Update: Puppy Post

Sorry, totally forgot to post about the puppies this past Monday!

Better late than never, right?

So: when you stack a dog, you want the dog in this pose:

Eve, many years ago

I keep this picture of Eve as a teenage puppy up on my Cavalier website because I pull this picture out to say, “This is what the structure of a trotting dog ought to look like. Deviations from this are probably bad.” Then I point out whatever features, such as the very smooth, elegant sweep of the topline — good shoulder layback, good length of back compared to loin (the back extends to the last rib; the loin is the part between the ribs and the pelvis), good croup, this is really a very nice topline. I point at the rear angulation and say, look, this is correct angulation, this is how the rear legs ought to look; if the rear legs look straight and don’t have these angles, the dog will never move properly and is at very high risk of serious orthopedic problems as it ages. I talk about the forechest — that’s the part of the chest in front of the front legs, of course; basically the breastbone — and the depth of the chest — for a trotting dog, the chest should come down to the level of the elbow (this dog’s fluffy underline makes her chest look overly deep, which it is not). The fur does create illusions. This puppy does not have flat feet, that’s an illusion created by the fluff on the toes.

Eve is a good comparison when looking at current puppies. Of course, she knew how to stand properly. Getting little puppies to stand is difficult. It’s nice to try, because whatever you see at eight weeks is probably close to what you’re going to get as an adult. Some people prefer to look at ten weeks. I look at eight, nine, and ten weeks, and of course I watch the puppies stand and move in the yard. These puppies have all been standing and moving really well — I don’t mean cutely, I mean correctly.

So, let’s take a look!

Star declines to stand on the table

Well, sometimes that happens. This puppy will stand next week, I expect.

Next!

Clair has her rear feet a little too far forward, but this isn’t bad.

Clair is about a pound lighter than the other puppies. She might be “light in bone,” but in fact I think she will turn out fine. I’ve had six puppies as small as this at her age and they all turned out small-medium rather than overly small or light. Her head is pretty. Her ears might be a little low-set, though it’s a bit hard to judge because she is uneasy about the table. She is short-bodied (“cobby”), which is good as long as the shortness is in the loin rather than the back. If she were standing really correctly, I think you would see a better topline, but this isn’t bad. Her croup is definitely good. Rear angulation is good. Her shoulder is at least okay. Her shoulder might be a little straight, the junction between neck and back is a bit abrupt, but on the other hand, she has decent length of neck, so probably her shoulder isn’t *too* straight. She is reaching forward a bit to get the tidbit; that will stretch the neck out and create the illusion on a less ideal topline. I think she is probably just fine.

Day looks really nice

I think his head looks really big here, but it’s an illusion created by the angle. He wouldn’t stand straight, so I snapped this and called it good. He’s a much more solid puppy than Clair — he’s an even five pounds as of yesterday — tons of “bone” and heft. He’s got a fine neck and shoulder, which is important because a good shoulder is important to correct, efficient movement. Good pasterns too. His croup might be a hair steep compared to Clair, but he hasn’t got his rear set perfectly. I really, really like this puppy. I’m probably a bit biased because I also like his very stable, very mellow personality. He’s a lot like my Ishmael.

Joy is not a bit worried by the table

This puppy is SO CUTE. I am super biased here because, I finally realized, she reminds me so much of my Pippa. That same gung-ho attitude. She really is very joyful and happy. She has much less fluff than the others. They all have the “fluffy puppy coat” allele. Joy has the “smooth puppy coat” allele. This is totally trivial as they will all lose the puppy coat at about five months and be short-coated for a bit as they gradually grow out their adult coat.

Is Joy’s topline just a tiny bit dippy right behind her shoulder? Or is that her coat? Hard to say, but it’s better not to see a dip. Why? Because a dip behind the shoulder means the shoulder is steep. That means the front movement will not be ideal. She won’t reach as far forward as she should, reducing the efficiency of her gait. She doesn’t seem to have a lot of forechest either — again, that implies a straight shoulder. On the other hand, her length of neck is good, so the shoulder probably isn’t *that* straight. Next time I stack her, I will try to make sure her front legs are set perfectly and then check shoulder angle and forechest by touch, more reliable than by eye.

It’s very freeing to plan not to breed a puppy. I don’t have to feel like I need to keep the puppy that’s the best breeding prospect. I can keep this puppy even if I see structural imperfections. I’m not going to be doing Agility with her, I’m not going to hike the Adirondack Trail. She’ll be fine if I decide to do Rally because you don’t have to practice jumping a lot for Rally. If I DID breed her — not going to — but if I did, I would be looking only at boys with all the shoulder layback in the world. GREAT shoulders. It’s hard to get really good shoulder layback and easy to lose if you don’t breed for it. And that has functional consequences, it’s not just cosmetic. A pretty head is purely cosmetic, and is also a lot easier to get than a good shoulder. Even if this puppy’s shoulder is a bit straight, though, she’ll be a great pet.

Standing like a rock

Muse has a really nice topline and much more forechest. The forechest is the part in front of the front legs, obviously. It’s the breastbone part, basically. Short body, cobby build, lots of bone. He’s got his rear legs spread wide apart here, not really set under him properly, but I think this dude might have the best structure of the lot, except maybe the other b/t puppy. He’s monorchid right now. If that doesn’t change, he couldn’t be shown or bred. For a pet, it doesn’t matter. And that could easily correct over the next month or so. Excellent puppy.

There you go, a brief segue into stacking and evaluating puppies! Next week, once more the focus will be on pure cuteness.

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4 thoughts on “Update: Puppy Post”

  1. They’re all so cute! I’m always surprised and delightes by how dark the red/tan on cavaliers gets as they age.

  2. I’m so used to the term “stacking” that the other idea didn’t occur to me! But now for a while I’m going to visualize that when I say “stacking,” I bet.

    Yes, soon, the red puppies will lose the puppy coat, get the much darker adult coat, and then the pale-red puppy coat will probably linger as a “mustache” and as a poofy topknot for a bit. That’s where the puppy fluff is slowest to shed. It’s cute, but the fur is actually ready to come out long before it’s actually gone, so I usually pull it a little at a time when the puppy is about six months — especially if I’m planning to show the puppy!

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