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Ethics &

Type & Style Type Type & Structure


by Patrick Ormos, Phi-Vestavia Cardigans, USA


The Cardigan Corgi Front

Many people seem confused when speaking about the Cardigan "front". Despite much myth, it is not supposed to be that wildly divergent from the sound front of any other "dwarf" (i.e. achondroplastic) breed. In looking at the Cardigan Corgi it is necessary to consider the "front" from two different points of view. The first view-point is from straight ahead, looking at the dog's head and full frontal view. The second view-point is from the side, looking at the profile of the dog. We do this to ensure that we will indeed look at the two different parts of the total front assembly, that is, the radius & ulna, and the lower bones (i.e. the elbows down), and the scapular and humerus bones, as well as the joints (i.e. the elbows up).

From the full frontal position the Cardigan has a shoulder blade which is slightly closer together at the top end than at the shoulder joint, and which again comes in just slightly at the elbow. I can not stress enough that this should not be exaggerated. But if you go lightly over a correctly built dog's front you will find that there is indeed an angling in away from the shoulder joint.

The columns of bone from the elbows down are curved around the deep and capacious chest of the Cardigan Corgi ... if everything fits together correctly you will not see a bowed front because it has fitted snugly around the curved ribs. A really nice front does not show daylight between the radius/ulna and the ribcage. It all fits together neatly. And there is a "prosternum" which juts out in front of the whole set up. The wrists (i.e. the pasterns) will be straight ahead. NO. THEY WILL NOT BE CURVED EAST AND WEST. This is a definite fault. East and West is a fault in Cardigans, too!

The feet, especially in larger, heavier males, will turn out slightly. The new AKC standard suggests 30 degrees. Measure that with a protractor some time. That's not a great deal of turn out. Once again, some of these dogs with excessive turn out are not "typey Cardigans", they are East and West, or fiddle-fronted, or just plain unsound dogs!

Now, here comes the acid test: how does the dog move? When this Cardigan moves towards you (the judge), does s/he move with those front feet straight and inclining towards the center (they would single-track if they had longer legs)? Or are the feet still moving all over the place, are they still curved way out so that the dog waddles towards you? Is that front assembly so wide (a very common fault in Cardigans right now) that they can't get their feet out in front, producing a faulty parallel movement? The over wide front produces a gait which may look "clean" coming at you ... but which is as faulty as a German Shepherd which comes at you with a parallel-track gait. (N.B. The Cardigan does not move the same way that a Pembroke does. The back length ratios are quite different, and the tail carriage (were the Pembroke to keep their's) is quite different.)

For this view we move around to the side of the animal, and the profile view. Our focus changes from a concentration on the lower leg (elbow down) to a concentration on the upper leg (elbow up). Needless to say, we still look at the other parts of the leg assembly, even while we are concentrating on a specific portion.

The Cardigan shoulder assembly seems to be the most neglected part of the animal. When Cardigan breeders get together and talk about their dogs, it is always the frontal view that they consider.


Somehow we rarely talk about shoulder-blades, and upper arms. And yet, these are of primary importance if we are going to work on improving movement in Cardigan. Soundness in movement does not only refer to being "clean" coming and going. There must also be some reach and drive if the animal is going to cover any ground at all. The shoulder-blade and upper arm, their lengths, their angles, and their placement will tell us how much reach our dogs can have.

A Cardigan needs a good lay-back of shoulder-blade, I would argue for the theoretical ideal of 45 degrees. Indeed I have measured some Cardigans with lay-backs which approached that ideal, and which had outstanding front movement. I recognize that most of our dogs do not have that kind of lay-back ... but that gives us a goal to work for, doesn't it. The upper arm and the shoulder-blade should be approximately equal in length. Again, most Cardigans that I see are very short in upper arm. This is a serious structural fault, because it is so difficult to breed out (that is a breeder's opinion of how one evaluate's some faults). This gives them a very incorrect (if flashy) hackney action. A really good mover in front is not flashy, rather they just float over the ground, reaching out in front and almost pulling it underneath them as they travel over it. It is a remarkably beautiful sight.

Of great importance to that indefinable notion "type", but often overlooked, is the placement of the shoulder-blade and the upper arm. The upper rear edge of the shoulder-blade should rest on the sixth rib. When this happens, with a good lay-back, you will suddenly discover that your dog has a wonderful length of neck, and that there is a tremendous prosternum in front of the shoulder assembly, and that the dog has a moderately high wither. It is really rather nice to see all that appear as the shoulder blade gets out of the way and gets back into position, instead of being up on the neck, giving the appearance of a short stuffy neck, flat chest, and very high wither (because the tip of the shoulder blade is sticking up, instead of the spines of the vertebrae).

This short article has been meant to be a sharing of what I, as one breeder, look for when I look at a Cardigan front. I hope that it will spark some thought and discussion. This is only one person's opinion.

What do you think?

29.11.03 /ed.ANo



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