Boxer Movement

I am using pictures of my own dogs, mainly "Pilar", as I believe she has very good movement, and "Moose" who could use improvement.  Please keep in mind that all of these dogs have their imperfections, but for the purpose of this page, are suitable.  I wish I could include pictures of what I see at every show, but I'm afraid I'd offend a lot of people!  

I will attempt to describe how conformation affects their movement, using illustrated photos to show the hidden "lines" of the underlying bone structure.
  I have drawn the lines as close to the actual position of the bones, but some people use a line from the point of elbow to point of shoulder, rather than where the upper arm actually attaches to the forearm.  On the hip I drew from the hip socket to knee, rather than from the point of hip.  This is a rather minor "bone of contention" for some people(pun intended), but is a little more realistic when evaluating the angles.


  The lines indicate the underlying bone structure. The US standard says the shoulder angle should approach 90 degrees. 
The rear angle should be the same as the front(what is referred to as Balanced).  Pilar shows this correct angulation.

Here is Moose.  As you can see, his angles are more open.  We would refer to this as being "straight" in the shoulder.  Although his is not as severe as many Boxers in the ring, it's still enough to affect his movement.  However, as his rear angle matches his front, he is "balanced" so his movement will appear proper to many people, as both front and rear will move in syncopation.  Notice also the upright pastern, which is a fault as well.  It should be sloping.


On the near side(blue lines) the angles close, allowing the front foot to clear the ground when it moves forward, and the hind leg to reach under the body for maximum ground coverage.  On the far side(yellow lines) the angles are more open so the front leg can reach out and the hind leg provide good thrust.  Notice that the shoulder blades have more range of motion, as they are only connected with tissue, whereas the pelvis is not so flexible, as both sides are connected to each other.  

Here you can see where the open shoulders and rear prevents Moose from having better reach and drive.  Notice how his right fore is weakened by the straight pastern.  The left hind has already left the ground before the right hind has come forward to grab the ground, overall very little compelling power in the rear.

  Here is a close-up of the shoulder in maximum reach(near side-red) and thrust(far side-blue).  Again, the shoulder angle opens up to allow for reach.  A dog whose shoulder angles are already too open in the standing position(commonly called "straight") loses it's ability to open further, and so lacks good reach.  Likewise a dog whose upper arm (point of shoulder to point of elbow) is too short, will tend to exhibit a "hackney" gait, which some people misinterpret as reach.  At no point should a Boxer's foreleg approach the horizontal as it reaches forward; that is wasted movement.

"Animated" does not mean good, Boxers are not supposed to move like Min Pins.  Efficient ground-covering stride is what we want.

Here you see Pilar mid-stride.  The right hind leg is fully engaged in driving, and the left fore providing additional thrust.  The left hind is moving forward, as is the right fore.  Notice that neither of these legs are engaged in wasteful movement, such as the circular 'pinwheel' movement of the hind or hackney movement of the fore.  Maximum ground cover with the least amount of effort is the goal.  Again the red line illustrates how the shoulder must have room to open to obtain the desired reach.

Moose is almost the identical position, but you can see the differences in the two of them.  His movement is more animated, whereas her's is smoother and more efficient. The straight shoulder is preventing him from opening up more to obtain good reach.

Notice that the legs are converging towards a center line.  The blue lines illustrate that the leg should remain straight; from the hip, through the knee, hock, and to the pad.  A straight line is the strongest and reduces risk of injury.  When the knee or hock is outside this line, it becomes a weak point.  Imagine a vertical stick that you are pressing down on; a bent one will break before a straight one. And yes, her left hock is ever-so-slightly out of line!

A straight line is a strong line!

Here is another shot, this time she is mid-stride.  Again, the right leg is straight, the left shows the knee bent out slightly.  However it's the right one bearing the weight and providing thrust at this moment.  Also notice that even though the left hind is moving forward, it is not being carried high, which would be wasted effort.
Here is the left hind just finishing up it's drive as the right hind gets ready to bear the weight.  Notice both legs are maintaining the strong line.  The right hind is beginning to reach under her and her left fore stepping out as she was starting to turn towards the steps of the porch(shade!).

Whether standing or moving, the line from point of shoulder down to the foot should remain straight.  Moose's left fore looks twisted, but it is the angle of the camera plus he is not squared up in front.

This picture shows the legs just as they touch the ground.  The red line is used to illustrate where the paw was, showing that the hind has landed in the spot just vacated by the fore.

A couple pictures showing her getting some "air time".  The one on the left was caught just as her left fore and right hind have left the ground, but the opposing are still reaching forward.  The picture on the right you can see that her head is higher than normal (just spotted the cat), and this has added additional bounce to the front as well (and a good argument for not "stringing up" your dogs in the ring).

Here is Can. Ch. Sandcastle's Dream Of The Archer at 16 months old doing a "Flying Trot", although not to the degree of a German Shepherd, which exhibits a highly exaggerated form of "moving out".   There are mixed opinions whether this gait is correct for the Boxer, as some overlapping of the feet is inevitable, but does not affect the efficiency of the gait.  The US standard says that there should be no overlap, however few US Boxers are judged at the flying trot, whereas this is the most common employed gait in European rings.  Below is a stacked picture of Archer at 5 months, so you can see his beautiful shoulders.

This is my Reese, Ch. Country Time's Sweet Home Alabama.  On the left she is being moved on the down-and-back, so is not "moving out".  However it is clear that the right hind is prepared to land in the spot the right fore is about to vacate.  On the right they are finishing up their trip around the ring and she is preparing to stop (notice her head looking up at her handler?)  I'd like to see both feet hit the ground at the same time, but she's starting to change her pace and has shifted her center of balance.

Here is an 11 month puppy that is unbalanced.  His shoulder and rear angles do not match and you can see that he does not have adequate drive in the rear.  His head is being carried on the horizontal and throwing his balance off as well.

Below, his left fore is also approaching a horizontal line, and the right hind is being lifted high off the ground; both of these actions are inefficient movement.  He was born with a birth defect that contributes to this problem, but is not the sole reason for it.

Okay, I was being a little unfair to him, as he was just starting to break into a run in all these shots and is out of syncopation.  In fact this boy only has two speeds right now, run and sleep!  So I couldn't catch him at a true trot for the life of me.  Regardless, these are adequate to show incorrect movement at the trot.  Here is one of him showing better drive, but as I live with him, I can say that he does not move as well in the rear as he does the front:

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