It is critical to understand canine gait and in particular to recognize the differences in gait between different breeds of dogs to be able to recognize subtle lamenesses, which are quite common in canine athletes and working dogs. Structurally, dogs are quite different from horses. Their flexible spine, 13 ribs (as compared with the 17 or 18 of horses), separate radius/ ulna and tibia/fibula, and feet that can grip mean that canine locomotion is quite different from that of horses. Dogs use six basic gaits: walk, trot, transverse and rotary canter, and transverse and rotary gallop. The walk and trot use the same order of footfall as the horse. However, whereas horses almost exclusively canter and gallop using the same lead legs in the front and rear, dogs generally prefer to canter and gallop using the opposite lead legs in the front and rear. This gives dogs a performance advantage, allowing them to quickly change leads in either the front or the rear to adapt to circumstances. There are a number of tools that can be used to accurately analyze and quantify gait abnormalities, including high-speed digital video cameras, electromyography, and kinematic and kinetic analysis systems.
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