What has happened to the front structure in some of our Kerry Blues? Viewing recent pictures posted on the Internet and published in dog magazines I have noticed an increasing number of dogs "posting", some more noticeably than others. They seem only to need a curved slat placed under their feet to become rocking horses. This is by no means a North American phenomenon. It is evident in some pictures posted on, and from, UK and European websites.
I am used to seeing dogs enter the ring and walk into a typical Kerry stack with front legs perpendicular to the ground. But, at a few shows lately, I have noticed the occasional Kerry coming into the ring, and standing with the front feet positioned forward causing the front legs to slope.
I was always taught that the dogs rear legs are stacked so that a perpendicular line from the pinbone to the ground would just touch the front of the toes and that the front assembly of the dog is positioned well under the body. The front appears to be straight and perpendicular to the ground and has always been referred to as a "straight front" (see Figure 1). Illustrations of the typical Kerry front (and stance) can be seen in the Casey Gardiner/E.S. Gibson Books "Dogs A Hobby or A Profession" and in the USKBT Illustrated Breed Standard. In dogs that post, the front legs angle forward; the front is no longer perpendicular to the ground (see Figures 2 and 3).
A veterinarian friend, who is a structural fanatic, has told me he thinks we may have introduced a shorter upper arm into our breed and are therefore changing the breed's front assembly, and consequently, the gait. The movement of a dog with such a front is very flashy, but the gait, if not strictly controlled, resembles a "goosestep" which is not typical of the breed. Consider the mechanics and movement in a dog with shoulder blade and upper arm of equal length against the mechanics in a dog where the upper arm has been shortened.
In the Kerry Blue, the shoulder blade and upper arm should be of equal length with the lower arm being slightly longer. Down through the years this has been typical of Kerry structure. The proportionate length of shoulder blade, upper arm and lower arm contribute to the beautiful reaching stride that is typical of the Kerry Blue. Front and rear angles complement each other. There is an imbalance in the angles and movement of dogs that post.
The Casey Gardiner/E.S. Gibson illustrations include exact bone length for the ideal Kerry, and were meant to be an educational tool for breeders. (The measurement classes that were part of their Canine Studies Course were both frustrating and great fun.) This ideal Kerry may be impossible to achieve but the structure depicted in these illustrations is something to strive for and such structure would not "post".
As yet posting is not a common occurrence in the show ring, but it is happening and should be of concern to breeders. Just food for thought.
L-R. Figure 1. The typical, correct Kerry front. The front legs are perpendicular to the ground. Figures 2 and 3. These two Kerries are "posting". The front legs are not perpendicular to the ground.