Background: Retrievers are dogs particularly bred to retrieve birds or other small game, for the retrieval, the dogs are typically sent to the place where the shot game has fallen or to search the field for the wounded but still live game in order to return them to the hunter as quickly as possible. Examples of game animals are pheasants, mallard ducks and rabbits. For training, dummies with a variety of weights are used to simulate the retrieval of various types of game. The aim of this non-randomized prospective study was to investigate if peak vertical force, vertical impulse and paw pressure contact area are increased in the forelimbs when carrying different weights, and if the symmetrical weight distribution between contralateral limb pairs is disturbed. Ten actively working Labrador retrievers were walked over a pressure plate with or without carrying 0.5, 2.0 and 4.0 kg dummies. The aim of this study was to determine if vertical ground reaction forces and paw pressure contact area are increased in the forelimbs when carrying different weights, and if symmetrical weight distribution is disturbed between contralateral limb pairs. Results: Peak vertical force and vertical impulse were significantly increased in the forelimbs and decreased in the hindlimbs in all weight carrying conditions. Conclusions: These results demonstrate the significant effects of carrying weight in the mouth on the ground reaction forces, which likely produce additional stress on the forelimb joints. Carry of game or a dummy is likely to alter the forelimb load distribution.
Bockstahler, B., Tichy, A., & Aigner, P. (2016). Compensatory load redistribution in Labrador retrievers when carrying different weights - a non-randomized prospective trial. BMC Veterinary Research, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-016-0715-7