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Border Collies often excel in the disc dog arena, but Heeter says that many mixed breeds also fare well.
“We want a dog who's structurally sound, a lean dog with an hourglass shape. He should be slightly longer than taller, and his toes should not face in or out,” Heeter says. “If the toes face out too much, the dog will land with a lot of shock on the shoulders. If the toes face in too much, he may develop weak elbows.”
This sport is best suited for speedy dogs who love to show off — and always keep their eyes on the prize. And since canines need to leap high in the air and turn quickly, Heeter notes that it's not conducive for breeds with long backs and short legs, such as Corgis and Dachshunds. Nor is it a good fit for heavy, slow-moving breeds, like Bulldogs.
Age is also taken into consideration. Most disc dog organizations heed the “18-month rule,” setting that as the minimum age for a dog to compete, so his growth plates can fully develop.
Local and regional competitions generally take place in the spring and summer, with world championships staged in the fall. A few popular events: Skyhoundz World Canine Disc Championship, the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge National Championship and the United States Disc Dog Nationals World Finals.
There are also touring groups that perform in professional sports arenas and other large outdoor facilities across the country.
Heads up: Since canine competitors need to focus on the flying discs, spectators are often asked to leave their own dogs at home to minimize distractions.
Vetstreet attended the finals of the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge. If you're interested in reading more about the amazing things that canine athletes can do, check out our coverage of the event by clicking on these links:
Speed and Catch Winner Shares Tips and Tricks
A Parson Russell Terrier Beats the Big Dogs
Can Your Dog Do Agility? We Ask a Champion for Advice
Running the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge Agility Course
Highlights From the 2011 Purina Incredible Dog Challenge
Purina Incredible Dog Challenge National Finals - 2011 Results
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