Many smaller breeds seem to have a problem of walking with elbows out.
I find that there are far too many, & I think that some of this problem is our own fault...

Not being able to check this genetically, I do not believe it to be wholly an inherited fault.  Instead, I would like to pose this question:  Are we holding our puppies incorrectly?

Many many years ago a famous Toy breeder chided me for carrying my dog in an improper manner.  I was quite the novice & listened to him carefully.  Over the years, following his advice, I have never had "elbows out" on my puppies.  It may just be a coincidence, but I heeded his advise to the point of fanaticism.  So much so, that I am quick to scold someone holding their dog ringside in this improper manner.

What is it?  Well, we all pick up our puppies from their pens under the arms, settle them on one arm while placing the hand under the front legs, thusly.  (See photo & artwork.)  It is easy to let the legs hang over the hand.  But at this young age, are we making the elbows stretch out in both cases (picking up & holding)?  Are we not causing a strain on the shoulder attachment, & in all the muscles, ligaments, & tendons involved??  This constant forcing of the upper arm to be extended outward could conceivably end up with an elbow out situation.

I must admit, I checked this out with my veterinarians, one of whom is an acknowledged orthopedic expert.  Neither could verify my idea, but neither could deny its possibilities.  They said it would take some research to authenticate it.  Well, I still feel that if I continue to hold my puppies correctly as they grow up, I may be preventing this problem.  It can't hurt.

Now, how do you pick them up & hold them?  This applies to all puppies, not just small dogs.  Approach the pup from the rear, grasp the pup from behind the front legs, around the stomach & lift with two hands.  The, when holding the pup, place your hand over the legs, not under... it is as simple as that.  This was how the "old timer" instructed me.  Funny thing, I saw a judge telling someone with a Toy dog, that they should not hold the dog's elbows out & showed them where to place their hands over the elbows.  This brought my idea to mind that I thought it well worth the time to pass it on.  We, in the Toy dogs, all stand ringside holding our dogs, most of us improperly!

Article written by: Arlene A. Czech & published in Top Notch Toys/Sept. 1993

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