Information on Smooth Fox Terriers
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The following article was written by Riley's breeder, Mrs. Wendy Ellwood.  It is an excellent explanation
of how the dogs assembly should correctly be made and work.  This article was published in the
The American Fox Terrier Club Newsletter Fall of 2007:
Page 3
For viewers that have arrived on this page to find out WHAT makes a Fox Terrier a Fox Terrier, the following websites and article will be of great help.  Sometimes it is hard to compute in ones mind just what 'breeding to the Standard' means.  What the 'Standard' is, is written words describing the points of how the breed is suppost to look, act and move like - hence, making it different than....say, a Poodle, or a Lab.  Each breed has it's own written Standard - and each Breeder interpets the Standard a bit differently - but the essense boils down to specifics, like balance, movement and disqualifications.   The following will help readers figure out just what makes a Fox Terrier a Fox Terrier, and why breeding to the Standard is so very important.
This is an excellent example of a top quality Smooth Fox Terrier
Information on Smooth Fox Terriers
Where Dreams Come True
Commencing at the hind-end, rather than more appropritely at the head is a tad wierd-but then I am from Down Under, which may explain the problem. It is akin to placing the cart before the horse; then tht is not an inappropriate analogy given that the hind-end is the driving force--the engine room if you will--of our Terriers.
I came to dogs questioning little of prevailing lore, believing most statements issued with authority and quickly mastered the language of undisputed rhetoric. Two mentors entered my life who brought me to the realization of just how little I knew. They were the catalyst for a pursuit of "Why is itt so?" But this is about hind-ends --goodones and others--not about me. And it is about your views of these matters and your discoveries too, for despite the years, I remain inquisitive.
Anatomical knowledge became for me the means whereby I could endeavor to select stock that best meet the demands of the Breed Standard. What lengths and angles were required to create that cleverly made hunter and what were the outcomes when these didn't occur?  It has kept me busy!
Just as disregarded of the humerus is a concern, neglect of the tibia rates as a serious issue. In putting the hind end under scrutiny it is well to remember that the tibia is largely captive to the chain of events from which it descends--in this case the pelvis and femur. Fig A clearly defines these bones of interest.
Studying these bones is like opening a magic box and discovering secrets that change your entire thinking and empower understanding. Here, beneath external view, lies the basis upon which hind outer shape and make and the ability to move well or otherwise is established. All is permitted or denied by the interaction, lengths, and angles of these bones--pelvis, femur, and tibia:
  • hip width
  • tail set
  • wether there is little or pleanty behind the tail
  • desired turn of stifle
  • powerful or weak second thigh
  • true or poor hocks
  • length of stride
  • A hind with driving force, rather than one that does all its work underneath (paddle) or all its work behind (kick back)

It is clear from Fig. A that the top of the pelvis is the hip and the bottom of the pelvis those bones which make the "bum behind the tail" or do you call them tailbones?

The pelvis
Feeling bones is how I examine dogs. I like to stand behind the dog and place my forefingers on the top of the pelvis (hips) and my thumbs on the bottom of the pelvis. Straight away I establish the width of the hip, length of the pelvis and that important, hoped-for presense of upward "tilt" of pelvis.
Below are some outcomes:

If the pelvis has good width:
  • Good width across the hip will be obvious
  • There will be a shapeliness (especially viewed from above) for there will be the appearance of a waist followed by a widening, strong shapely back end.

If the pelvis is narrow:
  • The dog will be lacking hip width and appear narrow and of weaker construction
  • It will also appear longer for there is little shapeliness from ribs to tail end.

If the pelvis holds its width throughout:
  • Then fingers and thumbs will be in alignment (hopefully wide apart) setting the paradigm for the dog that maintains good width from top to ground.

If it dosen't and is wider at the top than the bottom:
  • Then the forefingers sitting on the hipbones will be wider apart than the thumbs at the bottom of the pelvis and the dog will appear to 'pare off', losing width at or near the tail.
  • There can be gradual decline in well-angled attachment between pelvis and femur and the consequent outcomes of femur/tibia and the dog likely to move very close from the hock down.

If the pelvis is long and the pelvis tilt upward:
  • There will be plenty of 'bum behind the tail'
  • The hip area will appear nice and flat
  • The tail set will be 'bang on', free of any dip near the base of the tail.

If it is short and the tilt downward:
  • The tail will appear set at the very back end of the dog
  • The liklihood of a rise over the hip area and a consequent dip before the base of the tail
  • The worst-case scenario--the dog that appears to be built under itself.

Consider the many variations possible within these parameters, and much is explained about the variety of differences we see in hind shape and movement.
Figure A
A closer look at the "Engine Room"
by Wendy Ellwood, Sealgair Kennels, Australia
The Femur

This bone is held ransome of its promise by nature of it's attachment to a good or poor pelvis. Having checked the pelvis, leave the thumb on the back of the pelvis and use the forefinger to locate the stifle joing and measure the length and angulation of the femur. Imagine extending that forefinger about an inch further and assess what a difference it would make to turn of stifle if that boine were longer.

  • It needs to be of good length and well angulated

  • If that most sought-after great turn of stifle plus plenty of stride length are to be achieved then this bone will assist in delivering the goods.

  • When the femur is short there is less turn of stifle, and when short and attached to a downward tilted pelvis, it can, at worst, descent almost vertically. Couple this to a long tibia and some real problems enter the equation. Mor anon.

The Tibia

Such a fan am I of this fellow and what a difference it can make. Why is the tibia so often overlooked? He's such a helper, even as third bone down and dependent on all above, if he is just shorter in length with the consequent strong muscle, he will give some merit.
With the forefinger on the stifle joint, move the thumbs to the hock--you are now measuring length and assessing angulation of the tibia. Long bones carry long, flatter muscle and short bones such as the desired tibia carry short, thicker muscle. In the words of R.H. Smythe, M.R.C.V.S.:
  "Second thigh is one of the salient features of the body and
  no judge should put up gundog or terrier unless thi part
  of the anatomy is right up to standard."

Practically the whole propelling force of the hind limb is dependent upon the ability of the dog to straighten the hind limb from state of angulation into the state of complete extension and this is so dependent on the muscle power of a well-developed second thigh.
It is the engine room.
When these correct factors fall into place, lovely low hocks will sure follow, displaying good flexion and placement (i.e. in line with or just behind the back of the 'good pelvis') and the overall angulation necessary to achieve length of stride equal in distance both under the body (drive) and behind the body (thrust).
To achieve evident width when the dog moves away from you and drive and extension when he moves past you then the angles and lengths of pelvis, femur and tibia are deserving of being at the forefront of the checklist.
Note: You too may have heard the quote "If you can see the dog's pads when he moves away from you then he is built right." However, the dog that does all his work behind him (kick-back action) must perforce display his pads?  So, perhaps not at all a good indicator of correct hind construction--not a method I would suggest employing.

Of 'More anon"...some very real concerns

I wonder if you too are puzzled by the growing tendency, across many breeds, to select dogs with hocks placed way behind the back of the pelvis and for handlers to exacerbate this by stretching them out even further. I hear the words of the long-long mentor: "why would you wish it so?" Inexplicable to find an answer for such a dog, who by nature of his construction, is unable to work other than behind him.
This fashion is almost certainly based on the components of a shorter lacking upward-tilt pelvis attached to a poorly angulated and short femur and a long, over-angulated tibia (with its consequent long, thin muscle).Not at all the strong second thigh that will provide the engine room to do the work the Smooth was meant to carry out.
When I sought photos for this article from old Dog World and Our Dogs books, circa 1950's-1970's, I could not find--across all breeds--a single photo displaying the anatomical make-up of this extreme type of hind. There were pleanty of excellent back ends but not a one with hocks way, way behind the back of the pelvis with long, thin second thigh. Is it then a phenomenon of the 'modern' dog?
Such construction begs the question of outcomes. We can ask why the rising number of knee/stifle and associated injuries. My vet tells me that 15 years ago she might see two or three dogs a year with knee or cruciate ligament camage. Now she sees that many in a week. A hindquarter constructed in this fashion must perforce place enormous stress on the point where femur and tibia meet--the stifle. It is unnatural in every way...the antithesis of common sense. Hummmmm...I am sounding more like my old mentor every day!

Feeling bones vs. tapes and square
One of the benefits of 'feeling' bones is that you can assess in quite early puppyhood likely outcomes in adulthood. More particularly do I find this with the scapula and humerus: if the puppy is to have good lay of shoulder (scapula) you will feel that length and angulation very early -- even at 3 to 4 weeks. The hind too, a bit later--say, 6 to 8 weeks -- whether the pelvis has length and upward tilt, whether the femur will be longer than the is all there to be felt. It is quite an esciting foray among a litter of puppies to commence measuring which has the longest scapula dn which is the best pelvis and then to watch progression. Generally, anotomical examination is both an interesting and reliable source of enquiry.
As to tape measures and squares, I have to admit to not being very taken with the idea because they can completely overlook what lies between beginning and endpoint. In the distance between withers and tail, any number of given virtues or faults can occur and still the dog could meet the desired measurements. For example, what would its midsection look like? But then, midsections are another story...
It is said, "Not all paths to glory run across easy ground." Having achieved super back ends, we are left with just a few other elements: type, class, beautiful heads, good shoulders, short backs, and substance. IIs it the challenge that keeps us enthralled?

Copyright 2000 Linda Sallee-Hill