© Doris Duewel / Komi, Finland / December 2009
We recognize the silhouette of the Australian Cattle Dog by his strong head with rather small upright ears, the nice long sided confirmation on his legs in proportion 10:9, the straight back with its long dropping croup and the bushy tail until the short hocks.
The evenly good angulations impart the impression of an agile, eager to run working dog.
The strongly muscled body expresses tireless stamina.Behind this appearance is the skeleton combining perfectly with each other bones, muscles, ligaments and fibres, in order to render an effortless, powersaving and far-reaching gait.
The thrive for the straight forwards movement is resulting from a broad hindquarter, thus transmitting it via pelvis,loins,the back to the front. where the shock is breaking the dropping. This fact emphasizes why a healthy front (ED) is so important.
Which requirements are needed for the functionality of the body? Both, front and hind legs are strong boned and straight, when standing. They are neither too narrow nor too wide apart from each other.
The upper thigh is broad, long and muscled, while the lower thigh should be rather short, to guarantee a good hindquarter angulation. The length from the rudiment of the backmost pad until the hock is as long as from hock to knee.
This relationship of the length to each other results in the right angulation with strong muscles. Strong broad muscles render the ACD his power while the long muscles make him movable.
The so induced levarage effect allow the legs to stride flat forwards. The front leg is thrown widely forwards by the thriving power of the hindquarters. While the dog is trotting quicker the paws are approaching more and more until they nearly touch each other.
Within subseconds the hindpaw is footing exactly where the frontpaw just left. During this movement the withers stay absolutely immobile.There is also the saying, that a full glass of beer can be balanced on the back without a single drop is spilled over…
The head is the natural prolongation of the muscled, sturdy neck and back.The bushy tail is steering the gait and is carried half up while trotting. In no case the tail is carried so high, that it is breaking an imagined vertical line thought from the onset.
The leg bones are strong and cause the powerful endurance. The sturdy round paws complete the view.
The front is connected to its skeleton only by muscles.This has a great impact on it. The front angulation is formed by the wide backwards reaching withers and the shorter upper arm in an open angle of appr.130 degrees. If the angulation is unsufficient the dog is stilting, his motion is tied, steps are too short.As a consequence the frontleg is not wide enough reaching forwards. Well developed muscles at neck, chest and legs, influence efficiently the transmission of power and endurance of the forward movement.The withers shall not approach each other too close to ensure the mobility of the ACD.
The bow of the ribs should in no case remind to a ton, and therefore give the impression of being overloaded. This would prevent the effortlessness of the gait. To guarantee the great agility in the movements of the ACD’s own effortless twistings, the elbows should not lie too tight to the body. At the same time the elbows should not be too far from the body so that a man’s fist is fitting between body and elbows. It is correct, when a lady’s flat hand can be moved between body and elbows.
If the bone dimensions are not correct, muscles and ligaments are developing in a faulty way. In the consequence the gait is limited and the ACD gets more rapidly tired.
We should not forget, that the ACD has worked as an untiring drover for cattle during several days and even weeks.We should honour this heritage and should not try to change the ACD and his temperament into something he has never been bred for. Of course, his intelligence and devoted manner to his owner might get along succesfully with sleeve work, but he is born to be a drover.
What happens after all, if the front is well angulated, but the hindquarters are too upright? The hocks are too long, the muscles of the upper thigh are insufficiantly developed, whereby the the upper thigh gets weak and narrow. An efficient thrive is no longer possible. The hindquarter is no longer reaching wide enough under the body, the stride is short.While the correct angulated frontleg cannot develop its full potential and rather tries to compensate the uneven movements with a sort of hackney motion,the hind legs are only pulled powerless over the ground.No doubt, that the gait is uneffective.
Just as the front needs long sloped withers, the pelvis needs to be brought, sturdy and muscled.These study and broad muscles are continued in order to give the hindquarters the ability for a strong thrive.At the same time the hock joint must guarantee the utmost mobility,in order to render it possible, that the ACD can follow immediately every turning of the cattle.
While standing the legs are supporting the body, i.e. they are standing under the body (see picture). If an imagine line from the front of the pelvis is drawn down to the ground, it must touch the knee. Such a compact body fullfills all requirements for power and endurance.A dog, who is stretching his legs behind, feels uncomfortable when his legs are standing under the body.
Is the body of the ACD getting too short, the thrive from hindquarters remain without effect, because the hindlegs cannot reach widely enough forwards. But, if the body is too long, the back is often too soft and resembles these trains with a moveable piece between two waggons. The gait gets rolling and disharmonious.
If the ACD is equally bad angulated on both ends it looks somehow more harmonious, but the movement is stiff, stride is not reaching far enough and is powerless.
The ACD’s typical endurance is suffering.
A Cattle Dog who is quasi floating over the ground with light feets is not only a joy for the eye of the spectator, but also demonstrates that all standard features are perfectly matching for the gait of the ACD. Power and endurance in an harmononious silhouette are representing the gait of an Australian Cattle Dog.