Dogs in Motion

This book explores the locomotion of dogs in a highly scientific yet easily accessible manner. An innovative illustrative style brings the dog anatomy to life and makes clear the way in which the skeleton, the muscles and locomotion fit together. Based on the results of the largest-scale study on the subject ever carried out, an experiment which involved over 300 dogs and 32 different breeds, the book delivers completely new insights into the motion sequences performed by dogs. The accompanying DVD features over 400 movies, X-Ray movies and 3D animations and demonstrates both the variety and uniformity of dog locomotion with unparalleled precision and clarity.

Dogs in Motion

Prof. Dr. Martin S. Fischer
Dr. Karin E. Lilje
22 × 28 cm, 208 pages with 25 pictures und 134 illustrations.
Inclusive DVD (3 hrs. 15 min)
The DVD is without sound.

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Preface by Prof. Dr. Peter Friedrich, President of the German Kennel Club

Dog lovers often have a high level of specialist knowledge and very clear ideals. As a result, they sometimes tend to regard dogs almost as a puzzle solved. Reams and reams of breed standards, commentaries, photographic works, club rules and text books would appear to back up this claim.

Does that mean, though, that we can afford to dispense with the virtue of openness, that quality which makes it possible to challenge, think through, learn and relearn everything there is to know about dogs? Or do we need, over and over again, new questions, materials and findings to spark productive discussion, make the acquisition of new knowledge a pleasure and expand the factual basis which feeds our actions and increases our competence?

Of course we do! And sometimes we are lucky enough to be presented with exactly what we need – this time by Martin Fischer and Karin Lilje in the form of their book “Dogs in Motion”. The authors provide us with exciting information, captivate us with stunning visual material, challenge us in a deeply constructive way with arguments and ideas and point the way to significant new lines of investigation. In short, it is astonishing how convincingly they present important new insights into what has traditionally been one of the core areas of cynological research. The locomotion of dogs has preoccupied us for years.

Continuous, long-term commitment to the topic has given us an idea about what invisible processes may be at work when a dog is walking, trotting or galloping, what relationships of cause and effect exist, how an individual’s gait can fittingly be described in words, and what impact all this needs to have on breeding decisions. Many of our previous beliefs are shown in this book to be right, but by no means all of them stand the test of this new research: the results of the Jena Study challenge many an established view.

May I arouse your curiosity by presenting three of the most surprising aspects of the book as a taste of what awaits you? One of the most widely propagated explanations for short-strided, ineffective, restricted seeming forelimb movement in the trot is the assumption that the upper arm is disproportionately short.

You will discover why this is false and what has been proven instead. Dogs of one and the same breed often move very differently. Often decorated champions are no exception. Breeds which appear to be as different as chalk and cheese sometimes move in a surprisingly similar way. Here too, this is not always purely the result of comparing top animals with individuals which fail to conform to the breed standard. On the basis of video recordings, you will be able to put together the reasons for this phenomenon.

Can we draw reliable conclusions about motion parameters from the angulation of a standing dog? The text explains clearly and convincingly why this is only likely to be the case under very specific conditions. The Jena Locomotion Study is a huge project, and projects of this nature are, inevitably, incredibly expensive. Happily, the research program was supported by a whole range of institutions, not least because the results will be helpful in improving the quality of life and healthcare of dogs. Its sponsors include the VDH-organized breed clubs for those dogs which took part, the Society for the Promotion of Cynological Research (GFK) and the umbrella organiza7 tion Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen (VDH/ German Kennel Club).

How can it be that previously unheard of yet utterly conclusive arguments can suddenly be put forward on a topic that has been so thoroughly investigated already? The answer is simple: state-of-the-art methods of data collection and processing that no one would have dared to dream of just a few yearsago now bring objectively to light what previously we could only speculate on. Professor Fischer and his team took highspeed video recordings, conducted markerbased movement analyses, and made use of X-ray videography.

Specialized analysis software enabled them to evaluate the data scientifically and produce movie animations in various forms – the quality of which is unparalleled. For anyone seriously interested in the locomotion of dogs, the video material which accompanies the book is of inestimable value. Everyone who purchases a copy of “Dogs in Motion” has access to the entire film archive. The accompanying DVD contains over four hundred short movies. I personally cannot wait to get down to discussing film sequences in detail with colleagues, friends and other experts. Not only will it be fun, it will be useful, because this kind of discussion will provide a better basis for the judging decisions made at shows and breeding inspections. In this context, the huge variety of breeds included in the study is a definite advantage.

Ten representatives each of 32 breeds of varying sizes and functional groups, from the Whippet to the Great Dane and from the Dachshund to the Golden Retriever were investigated in minute detail. The practical implications of this are manifold, and will be even more fruitful in the context of breeding and selection than I know they will be in the show ring. Even the most modern technology and the greatest expense would be little more than smoke and mirrors in the absence of a decent analysis of the results. I raise my hat to the authors, who consulted over four thousand scientific publications – hundreds of which are cited in the book – in order to produce this scholarly work.

The figures and illustrations by Jonas Lauströer and Amir Andikfar are another absolute treasure trove. The anatomical figures and their explanations alone elevate the book to a standard work, and the documentation of the insights into motion sequences is simply unique and – finally a justified use of the word – truly innovative. Another aspect which deserves special praise is the logical way in which the results are presented.

At the beginning of the book, foundations are laid and terms explained, be they anatomical, evolutionary or from other essential fields, and only then, on the basis of this, are the insights into the walk, the trot and the gallop introduced and discussed. In my view, this makes this valuable contribution to cynology suitable for a particularly wide audience. Breeders, breed judges, trainers, dog owners, students of veterinary medicine, established veterinarians and biologists alike will all find something of interest here, as will numerous other groups of readers. I am an imaginative enough person, but even I cannot imagine that any dog lover will be able to study this book and not learn a lot, and that in the most pleasurable of ways.

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