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Flat Footed Working Breeds?


Exhibitor and Judge discuss an uncommonly common fault in purebred dogs, see canine foot chart and share your thoughts on importance of good feet!


April 2017

Sherry L. Shivley, Journalist Award Winner


Round feet with short tight toes (cat feet) or oval pads with elongated toes (hare feet) are both correct, depending on the breed.Flat feet on a Boxer bothers me. How can flat feet hold up in a big dog that should have a job to do? I had this conversation with a Working Breeds judge. We showed at the Peak to Peak Working Dogs and Plum Creek Kennel Club inaugural shows in their new facility at Arapahoe County Fairgrounds. While watching Boxers, a very nice woman sitting next to me started a conversation. She had been invited to judge Boxers this summer.


The judge commented on how flat-footed the dogs were in the ring, over-weight, and how small the eyes were when the AKC Standards says “not too small”. We discussed the Boxer Standard which states “Dark brown in color, frontally placed, generous, not too small, too protruding, or deep set.” The ideal eye many agree is LEMON shaped.


She was surprised that these dogs were coming back from Westminster and were WINNING in Denver.


Feet or eyes, what happens is that many dogs that finish are often enough NOT the best example of our breed but “The Flavor Of The Day” as this judge called them. Then they are bred and produce more of themselves. The progeny in turn show and what the Judges have before them are cookie cutter dogs, difficult to place because none of them are Breed Standard, but the Judge must place something, so once again, the winners are chosen, they are finished and more breedings are done.


The lady judge also said it was a sad commentary on the Boxer Breed allowing them to get fat, not muscled, and spending too much time in the crate so they no longer had “compact” cat feet.


I thought back to one particular Boxer that placed both days. He spent the whole time in a van at the hotel. I never saw the dog walked or exercised. I was out with my three dogs every hour or so, not only for potty breaks but for exercise so they could stretch and unwind mind and body.


Horses are illegally drugged to increase speed or performance which is why random drug testing is used. “Uppers” and “downers” are used in dogs but show dogs are not tested.Then I wondered, if these dogs are kept crated so long, why are they so calm in the ring? Mine would be bouncing off the walls. Perhaps we need to start random drug testing as they do horses. The dog that wins is not always the best dog, that is clear even to the spectators. While I was thinking that… the Rottweiler Judge took the class and those waiting to enter the ring to task.


He told them that the heads are not supposed to look like TEDDY BEARS! Since he was chastising the whole group, I would say this is a common problem. According to AKC, the head is medium length, skull broad between the ears, forehead moderately arched as seen from the side. Occiputial bone well developed but not conspicuous. The dogs he was seeing must have been well off the mark for him to be so upset!


I am also concerned about handlers not caring for the dogs, owners not checking up on their dogs, and the dogs paying the price for a $2 ribbon.


It isn’t up to AKC to police the grounds. Some shows don’t even have an AKC Rep there. Perhaps the kennel clubs can extend their statement of no dogs to be left in cars and vans at the shows to no dogs left in vehicles at hotels. If a cell phone video or photo sent to the club of dogs left in the vehicle at a hotel is received, they should not let those dogs show, and have a Vet check them at the owners expense.


What happened to handlers exercising dogs with bikes or golf carts? If they are so busy with clients, there are always Juniors who are willing to get experience with dogs and would be happy to help exercise the dogs.


It’s time to protect the ones who cannot speak for themselves. Talk to your Clubs, see what can be done. Read your Standard before you breed or buy. Make sure you are keeping to the Standard to actually better the breed - not just to throw them in the ring with a big name handler, knowing they will win.


Dog Bless and hug your dog. EST 2002 © 1704


COMMENTS HAVE CLOSED, thanks to our readers for their replies, please see below.


Sherry Shivley: I would like to Thank you all for taking the article as it was intended. Unfortunately one reader thought it was aimed at her and viciously attacked me on social media. She and her friends called me every name but nice, and I was taken aback. I was not pointing at any one dog, handler, van, or owner. The classes on a whole were very nice IMHO. I am not a judge, yes, I am still learning, and consider myself a newbie. I taught my 4-H kids that if you ever stop learning, and think you know it all, you are done. So I will always be a newbie. I hope to be able to watch and learn, to speak with others and discover something new. I am so glad there are still handlers out there taking care of their charges! After reading of dogs dying in UHaul trailers, motorhomes and not getting medical attention it is heartening to read that love of their dogs is alive and well. They aren't just a pay check. To those I say Thank You and Dog Bless!


David: "The dog that wins is not always the best dog, that is clear even to the spectators." Unfortunately, much of the responsibility for the decline of show dog type can be laid 100% in the lap of the judges. The comment that "The dog that wins is not always the best dog, that is clear even to the spectators." says that there are better dogs in the ring, so the judge does have something to choose from...but instead the judge picks the 'flavor of the day" or the well know professional handler... so that judge is not out of the norm for other judges.. they keep getting hired if they put up the "right" dog... Well, I'll say it again.. much of the responsibility for the decline of show dog type can be laid 100% in the lap of the judges. Judges.. step up and put up the BEST dog regardless of who is handling him/her.. regardless of what other judges have done.. do your jobs... THEN breeders.. breed dogs that meet the standards.. not that win in the conformation ring... do your jobs!!


BJ: Ed Finnegan was a pro boxer and he always roadworked his dogs on foot, for miles. He and the dogs stayed in top condition. He always worked his string in the evenings at shows. He and Carlos Rojas used to run the length of the rings, from inside the rings, jumping the ring dividers and aisle way fences. The security guys usually looked the other way.


Peach Matyaszek: I have been watching Rhanda Glenn (PHA) Bike dogs every time she's at the Ohio circuit! The dogs are very well taken care of!


Joan Krumm: Sherry Canciamille, Rockford, IL excercises her boxer clients with a bicycle.


Sam Harper: Some of our foot soldiers had flat feet after 20 miles. Seriously, I don't know how they got by enlistment physicals.

Patricia Dollar: One need only go to the bar area at any national breed specialty and see how many people are in there for hours on end while their dogs sit in crates. Go to the crating areas of show and wait to see which dogs get exercised before the building is locked up. Come morning see how many of those dogs are standing in feces or urine. When schmoozing clients or judges becomes more important than the care and well being of the dogs, then those individuals are in the wrong business. Many "so called" Pro Handlers even lack proper facilities in their homes to exercise dogs. These dogs literally go from crates at the show and in the rig to crates at the home. Frankly there are so many long circuits now that the dogs that go with handlers, who practically live on the road, never get exercised well. The dog owners have some expectation that handlers will give the dogs some rest and free time but frankly no one polices this. Owners need to be very vigilant about how their dogs are kept on the road and at the handlers facility. To maintain proper muscle tone and those ever important feet, dogs need to get out and run on grass surface where they can run at full speed , trot or twist and turn their bodies. Make sure your handler has an appropriate facility for your dog before sending it on the road. There is only so much exercise can do. If the dog is born with long toes and weak pasterns perhaps not enough consideration was given to this trait when the breeding decision was made..


Fred Lanting: There is one more "foot style" that Sherry might have illustrated: the strong, nearly-vertical pastern but with elongated-looking phalanges, often also referred to as "hare foot". Actual photos of live dogs would be helpful. I used to handle all sorts of breeds, and found many such among Borzois and other breeds. The metacarpal area of the front toes is closer to vertical, like a good Dobie or terrier, while the phalanges (last two or three shorter foot bones) are elongated-looking but still not splayed when viewed from the front.


Sylvia: Dan Buchwald takes excellent care of his clients dogs. I have seen him exercising them with a bike.


Denise: I'm not much into dog shows (I go occasionally to local ones) but recently I started having trouble with my own feet and weight. I went to foot doctor re; inserts and to the gym for weight loss. I have to say between the both, my feet are sooo much better.  I can do the things I need to do! So it's just as important for a dog to have correct feet and weight and the handlers running them around the ring should be just as in-shape. People would be a lot less inclined to have to take prescriptions for pain, weight, health problems etc.. and then of course, take more scripts to counter-react the bad effects of the meds they are already taking. You know what I mean...



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