The Importance of Conformation
Conformation ( Con - formation ) is just a fancy name for body structure. Since the body is made up of hundreds of moving parts, then just like a finely tuned machine, it makes perfect sense for the various skeletal parts to be correctly aligned because the bones form the framework upon which the muscles, ligaments and tendons etc are built. In doggy parlance this alignment is known as 'angulation'.
ANGULATION AFFECTS EVERYTHING
Horse breeders know that the forehand (front end of the horse) is the most important aspect in the conformation of a horse. Two thirds of a horse's weight is at the front half of the horse too.
Not so many dog people know that it's exactly the same principal for dogs. The length and placement of the scapula and humerus bones with their attachments, determine the carriage of the head, the length and shape of the neck, the depth of the chest, placement of the front legs and the overall movement of the dog. Regardless of how the hind end is constructed, the way the front end is built, governs everything else. All this just from two bones!
DOGS ARE DIVIDED INTO TWO BASIC GROUPS - GALLOPING AND TROTTING
Form to Function in the Galloping dog equips it for speed.
Form to Function in the Trotting dog is for endurance.
Form to Function means that the dog's physical structure enables it to carry out its function with the least amount of stress or damage to its body. Stress or damage shows itself in diseases like arthritis and OCDs or impairment to the immune system.
Galloping dogs have steep upright shoulder blades which allows them to elevate their front end with every stride while they push off from behind and clear the ground high with each powerful leap. For a galloping breed this is the correct front end assembly and is their Form to Function.
Trotting dogs are different to galloping dogs and have a well laid back shoulder. This means that when they are standing naturally in profile, a perpendicular line drawn from their withers down to the ground, should pass directly through their front leg. The dog on the left is termed as "standing well under itself'. The dog on the right is described as 'standing out front'. Even though the dog on the left has less angle in its stifle, it's drive will be much better to the educated eye.
The Australian Cobberdog is a Trotting dog.
Its Form to Function is to move tirelessly and effortlessly, with the minimum of effort. Its stride is long and low to the ground and is so soft and elastic that the dog appears to float, light footed without bruising a blade of grass.
The way to evaluate its Form to Function is to watch its movement at the trot. A correctly conformed dog can't move badly, (unless excited until it settles into its gait) and a badly conformed one can't move correctly.