Conformation describes the anatomy of the animal. Conformation is having the 'form to function'. Breed standards go into a lot of detail about the required conformation for every breed whether it is dog, horse or other animal. This is not done just for the 'look' of the animal, but to ensure that they continue to be bred in such a way that they remain suitable for the purpose they were originally developed for. Trotting dogs have a different conformation to galloping dogs. Dogs that hunt and run with their noses to the ground have different conformational structure to dogs that
don't, and so on.
In four legged animals, all impulsion (movement) begins at
the hind end. But there needs to be balance between
hindquarters and forequarters and a strong connecting back in between. In trotting breeds, If the hind legs reach far forward in a deep stride [this means the hind foot reaches forward well under the dogs ribcage] but the shoulder angulation is too upright, it will not allow a long enough stride in front, the front feet need to be able to reach forward beneath the dogs nose. If the front legs are restricted and cannot reach forward to give plenty of room for the hind leg, it causes the animal to move up and down or in a crab-like way, as the impulsion is interfered with, the stride becomes uneven and stress is placed on various parts of the dog's anatomy causing eventual muscular and skeletal health problems.
When we talk about 'balance' in the structure of the dog what we mean is that the angulation of bone and therefore the connecting tissues of muscles, ligaments and tendons, need to form complimentary angles in front to what it has behind. This ensures an effortless, flowing movement which puts the least strain on the anatomy.
Trotting dogs with strong balanced reaching movement will not suffer undue wear and tear on their bodies so problems like hip dysplasia are eliminated or highly unlikely if environmental and dietary factors are correctly applied throughout the dogs puppyhood and later life.
The head should look and feel slightly square in appearance with well-defined frontal [brow] bones. The head should not look long and tapered to a narrow nose.
The nose of an Australian Cobberdog is a facial feature it is large square and fleshy placed on the muzzle rather than on the tip [end] of the muzzle, it has large defined nostrils,
The muzzle is broad not narrow, with smooth, muscled cheeks and firm lips. Length from tip of nose to inner corner of eye should be slightly shorter than from inner corner of eye to point of occiput, The ratio of length from occiput to eyes and eyes to nose should be as 3 is to 5 with muzzle being slightly shorter.
The forehead should be more flat than rounded or domed with the occiput bone not protruding into a raised point. The stop is the section between the eyes it should not be steep like a Boxer type breed but it should also not be flat like a Scotch Collie it should be well defined like a thumb print on a clay model.
Eyes are set well apart, rounder than oval, larger rather than smaller but never bulging nor prominent. Should not protrude nor be sunken.
The chin [mandible] is broad and deep allowing lower teeth to be slightly straight rather than a narrow oval
Teeth should be scissor [top teeth just over bottom teeth. Missing premolars are not penalised however full dentition is preferred.
The body should be free from exaggerations; nothing should catch your attention. The dog should stand slightly longer than tall. The flank should be firm and slightly tucked. [should curve up rather than be fleshy hanging down]
The back should be strong and short [The back starts behind the withers and stops at the last rib] the back should be strong and level The loins start from the last rib and stop at the pin bones [Pin bones are often called pointy hip bones] you should feel a rise over the loins but stepping back you cannot see it unless the dog is shaved very short, the loin should be muscled and strong.
The croup is the last section from pin bones to anus the croup should fall down to the anus it should not be a steep fall nor should it be flat It should allow for a smooth continuation to a medium tail set.
SHOULDERS AND FOREHAND
All that is meant by the expressions, ‘a good layback’--- or ‘Shoulders well laid back,’ is that the slope of the shoulders should not be less than 45 or more than 50 degrees with reference to the Horizontal line. (Imaginary) An imaginary line extended from the top of the shoulder [wither] and continuing through, or passing over, the Olecranon
(elbow) should intersect the plane of the shoulder at 90 degrees to form angle "Y". This line is theoretical because the Humerus (upper arm) is not a straight bone, but the axis is parallel to each other and therefore parallel to the line.
The length of the Scapula should equal the length of the Humerus. The angle of the attachment of the Radius-ulna (lower arm) is not important, provided the bones are
straight and stand vertically as observed from either side or front.
The mechanical efficiency depends upon several features of angulation. The hind leg is firmly attached to the skeletal framework through an articulated attachment to the Ilium (pelvis). The pelvis should be sloped at an angle of 30 degrees (Angle X) to the Horizontal as shown on the line (a-b).
The axis of the Femur (thigh or upper leg) should intersect the pelvic slope at 90 degrees (Angle Y) as indicated by the typical axis line (c-d). The stifle, consisting of two bones, the Tibia and the Fibula, is articulated with the Femur and should be distinctly angled at the "stifle joint." (This is referred to as "Good bend of stifle".) At the lower end, where it meets the hock "joint", the line of the stifle should intersect the vertical line of the Hock-Metatarsus at an angle of 45 to 50 degrees.
The overall length of the stifle should at least equal the length of the thighbone, and preferably should exceed it. (---Hocks well let down- is indicated by the shortness of the hock-i.e. close to the ground---in relation to the long stifle bone.)
Leverage exerted by the stifle and a short, straight hock, in action with the tendons and muscles, produces lifting action and, with the Femur, the power to move the dog smoothly and without wasted muscular effort.