Balanced Angulation

The term “balanced angulation” in general refers to the various angles of the legs, though it could include the neck angle, the angles of the head, angle of tail set, etc. According to Spira’s book “Canine Terminology”, balance is a synonym for symmetry. When something is symmetrical, it does not mean identical. The right and left hands are symmetrical, but, as everyone knows, the left glove will not fit the right hand. Thus, balanced angulation of the legs means that the angles of the front legs should be approximately symmetrical to the equivalent angles of the rear leg. While we can say that the rear leg angles should approximate the front leg angles, specifically, which angles are we referring to? Although I have never seen a written definition of which leg joints have equivalent angulation, it is logical to assume that the point of shoulder angle should nearly equal the angle at the stifle joint and that the angle at the elbow should nearly equal the angle at the hock joint. By present findings those dogs designed for ideal trotting should have the shoulder blade layback about 300 off the VERTICAL (not 450 degrees as commonly quoted); whereas the pelvis should be about 300 off the HORIZONTAL. Thus, these two angles differ by about 900 and are not symmetrical. Although we can define balanced angulation for legs, the real problem is, “Which breeds of dogs should have balanced leg angles?” Most dog show fanciers agree that those breeds designed to be expert endurance trotters should have balanced angulation, and many fanciers ASSUME this to be true for most breeds, probably because exhibits are judged at the trot. At the present time considerable evidence indicates that some breeds designed for a function other than ideal trotting, such as superior gallopers, should NOT have balanced leg angulation. Certainly Chows and Bulldogs do not have balanced angulation. During the trot, wherein diagonal legs move in cadence, it is logical to state that both ends of the dog should have equal ability to step equal distances and to do equal amounts of work. Balanced angulation would aid this objective. Also, during other symmetrical gaits (walk, pace, amble, pace-like walk and trot-like walk) a front and a rear leg work symmetrically and the same reasoning applies. The gallop is not a symmetrical gait; the front legs operate significantly differently from the rear legs; each do different types of work. Unlike the trot, wherein both ends give nearly the same amount of forward thrust, during the gallop the front legs give about 10% of the forward thrust and the rear legs give about 90%, as can be proved from pressure plate tests. In addition, if there is only one suspension (the single suspension gallop), the suspension occurs after the front legs have moved (not following rear leg movement). Also, during the gallop one side of the dog always does more work than the other; to equalise work the dog must frequently change lead. All of this points to the fact that each end of a galloping dog is designed to be superior in its special type of work; no symmetry of function exists. When making angular measurements on Sighthounds, especially those from the race track, balanced angulation is seldom found; the front is much straighter than the rear. The Cheetah is well known for its quite straight front and angulated rear. Greyhounds and Borzois have about 200 layback of the shoulder blade; trotting breeds have about 300. Differences do exist. A most unfortunate thing happens in the judging of show exhibits. Merely because dogs are judged at the trot, most judges evaluate on the basis of what is ideal for a trotting dog, not on the basis of what is ideal for the function of the breed. Why should it be assumed that Afghans should trot with long strides when they should trot with stride lengths typical of galloping dogs? I am yet to see an imported Afghan trot like USA show Afghans. Present judging of Deerhounds is causing selection towards trotting characteristics, instead of galloping characteristics. In dog shows it is probable that we are selecting for beauty of motion, not functional motion )