Nailed It

AKC GAZETTE September 2019
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column

Every judge has their pet peeve or idiosyncratic spin on the breeds they judge. It can be color, eyes, size, or even sometimes something completely unimaginable. I mean, who knows what goes through the mind of a judge when you place your Cardigan on the table for examination? You would like to think that they are admiring the lovely wraparound front assembly, or perhaps that perfect three-to-five parts headpiece you are so proud of and worked hard to get into your breeding program. A good judge takes all of these things and hopefully much more into consideration when evaluating the entry.

One simple thing that we see more and more exhibitors forgetting is at the very foundation of every dog: the feet. The official standard for the Cardigan says the following:

“The feet are relatively large and rounded, with wellfilled pads. They point slightly outward from a straight-ahead position to balance the width of the shoulders. This outward point is not to be more than 30 degrees from centerline when viewed from above. The toes should not be splayed.”

Of course having the pups born with the correct features is our goal as breeders, but allowing poor grooming habits to overcome proper structure is another thing altogether. What am I talking about here? Toenails that are not correctly and consistently given the attention they deserve can actually ruin you in the conformation ring, and they can in fact also cause your aging dog a lot of unnecessary pain in the future. Excessively long nails can make a nice, rounded foot look splayed. The toes cannot set tightly together on the foot if the nails are pushing the toes apart. After time this can make the dog move differently to accommodate for the uncomfortable toes and even give the dog a more “east-west” look to the front assembly. Conformation wise, neither of these situations is desirable. When shown indoors this problem becomes even more prevalent. Imagine what years of lengthy nails may do to the joints on those precious front legs.

Those of you who are well acquainted with the proper technique for nail trimming will tell you that grinding the nails a half hour before the show after months of neglect will not accomplish the proper look. As the nail lengthens, so does the quick, the meaty part of the nail assembly. It is impossible to get them ground back to a length that maintains that nice, rounded foot without injuring the dog.The process must either be part of a regular regimen or started weeks in advance of the show. As you prepare your entry, start with those nails, and take a little more off every few days. You will be surprised how fast they grow, particularly if they are not on concrete or other abrasive surfaces that may keep them ground down somewhat naturally. Nowadays the Dremel tool is the top choice for quickly and cleanly manicuring the nails. Some people have been known to literally cut the quick back to obtain short nails. Hopefully this archaic practice is something that will remain in the past, as one should never risk an injury to any dog for the sake of winning anything.

Remember, the standard says, “This is a herding dog which must have the agility, freedom of movement, and endurance to do the work for which he was developed.” Give your dog every opportunity to perform to best of his ability.


-David L. Anthony

First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, September 2019.

© Copyright* the American Kennel Club