Pluperfect, Merrymoon
& Puddleduck
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Our Point of View on the

Front of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi

By Jon Kimes

For many, a key breed feature of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is the out-turned forefeet.  In fact, for decades the Cardigan fancy has worked diligently to educate judges that the Cardigan front is an important differentiator between the Corgi breeds and MUST include out-turned feet.  Our position comes as a result of observation of various breeding programs as well as our own and we no longer support this perspective.  We feel the CORRECT perspective is that the Cardigan MAY have slightly out-turned feet as long as the front structure is SOUND. 

In Hubbard’s The Cardiganshire Corgi from 1952, he includes the breed standard which does not state the forefeet turn outward.  But the breed standard of today states the feet, “point slightly outward from a straight-ahead position to balance the width of the shoulders.”  We do not breed for “wide” shoulders so this justification seems a bit questionable.  The statement seems taken verbatim from the standard of the 80 pound Basset Hound which states, “feet inclined equally a trifle outward, balancing the width of the shoulders.”

What we have observed in many breeding programs are a lot of problems with weak pasterns, too much out-turn,  asymmetrical forelegs as well as a complete lack of ability to produce consistently sound fronts.  We are also alarmed of the increasing number of procedures to correct problems with the ulna in adolescent puppies.  This makes us pause and wonder if this “breed characteristic” is actually based not on soundness to do the job they were bred to do but  a long held belief based on a common conformation fault of early dogs.  We call your attention to another “characteristic” in the old days which was that the Cardigan had a “unique, dancing rear gait.” That dancing gait was a description of profound unsoundness!

In our experience, as we are successful in breeding longer upper arms and clean shoulders we find the crook in the foreleg tends to be less extreme and it is not uncommon for the forefeet to point outward only minimally or even forward.  We find absolutely no compromise with soundness with this formation.

In asking for the opinion of a well informed friend of mine, she writes, “First and foremost, let's look at the laws of physics that govern efficient movement in quadrapeds.  As columns of support, the front legs must absorb repetitive concussive forces of energy generated from the hind quarters.  The straighter the column of support, the stronger that column will be.  Introduce chondrodysplasia into the equation, and things get more complicated because of the tendency toward crookedness in the supporting columns as lengthening of bone is prematurely halted in the growth process.  Depending upon the degree of chondrodysplastic deformity, even the scapula can be shortened and rounded as well as the humerus.  Curvature, or crook molding, carries down to the radius and ulna to wrap around the large brisket.

“As you have correctly discovered in your breeding program, long, obliquely set scapula -- not curved! -- along with an upper arm of equal length, set with a proper return, go a long way towards supplying the dog with a sound front assembly.  On the other hand, dogs whose radius and ulna curve too much bring the carpal joints too closely together for the legs to absorb the repetitive concussions from the hindquarters and remain sound -- especially, if one is demanding endurance from them, as their historical work would do.  In addition, the too-close carpal joints now cause the feet to turn out to balance the weight of the front on those unsound carpal joints.  So you see, it's not the weight of the front per se, but rather the weight of the front on faulty leg structure that produces turned-out feet.  Breeders who focus on the need for out-turned feet fail to see why the feet have to turn out or to recognize that the real fault lies in too much curve in the radius and ulna which degrade the soundness of the carpal joints.”
Most achondroplastic breeds permit a slight out-turn but do not demand it.  We believe a correct, functional Cardigan front contains a moderate molding of the foreleg around the chest but that the forefeet may point forward or be slightly out-turned and must include strong, parallel pasterns. 

An IDEAL front - forearms wrapping symmetrically around the chest, parallel pasterns, slight out-turn of feet.
 An acceptable front - forearms wrapping symmetrically around the chest, parallel pasterns, little to no out-turn of feet.
An acceptable front - forearms wrapping symmetrically around the chest, parallel pasterns, maximum out-turn of feet.

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