Center of Gravity

Long before social media, the “chair challenge” first made the rounds in the 1970s and got the attention of people the way most things did in those days: They saw it on TV.

In the first season of the classic sitcom, All in the Family, the fifth episode showed Gloria challenging her dad, Archie Bunker, to take three steps away from a wall and lift a chair. Watch what happens:

Fast forward to the 21st century, a time when social media is the way that most trends are spread. A year ago, an updated version of the “chair challenge” showed up on TikTok as the “Center of Gravity” challenge. Check it out:

Accepted wisdom over why men struggle with these two exercises has been that women have a lower center of gravity – about 8 to 15 percent lower – nature’s way of helping females stay stable while walking during pregnancy.  It’s logical reasoning, but it doesn’t explain why some women can’t do either challenge either, or why some men can pick up a chair or victoriously hover without doing a faceplant. We leave it to the Internet to sort out. We share the challenges as a segue to the fact that dogs have a center of gravity, too.

Every standing dog has a point in their body where if he or she were strung from a mobile, their body would hang in balance and not tip too much forward or backwards like the felt dogs in the baby mobile seen below:


Baby mobile by Daria, owner of Feltychick, details at end of post

That point in the dog’s body is their center of gravity, and it depends upon the dog’s length of leg, the length of their body, its height, and the weight of their head and neck. Sometimes, a dog’s inefficiency of movement – their wasted energy  – has to do with having a poor center of gravity since it requires more muscle power and effort to move.

When gaiting, dogs bring their feet under themselves in order to get closer to their own center of gravity and maintain balance. Fanciers know this convergence as “single tracking,” and most agree that almost all dogs do it to a certain extent. The faster the dog moves, the more apparent the convergence.

There is no “center of gravity” challenge for a dog, but if a dog’s feet don’t converge towards an invisible centerline of gravity under themselves, they will tend to sway or roll side to side as they move forward.

Image: The custom-made baby mobile with a Doberman, Jack Russell Terrier and a Bull Terrier made by Daria is available at their Etsy shop, Feltychick, and is available at the time of this writing here. 

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