by Patrick Ormos, Phi-Vestavia Cardigans, USA
Hindquarters of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi
The rear assembly is made up of several different areas which must all work
together to give the dog the optimal rear. The purpose of the rear is to:
- provide the power/drive to move the dog forward (the front catchesthe dog as it falls
forwards from the rear drive)
provide a stable fulcrum point from which to turn and maneuver.
These two goals are not necessarily totally compatible, so that we end up compromising one
or the other. The idea is not so much to have the perfect generic rear as it is to have
the balanced specific rear for the specific breed -- in our case, Cardigans.
The Standard says, "HINDQUARTERS--Well muscled and strong, but slightly less wide
than shoulders. Hipbone (pelvis) slopes downward with the croup, forming a right angle
with the femur at the hip socket. There should be moderate angulation at stifle and hock.
Hocks well let down.
Metatarsi perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other.
Feet point straight ahead and are slightly small and more oval than front. Toes arched.
Pads well filled."
Overall, the hindquarters must denote sufficient power to propel this low, relatively
heavy herding dog efficiently over rough terrain.
It seems to me that we are asking for a dog which is only SLIGHTLY less wide in the rear
than in the front...and I believe that much of that is ribbing shape and coat. I would not
get too hung-up on this. However, many exhibits show weak rears and narrow rears -- not
what the standard calls for.
A clue to the rear is found in the opening paragraph of the Standard, "...culminating
in a low tail set and fox-like brush." The impression given is of long & low,
with sweeping curves right to the tail tip, and a level topline.
Because the Standard gives only a vague description of the pelvis and croup, we are left
to infer what is correct. A "squared-off" look would seem to be incorrect. A
flat pelvis would seem to be incorrect. A high tail set would seem to be incorrect.
The pelvis must be angled enough to allow the dog to reach under itself, and to turn on a
dime -- and must be shallow enough to allow the dog to trot without tiring (i.e. to have a
good follow-through). How do we accomplish this?
Now, this is a more involved question than you might think. I think everyone knows how I
feel about Percy (Phi-Vestavia Nautilus), but, for my taste, his pelvis (not croup) is
just slightly flat. I am much happier with Gloria's (Phi-Vestavia Good Gracious) pelvis
and rear assembly.
Unfortunately, we went too far the other way with Inky (Phi-Vestavia Inkling), whose pelvis is too steep. Now that's three generations
in a direct line...and we're still having trouble with it!
The result of the slightly flattish pelvis, and the moderate angulation (Percy), is that
we have a dog with tremendous drive and follow-through, and adequate under-reach. Inky's
steep croup and extreme angulation allow for magnificent under-reach (too much?!) but
without the tremendous follow-through (and therefore drive) of his grandfather, Percy.
Gloria probably has the most correct, in the sense of balanced, rear of the three. She
exhibits lots of angulation, good pelvic slope, good under-reach and good follow-through.
She moves (when she wants to!) with power around the ring.
I am very suspicious of rears from the ringside. There is so much that I cannot see. A
slightly flat croup with a low tail set may look OK until I see them move. A good croup
with a higher tail set will look wrong (foreign), but may end up moving very well, indeed
(if that tail stays down). It is imperative that we not confuse the croup and the pelvis.
It is the pelvis which is the actual structural component, the croup is just what we see
from the distance.
Going away, a good rear will be true without wobbling or extra motion. Many of us remember
Moses (a dog I truly loved) but who was not gifted with superlative rear movement. His
feet would describe small inwards circles as he moved away from you. Or, some of you may
have seem Rikarlo American Phi (Beauty) who looked lovely going away at first glance,
until you realized that she was not so much single-tracking as toeing in with her feet,
and spreading her hocks going away.
We do not want to repeat the mistakes of our GSD friends by so emphasizing side gait that
we actually end up breeding for loose ligamentation rather than correct angles -- the
result being that we have hocks which go every which way but straight and true! Our hocks
must be short -- perhaps not quite as short as a Pembrokes' (open to a lot of discussion,
here) -- but certainly much shorter than what we currently have as the norm in the breed.
To date, I have never seen a rear with a too short hock on a Cardigan. Others may have had
that experience. I see MANY rears with too long hocks. [Yes, I know that the hock
technically is the hock joint -- but I have chosen to use popular jargon to make it as
understandable as possible for most people.] Most of us refer (incorrectly) to the hock as
going from the hock joint to the ground in the rear.
Remember that we are looking for a rear that balances itself for the functions of this
specific breed. One of the strengths of Salvenik Sea Treasure was his short hock, and that
he often threw that as a stud. For detailed discussions of hock joints, etc. please refer
to McDowell-Lyons, C. Gardiner, et al who have written mounds on these technical points.
Suffice it to say that they have convinced me that a short hock is preferable to a long
one for a breed which needs to be both nimble and an endurance trotter.
When Gloria was a young puppy I was concerned that she had so much rear angulation
that she would never get it under control. She moved well with no loose movement in the
rear, but she didn't follow through the way I would have liked. As she got older, I began
to see follow-through when she decided to move out (on her own in the backyard), and I
began to feel better about it. I think that she has probably the maximum amount of
angulation that I want to see on a Cardigan. Everything works for her rear (pelvic angle,
tailset, angulation, hock length) and it is a beautiful thing to see in full motion.
Certainly it is easier to get everything in balance when we reduce the angulation. Lyneth
does not have the extreme angles of her granddaughter Gloria. Yet Lyneth moved using her
rear fully! Percy does not have the extreme angulation of Gloria, either.
What really disturbs me are strongly angulated rears with hock joints that show no flexion
[sickle hocks]. These are very, very weak. I would rather see a slightly underangulated
rear with good flexion at the hock joint than the over angulated one.
I am also disturbed by dogs with hocks so long that they lift the rear above the