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Weird dog gait - like an equine pacer

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  • Weird dog gait - like an equine pacer

    Happy Labor Day Weekend! I've got two yellow Labs. My female, who is 2 years old now, moves in a way I've never seen in a dog, just in horses. My male moves like a horse at all three gaits. My female moves like a pacer! Both sides of her legs move in tandem - right front and right hind move forward at the same time, while the left front and left hind move forward at the same time (as opposed to right front, left hind moving together). She will get pretty quick doing this before she'll finally break into a normal trot. Any thoughts on this? Anyone seen this before? Is it normal, abnormal, or neither? Any particular reason why a dog would move like this? Thanks!

  • #2
    Normal, especially if she's always done it. Some breeds (Min Pins, I think?) are supposed to pace, not trot. Generally, ANY dog will pace when they're fatigued, as it's a more efficient gait.

    If she used to be a trotter and only recently started pacing, it might be worth a vet visit to check for pain. Otherwise, just ignore it!

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    • #3
      No breed, at least no AKC breed, is supposed to pace. The closest is the Old English Sheepdog which 'ambles' which is similar to a running walk in gaited horses and can turn into a pace.
      It is a fatigue gait in most dogs, but there are dogs that their height to length ratio and angulation just make it easier, especially at slower speeds.
      If she has always done this, it is probably her structure. If it just started it might be pain somewhere.
      I have seen quite a few Labs pace in the ring as slow speeds so there may be something about how they are built that makes it a comfortable gait for them.
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      • #4
        in general 4-legged animals switch gaits as their speed increases to utilize the most efficient gait for that speed- so your "normal" horse walks until it gets more physically difficult to walk at that speed than it is to trot, then trots until it gets more physically difficult to trot at that speed than it is to canter, etc. Obviously training to say, do a fast extended trot, or conditioning to be able to do a powerful, but slow, collected canter affect this.

        Horses bred to prefer pacing or speed-walking or any of the "alternative" gaits are thought to have genetic "differences" in the spinal reflexes that control gait switches, so they don't follow the usual pattern of preferred gait at a particular speed. Pacing and speed-walking ("gaiting") all tend to be more energy-consuming than the traditional walk/trot/canter/gallop.

        So I'm not really sure why your dog prefers to pace; one of my dogs tends to get "pacey" when moving a bit faster than he prefers to walk, but slower than he prefers to trot.

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        • #5
          Some dog breeds can be prone to pacing (rotties, for one) but I don't think it's breed standard for any. There can be a variety of reasons for why a dog paces:

          - As mentioned, it can be fatigue. Sometimes dog will pace when they're tired as the different movement can ease tired muscles.

          - Sometimes it's speed. My flat coat retriever will pace if we're walking and I'm going to slow for him to trot but not fast enough for him to walk comfortably. Or if he's trying to tell me that he really wants to go faster, he starts to pace. It's his "hint, hint, nudge, nudge - move your a$$" signal.

          - Sometimes it can be a sign of hip dysplasia, though usually there's others signs of HD besides pacing. I've found that pacing done for other reasons besides HD looks slightly different than pacing because of HD. It might be worth looking at some youtube videos of HD dogs moving OR get the vet to x-ray hips and see if there's an issue.

          Hopefully it's just pacing for a silly reason and nothing serious. If you see other signs of HD or if the pacing is a new habit, I think it would be a good idea to book a vet appointment.

          Comment


          • #6
            Pacing is not unusual, many dogs will do it occasionally if tired, some will pace due to conformation, or sometimes overweight dogs will pace. An injury, pain, or lameness can also cause pacing.

            No breed SHOULD pace, although yes, there's the amble in OES and the bulldog *roll* tendency that occurs in several bully-related breeds at the trot. The MinPin should have a hackney-like action in front at the trot.
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            • #7
              I had a Bouvier that paced due to conformation issues; very short in the back.

              A challenge to show in conformation (and no, she did not finish and I did not breed her).
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              • #8
                Our GSD/Chow boy-dog will pace if he really wants to go faster but we are only walking. Once we start jogging he will do a proper trot. So yes, for him, it's a speed thing. His full sister rarely paces
                ______________________________
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                • #9
                  Huh. I could have SWORN there was one AKC breed that paced--something dark and little like the Min Pin or the Manchester Terrier--but yeah...that doesn't pan out in the breed standards. I thought I heard that on a Westminster broadcast, several years ago? Weird. Must be getting old and misremembering

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                  • #10
                    Our lab paced. Her hips were awful and she blew both CCL's. We got her at age 5 and I don't ever remember seeing her trot.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have a dog that paces

                      and interestingly, I think she is part Rottie. She has ALWAYS paced. Never had a dog that paced before, and I swear, I have seen MANY dogs at the big show at MSG pacing! My thought was how can they be a champion if they pace?
                      Another killer of threads

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                      • #12
                        My brother's Blackmouth Cur does a nifty singlefoot rack of some sort. He's only 14 weeks old but he's done it since he began walking. His full sister and near twin doesn't do it.
                        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by cowboymom View Post
                          My brother's Blackmouth Cur does a nifty singlefoot rack of some sort. He's only 14 weeks old but he's done it since he began walking. His full sister and near twin doesn't do it.
                          Omg, just taught a lesson to a couple with what they said was a blackmouth cur....looked like a GSD/chow-ish mix. They got her from a GA rescue. Said they are bred to hunt bear? This 3ish y.o.gal has a pretty strong prey drive and is a sweet mushface with people. I'd never heard of them before, and frankly, thought they were pulling my leg when they told me the name.
                          No pacing/ambling that I saw.

                          The shuffle gait is incorrect except in OESDs, is a sign of fatigue,lameness, and /or conformational unsoundness, and many a dog I've seen pace has hind leg problems.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lovey1121 View Post
                            The shuffle gait is incorrect except in OESDs, is a sign of fatigue,lameness, and /or conformational unsoundness, and many a dog I've seen pace has hind leg problems.
                            Looks like the Old English and the Polish Lowland can both amble, and that the Neapolitan Mastiff isn't penalized for pacing, at least according to this: http://www.gilbertk9.com/Articles/PacingUpdate.html

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Larksmom View Post
                              I swear, I have seen MANY dogs at the big show at MSG pacing! My thought was how can they be a champion if they pace?
                              Lots of dogs will pace in the show ring if you don't start moving them fast enough. But only a poor handler will allow them to pace (if you have a pacer, you usually know it, so you watch them and correct them quick!)

                              But I will say that watching shows on TV is sometimes really misleading. The camera is usually positioned slightly off to the side when watching a dog do a down and back, and they often look like really horrible movers. But if you watch a show in person, you rarely think that a dog in the group ring is a poor mover...if they are showing at that level, the dog and the handler are usually pretty darn good. I think the camera angle might make it seem like more are pacing than really are.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                A lot of dogs will pace at times. Often the owner doesnt even notice. The most common time for them to pace is when they are at the in-between speed - too fast for a pure walk and too slow for a trot. So when you walk your dog, if the pace is off for her, she is likely to pace. If she happily trots off when encouraged to go faster, there is likely no problem. I think some dogs also get into the habit of moving this way as leggy pups - it seems easier for them.
                                If she checks out okay healthwise and you wish to discourage it, make sure you exercise her at the trot so she develops those muscles and habits. Guess you would develop some too!

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                                • #17
                                  My wolfdog paces exclusively...like a wolf

                                  Well, he runs also but very seldom walks.
                                  Founding Member of "I Kept 'Off Topic Day!' Open"

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                                  • #18
                                    The only dog i ever saw pace was a collie mix with severe neurological issues.
                                    People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they're lost.---Dalai Lama

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                                      the Neapolitan Mastiff isn't penalized for pacing, at least according to this: http://www.gilbertk9.com/Articles/PacingUpdate.html
                                      Interesting about the Neo. Mastiff- I have(had) 2 (now one) in training. Orthopedic nightmares both, and the male was euth'ed recently at age 2 due to a tumor wrapped around his spine This was on top of his severe elbow and hip dysplasia. Poor guy.... Both were from CH sire/dam.....whaaaa???? The sister isnt much sounder. Maybe AKC should rethink that non-penalty policy...

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by lovey1121 View Post
                                        Interesting about the Neo. Mastiff- I have(had) 2 (now one) in training. Orthopedic nightmares both, and the male was euth'ed recently at age 2 due to a tumor wrapped around his spine This was on top of his severe elbow and hip dysplasia. Poor guy.... Both were from CH sire/dam.....whaaaa???? The sister isnt much sounder. Maybe AKC should rethink that non-penalty policy...
                                        Wow, sorry to hear that! Three generation pedigree OFA hips and elbows good or better? Just finishing a championship doesn't, unfortunately, guarantee the dog is free of issues

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