Dog Discoveries

What Dog Breed Has a Hackney Gait?


Among the many different gaits dogs may show, the hackney gait is quite distinct and it can even be impressive to watch when carried out by the right breed of dog. In many dog breeds, this gait is actually considered a fault. The term derives from the “hackney horse” a horse breed developed in Great Britain known for its special trot with an exaggerated high knee and hock action courtesy of the flexible joints. In many dog breeds this type of gait is considered a compensatory fault as the dog’s high action of the forelegs is usually carried out to keep their paws out of the way from the back feet, something that shouldn’t normally happen. A hackney gait may also be problematic in a dog bred for moving efficiently in the field as it would tire a dog quickly and waste energy since there’s more upward motion involved than a far-reaching gait. So today’s trivia question is:

In What Dog Breed is a Hackney Gait Desirable?

A The German shepherd

B The Rottweiler

C: The Miniature Fox terrier

D: The Miniature pinscher

The correct answer is: Drum roll please…


The correct answer is: D, the miniature pinscher

min pin gait
A min pin in action

What the Standard Says 

According to the American Kennel Club, the miniature pinscher must show a “hackney-like action” with a “high-stepping, reaching, free and easy gait in which the front leg moves straight forward and in front of the body and the foot bends at the wrist. “As the dog moves with this gait, he drives smoothly and strongly from the rear with his head and tail carried high.

The gait is a characteristic of the breed and brings together the many appealing features such as the gracefully curved neck, the tail set high and the clean and sloping shoulders with moderate angulation so to allow the hackney-like action.

They say a picture is worth 100 words, but a video is worth 1000, so watch the min pins in action as they “hackney” through the ring.


Watch the Min Pins in Action!

hackney gaitAn Important Note

While the gait in the min pin is similar to the hackney gait in the hackney horse, it’s important to make a distinction. According to the Miniature Pinscher Club of America, the hackney action in the min pin should be limited to front movement only.

The high “hock action”of the rear legs is therefore limited to horses, as in the min pin, the exaggerated  “lift” of rear legs would be ultimately too inefficient especially considering that the breed standard calls for a smooth action.

The King of Toys

Owners of this breed may notice the hackney action as the dog prances around proudly, almost as if “strutting his stuff,”  in a “look at me!” fashion, after finding a toy or perhaps capturing a rodent. In the ring, these dogs can put up quite an impressive show with the flashy front movement gait.

Overall, this gait reflects the proud, alert and spirited  dynamite personality of this breed and it provides a glimpse as to why these dogs are often referred to as the “King of Toys!” For these reasons many min pin owners refer to their dogs as “a big dog in a small package.”

Did you know? While the min pin closely resembles a doberman, he’s not a miniature doberman. According to Miniature Pinscher Club of America, the Miniature Pinscher is actually older as it wasn’t until 1890 that Louis Doberman bred his first Dobie.



  • American Kennel Club, Official Standard of the Miniature Pinscher, retrieved from the web on April 12th, 2016.
  • Miniature Pinscher Club of America, Gait, retrieved from the web on April 12th, 2016
  • Miniature Pinscher Club of America, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Miniature Pinschers ..but were afraid to ask! retrieved from the web on April 12th, 2016

Photo Credits:

Adrienne Farricelli
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