What Do These Chest Terms Mean?

“His chest hasn’t dropped.”

“She doesn’t have enough fill.”

“His chest is well let down.”

These are a few sentences one might hear during the evaluation of a dog, and if one is a new to learning about structure, they can be baffling.

In many breeds, a “deep chest” is one that is level with the dog’s elbows (one that has “dropped”), and this is one of the things that a judge is evaluating when they place their hand on a dog’s chest between its legs (they may also be ascertaining that the chest isn’t so wide as to interfere with gait).  A chest “well let down” appears in a few standards, the Bulldog and Spanish Water Dog among them. Watch the judge’s hand in the first few second of the video below from Crufts 2018:

Again, depending upon the breed, if the chest isn’t level with the elbows, it’s either an immature dog, or it has a “shallow brisket” that shows no “fill,” or correct depth of chest.  It’s especially important in coated breeds to “dig in” to feel actual chest, and not hair.

There are marvelous books on structure out there, and one of our favorites is “Practical Canine Anatomy and Movement” by Claudia Waller Orlandi, PhD. What books do you recommend?

A final word. When called, dogs don’t come to us one piece at a time, nor do they enter a show ring in parts. The danger of studying individuals parts of a dog is that it can put too much emphasis on that single part, and unwittingly lead one to “parts judging.” It’s important to remember the whole dog!

Image:Dog Chest by ©Kim Christensen/Dreamstime.com

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