Dog’s Back Legs Longer Than Front – Why Is That?

Our furry friends become part of our families when we bring them home. Being a responsible pet owner includes learning all you can about your new pet and its breed after he joins your home.

Why Are My Dog’s Back Legs Longer Than Its Front Legs?

When looking at your new dog, you may wonder why its back legs are longer than its front. It is a common question, and the answer is multi-faceted. The most likely reason your dog has longer hind legs than front legs is that your dog is still growing. Other factors affecting hind-leg size depend on the breed and your dog’s overall health.

Many prospective dog owners choose their animals based on looks, but common health issues are associated with certain breeds. Knowing what to look for is essential in identifying health issues right away.

Why Are Dogs Shaped the Way They Are?

The shape of your dog is directly related to breeding. The breeds we see today are the effect of selective breeding and evolution. For thousands of years, humans have bred dogs to use them for specific tasks. A recent study in the Journal of Neuroscience has found that not only has breeding affected a dog’s physical shape, but it can also affect the dog’s personality.

In the past, humans designed dogs to serve them in physical ways like herding and gathering. Those energetic dog breeds may have more muscular, longer legs for running. Other purposes for breeding were for aesthetic purposes or to make a dog more docile for human companionship. These gentile-mannered dogs may have smaller bodies and shorter legs.

How Should a Dog’s Legs Look?

The strength and size of dog legs can vary by breed, but dog anatomy is generally the same.

Dogs’ front and back legs serve different purposes similar to how humans’ arms and legs help humans do different tasks. On their front legs, dogs have shoulders just like humans. Their upper arms run to their elbow. Like us, they have an ulna and radius bone below the elbow that runs to their wrists.

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One significant difference between a dog’s front legs and a human’s arms is that dogs have disconnected shoulders. This disconnection allows dogs to have a much longer stride when they run.

Dogs’ back legs have a hip, thigh, and knee like humans. Back legs in dogs also have an ankle joint that controls the flexion and range of motion in the dog’s foot.

Red Flags to Look For in Your Dog’s Leg Shape

Like humans, dogs’ front and hind legs can deform as they grow. Common causes for leg deformities in dogs are leg fracture, obesity, injury during the puppy stage, and genetics.

Veterinarians believe there are certain things to look for if you are wondering if your dog is growing correctly. Check with your local veterinarian if you notice any of these behaviors or signs of pain.

Which Dog Breeds Are Known for Leg Problems?

According to the Veterinarian Teaching Academy, some dog breeds are predisposed to problems like arthritis or hip dysplasia in their limbs. These dog breeds are often extra large dog breeds or dog breeds with very short limbs, including:

  • German Shepherds
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Great Danes
  • Mastiffs
  • Rottweilers
  • French Bulldogs
  • Pugs

From Chihuahuas to Chows, arthritis can form in any dog breed. Any dog can also hurt its hind legs as it gets older. Injuries occur when older dogs with worn joints try to run and jump like they did when they were puppies.

Is There Anything That Can Stunt My Dog’s Growth?

Stunted growth happens when a dog’s development is not on par with its age and breed. Many factors can stunt growth, including malnutrition, infection, and disease.

How can I tell if my dog’s legs are stunted? Most often, stunted growth results from infection. Infection weakens the body’s immune system allowing common parasites like hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms to invade.

Stunted growth due to malnutrition happens when a dog is not getting the proper vitamins required for its breed. Speaking to a veterinarian about the appropriate diet for your dog can solve this problem. There are social groups for learning and even online recipes for making your dog’s food to ensure your dog is eating healthy.

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Though genetic diseases in dogs are rare, they can cause stunted growth. Some of these diseases include dwarfism or chondrodysplasia. These genetic disorders are present in some breeds more than others. For example, the prevalence of chondrodysplasia in dachshunds or other short-legged dogs is so common that owners may mistakenly associate the disorder’s traits with the breed’s traits.

How Can I Help My Dog Build Healthy Leg Muscles?

Walking your dog is an excellent way for you and your dog to get a workout, but there are softer exercises you can do at home if you notice issues with your dog’s legs. Simple at-home dog exercises include moving from “sit to stand,” extended paw touching, and climbing stairs.

Strengthening Exercises for Dogs

As the pet owner, you will know these activities are for rehabilitation after a dog’s injury or for conditioning to grow your dog’s strength. Your dog may believe you two are bonding! Your dog will benefit for years from an exercise plan incorporating different levels of physical training.

Final Thoughts

Choosing to bring a dog into your home is a big decision that will affect your everyday life in the best ways. As we watch our dogs grow from puppies to adults, you may notice things during your dog’s growth, like your dog’s back legs are longer in the back than the front—this is entirely normal, and there is no cause for concern. If you notice your dog struggling physically or if you have a breed that is predisposed to genetic problems, it may be worth making an appointment with a vet to be safe. Check with your local veterinarian and keep a close eye on your pet.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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