Thanks to the increased attention that canine performance has been receiving over the years more people are becoming aware of canine structure and how it affects performance. It is my hope to take this new awareness one step further and begin the discussion on “how does canine structure affect performance LONGEVITY?” Knowing your dog’s structure is the first step to developing your map on the road to successful canine performance. Having “poor” structure doesn’t end the possibility of “top” performance, but it will alter the direction and the duration of the path it takes to get there.
One of the hardest parts of being a fan of the standard poodle in the agility world is hearing the constant reminders of the structural “limitations” that the standard poodle presents. I usually follow with “compared to what?” I realize to many I am an agility newbie, but knowing what I know about canine structure and biomechanics it’s a no-brainer to me. When I watch agility I expect a standard poodle to be built and move like a standard poodle. Yes, this includes a standard poodle not jumping or cornering like a herding breed.
Each breed has its origin of function. Knowing your dog’s origin of function will help you start to carve out possibilities and place realistic expectations on your canine performance partner. Many times trying to fit a square peg in a round hole requires cutting corners. Unfortunately, many of those “corners” are required for performance longevity for the standard poodle.
The next time you go to the dog park observe movement and then start categorizing each movement pattern into herding, guarding, sight hound, and poodle. Pretty soon you will see the no-brainer factor too.
Lesson 1: Make a list of all the similarities and differences between the movement patterns of the standard poodle and the border collie. Need a hint? Start with head carriage. Please feel free to comment on your findings.