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Canine Glossary

Anatomy Terms & Color Patterns


Abdomen: The belly or undersurface between the chest and hindquarters.
Almond eyes: An elongated eye-shape, describing the tissue surrounding the eye itself.
Angulation: The angles between adjoining bones as in the angle between the scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus (upper arm) or between the pelvis (hip bone) and the femur (thigh bone).
Arm: The anatomical region between the shoulder and the elbow, including the humerus and associated tissues. Sometimes called the upper arm.


Back: The area of a dogs body extending from the withers to the croup.
Balance: The relationship and ratio of the various parts of the dog. When a dog is described as balanced, all parts of the dog produce a harmonious image whether moving or standing.
Barrel: The area between the forelegs and the loin.
Barrel Chest: A rib cage that is round rather than oval. Also referred to as barrel ribbed.
Bicolor: A coat with two colors which are separately defined, such as black and tan or red and white.
Bitch: A female canine.
Bite: The relative position of the upper and lower teeth when the jaws are closed, including scissors, level, undershot or overshot.
Blanket: A color pattern. A black marking over the back that extends from neck to tail.
Blaze: A white stripe running up the center of the face usually between the eyes.
Blenheim: A specific color pattern of red or chestnut markings over a white background. The red on the head must extend around the eyes as well as down over the ears such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Body length: Distance from the sternum (breastbone) to the buttocks.
Brindle: A color pattern in which black pigment is layered in regions of lighter color (usually tan) producing a tiger-striped pattern. Or light pigment layered on a dark background.
Brisket: Usually refers to the sternum, but in some standards it refers to the entire thorax.
Brows: The ridges formed above the eyes by frontal bone contours.
Butterfly nose: A partially unpigmented nose.


Canines: The two upper and two lower large, conical pointed teeth lateral to the incisors and anterior to the premolars.
Carpals: Bones of the wrist.
Cat foot: Round, compact foot, with well-arched toes, tightly bunched or close-cupped.
Character: Expression, individuality, and general appearance as considered typical of a breed.
Chest: The part of the body or trunk that is enclosed by the ribs; the thoracic cavity.
Chops: Jowls or pendulous flesh of the lips and jaw.
Close-coupled: Comparatively short from last rib to the commencement of the hindquarters; occasionally used to characterize a comparative shortness from withers to hipbones.
Coat: The dogs hair covering.
Cobby: Short-bodied dog that is thickset or stocky
Compact: Term used to describe the firmly joined union of various body parts.
Condition: Health as shown by the coat, state of flesh and overall appearance.
Covering ground: The distance traveled by a dog with each stride as it gaits.
Cowhocked: Hocks turning in, accompanied by toeing out of rear feet.
Crabbing: Dog moves with his body at an angle to the line of travel. Also referred to as side-winding.
Cranium: The skull. That part of animal bony skeleton that contains the brain.
Crest: The upper, arched portion of the neck.
Crossing over: Unsound gaiting action which starts with twisting elbows and ends with crisscrossing and toeing out.
Croup: The region of the pelvic girdle, formed by the sacrum and surrounding tissue.
Crown: The dorsal (top) part of the head; the topskull.
Cryptorchid: The adult male whose testicles are abnormally retained in the abdominal cavity. Bilateral cryptorchidism involves both sides; that is, neither testicle has descended into the scrotum. Unilateral cryptorchidism involves one side only; that is, one testicle is retained or hidden, and one descended.


Dam: The female parent.
Dentition: The tooth structure in the mouth. Complete dentition consists of forty-two adult teeth, including incisors, canines, premolars, and molars.
Depth of chest: An indication of the volume of space for heart and lungs. The elbow is commonly used as the reference point to measure the depth of chest (i.e., above, at the level, or below).
Dewclaw: An extra claw or functionless digit on the inside of the leg; a rudimentary fifth toe.
Dewlap: Loose, pendulous skin under the throat and neck.
Dish-faced: Slight concaveness of foreface when viewed in profile.
Disqualification: A decision made by a judge when a dogs actions or condition makes it ineligible for any further competition under the UKC Rules or the standard for its breed.
Dog: A male dog, also used collectively to designate both male and female.
Domed: Evenly rounded in topskull; convex instead of flat.
Down in pastern: Weak or faulty pastern (metacarpus and/or metatarsus) set at an incorrect angle.
Drive: A solid thrusting of the hindquarters, denoting sound locomotion.
Dry neck: A neck free of excess flesh.


East-West front: Incorrect positioning that causes the feet to turn outwards.
Elbow: The posterior region of the articulation between the arm (humerus) and forearm (ulna).
Elbows out: Turning out or off from the body, not held close.
Entropion: A genetic condition that results in the turning in of the upper or lower eyelid, potentially resulting in corneal ulceration.
Even bite: see level bite.
Ewe neck: A thin neck with a concave arch.
Expression: The general appearance of all features of the head.


Femur: Thigh bone. Extends from hip to stifle.
Fibula: One of the two bones of the leg (i.e., the lower thigh, second thigh, or lower leg). The other bone is the tibia.
Fiddle front: Forelegs out at the elbow, pasterns close, and feet turned out.
Flag: A long tail carried high or feathering on tail.
Flank: The side of the body between the last rib and the hip. The coupling.
Flews: Upper lip pendulous, particularly at the inner corners.
Forearm: The portion of the forelimb between the arm (humerus) and the wrist (carpals) including the radius and the ulna.
Foreface: The muzzle.
Forequarters: The combined front assembly of the dog, including the shoulder, upper arm, forearm, pastern and foot.
Fringe: The collection of long hair typically found on the tail, belly, chest and/or ears.
Front: The forepart of the body as viewed head on; i.e., forelegs, chest, brisket, and shoulder line.
Frontal bone: The forehead.


Gait: The pattern of footsteps at various rates of speed, each pattern distinguished by a particular rhythm and footfall.
Gallop: Fastest of the dog gaits, has a four-beat rhythm and often an extra period of suspension during which the body is propelled through the air with all four feet off the ground.


Hare foot: An elongated foot with the two center toes being longer than the side toes.
Harlequin: A color pattern with patches of black or bluish grey on a white background.
Haw: A third eyelid or nictitating membrane on the medial (inside) corner of the eye.
Head planes: Viewed in profile, the contours of the dorsal (top) portion of the skull from occiput to stop, and of the foreface from stop to tip of nose. Usually spoken of in relation to one another, i.e., parallel, diverging, converging.
Height: Vertical measurement from the withers to the ground; referred to usually as shoulder height. See Withers.
Hindquarters: Rear assembly of dog (pelvis, thighs, hocks and paws).
Hock: The tarsus or collection of bones of the hind leg forming the joint between the second tibia thigh and the metatarsus; the dogs true heel.
Hocks well let down: Hock joints close to the ground.
Honorable scars: Scars from injuries suffered as a result of work.
Humerus: The bone of the upper arm.


Incisors: The six upper and six lower front teeth between the canines. Their point of contact forms the bite.


Jowls: Flesh of lips and jaws.


Knee: See Stifle.
Knuckling over: Faulty structure of corpus (wrist) joint allowing it to flex forward under the weight of the standing dog.


Layback: The angle of the shoulder blade as compared with the vertical plane viewed from the side (laterally).
Leather: The flap of the ear; the outer ear supported by cartilage and surrounding tissue.
Level bite: When the front teeth (incisors) of the upper and lower jaws meet exactly edge to edge. Sometimes referred to as a pincer bite.
Level gait: Dog moves without rise or fall of withers.
Loaded shoulders: Excessive development of the muscles associated with the shoulder blades (scapula).
Loin: The region of the body associated with the lumbar portion of the vertebrae column (i.e., posterior to the ribs and anterior to the pelvic girdle).


Mandible: The bone of the lower jaw.
Maxilla: The bone of the upper jaw.
Merle: A coat with a lighter ground color covered with patches or spots of two-colored hair. Examples are blue merle and red merle.
Metatarsus: Rear pastern.
Monorchid: A unilateral cryptorchid.
Moving close: Describes the rear action of a dog when the hocks are excessively close to each other when the dog gaits.
Multi-Colored: Having more than one color over the entire body.
Muzzle: The head in front of the eyes nasal bone, nostrils, and jaws. Foreface.


Non-Variety: A breed in which there is only one phenotype recognized.


Occiput: Dorsal, posterior point of the skull.
Out at elbows: Elbows turning out from the body as opposed to being held close.
Overreaching: An imbalance in angulation when the rear legs reach beyond the paw print of the front feet, usually resulting in crabbing.
Overshot: The incisors of the upper jaw projecting beyond the incisors of the lower jaw, thus resulting in a space between the respective inner and outer surfaces.
Oval foot: Spoon shaped foot. Though similar to a cat foot, the center toes are slightly longer, which leaves an oval impression on the ground.


Pace: A lateral gait where the left foreleg and left hind leg advance in unison followed by the right foreleg and right hind leg.
Padding: A compensating action when the front feet flip upward in a split-second delaying action to coordinate with the longer stride from behind.
Paddling: A gait in which the pasterns and feet perform circular and exaggerated motion, turning or flicking outwards at the end of each step.
Pads: Tough, shock-absorbing projections on the underside of the feet. Soles.
Parti-Color: Two or more definite well-broken colors, one of which must be white.
Pastern: Commonly recognized as the region of the foreleg between the carpus or wrist and the digits, i.e., the metacarpus; rear between hock (tarsus) and digits.
Pelvis: Hip bones, each consisting of three fused bones: an anterior illium, a ventral pubis, and a posterior ischium; combined with sacrum forming the pelvic girdle.
Piebald: A color pattern of pigmented irregular patches or spots over a white background of hair.
Pigeon-breasted: A narrow chest.
Pigeon-toed: Feet that turn inwards.
Phenotype: Visible characteristics of a dogs genetic makeup (genotype).
Points: Color on face, ears, legs and tail when correlated usually white, black or tan.
Pounding: A dogs stride when the forefeet strike the ground hard before the rear stride is expended.


Radius: The main weight-supporting bone of the forearm.
Rangy: Tall, long in body, high on leg, often lightly framed.
Reach: Length of forward stride taken by forelegs.
Rear Pastern: The metatarsus, the region of the hindquarters between the hock (tarsus) and the foot (digits).
Rib cage: The collection of paired ribs, cartilage, sternum, and associated tissue that define the thoracic region.
Roach back: A convex curvature of the back involving thoracic and lumbar regions.
Roan: A color resulting in the mixing of white and colored hair.
Rolling gait: Swaying, ambling action of the hindquarters when moving.
Roman nose: A muzzle that is convex between the nose and the stop.


Saber tail: A tail with a slight curve or sickle shape that is carried upward.
Saddle: A black marking over the back.
Scapula: Anatomical term for the shoulder blade.
Scissors bite: A bite in which the outer side (anterior portion) of the lower incisors touches the inner side (posterior portion) of the upper incisors.
Second thigh: The part of the hindquarter from the stifle to the hock including the tibia and fibula.
Sickle hocked: When the rear pastern is not perpendicular to the ground, but rather slopes forward so that the foot is not directly below the hock joint.
Shoulder: Where the shoulder blade (scapula) meets the upper arm (humerus).
Sire: The male parent.
Slab sided: Flat ribs with too little spring from the spinal column.
Snipy: A pointed, weak muzzle, lacking breadth and depth.
Snow nose: A condition that causes the nose or parts of it to lose pigment and become noticeably lighter in the winter months.
Solid Color: One color that encompasses the entire body.
Soundness: True, efficient movement.
Spanning: A way of verifying the compressibility of the chest/ribs of specific terrier breeds.
Splayfoot: A flat foot with toes spreading. Open foot, open-toed.
Spring of ribs: Curvature of ribs for heart and lung capacity.
Square body: A dog whose measurements from withers to the ground equals that from forechest to the buttocks.
Stack: A pose as to make the most of the dogs appearance for the show ring.
Standard: A description of the ideal dog of each recognized breed, to serve as a guideline by which dogs are judged.
Sternum: Breastbone.
Stifle: The joint of the hind leg between the thigh (femur) and the second thigh (tibia). The dogs knee.
Stop: The area between the eyes where the nasal bones and cranium meet.
Straight-hocked: Lacking angulation at the hock joints.
Straight in pastern: Little or no bend at the wrist.
Straight shoulders: The shoulder blades rather straight up and down, as opposed to sloping or well laid back.
Substance: The amount of bone.
Swayback: Concave curvature of the vertebrae column between the withers and the hipbones.


Tail set: How the base of the tail sets on the croup.
Thigh: The hindquarter from hip to stifle.
Throatiness: An excess of loose skin under the throat. Sometimes referred to as a dewlap.
Ticked: Small, isolated areas of black or colored hairs on a white ground.
Topline: Historically used to describe the top of the head to the base of the tail, but over time has evolved to describe the dogs outline from the withers to the croup. Sometimes referred to as backline.
Tri-color: A coat that has three-colors, usually white, black and tan.
Trot: A rhythmic two-beat gait in which the feet at diagonally opposite ends of the body strike the ground together; i.e., right hind with left front and left hind with right front.
Tuck-up: The underline of the loin that rises from the end of the ribcage to the hindquarters.
Type: The characteristic qualities distinguishing one breed to another. When a dog is typey, it embodies the essential characteristics of the breed.


Ulna: The narrower of the two bones that form the forearm.
Underline: The combined contours of the brisket and the abdominal floor.
Undershot: The front teeth (incisors) of the lower jaw overlapping or projecting beyond the front teeth of the upper jaw when the mouth is closed.
Unsound: A dog incapable of performing the functions for which it was bred. Or, poor movement.
Upper arm: The humerus or bone of the foreleg, between the shoulder blade and the forearm and associated tissues.


Variety Breed: A breed in which there are two or more phenotypes recognized within that breed.


Walk: Gaiting pattern in which three legs are in support of the body at all times, each foot lifting from the ground one at a time in regular sequence.
Web foot: well developed and strong webbing between the toes, typically found in some retrieving or northern breeds.
Weedy: A body that is underdeveloped without sufficient substance.
Well-balanced: See balance.
Withers: The region defined by the dorsal portions of the spinous processes of the first two thoracic vertebrae and flanked by the dorsal (uppermost) portions of the scapulae.
Wry mouth: Asymmetrical alignment of upper and lower jaws; cross bite.


Zygomatic Arch: The bony arch at the outer border of the eye socket and union of the cheekbone.