On the 20th of September 2023 a paper was published on, ‘The effect of harness design on the biomechanics of domestic dogs.’ It is written by Ellen Williams of the Dept of Animal Health, Behaviour & Welfare, Harper Adams University, Newport, UK and Violet Hunter, Jacqueline Boyd and Anne Cater. It is a long paper but as s many of you use harnesses, here are a few comments that I think might be of interest to you. The paper acknowledges that harnesses have become increasingly popular, and while there are benefits of using them the impact of the design of the harness on the biomechanics, and the physical health and welfare of the dog is largely unknown. The purpose of the study was to see how three popular commercially harnesses effected the locomotion in 66 dogs. Dogs were filmed moving on a loose lead on the Tekscan Strideway gait analysis system, the dogs were also assessed with three different harnesses. The length of the stride as a proportion of limb length, which was calculated as distance from the elbow to the floor, body weight, distribution in the front versus the hind limbs in percentage, and the minimum apparent angles of the bones were measured during the motion cycles. Except for the angles of the tubercle of humerus (the humerus in dogs is the long bone of the foreleg which articulates with the scapula to form the shoulder), there were significant differences in all investigated metrics. Differences varied across breeds /breed types. It is recommended that when a harness is purchased, owners and harness fitters treat dogs on an individual basis. The impact of pulling in a harness on a dog’s gait requires investigation as dogs may experience greater restrictions when pulling, than during locomotion on a loose lead. The paper went onto say, that in the UK, it is a legal requirement for dog to be under control in a public place. This typically means leads attached to collars, head collars or harnesses. Research indicates that dogs may be more likely to pull in a neck collar rather than a head collar, and that neck collars may cause harm to soft tissues in the dog’s neck, so harnesses have become increasingly popular as an alternative to collars, several manufacturers are recommending harnesses to achieve greater control over dogs. A ‘well fitted harness’ is now recommended by the Dogs Trust and the American KC suggesting that harnesses are more appropriate than collars, for walking dogs or in other activities which may cause the dog to pull on the lead. Manufactures do highlight the importance of the harnesses fitting properly,82% of a total of 1567 dog owners said that their dog’s harness was not professionally fitted, and only 25% of owners had been given advise on the harness choice from someone /somewhere other than friends, family or on social media. For the research 5 popular breed of dogs were used with the addition of mixed breeds The dogs all had different gaits conformation and body size and were aged between 1 to 10 years and the owners had to confirm that they had no orthopaedic or neurological issues. There were 41 male dogs and 25 females, and the data was collected over 11 days in summer 2022.Differences were seen in stride length and body weight distribution, but this variation was not found across all breeds or harness types. Harnesses do have advantages over neck collars, but the findings did show that owners and harnesses fitters must treat dogs on an individual basis with consideration given to age, breed, conformation, and predisposition to injury, musculoskeletal impairments, and the functionality of the harness.
In last week’s notes Sarah Stonton told us about her recent scent work journey, and said she had another SWUK L6 competition at Fosdyke in Lincolnshire with Jack aka Ch Arnscroft In Di Ana Jack on 1st October, and I am very happy to report that they were 2nd.
On Monday 25th September Marie Corin took her and Adam Camm’s Bergan aka Kligenthal Almuric to their ring craft match night, where under Lesley Cheatham who with her husband Andy gives CCs in Elkhounds, Bergan was Best Adult in Match and then then Best in Match. Congratulations.
Take care everyone.
Margaret Deuchar email@example.com
Any views expressed in Margaret’s Breed Notes are hers and hers alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Norwegian Buhund Club of the UK