears that out. In my line in the early years, we typically had nice fronts but somewhat gangly rears that sometimes have a significant toe-out. A couple generations ago, we bred on a dog with a really nice, sound rear. I didn't notice much difference in performance really, in young dogs, but it's in middle and old age that I see the better structure paying off. It seems like there have been fewer problems with arthritis in the lower back with the dogs that inherit the better rear to go with the front.

In the agility shelties I know, it seems like the young dogs do allright regardless of structure but its age 8 and up where you see it all happen as far as pain and injury. Dogs with poor fronts or out-of -balance bodies do indeed seem to break down and have short careers while those who have strong and balanced structure go the distance into old age without pain or loss of function. I've always valued structure, but agility has made me even more picky, more willing to accept head faults etc and less willing to accept structural problems.

Certain show ring fads worry me for this breed: We are seeing straighter and straighter fronts. First the shoulders got steep but now the upper arms are really bad. Some of these straight dogs move with a 'cute' little pitter-patter stride, the feet lifting high off the ground at each stride in spite of the fact the standard calls for a foot that barely clears the ground. These newfangled 'windup-toy' shelties have balanced gait, but no reach, drive or shock absorption with this bound to spell orthopedic disaster in an agility dog. This goes against everything the breed standard says. The Sheltie standard faults short, stilted up and down movement but nevertheless, its winning. A lot. Sometimes I think its been so long since a correct, smooth and long strided dog won that they have forgotten what to look for.

Overangulation of rears is becoming more common. It seems like there has been a corresponding increase in "Fair" hips and bad knees to go with that. The undersize/ toy size shelties in particular, seem to develop more trouble with knees and seem to lack stamina as well.

My last 'pet peeve' among the fads is the cat foot. The breed standard once again says the feet should be oval with deep pads and strong nails. Both Cat feet and Hare feet are named as faults in the breed standard. In the show ring however, cat feet are favored, nails ground practically off. Feet are getting tinier and tinier. Larger oval feet hold up. in contrast, you better believe that these cute little cat feet go flat as pancakes with age. Combine that with a straight front, low slung overdone rear and you might as well order a pallet of Adequan with your new pup. If I sound a little disgusted, I am. If you want to read a good standard that describes a well built working dog, read the Sheltie standard. It actually spells out soundness very well.

Why the soundness, or lack of it is ignored in the ring by so many is a mystery to me. Why breeders fail to learn what is really is mystifies me. A beautiful moving Sheltie with a smooth flowing gait is more than functional, it's just beautiful to watch. A couple decades ago, we had a sound breed for the most part. Judges seemed to have a better understanding of soundness and structure. The oft-repeated mantra for the Sheltie breeder back then was 'soundness and moderation' . I don't know what happened but for those of us who still require soundness and athleticism in a dog, the buyer is wise to educate themselves about what faults will lead to orthopedic problems and avoid them. I've been lucky with my dogs, but I've been picky too. They don't have to have perfect structure but they've got to have the basics. The dogs I've known that have out of balance bodies and significant structural faults simply do not make it past 8 years old without injury and pain. I think that regardless of the breed you have, it's only fair to the dogs to learn what soundness truly is, to study working dogs and learn what holds up, what breaks down...for the sake of the dogs involved and for the good of the breeds in general. The histories and heritage of our breeds is wonderful, each has a unique and special purpose behind it's origin. But sometimes I fear that if we don't start taking better care of our wonderful pure breeds, we will surely lose them.
 
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