Originally Posted by Lucy Dog
How would you define good conformation?
Yeah, I think pinning down some definitions will go a long way toward encouraging a fruitful discussion.
Functional conformation matters a lot. You want a dog who can keep up with the physical demands of the work and continue working well into his golden years without breaking down. I'm not real good at actually spotting that in practice, but the concept is straightforward enough.
I see a fair number of older dogs whose bodies just can't keep up with their wish to work anymore (because World Cynosport Rally allows you to modify exercises for disabled dogs, it's a popular venue for dogs who have retired or been injured out of other sports/venues that don't allow modifications) and it's pretty sad, because some of them aren't even that old -- they're only 6 or 7 years old and they have to lower their jumps to 4" because they cannot do full-height jumps anymore. A substantial number of these dogs come from "working breeders" who aim for solid work ethic and trainability, but have let functional conformation fall by the wayside.
Show conformation, IMO, is often (not always!) a different thing. That subject has been thoroughly discussed elsewhere and I don't really want to get into it again (plus I don't know diddly about it so the best I'd be doing is regurgitating secondhand info anyway), but one point I do want to make is that the underlying idea
of rating sound conformation, separated from the beauty contest that it's often become in actual practice, is a very good idea.