Though the words, “rangy” and “racy” may seem interchangeable, they’re really not, and depending upon the breed, neither word is necessarily a a criticism. In fact, some standards call for one word or the other.

First things first. Most glossaries of canine terms concur with each other insofar as definitions go. We’ll use the Kennel Club’s Illustrated Breed standards to get us started.

“Racy” is defined as “giving the impression of speed, without loss of substance.”

“Rangy,” on the other hand, is a “dog of long, thin build, often lacking maturity.”

In the Akita, it’s a serious fault to have, a “light bone, rangy body.” A Rat Terrier should not be “rangy nor fine boned and toyish…”Add the Flat-Coated Retriever, a utilitarian retriever [that] “is well balanced, strong, but elegant; never cobby, short legged or rangy.”

So far, being “rangy” is not a preferred quality in the aforementioned breeds per their standards, nor is it a desired trait in many more breeds whose standards never mention the word at all. That said, in the AKC breed standard of the African sighthound, the Azawakh, the attribute is a good thing: “This sighthound presents itself as a rangy dog whose body fits into a rectangle with its longer sides in a vertical position. Faults – Heavy general appearance.” This, from it’s AKC breed standard.

The quality of being “racy” as a negative or positive feature is also very breed specific. In the American English Coonhound’s General Appearance section, the dog is described as being “renowned for speed and endurance…and has a strong but racy body…”

The Border terrier’s hindquarters should be “muscular and racy.”

“Racy” as a good quality starts and ends with those two breeds. In the following breeds, “racy” is not preferred at all:

In the Brittany: Skull – Medium length, rounded, very slightly wedge-shaped, but evenly made. Width, not quite as wide as the length and never so broad as to appear coarse, or so narrow as to appear racy.

The Irish Red and White Setter‘s appearance is “strong and powerful, well balanced and proportioned without lumber; athletic rather than racy with an aristocratic, keen and intelligent attitude.

The head of a Welsh Springer Spaniel is “in proportion to body, never so broad as to appear coarse nor so narrow as to appear racy.”

The American Hairless Terrier‘s substance: “Medium bone, not so heavy as to appear coarse or so light as to appear racy and blends with the proportion of the dog”

The American Staffordshire Terrier “should be stocky, not long-legged or racy in outline.””

“Short-legged, heavy-bodied dogs or overly refined, racy specimens are atypical and should be penalized,” appears in the AKC standard of the Lakeland terrier;

In the Parson Russell Terrier: “The terrier is of medium bone, not so heavy as to appear coarse or so light as to appear racy.”

And finally, the Samoyed “should never be so heavy as to appear clumsy nor so light as to appear racy.”

Image of Border Terrier appears courtesy of the AKC

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