Dogs help us to belong

Dear friends,

Most of us are, hopefully, preparing for a summer break! Why not take some time to read about the dog world in dogdotcom and to count our blessings?

In a little more than one month, many will gather in Helsinki for what could be the biggest FCI World Dog Show ever: the registration are more than promising and, Finland being a doggy country, we can expect a high participation!

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Marie Luna Durán
FCI Marketing and Public Relations Manager
Results of the world’s most extensive study on the locomotion of dogs

Prof. Dr. Martin S. Fischer, Institute of Special Zoology and Evolutionary Biology with the Phyletisches Museum, Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena

The domestication of the wolf has led to an astonishing diversity of dog breeds in terms of size, weight, physique and general appearance. The reasons for the greatest diversity among all pets lie in the variability inherent in wolves as well as the consequences of the thousands of years of artificial selection. With the world’s most extensive study so far on the locomotion of dogs, in which 327 dogs were examined from 32 breeds, we investigated the question of whether similar variability can be found in the movement of the different breeds of dog and, in particular, under the influence of a 40-fold difference in weight between a Chihuahua or Dachshund and a Mastiff of whether the dogs move in extensively the same manner irrespective of breed.

The result is surprising insofar as the differences between ten dogs of one breed are almost always greater than between the breeds. Contrary to our expectations, the movement of dogs has thus changed only little over the long history of their domestication. The relative lengths in particular, i.e. the proportions of the individual sections of the limbs, have changed to a smaller extent than expected in the breeds and, above all, the relative length of the upper arm is the same for all breeds within one percent. If the proportions are so similar, it is then immediately clear that the movement pattern must also be very similar. In fact, too much attention has been paid to minor or only putative changes while the major features they have in common have been overlooked.

For example, if we compare the length of stride – with the height of the withers as the standard – of the Dachshund and the Mastiff, this is 1.3 for the Dachshund and 1.2 for the Mastiff at the front when walking and 1.9 and 1.8 respectively at the trot. The corresponding values at the rear are 1.6 and 2.1 for the Dachshund, with 1.4 and 2.0 for the Mastiff. The Mastiff reaches further forward when walking with an almost identical length of stride on the front limb, while the Dachshund has a greater length of stride, though the two breeds behave almost identically at the rear. We calculated that the turn of the shoulder blade accounts for around two thirds of the length of stride at the front for all dogs. So it is not surprising that the effective amplitude (raising-lowering differential) for the two breeds amounts to 34° for the Dachshund when walking and 39° at the trot, with values of 37° and 44° respectively for the Mastiff. The pattern of movement is thus very similar for both breeds. Probably the most important finding of the study is the fact that dogs have retained the wolf-like nature of their motion.

We have presented the results of the study in a book entitled “Dogs in motion”, in which we also give an extensive portrayal of current knowledge concerning the locomotion of dogs. We have reappraised the most important results of 300 scientific studies in both words and pictures in such a way that every interested reader can also obtain extensive information about bones, muscles, joints, as well as overall motion and the dynamic aspects occurring in this regard. With a unique visual language presentation and DVD with more than 300 film clips (high-speed videos, high-speed X-ray films and, in particular, 3D animations), we hope we have opened the door to a new understanding of the movement of our dogs.

Link to the video (in German)
(recorded on November 11th, 2011, on the occasion of the FCI Cynological Days organised to celebrate FCI’s Centenary).