Canine gaits – Taking off!
Last week, we saw how your pooch gets going, but how do they move when they spot a squirrel or when a sight-hound’s released? The next three gaits are the trot, canter and gallop and will reveal all.
The trot is faster than the walk, but not as fast as the gallop. It’s the most efficient gait, wolves were capable of covering 100 miles a day mainly using this gait. It’s a two-beat sequence where right and left legs are lifted in a diagonal fashion. There’s a short period of suspension where all legs are up in the air, but it’s hardly noticeable. This is the most popular gait seen in the show ring. When the judge asks the handler to make the dog trot, they will say “gait your dog.”
The canter is a 3-beat gait that is used for long distances as it’s smooth and helps the dog conserve energy. The exact pattern is hind foot, the opposite hind foot and its front diagonal, and afterwards, the other front foot and there’s possible suspension.
This is the fastest gait and it is classified as asymmetrical. It’s a four-time gait with suspension where all the legs are lifted off the ground. There are two types of gallop: the single suspension gallop and the double suspension gallop.
The single suspension gallop in dogs is a four-time gait. It’s an asymmetrical sequence where the dog achieves suspension. The single suspension gallop is used by all dogs.
The double suspension gait is a four-time, asymmetrical gait seen only in sight hound breeds such as the greyhound and whippet. This is the only gait where the dog achieves full extension with the front legs extended forward and the rear legs are extended rearward, the back flexes and arches with the rear feet extending in front of the front feet and the front feet extending behind the rear feet. In other words the rear feet overtake the front, meaning the dog is air born twice in each cycle. Despite the speed, this gait doesn’t offer much endurance. It is this gait that makes greyhounds and whippets so fast!
When you take your pooch out on their walks, to help them reach their PitPat goal and stay fit, vary the type of exercise they’re doing and see if you can spot the 5-6 gait types, depending on the breed of your dog!