The length of a dog’s neck may decide whether it jogs along on the road to fame or stays in its kennel. But what would be ideal in one breed might be quite wrong in another. Our Fox Terrier and our Cocker choice will need to have long necks. In their future life they will both have to exercise a great deal of head movement which would be impossible if the necks were short and their lower ends squeezed in between the two scapulae.
In nine cases out of ten the short, cramped neck goes in company with upright scapulae (shoulder blades). So, when looking over your Terrier and Cocker puppies pick those with long necks and sloping scapulae, that is, with shoulders which at their upper extremities lie well back upon the dorsal bones.
The degree of inclination of the scapula will be just as positive or negative at the third day of life as at the third month. It is a fixed characteristic and inborn. A bad, upright shoulder never corrects itself, but it may become worse, especially when exercise is limited and the puppy too well fed.
We may now take another look at our litter of Pekingese. The standard says nothing about the length of neck desirable in the breed but one may presume that it would not be noticeably long in a variety furnished with a thick-set body. A particularly lengthy neck in a Pekingese owning a large round head, might produce a rather grotesque result if the head could be protruded, and cocked at a variety of angles. Nor does the Pekingese standard say anything about the layback of shoulder but it does insist upon absolute soundness and forelegs firm at the shoulder, so it may be presumed that in this breed we may expect to see a moderately inclined shoulder accompanied by a rather sturdy, compact neck. These characteristics may be recognised, or markedly absent, in the Pekingese puppy as early as the third week and it is rather unlikely that as regards the relative proportion between neck and shoulders the puppy will undergo any marked change as it grows.
All three of the breeds under consideration require depth of chest but the actual shape of the chest is a little different in each of the three breeds (Terriers, Cockers, and Pekingese). In a Fox Terrier the chest will require depth and width without being in any way barrel-shaped. In the young puppy, while apparent depth is good, it may be as well to plump for the well-filled chest of good capacity rather than for one that is too flat-sided, and may stay that way. The ribs take weeks or months to lengthen, and the sternum (breast bone) seldom reaches down to the level of the elbows before the puppy is at least six months old. In the Cockers, the ribs arc stouter than in the Terriers and develop more rapidly, and the sternum reaches its low level somewhat earlier. In spite of this, up to six or eight weeks of age it is safer to give marks for chest capacity rather than for chest shape. The tendency is always for the final shape to be that common in the breed.