I've written about this before but sometimes it just gets to me so much that I have to write about it again. I hate what I am seeing happen to dogs, not all dogs but many of them. I am speaking about purebred dogs and the fact that they are losing their beef. Of course there are some breeds who are gaining too much beef, like the English Bulldog. Poor dogs can barely move anymore. I'm talking about the breeds who are becoming finer and slighter in build. "Flashy" is a word commonly heard around the show ring. "Light movement," is another term I've heard. Longer necks, longer legs, lighter than air movement, narrow heads, narrow bodies...........gotta catch the judges eye, right? Honestly.
I put my hands on a standard poodle the other day and thought to myself "where's the beef?" Sadly this dog was young and had little muscle; to speak of but his movement was most definitely light. Luke is one of these dogs and as such he is suffering from his lack of muscle (beef). His head is very narrow, his chest even more narrow and he has always had a lack of muscle. Even in his young hay days he was very light in the muscle department and because of this could not move anything like Tilley could.
Now that we have Elsa who is from much beefier stock, the difference is far more obvious. Poor Luke was from show stock; the pick of litter even. He was meant for the show ring but ended up with me. His lack of muscle had nothing to do with too little exercise. He had and still has exercise alright. He was a running partner with my husband, did frisbee, chuck it and hiked for great distances. No he was given lots of exercise but when the muscle mass is not there, you cannot build it up. We did the best with what we had so to speak but now that he is 12 he is most definitely handicapped.
Don't get me wrong, Luke is doing great for a 12 year old and most people are shocked to hear how old he is. But, if he had more muscle he would be doing much better. I see dogs stacked in the show ring; primped to perfection and then look at their legs. "Where's the beef?" It's not right. I don't want Mr. Universe looking dogs but come on, give them something to use. I remember when Luke was young and we would visit the dog park; I was so afraid that he would be hit by a buffer dog and suffer an injury. I think that he has done so well because we have put so much attention on building strength in him, otherwise he'd literally have nothing.
Many dogs these day simply don't get enough exercise, like humans of course. They sit around the house and yard all day and their muscles atrophy. They too will suffer the fallout of muscle loss far worse than a dog with good muscle and tone. Even small boned dogs (don't even get me started on bone mass) like Italian Greyhounds can have good muscle. Muscle is the meat or heart of movement. It pulls everything together and gives our dogs their core strength.
Just because a trend is going one way does not mean that we must follow. Following trends to be popular is a common human trait and often our downfall. Put that trend in a ring of competition and it brings it up to a worst level, a fight for the ribbon. That ribbon may only be obtainable if you conform your dogs to the petite requirements of the judge; are you willing to go there? Willing to put our dogs at risk of injury to place the ribbon on your mantel? We need to think of our dogs; "where's the beef gone?"
Moderation is often the best place to be for many things. Too much muscle and a dog is handicapped in flexibility and movement, too little and they suffer from lack of movement and injury. It's just sad, that we shape and model our dogs to best fit the modern trends. Dogs from the past were much less flashy, not extreme like many of the dogs of today. All I am saying is stand back and take a look at what you are doing. Are you producing structurally sound dogs or are you sculpting a beautiful image that is lacking substance? Even dogs that look beautiful need their muscle, their beef.
"Where's the beef?"