WEDNESDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- The movement of
three-legged dogs is being studied to help scientists design robots
that can adapt in the event of an "injury."
German researchers used high-tech infrared cameras to record the
movements of dogs missing a fore limb or hind limb as they walked
and ran on a treadmill. The tests revealed that the dogs used
different coping methods, depending on which limb was missing.
Adjusting to a missing fore limb is more difficult for a dog
than dealing with a missing hind limb, for example. Fore limb
amputation requires the remaining limbs to undergo careful
adaptation to coordinate with each other, a process called "gait
compensation." In the case of a hind-limb amputation, the fore
limbs continue to act as they normally would in a four-legged dog,
so there is little or no compensation strategy.
The difference in compensation strategies may be due to the fact
that a dog's fore limbs carry more body weight than the hind
The research is slated to be presented Thursday at the Society
for Experimental Biology's annual meeting in Prague.
The American College of Veterinary Surgeons has more about
dog and cat leg amputations.