Canine Breeds with Pronounced Sternum: A Guide
What is a Pronounced Sternum in Canine Breeds?
A pronounced sternum, also known as a "keel," is the protruding bone located at the base of a dog’s ribcage. It is commonly found in breeds that were originally bred for hunting or working purposes, such as sporting and hound breeds. The purpose of the keel is to provide extra space for lung expansion during intense physical activity, allowing the dog to breathe more efficiently. In some breeds, the keel is more pronounced than in others, leading to a visible ridge along the dog’s chest.
Breeds with Pronounced Sternum: Why does it Matter?
Knowing which breeds have a pronounced sternum can be important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it can help potential dog owners to choose a breed that is well-suited to their lifestyle. Breeds with a keel tend to be high-energy and require plenty of exercise, so they may not be suitable for those who are unable to provide regular physical activity. Secondly, some breeds with a pronounced sternum are more prone to certain health issues, which will be discussed further in the following section.
Health Implications of a Pronounced Sternum in Dogs
While a pronounced sternum is a normal anatomical feature in certain dog breeds, it can be associated with certain health issues. One of the most common issues is gastrointestinal problems, particularly in breeds with a deep chest such as Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers. These breeds are prone to a condition called bloat, which occurs when the stomach twists on itself and becomes distended with gas. This is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention.
Another health concern associated with a pronounced sternum is hip dysplasia, a condition in which the hip joint does not develop properly. This can lead to arthritis and pain in the affected joint, and can be particularly problematic in breeds with a keel, as the extra strain on the hips can worsen the condition. In addition to these issues, dogs with a pronounced sternum may also be more prone to exercise-induced collapse and heat stroke, as their bodies are less efficient at regulating temperature during intense physical activity.
How to Identify a Canine Breed with a Pronounced Sternum
Identifying a breed with a pronounced sternum is relatively straightforward. Simply look for a visible ridge along the dog’s chest, which will be most noticeable when the dog is standing sideways. Some breeds with a keel include the Weimaraner, Vizsla, German Shorthaired Pointer, and several breeds of hound such as the Bloodhound and Coonhound. It is important to note that not all dogs in these breeds will have a pronounced sternum, and that other breeds may also display this feature to a lesser extent.
Training and Caring for a Dog with a Pronounced Sternum
Training and caring for a dog with a pronounced sternum is not significantly different from caring for any other dog, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Firstly, it is important to provide plenty of exercise and physical activity to keep the dog healthy and prevent obesity. Secondly, owners of breeds prone to bloat should be aware of the signs and symptoms of the condition, and should seek veterinary attention immediately if they suspect their dog may be affected. Thirdly, dogs with a pronounced sternum may benefit from joint supplements or other treatments to help prevent or manage hip dysplasia.
In terms of training, it is important to provide plenty of mental stimulation and positive reinforcement to keep the dog engaged and well-behaved. Breeds with a keel tend to be intelligent and trainable, but also have a lot of energy, so it is important to channel this energy into appropriate activities such as obedience training, agility, or hunting. Positive reinforcement techniques such as clicker training and treat rewards can be particularly effective with these breeds.
In conclusion, a pronounced sternum is a normal anatomical feature in certain dog breeds, and is associated with a number of health considerations. Knowing which breeds have a keel can be helpful for potential dog owners, particularly those who are looking for a high-energy, athletic companion. While caring for a dog with a pronounced sternum is not significantly different from caring for any other dog, there are certain considerations to keep in mind, particularly with regards to exercise, potential health issues, and training techniques. With proper care and attention, dogs with a pronounced sternum can make wonderful and rewarding companions for the right owner.