Hindquarters of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Editor's note: After a discussion on the wrap-around front of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi had been held on ShowCardi-L, it was suggested by a list member that Patrick Ormos (The Reverend Dr. Patrick Ormos) give his opinion on Cardigan rears.
OK, here goes - my VERY opinionated view of rears...and I will mention some
dogs by name in order to help us understand a picture of what I mean.
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:
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.
- provide the power/drive to move the dog forward (the front catchesthe dog as it falls forwards from the rear drive)
- to provide a stable fulcrum point from which to turn and maneuver.
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. Dewclaws removed. Feet point straight
ahead and are slightly small and more oval than front. Toes arched. Pads well
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 is 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 topline!