Fanciers and Judges make a great to-do over the dog’s hindquarters but can they really recognize a sound, strong pelvic girdle and pelvic limb construction? Although breed blueprints revolve around specialization demanding differing angles to include descriptive terms, such as sweep of stifle or great length from hip to hock, unimpaired hindquarters construction is the same, no matter the breed.
First, we start with the basic technicalities to differentiate the thoracic from the pelvic limbs. The pelvic limbs are fused and jointed to the vertebral column, whereas the thoracic limbs are connected by muscle and ligaments, that is to say not bone to bone. The pelvic limbs are heavily muscled, longer and more angular than the thoracic limbs as they are responsible for propulsion. Pelvic limb movements surge or throw body weight forward and the thoracic limbs catch and support this weight no matter what the stride and gait. Please note that stride and gait are not the same but more on this in another essay. One more fundamental is that the arrangement of the pelvis, girdle and rump muscles, enables the simultaneous extension of the hip, stifle, and hock. I will delve into regional musculature in another series.
Moving on, the strength of the pelvis girdle and limbs, length and angularity of its bones and quality of muscling, in almost all cases, ultimately determines successful running speed. Because the dog species are carnivores, Mother Nature constructed him for running. Obviously today, as humans have intervened in evolution and created significant variations in the species, therefore functions, some breeds have greatly limited running abilities, i.e., today’s Bulldog, Pekingese. Despite this, even the Bulldog’s hindend should be strong and muscular.
Many fanciers have taken great liberty, far too much liberty, redesigning the hindlimbs. Frequently we see improperly angled croups, over and under angulated hindquarters, to name but a few. A quick refresher on determining ‘hindquarter angulation’ involves two methods. Hindquarter angulation includes determining the angle of the pelvis from the horizontal (pelvic slope), see my previous essay Stern Warning....