How to Decipher Breed Standards

The official American Kennel Club breed standard probably contains many unfamiliar terms. Here’s a dictionary of the most common ones illustrated with a graphic of a generic dog.

Angulation – Angles formed by joints of the skeleton

cobby – Stout, short-bodied, and stocky

Cowhocks – When the hocks (midleg joints) on the rear legs turn inward and the feet turn outward giving the dog a knocked-kneed appearance

Croup – Region of the top of the dog between the hip bones extending to the start of the tail

Dewclaws – Additional toes on the inside of the leg above the foot

Hock – Joint in the hind leg (an ankle in humans)

Leather ear – Caused by fungus. Dogs have black shading and no hair on the ear or bridge of the nose.

Loin – Parts of the body located on both sides of the backbone between the ribs and the hips

Muzzle – Part of the face in front of the eyes including mouth, nose and jaws

Pasterns – Part of the foreleg between the foot and fetlock or pastern joint (the knee)

Stifle – Joint next above the hock (like a human ankle) and near the flank in the hind leg

Stop – Point at which the nasal structure meets the cranium between the eyes

Topline – Outline of the dog between the withers and the tail; i.e., the back

Tuckup – Shallow body depth at the loin; i.e., small-waisted.

Undershot bite – An underbite, opposite of overshot bite

Withers – Point at the top of the dog’s shoulders where the neck and back meet, from which a dog’s height is calculated

Wry mouth – Cross bite where the upper and lower jaws do not live up