Gait

Duhayer_Royal Canin

Gait describes the various phases of mechanical work by the limbs caused by muscle contractions, which enables the animal to move. There are several main gaits, which are differentiated by the manner and sequence in which the limbs move: walk, trot, gallop and jump.

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Walking gait

Walking

© Diffomédia/Royal Canin

This is a four-beat gait in which the body is always in contact with the ground. It is symmetrical and tilting, which means that the front and the back rise and fall alternately. It is called a diagonal gait, because the steps follow each other diagonally.

The limbs move in the sequence front left, back right, front right, back left. Walking is a gait in which the body undulates laterally with regular tilting of the pelvis each time the back feet touch the ground. The head follows the movement of the shoulders produced by the front limbs. Well-built dogs that are able to walk freely will walk in a regular, harmonious way in which the back feet touch the ground in the same place as the front feet.

Amble

© Diffomédia/Royal Canin

This is a gait that often needs training, although it also occurs naturally in some breeds, including Bobtails. This is a two-beat lateral gait in which two limbs on the same side move at the same time. The pace of this gait is between the trot and the walk but less tiring than the former, which is why some dogs adopt it instinctively when they start to tire from too much trotting.

Jumping gaits

Trotting

© Diffomédia/Royal Canin

This is a natural two-beat gait in which the diagonal feet on each side (front left- back right, front right- back left) rise and fall at the same time.

UMES

A trot can be normal, collected or extended depending on the speed of the dog. When trotting, the dog’s head, neck and back is tensed and horizontal, and there must be no vertical or lateral movement between one region of the body and another. This is the preferred gait of judges for evaluating a dog’s conformation.

© Diffomédia/Royal Canin

Gallop

UMES

This is a fast, three-beat dissymmetric, tilting gait. The dog gallops left or right depending on the order in which its limbs are engaged. In a left gallop, for instance, the sequence is back left, diagonal left (front left + back right), front right.

During this sequence, the dog alternatively has only the back left and the front right on the ground.

All feet are in the air for a short instant.

If the gallop is very fast (as in a race) it will be an extended, four-beat gait. Because of the speed of the gallop this gait does not allow a judge to evaluate the dog’s conformation in the same way as a trot.

© Diffomédia/Royal Canin
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