Looking at countless photographs of dogs featured on Facebook, and seeing the resulting comments and “Likes”, I constantly wonder how well the importance of the forehand is understood.
All too frequently dogs are pictured displaying horribly upright shoulders with the accompanying short upper arm in such a way that the forelegs seem almost to be “tacked on” to the front, rather than being well under and supporting the body. Often these upright fronts are accompanied by over-angulated rears and this fundamental lack of balance can never produce movement that is coordinated, ground-covering and fluid. Optimum angulation in front is necessary to facility easy and effortless reach.
When going over a dog in a breed that requires a well-laid shoulder and good length of upper arm (and the majority of breeds do), nothing is more pleasing to the hands than going down the neck over almost imperceptible shoulder blades and feeling a well filled forechest with the forelegs well under the dog.
No matter how effectively a handler can screw a dog into position on the stack, when it has gaited and comes to a standsti
ll with its legs where nature intended it should be easy to assess the forehand construction and determine the angulation thereof.
Whilst judging is a matter of always concentrating on the overall picture, a correctly built forehand is essential.
By Andrew Brace- AKC & KC Judge & Beagle Breed Expert