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Different conformations of the German shepherd dog breed affect its posture and movement

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Humphries, A. 
Shaheen, A. F. 
Gómez Álvarez, C. B. 


Abstract: The conformation of the German shepherd dog (GSD) varies considerably within the breed. These differences may result in large variation in the movement and limb loading and undesirable consequences to their musculoskeletal health. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between conformation and biomechanical measures in 60 GSDs. Full body kinematic and kinetic measures were computed from 3D motion capture and pressure data. The dogs were divided into groups based on their back slope and curvature. Correlation analysis and statistical differences between groups showed that GSDs with a greater back slope have a greater contact area in their forelimbs and place them closer together when standing (n = 60). During trot, the dogs with sloped back showed a greater vertical force in the forelimbs and a greater mid-thoracic flexion (n = 60). Unilateral differences were found in the stifle flexion, hock flexion and hock adduction, suggesting greater movement asymmetry with an increase in the back slope (n = 30). In conclusion, several biomechanical parameters are affected by the GSD’s slope of the back and not by its curvature. Further studies are required to determine whether the variation in movement, posture and conformation within the breed relates to an increased susceptibility to musculoskeletal disorders.


Funder: The Kennel Club Charitable Trust


Article, /631/601/1737, /631/601/1332, article

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Scientific Reports

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Nature Publishing Group UK