• Amber Calleran

Anatomy Series, 2: The importance of good conformation

Conformation refers to the way your animal is put together and their shape and angles of the body. Poor conformation can have many effects, not only on the animals way of going but also their posture and likelihood of incurring injury or disease.


There are many different schools of thought as to what desirable and what is not for each breed. Personally, 'fit for function' always trumps aesthetically pleasing traits and no animal has 100% perfect conformation. However, it is certainly important to know what the breed standard is and what traits your dog has so you can best understand how it may affect the way they move/ function and better yet how you can help them maintain comfort and keep them strong.


Don't forget this conformation is very much breed specific and what may be ideal for one breed may not be for another. For example: a Dachshund has a long back which is standard for the breed, If a Labrador has a long back this would not be ideal for the breed and would affect its movement and function.


Here are just some traits that are good to look out for and avoid:


Good conformation traits:

- Strong back

- 'A leg in each corner'

- Straight legs (no lateral or medial deviation or deformity)

- Proportionate head and neck


Bad conformation traits:

- Long back

- Deviation in the limbs

- Long neck

- in-proportionate head to body

- Sloping back

- Upright legs or pelvis