Today we will address the midsection of the dog – basically the ribcage and loin.
While considering the angle to approach this from many thoughts came to mind. The ribcage serves the purpose of protecting the vital organs of dog from injury – the heart, lungs stomach and spleen. As many other “protective” comparisons came to mind, e.g Drivers cages in race cars, contact sport protection equipement – but truly the best comparison is human anatomy.
The rib cage is our protection for our internal organs. However, while it has to cover all of those important organs it must also be large enough to allow the lungs to expand fully. So not only does is need to be LONG enough to cover all of those delicate organs, but also wide enough to allow the lungs to expand.
So how can you tell how long your dog’s ribcage actually is? You can easily feel for the last rib, but in pictures you tell by where the “tuck up” in the underline begins, at the end of the sternum. In this photo – the ribcage is about 55% of the length of the dog between the elbow and rear leg
Compare the dog above to this one with a shorter ribcage – about 40% of the length of the dog
Compare to this photo where the length of rib cage is about 40% of the length of the dog.
So what does the shorter ribcage mean?
The dog’s internal organ’s may not be fully protected, and this could allow for injury of internal organs. It also reduces the capacity of the thorax where the lungs are housed, allowing for less expansion. A dog like this would become more easily winded than a dog with a correct length of ribbing.
But there is another factor in play here. The shorter the ribcage is – the longer the loin is. In some of the galloping sighthounds such as the Azawakh (below) the loin may appear longer because the chest is so deep, but since the breed is taller than long, so is the ribcage. AS well Azawakhs have a unique double suspension gallop where the rear legs wrap around the front, requiring a slightly longer loin. But being a hunting hound they are more muscular to support the back. However, in breeds where the dog is longer than tall, such as the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, the Dachshunds, and the Bassets, a long loin is a weakness in structure.
A long weak loin, will predispose the dog to spinal issues – such as Intervertebral Disk Disease. This is different from Degnerative Myelopathy which is caused by the degeneration of nerves similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) in humans. IVDD is usually sudden onset, and the result of a disc rupturing. It almost always requires quick surgical intervention if the dog is going to walk again, and long recovery times, resulting in high veterinary bills.
When the length of the ribbing in the dog is correct, along with a correct front and rear assembly, the topline of the dog is LEVEL – does not slant upwards, or have any roach.
The are four young dogs that are related. Take note of the level toplines, and the very slight rise in the underline, a sign of correct length ribbing and loin.