Page 104 - ShowSight - November 2019
P. 104

                Form Follows Function: Part 12
 I have often heard that the swimming breeds use their tail in a manner similar to a rudder, but I have a hard time believing that sim- ply because most dogs when swim- ming depend upon the front legs to do more to propel them through the water than the back legs. It was once thought that dogs would swim in a trotting motion, but more recent video analysis have revealed that they actually run underwater (gal- lop instead of trot). In this research, it was determined that they do use their front paws for ‘power strokes’ just as do competitive human swim- mers. As the breeder of a herding breed with a docked or bob tail, I know they do quite well traversing through water whether it be a pond or a pool—even lacking a tail. My dogs all love to swim and do so with great enthusiasm, gleefully jump- ing into the pond or pool again and again and none of them have a tail. Just about any breed with the excep- tion of those with very round chests and shorter muzzles can swim, but caution must be taken with these breeds as well as heavily coated breeds who could be weighed down by a water soaked coat causing dif- ficulty and possible drowning.
Tail set is a structural matter— and the tail can be set high, directly off of the spine, or in various degrees of being low set. (See Figures 5 though 7) Tail carriage, on the other hand, can be very much influenced by the metal attitude of the dog. A dog with a high tail set can certainly drop the tail instead of carrying it up or over the back as is usually expected with a high tail set. I have seen many dogs with a correctly placed low set tail that can carry the it much higher than one would think possible (the Cardigan Welsh Corgi immediately comes to mind) so I am always sure to physically check for the proper low tailset when I am doing a table exam in the ring.
There are as many tail shapes and lengths and thicknesses as there are breeds. In your own breed, you should be able to understand why the tail is described as it is and what function it could serve through its physical characteristics and carriage.
Please send comments, sugges- tions or to schedule a seminar to Stephanie Hedgepath at jimanie@
Figure 5. High Tailset
  Figure 7. Low Tail Set
Figure 6. Tail Set as Continuation of Spine
  102 • ShowSight Magazine, noveMber 2019

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