Measuring Proportions and Finding Landmarks: Part 2

Figure 1. Occiput


Measuring Proportions and Finding Landmarks – Part 2:

The Head, Chest & Forequarters

After doing a visual assessment of the standing dog, the next step, as it is taken in the show ring, is the hands-on examination by the judge. As a breeder, there are many areas on your dog that you must physically examine to determine if it is correct for your breed. What must be physically checked (hands-on) can vary from breed to breed. It is more challenging to find the landmarks on a coated breed, but they can be found by parting the coat and gently searching for them. The coat can cover a lot of faults, as can a groomer who is clever with the stripping knife or scissors.

Examples include checking the zygomatic arch and the formation of the topskull, and determining the actual placement of the elbows. These are just a few areas that you will need to put your hands upon to determine what is real and what is an illusion of skillful (dare I say, artistic?) grooming of the coat. I often jokingly say, “This is why God gives a judge hands—to search out the truth and not just see the illusion.” Since this series is on form and function, we will mainly deal with the structures having to do with movement and leave the other areas for another day.

When examining a dog, it would be far more precise if each of us had access to radiographic machines so we could know that what we see on the surface of the dog is true. Alas, since few of us have this ability, we will search out the exterior landmarks we can either see or feel to determine the skeletal structure beneath the coat, skin, and muscles. I have colored these landmarks in blue.

To check the neck’s arch and length, put your hand behind the skull’s occiput (O)—a relatively easy landmark to find. (See Figures 1 & 1A which show the outline of the skull and the approximate point of the occiput in blue.)

Finding Landmarks