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abamam

USA
281 Posts

Posted - 06/28/2003 :  11:46:23 PM  Show Profile  Visit abamam's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I am doing an in-depth study of gaits right now and have just spent two weeks videoing all my dogs moving. After breeding dogs for over 30 years, I realize that I still do not understand what it is that causes a dog to pace. I understand that young dogs may pace while proceeding through various growth stages. And I am familiar enough with the basic dog parts(structure) and can tell angulation and muscling, body length, etc. What I do not understand is why one dog will run in harness all its life(I have one at age 11 now) and will never pace a single time - not a single step- yet others pace habitually. What I want to know is whether or not anyone has come up with something specific structurally that you feel contributes to a dog needing to pace. Do you have dogs in your kennel that run long distances and do not pace? Do you have dogs that are pacers and still manage to run well? I am trying to eliminate pacing in my own dogs and so far have been unable to point out the actual physical reason(or reasons) for pacing. I have had several mushers tell me that the pace is a gait used by dogs to save energy. That it requires less muscular exertion than the trot. That dogs may pace to save the overused trot muscles. I have also read that the pace is used due to physical weakness. Have read that dogs that have problems with interference may find it easier to pace. I am still seeking some sort of connection between pacing and improper structure. Anybody have any comments regarding this? Sure would appreciate any clues you might be able to pass on.


Fast E

USA
2196 Posts

Posted - 06/29/2003 :  05:14:47 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I had a 'dog chiropractor' tell me that a dog that needs a spinal adjustment will sometimes pace,do not know if its true though.

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jake

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 06/29/2003 :  06:22:05 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The pace is the most efficient gait for a canid,

it is the one most often used by arctic wolves who cover large distances when hunting or scouting to hunt. They will pace, then when crossing a trail move to a trot, and when game is sighted break into a lope and then a full out run when making a kill.

No correlation to bad structure that I know of, its just an energy efficient gait as you had pointed out.

I personaly feel the arctic wolf has the best distance conformation of any canid, its one honed by survival while needing to cover long distances. The gaits used in mushing are different, and the rationale for using the gaits differs, sled dogs have far less need for it then wolves. One is a 'cruising vehicle' and the other a 'fast performing sports vehicle'.


jake levi
Kennel Yakutia Laika
jlevi_us@yahoo.com
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n/a

1042 Posts

Posted - 06/29/2003 :  7:00:14 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
IMO, Pacing is an efficient way to travel....not an efficient way to work. When using a tug monitor to record runs it was my experience that the same dog may travel at the same speed....sometimes at a trot and sometimes at a pace. When trotting the dog was pulling much harder than when pacing. I have heard some oldtime mushers call pacing the "resting" gait.

Mike Hutchens
Blue Lake Alaskan Huskies, Inc.
Gwinn Mi 49841
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Sirius

USA
548 Posts

Posted - 06/29/2003 :  8:20:09 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Many of my dogs have paced off and on. The biggest problem I have seen with it is when going over ice. The pace gait is so much more prone to slipping on ice or any other slippery condition. It can become incapacitating if the dog does not learn to switch. None of mine ever learned.
Neil Rasmussen


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Mark Black

USA
223 Posts

Posted - 06/29/2003 :  9:08:12 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We have a few dogs that pace. In fact, our largest, hardest pulling male paces off and on. He is definately pacing more as he gets older. Goes along with the rest theory. I don't care if a dog is pacing as long as he is pulling. Willie, our large pacer, paces off and on on the level like i said, but hit a hill and cover your eyes from the flying snow. He is like putting on 4 wheel drive. Pace, trot, lope or walk. As long as you get to the finishline when you want to, who cares?

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Fast E

USA
2196 Posts

Posted - 06/29/2003 :  9:24:31 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
WE only have one dog that will try to pace and the only thing i know about trotting is that i break out in hives if i ever see a member of my team doing it.Go figure.

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abamam

USA
281 Posts

Posted - 06/30/2003 :  12:58:11 AM  Show Profile  Visit abamam's Homepage  Reply with Quote
OK. I realize now that I should have been more specific in my request. Obviously, sprint folks are not going to be terribly interested in whether or not their dogs pace, probably will be more like horrified...or "break out in hives" along the lines of Fast E's reply...

So...this is pacing as it relates to distance or mid-distance running. 20-50 miles.

I have really appreciated the responses so far. Many things to think about.

Two things: I can see the artic wolf pacing effortlessly with its lean body and long legs. What I don't like to see is the dog that pace/waddles. Not a pretty sight and...I feel also a very different gait than the pace the wolf uses.

It is the pace/waddler that I wish to eliminate. And I have measured, videoed, examined, and still find no great flashing light that says: "yep, this is the problem." And yes...walk, pace, trot , lope...getting there is truly the issue. BUT...if 6 of the 8 dogs on the team can move at an effortless 13 mph trot, and two members fall into a pace/waddle...then that - to me - gets the whole group rhythm off. I can't help but think, also, that those two pacers could be bred out in a generation or two - IF I knew what to look for. Guess the easiest thing is simply to breed the best to the best. Period. Forget all the clinical/technical stuff. Go for performance.

And still...

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trailbound

USA
410 Posts

Posted - 06/30/2003 :  08:59:28 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
All I can really do is compare a dog's conformation to that of a horse, and horses that tend to pace have a steeper gaskin than those that trot. Also the "gaited" breed of horses tend to be more flat muscled than those of the trotting (stock) breeds. Shoulders tend to be more upright also. When a horse is pacing it is not collected, and its back will tend to ventroflex (I think that is the right word) The end result is that it moves somewhat "hollow" and I can understand why it is considered a resting gait in a dog, it is often the easiest (and lasiest) gait that a horse can perform as well.

Kelley

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mbeers

USA
613 Posts

Posted - 06/30/2003 :  09:15:52 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm certainly not an expert but if it helps, my pacer (who has that rocking motion you speak of) is unbalanced with more angulation in the back than the front. He's also probably not as long-based as he could be and is more 'square'. I think the combination makes pacing an easier gait for him.

He is one of the hardest working dogs on my team and so it hasn't been a problem. I tried 'train him out of it' for a while but decided it wasn't worth it for what I do.

I was recently at a mushing boot camp and we video taped several teams in action and I saw some beautiful pacers in some other teams--very smooth, ground eating gaits.

So as you mentioned, seems pacing is one thing--the rocking pace is another thing all together.

Melissa

Melissa
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Seal

USA
173 Posts

Posted - 06/30/2003 :  09:30:13 AM  Show Profile  Visit Seal's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Abamam,
You're last post seemed to answer your own question...at least for me. I too run mid-distance. We've gotten some interesting information about the pace being a resting gait and I too believe that pacers don't pull as hard as trotters or lopers. So, if we're thinking performance only and 2 of my 8 dogs broke down from a 13mph lope (I prefer) or fast trot to a pace then no matter how good they look at the end of the 40-60miles, I would suspect that those 2 dogs are not as athletically/physically able to perform as well as the other 6 and are therefore starting to conserve before the others. You're dealing with a pretty good set of 8 dogs if your cutting dogs due to a pace :-) Not a bad problem to have.

One last thought....waddling is just an exaggerated pace. I had one boy who did that. Looked like his hip joints were loose. It was definately because he was tired. Is it possible that dogs who are physically well suited to short loping sprints will pace at longer distances? Again, I've seen that but the n=2 .



http://www.geocites.com/sealcovesleddogs
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Tyler

Canada
59 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2003 :  08:40:44 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Can someone please explain the difference in motion between the pace and trot?

Tyler
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n/a

1042 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2003 :  10:21:39 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Tyler, When Troting the left front and right rear feet move in unison (somewhat) and when paceing the right front and right rear move together.
Some more observations. I still believe that in most dogs pacing is a lazy or resting gait. But I have seen dogs tha IMO had trouble trotting due to anatomy. When Bill Steyer was living down here he had two litermates that were pretty good young males except that they almost never trotted. Both of these guys were taller than they were long. That is to say that when standing still the box created from the ground to the belly and from inside of the front to inside of the rear legs was higher than it was long. Bill and I spent a lazy afternoon discussing these dogs and came to the conclusion that their strides while trotting caused their rear feet to contact the same side front feet and in fact saw nail marks on one dogs front wrist area caused by the nails of his own rear feet.
That is to say that their stride was longer than the distance between the front and rear feet due to the fact that both had very long legs and very short backs. These quys were only yearlings when Bill moved to AK. I didn't hear if they grew out of it or if they continued to be pacers all of their careers.

Mike Hutchens
Blue Lake Alaskan Huskies, Inc.
Gwinn Mi 49841
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IN

USA
638 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2003 :  11:46:33 AM  Show Profile  Visit IN's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Quote:
"...when paceing the right front and right rear move together."

I had no idea that this kind of gate was called pacing! I have never seen a sled dog to do this while running on a team. However, we have an older male, who will sometimes move like that runnning loose (he is retired now and a house dog). He has a very bad back (his spine is fused) and I wonder if this kind of gate is easier on his body. There are some breeds for which "pacing" is a natural gate (Old English Sheepdog for example).


IN
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abamam

USA
281 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2003 :  6:08:54 PM  Show Profile  Visit abamam's Homepage  Reply with Quote
To give you a really good visual aid in seeing the difference between gaits, there is a computer program called Gaits 1.3 that is offered free to download by the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota. The program shows the actual footfall pattern of each of the 7 basic "canid" gaits, along in the same frame as the dog actually moving in the gait of your choice. Another frame gives a written analysis of the gait you are looking at. Also, you have the ability to select the speed you want to see the dog moving at, from very slow to very fast and any increment in between. This program is only offered for Macs, though.(I lucked out this one time as I use a Mac). If you want any more info on how to get this, just post.

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mag

USA
36 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2003 :  6:35:58 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I used to work at a park where we taught a tracking class. We told people that animals in the wild that normally pace are animals that aren't fast, because they don't need to be. i.e. bears, skunks, etc. That alone makes me feel pacing isn't the ideal racing gait.

Matt Groth
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