Having a “bad front” is largely an umbrella term because there are different ways for a dog to manifest this broad term – a Cabriole structured front is one of them. Also known as a French or Chippendale front, it’s when a dog’s pasterns are close(ish), the elbows are out, and the feet turn outwards.
Medically speaking, such a dog is “chondrodysplastic,” meaning s/he has a skeletal and developmental abnormality due to an abnormal growth of cartilage (dysplasia is a general term that is applied to abnormal growth, and chondro means cartilage). It can be caused by the premature closure of the growth plates which cause the front legs to grow crooked or bowed, but in some breeds, it’s an autosomal recessive condition with suspected high incidences in certain lines in those breeds.
This is not the same thing as achondroplasia (dwarfism), a form of osteochondrodysplasia in which the bones don’t grow to the normal size based on what’s expected of the breed. This is caused by a mutation of the fibroblast growth factor receptor gene, and the result is abnormally short limbs; This is desirable in certain dog breeds, but is considered a significant genetic fault when it occurs in other breeds.
What to do if your dog has such a front?
A dog is more than its legs. You love and spoil your dog, but don’t ask things of him or her that will make things worse. Agility, jogging and walking for miles is not a good idea, but a good diet, managing the dog’s weight, and consulting your vet on how to keep your dog comfortable may be in order.
If anyone has photos they can share, we’d be beholding.
Image of Cabriole Legged furniture/Los Angeles County Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons/CC0