Survey Results – Future of the National Specialty


Purpose of this survey was to begin to take a measure, the pulse of the GSCA membership so to speak, pertaining to our regional committees and independent specialty clubs, who by virtue of the GSCA’s current policies and procedures are the organizations upon whom we depend first, to host the annual GSCA National Specialty.

We asked respondents to  project their opinion out to encompass the next 5 years after 2018 so we could begin to evaluate if there are enough regional committees or independent clubs with interest or plans to cover hosting the National Specialty for the next 5 years. The thought being, that if regional committees and independent clubs have no intention of bidding, perhaps we need to rethink current policies and procedures to better accommodate the future of the event.

67 individuals completed the survey that was posted on Facebook and sent via email to the 400 GSCA members follow the blog, Gordon Setter Expert. Respondents expressed opinions as to their own individual interest about working on a National Specialty, and also their own opinion as to whether the club or committee to which they belonged would be hosting a National Specialty in the future. NOTE: these were not club/committee responses, these are responses from some of the members of those clubs or committees. Polling the club or committee for a direct answer would be a Board decision and action.

Question 1

First we asked folks to tell us which regional committee or independent specialty club they belonged to:

  • 12     Did not belong to a club or committee but have worked on a NS committee
  • 9     Tartan GSC
  • 7     Nodrog GSC of MI
  • 5     High Plains
  • 5     Midwest
  • 4     Mid Atlantic
  • 4     Missouri Valley
  • 4     Sunbelt GSC
  • 3     Badgerland GSC
  • 3     Golden Gate GSC
  • 3     GSC of Greater Atlanta
  • 3     North Country GSC of MN
  • 2     New Mexico Gordonites
  • 2     Pacific Northwest GSC
  • 1     Southern CA GSC

Question 2

In the past year or so, has your group/club discussed hosting a future National Specialty or is there an intent to discuss this in the near future?

NO 57% or 38 people

YES 43% or 29 people

Question 3

How likely is it that YOU, as an INDIVIDUAL, would vote in favor of your group/club hosting the GSCA national Specialty in your region during any of these years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023?

44 Yes or likely       13 No or unlikely

  • 38   Somewhat likely
  • 6     Yes we will submit a bid
  • 11     No, not at all likely
  • 2     Somewhat unlikely
  • 8     Other (these are responses are primarily from people who may not have a vote, as they do not belong to a club or committee)


I live in a region without an area committee. I have twice chaired events at previous National Specialties.

I try to support nationals with donations, raffle purchases, etc. I am not a member of a regional club.

I do not have a local club.

I live in QC/Canada

As we are hosting 2017 I can’t answer this question.

not involved in local often volunteer

Not sure as I have not been to a meeting recently

Being discussed but no consensus

Question 4

Speaking as a member of the group/club, what is your best guess as to whether your group will be submitting a bid to host the National Specialty in your region during any of these years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023?

36 No or unlikely     13 Yes or likely

  • 22     Not at all likely
  • 14     Somewhat unlikely
  • 11     Somewhat likely
  • 2     Yes we will submit a bid
  • 16     Other


Don’t know, but they know I won’t be there to help

I live in a region not covered by an event/are committee and has few active GSCA members.

Not sure

Involved with a group considering 2019

I do not have a local club.

not sure

Unsure — too many variables

not a member of any other club in the USA



Not sure

not sure

Not a clue.

Not a clue

No idea

Question 5

Use this section to give the name of any other clubs to which you belong as listed above, as well as the answers to the two questions above.

Badgerland GSC

I am also a member of the Standing National Specialty Committee

I belong to Fredricksburg Virginia Kennel Club and the GSCA. I used to belong to the Blue Ridge Gordon Setter Club.

GSCA National

I’ve been to the Rhode island National, it’s close to QC so I would go if possible again.

Badgerland is an Event Committee so has no actual membership and can’t charge any dues. About 5 years ago Badgerland was approached by Highlanders to have a specialty show in connection of the ones they used to have. This was brought to a meeting by a couple of our members (we were still a club at that time and not an Event Committee). When asked about the costs involved nobody could provide us with any information so we floored the discussion until more information was provided which  never happened.



New Mexico Gordonites

Think I’m in Midwest (Ohio) by default, ie no action on my part, but get questionnaires referring to judges and specialty show timing.

TarTan GSC

WVESF, Willamette English Setters Fanciers

Badgerland although it is not an active club anymore

Question 6

Use this space to provide any additional information regarding the obstacles or reasons why your group/club might be unable or perhaps unwilling to host the National Specialty?

The “new” committee rules which eliminated our ability to organize as a local club to retain interest and attract new members locally.

I love in a region without an organized area committee. Gordon owners in my region are primarily pet owners or hunters with little interest or experience in hosting a dog show.

Not enough folks in our area.

They didn’t even have a fall specialty this year.

Cant see any reason, they are highly capable.

Not enough people to do the work. Also the membership is older.

We do not have enough active members to even begin to host a national.

Enough reliable people. Need a person to coordinate.

lack of workers. Many are overworked from the past decades and feel that newer, younger members should work. There are many exhibitors that have never helped with a regional or National Specialty and many older members no longer exhibit and feel it is their turn it sit back and enjoy without spending so much time and out of pocket expenses for the benefit of others and often feel like they are unappreciated.

I don’t speak with other members very much lately.

Our independent club has hosted successful multiple national specialties and field trials. Quite frandly, our club is ‘aging’ out and we do not feel that we would be able to filed the bodies or time in order to host a national of the caliber we have become used to producing.

Hosting a National Specialty is a lot of work. The work falls on the shoulder of  fewer and fewer volunteers as clubs become smaller.


I live at a distance from both these clubs so I am not involved in day to day decisions. However, I am able to help with online things which I did with the last TarTan NS.

Club members inability to participate. Money it costs. time constraints for those that might consider it.

TarTan has hosted the National Specialty in 1989, 1997, 2004, and 2012. It’s a lot of work and our membership is aging out and some who have headed up past events have stated they are no longer willing.

Cost and lack of members willing to help, like most clubs, it gets harder to find volunteers and those  that do are aging.

Not enough people, not enough financial support from the GSCA


Once of the big factors in hosting a national specialty (especially in clubs which do not have large number of members) is the cost. In my opinion the national club need to commit to providing significant financial assistance with covering those costs that cannot be completely covered by entry fees, specialty “social” event fees, etc.

Too few volunteers, too big of a need for fundraising. It’s ususally the same people doing all of the work with little help from other club members who still will sit back and complain about things.

Lack of membership & opposing ideas on what would make a national a great event. members who want to do everything on the cheap vs putting your heart and sound into an event.

Our members do not show they hunt and are mainly pet people.

We just had one in Ohio so it wools dall in the latter part of that range.

Badgerland hasn’t even managed to put on a Hunt Test or Field Trial in the past couple years. We also don’t have am actual membership anymore because in order to do that we would need to form separate club. We don’t have meetings either. The majority of the male’s in our club don’t want to participate in any “show” events so they would not be willing to help with a national which also limits the number of people we would have to help.

Age of members, number of workers, amount of work involved.

Older people in group. Most are not willing to do the work involved. Same few do most of the work.

This is a bit lengthy to try and explain but pretty much ever since we became an area committee and not be considered a club, hold meetings, collect dues etc. we  ahve lost interest. We have no reason to get together. Last several field events have been cancelled due to lack of entries. Since no reason to get together (hence the club feel) hard to get members (that is a whole other topic) to commit or gain new members. People want to belong to a club. Not just put on events for the parent club. We always had the same group doing the same thing. Personally I’m burned out and without you being a GSCA member you can’t be on the committee to begin with.

Fundraising is arduous and difficult. People now have health limitations and lifting restrictions that making setting up and long days of work difficult.

Hosting 2017

Not enough volunteers. And money.

We’re aging to the point where the physical work load is simply too much to handle. Carting around items to sell  to raise fund to host the event is exhausting and we’re past the point where we want to do that.

Fewer people involved in the club makes it hard to spread the work load. We’re burned out and exhausted but at the same time do not want the event to go away.

We are hosting next year so I doubt we would be willing to do it so soon again.

I think age is taking it’s toll. Age of the people, not the dogs.

We hosted the National in 2013. At that time we had about 25-30 members. Now we have only about 5 members.


Question 7

Feel free to share any additional thoughts or comments here that may be of value regarding this topic.

I have attended most of the National Specialties in the past 5 years and have shown dogs in Conformation. I prefer that the National Specialty be held in different parts of the country, not only so that I have the chance to travel, but also so that Gordon owners across the nation can have the opportunity to have the specialty located near them. I do not believe that a single permanent location is a good idea for the club membership as a whole. However, a standardization of the time of year or length of time between Nationals might assist members with seasonal obs, like teachers, attend the show and eliminate long tretches of time between shows, i.e. more than 12 months.

It seems that even having to come up with the volunteers and organization to hold a national specialty every few years is overwhelming for regional clubs. We all know that 10% of volunteers do 90% of the work in ANY volunteer organization, so no wonder we wear them out. I would support having a standing committee at the national level who would do the majority of the work to organize a national specialty with a local club providing a much more minor amount of support (since I have never been around a club doing a national I don’t know how that division of work would be decided but someone would!) much closer to dhow time. As a club we may want to think about a national every two years instead of every year or 18months, perhaps that would spread the work out as well. (This has likely been suggested in the past, not sure) Thanks!


Left the club because i was not made to feel welcome or like I belonged.

Fundraising is one of the biggest obstacles in putting this event on.

Having it spread out for 4-5 days in the middle of the week prevents a lot of working members from attending.

I think we need to get back to the basics of the national. Focus more on the ring experiences instead of too many extra fundraising activities. Don’t misunderstand me, I like the social interactions but I think we have jam packed too many in one day and it forces people to choose what they can afford or have time to do.

I am not a member of any dog club, but have participated in National Specialties in the past.  As nice as it is to visit other parts of the country, the number of folks participating at this time seem to indicate that the Midwest is drawing the most participants. I know it is not fair to the coastal folks, but it is what it is. We need to think of the needs/wants of the many and not just a few. Also, perhaps looking into a certain time of the year instead f any time during the year might make it easier for people to plan. For instance the coastal people might be more inclined to drive through the mountains in early summer to early fall.

Since jobs and/or weather are factors in traveling long distances, Nationals should be held June through August every other year. Let’s not marginalize younger club members who are not retired. We are a club with an aged membership and need to solicit younger members and juniors.

We hosted extremely successful (in entries and financial outcome) events, yet we had the feeling that the GSCA board and the Club in general was not supportive of our efforts and some non working members were extremely critical and demanding of the hosting members. Did not leave a good feeling with some of our hard working members.

I do like the National moving around the country so everyone has a chance of attending, although I do know other breeds that have been happy to have all their Nationals at Purina Farms. I’ve never been able to attend one west of Ohio primarily because of the time of year—if the National is during the academic year, I can’t attend. For that reason I will be unable to attend the AZ National.

like I said I would be happy to participate in the east part of the USA near the border but I am not a member of any other club in the USA.

Badgerland “hosted” the NFT back in 2005 and we were treated like shit by the National Field Trial Committee so that has also left a very bad taste in our mouths about National event. We did take care of the silent auction at the Minnesota National and the Hunt Test at both of the Nationals put on by the Highlanders but we still had a difficult time finding enough people in our club (at that time we were still a club and not an Event Committee) to man the events.

Would love to attend a national…never have.

I find it hard to find people that want to even get involved anymore. You get a few people here and there. But if you look at the majority of who organizes these things. These people have been around for years. Haven’t had anyone interested in joining for quite some time. Tell me what they are joining?

Fund raising by National Specialty volunteers needs to stop or be made optional. Too much work and pressure are being placed on those who volunteer to put on the show. the same people volunteer over and over. Many, including board members, have never taken a leadership role in putting on a National and they have no idea what’s involved.

We need to develop a plan to streamline the work involved in hosting the event and that might mean using a single location where most of the set up, clean up, equipment etc. is handled by the site management such as that provided by locations such as Purina or Eukanuba. We must streamline fundraising, and we must find another means to finance the GSCA’s  overall operations as the folks supporting the national Specialty should not be the only members who’s donations and generosity are being used to cover the GSCA’s bottom line expenses – proceeds from the national Specialty would all ideally be funneled back into the National Specialty and not disbursed to cover any and all other outstanding GSCA expenses such as the Newsletter, board expenses, printing, pictorial, etc. This would put less of a financial burden on the National’s  committee, exhibitors and participants and alleviates much of the fundraising pressure.

Not sure why AZ should be an issue. Was RI an issue several years ago? Would be curious to know what entry counts at various Nationals has been compared to registered Gordons.

I really hope that the NS continues to move around the country. I know the general membership feels most of the exhibitors live in the mid-west or further east and the Purina Farms would be ideal. It is a lovely place but quite cost prohibitive to drive from western Canada.flying continues to be difficult. I have also flown to eastern Canada and then rented a vehicle to drive south to the NS again cost is a factor as to how many dogs I can bring and if I can find someone to share expenses. I do my best to get to most of the NS and I enjoy seeing the US.

Thoughts of course chairing between 2 clubs. Compromise is always difficult but would be less cost to each individual club. GSCA make a larger contribution maybe.

While it is fun to visit other areas, it would be nice to have a “central” location and especially nice to have the same week every year. It makes planning the trip much easier.

I feel the standing National Specialty Committee  needs to plan to host the National yearly. There are a lot of parent clubs that host their National every year. I feel there are a good number of GSCA members who would be willing to help out if asked. You cannot always count on just asking who would like to volunteer but must specifically ask someone – can you do this ___? I would like to see at least 1 day of our event held on a weekend. I do not think we should overlook holding our National with an all breed show, our embers are dropping to a point that could be done.

Personally, I don’t think member input is valued by the GSCA. Decisions are made by the board in our name, but there is little discussion or request for input. It might have been nice to see an email blast about the 2018 national before a decision was made. It’s great that we had two bids, but a November national can be iffy with weather and holiday issues.

We are falling apart as a club. People make suggestions but nothing is changed. We need to have nationals over a weekend where people can go.

Published by Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Feature photo by Ben Gordon Setter Perez












When Gordon Setters get Spooked (and it ain’t Halloween)!

I call it the Gordon Setter’s “Teenage Angst”  phase. You’ve spent all that time, trotting all over the globe with your new puppy, properly socializing him by slowly and constantly exposing him to new settings, crowded hallways and wide open spaces, strangers in all shapes and sizes, flapping awnings and billowing tents, ringing bells and blaring loudspeakers, kids on bicycles,trikes and skateboards, the dog next door and the neighborhood cat. You’ve covered all bases and your pup takes it all in stride with a wag of his tail.

Then one typical, normal, everyday day, your teenage pup spies an out of place toy, one he’s played with since the beginning of time, all tangled and humped up, a dark mass of unknown origin, a terrifying creature surely waiting to pounce from behind that table leg to maim and destroy said puppy. Pup skids to a halt, tucks tail between legs, issues a frightened bark and slowly, ever so slowly, creeps backward with eyes frozen on that monster, while in his teenage heart muttering a little puppy prayer that he’ll survive this day unscathed!

Photo by Bill Dargay

What I’ve (not so) affectionately called teenage angst, is actually known as Secondary Fear Phase in the very informative article written by Laura McAuliffe, Dog Communication 2016 that I’m sharing here. I do want to add that while she mentions this phase arriving anywhere from 6 to 18 months of age, you may find, that in the Gordon Setter, who matures quite slowly, this stage may arrive later, say up to age two.

There are some excellent suggestions in Laura’s article on how to help your young one through this stage, enjoy and don’t forget to share with your “new” puppy owners so they can be prepared for the day…when the spooks come out!

To read Laura’s article on the DogCom site follow the link in the title below…

Suddenly spooked- Secondary fear phase in adolescent dogs

If you have a puppy anywhere from around 6 months old to 18 months (and more!) and they suddenly spook at anything at all you will often be told by your doggy friends, with a knowing nod, ‘oh, that’ll be the secondary fear phase’.
Your teenage puppy may suddenly show fear, backing away or perhaps even barking at things they coped well with before- people with hats, flapping carrier bags, people on ladders, bikes and scooters, black or flat faced dogs etc are all top ten triggers.

But what is ‘secondary fear’ and what should we do about this sudden spookiness?

Secondary fear isn’t very well defined in the scientific research and there’s some debate about when it occurs (which is likely to influenced by breed and genetics) and if it actually occurs. It’s well reported though that dogs may suddenly (and hopefully temporarily) become more fearful about certain things.

Secondary fear is thought to occur anywhere between around 6 and 18 months old, during the period of social maturation where dogs change from puppyhood into adults. There are complex hormonal and neural changes that also occur around this time and sudden fear may well be linked to these physiological changes within the body. The primary fear center in the brain, the amygdala, is enlarged at this time meaning that it reacts more sensitively to the environment and stress hormones are at their highest levels in adolescents.

Photo by Bill Dargay

In evolutionary terms, secondary fear also often corresponds with the time (around 8-9 months old) when older puppies of wild and semi feral dogs would have left their family group and ventured off alone into the big wide world. It is thought that a scared period at this time would protect puppies from venturing too close to things that could present a danger to them. Perhaps we still see throwback behavior to this time.

Not all dogs will have a secondary fear phase and some dogs may have more than one (if you are unlucky!) It typically lasts between 1 and 3 weeks and needs careful handling as there is a risk that dogs may become permanently fearful of certain thing if they are exposed to a very traumatic experience at this sensitive time.

What should we do about it?

Don’t force them to face their fears or immediately embark on a heavy duty program of socialization. For example, if they  showed fear towards tall men with hats, don’t expose them to lots of very tall men in hats in close proximity. Space and time are what you need right now- let them see the things they are worried about but from a distance they can cope with and ideally give them several days after a ‘scary incident’ before you expose them to the same thing again.

We give them space from the things that scare them (perhaps on the other side of a road for example) so that your dog stays ‘under threshold’- by this we mean they are in an emotional and physiological state where they can cope aren’t so stressed that they are can’t learn. Doing this gently and without stress is key so that we make good associations.

Photo by Bill Dargay

We give them time (at least a few days)  so that they have chance to ‘de-stress’ and get back to normal before exposing them the stimulus again. Allowing time to recover avoids the effect of trigger stacking (where scary things add up together to result in a very stressed dog) and gives your dog a recovery period.

We always ensure that we don’t make a big deal about the ‘scary thing’ – we never force our dog to approach the flapping bag/scary plant/person in high visibility, we give the dog the choice if they’d like to approach and we watch their body language carefully to judge how they are feeling.  We also counter condition around the ‘scary thing’ from a distance so we pair exposure to it with things the dog likes (normally food!). Counter conditioning takes practice to get right so consult a trainer or behaviorist if you need help.

Be careful not to lure towards trouble– as humans we are always tempted to get out dogs (and our children!) to face their fears but this isn’t helpful. If we lure (with food in the hand) a dog towards a ‘scary’ bin/person/dog then the dog will follow the food towards the scary thing and may then suddenly become very worried when they realize how close they are. Luring then towards scary things also removes the dogs free choice, which is something that we believe is very important- to give our dogs choices.

Avoid making it worse– if you expose a fearful dog to something they are scared of in the wrong way, or too close, or for too long, or to a too scary version of the thing, then you risk making the dog MORE fearful rather than less scared.

Do lots of low arousing, feel good activities to help get through a spooky phase. Loads of scent work and touch ground work is best and being around people and dogs that they know and like.

Don’t pick this time to start something new and potentially stressful. I delayed starting Sylvi’s hydrotherapy as she was in a fearful phase at 6 months old and showed sudden spookiness towards novel objects and people. So going to a new place, being handled by a new person, wearing a floating vest, being showered and dried etc would have been too much for her at that time. Two weeks later when she was back to normal we started hydro and she thrived.

Think back to early socialization- are there any gaps or things you didn’t cover? In winter puppies it’s common to forget to expose them to sunglasses and summer hats and in summer puppies we can forget to get them used to big bulky coats and winter hats for example. Did you miss out mobility scooters and are they an issue now? If you’ve identified a gap then remedial socialization is a great idea- don’t be afraid to ask for help from a reward-based trainer or behaviorist to help you with this.

A fear of certain breeds of dogs can often overcome by remedial socialization (Sylvi has no fear of flat-faced friends!)

Check they are feeling okay- consult your vet is they are behaving out of character or if you see a sudden change. Adolescence can mark the onset of some medical conditions so always rule out any medical cause (including pain) for behavioral changes. Fear and pain are strongly linked and can exacerbate each other. Don’t assume that it’s ‘just’ behavioral as they are young, it’s crucial to rule our medical causes.

If the fearful phase persists or gets worse then don’t delay in getting help, all behavioral issues are easier to ‘fix’ if they have only recently occurred rather than behaviors that have been practiced for months or years. With any luck though your normal (whatever normal is!) adolescent will return pretty quickly.
by Laura McAuliffe, Dog Communication 2016.
Thanks for joining us today – Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Many thanks to Bill Dargay for allowing us to use his Gordon Setters in costume photos for this spooky little article!


Let’s Talk Linebreeding

“One of the most bandied about terms among breeders today seems to be linebreeding. Despite it’s widespread use, however, linebreeding is frequently misunderstood and miscommunicated; in fact, it is not altogether uncommon for an outcrossed pedigree to be mistakenly viewed as linebreeding by the novice. The present discussion defines linebreeding and how we can more accurately define our linebred litters.”

From – “Let’s Talk Linebreeding” written by Claudia Waller Orlandi, Ph.D. published in ‘Tally Ho’ the Basset Club of America Newsletter (July-August ’97). The online article may be found by clicking here.

(While this article was written with the Basset Hound breeder in mind, one can change the name to  Gordon Setter, or any breed for that matter, as the material is “one size fits all” when it comes to the topic of breeding.)

Linebreeding and Inbreeding: A Family Affair

Inbreeding and Linebreeding involve the mating of animals within the same family. Breeding relatives is used to cement traits, the goal being to make the offspring homozygous (pure) for desirable characteristics. Homozygous dogs tend to be prepotent and produce offspring that look like themselves (Walkowicz & Wilcox 1994)

Willis (1989) defines Inbreeding as the mating of animals “more closely related to one another than the average relationship within the breed.” Inbred pairings would include brother/sister (the closest form) father/daughter, mother/son, and half-brother/half-sister.  Linebreeding involves breeding relatives other than the individual parents or brother and sisters. Typical linebred matings are grandfather/granddaughter, grandmother/grandson, grandson/granddaughter, great-grandmother/great-grandson, uncle/niece, aunt/nephew and cousin crosses. Linebreeding is a less intense form of inbreeding. Because of their focus on a dog’s potential genetic contribution, inbreeding and line breeding are termed genetic breeding systems.

figure-1-genetic-breeding-systems Definition:  For a dog to be linebred there must be an ancestor in the pedigree that is common to both the sire and the dam.  Figure 2 illustrates this concept. Kelly is linebred because the dog, Brahms, appears twice in the sire’s side and once in the dam’s side of the pedigree.figure-2-linebreedingCommon Misconception:  A pedigree may show either the sire and/or the dam to be linebred but no ancestor common to both the sire and dam. This is outcrossing, not linebreeding (see figure 3).  Similarly, because the same kennel prefixes (Windy, Hill, Castle) are common to both the sire’s and dam’s ancestors, the newcomer may mistakenly view the pedigree as linebreeding.figure-3-outcrossingWhere to draw the “Line”?

Breeders do not always agree on what constitutes linebreeding, with some feeling that common ancestors within the first five or six generations is linebreeding. Willis (1989) indicates that the farther back linebreeding is in a pedigree the less intensive it will be, pointing out that a dog appearing 12 times (out of a possible 32) in the 6th generation of a pedigree would have a Coefficient of Inbreeding (CI) of only 1.8% (by comparison, a sire to a granddaughter cross has a CI of 12.5%). The CI tell us the proportion of genes for which the inbred ancestor is likely to be homozygous, that is carrying the same genes from each parent. (Remember that homozygous animals have a higher potential for reproducing themselves.) In Willis’s (1992) view, a common ancestor farther back than the 2nd or 3rd generation will have little influence on the litter. Linebreeding beyond the fourth generation has even less genetic impact.

How much bang will we get for our buck (or Basset!)

Several modern writers (Walkowitz & Wilcox 1994; Willis 1992, 1989; Onstott 1962) view linebreeding and inbreeding as essentially the same  and differing only in degree of intensity. Whether one considers inbreeding and linebreeding to be the same or feels they are two distinct breeding systems, quantifying the degree to which an animal is linebred (or inbred) provides important information regarding its potential genetic contribution. As Willis (1989) states: “When describing inbreeding [or linebreeding] breeders often say their dog is inbred or linebred without further qualification. This is a very inadequate description. We need to know which dog the animal is inbred [linebred] to and the degree of inbreeding [linebreeding].” Put another way, how much “bang” will we get from our linebreeding?

Describing your Basset’s linebred pedigree: reading, writing and a little arithmetic!

Willis (1992) suggests that a concise yet meaningful way to express the extent of linebreeding (inbreeding) is to number the generations of the animal in question. The common ancestor(s) is assigned the generation number as he/she appears in the pedigree. The parents are the first generation (1), the grandparents are the second (2), great grandparents are the third (3), great-great-grandparents are the fourth (4) and so on.

As previously stated, Kelly’s pedigree (Figure 2) is an example of  linebreeding, with Brahms appearing on both the sire’s and dam’s side. On the sire’s side Brahms appears twice in the third generation (3). We can write this as 3.3. On the dam’s side, Brahms appears once in the second generation (2) and this is written simply as 2. Willis has suggested the following written and verbal formats for expressing the extent of line breeding in a pedigree:

Written Format

We would write: “Kelly is linebred on Brahms 3.3/2”

Verbal Format

We would say: “Kelly is linebred on  Brahms three, three TO two.”

In the Written Format notice we separate the sire’s and dam’s side of the pedigree by using a slash mark (think of a pencil making a slash mark); in the Verbal Format the word “TO” is used to separate the sire’s and dam’s side (think of talking “to” someone). This verbal and written format tells us the dog on which Kelly is linebred and the extent of the linebreeding. Smaller numbers indicate that a dog is more closely linebred; larger numbers of 4 and above (Willis 1989) indicate a lesser extent.

Linebreeding and pedigrees: a final caveat

Linebreeding and inbreeding are essentially the same, differing only in the degree of intensity. (In Willis’s view, the common ancestors beyond the 2nd and 3rd generations will not greatly influence the resulting litter.) We have described the ease with which an animal’s extent of linebreeding may be expressed by means of written and verbal models. Perhaps this format will be “adopted” by those Basset Hound breeders whose interest lies in linebreeding. In addition to facilitating the description of a linebred pedigree over the phone, it certainly provides important information regarding the potential outcome of a breeding. In this regard, two things bear repeating: (1) linebreeding (and inbreeding) are only as viable as a breeder’s knowledge of basic genetics (a topic which will be addressed in future columns) and (2) a linebred pedigree is only as valuable as a person’s ability to determine the virtues and faults of the dogs it contains. When we add the final ingredient of rigorous selection hopefully we are on the way to producing better Basset Hounds!


Onstott, K. 1980. The New Art of Breeding Better Dogs. Howell, New York.

Walkowicz, C. and Wilcox, B. 1994 Successful Dog Breeding. Howell, New York.

Will, M.B. 1968 A simple method for calculating Wright’s coefficient of inbreeding. Rev. Cubana Cienc.Agric. (Eng.Ed.) 2: 171-4

Willis, M.B. 1989 Genetics of the Dog. Howell, New York

Willis, M.B. 1992. Practical Genetics for Dog Breeders. Howell, New York

For more articles about breeding by Claudia follow the link below.

These articles were written by Claudia Waller Orlandi, Ph.D. All have been published in ‘Tally Ho’, the official newsletter of the Basset Hound Club of America

Thank you to Barbara Manson, WI for sharing this link with us.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photography by Susan Roy Nelson





AKC Chairman’s Report September 2016

Please join me in thanking Nance Skoglund,  AKC Delegate – GSCA for providing us with the AKC Chairman’s report from the September 12, 2016 Delegate’s  Meeting.

We’ve published articles in the past referring to the declining number of purebred dog registrations, the declining number of breeders, and subsequently the declining number of dog show entries. A quick look at the drop in entries at our flagship events, the GSCA National Specialty or the GSCA National Fieldtrial will easily provide evidence that participation is at an all time low at these events.

This Chairman’s report outlines the programs that AKC has put in place to address those pressing issues. But AKC alone cannot effect all of the changes required without the support and assistance of breeder/exhibitors like you and me.

While I’ve included the entire report I’m starting with a few key notes from the report for your quick review:

  • Why is this happening?
    • …factors certainly include cultural pressures and…canine legislation.
    • …the animal rights movement has waged a war against breeding and purebred dogs for decades now.
    • Zoning laws …
    • The Internet age …host to “keyboard warriors” engaged in all manner of debate, often anonymous and not constructive.
  • None of us, including the clubs we represent, should be passive observers.
  • …use of digital tools to communicate on different levels with a variety of audiences
  • …we have to begin with education and sharing our knowledge with newcomers to our sport.

It’s up to all of us to widen the circle. Let’s each make an effort to mentor one person in the coming show season – a new club member, an unfamiliar face at a dog show, a new puppy owner. Tell them your story, and one day they will tell their own.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ


Since we last met as a Body, the American conversation has become saturated with dialogue about the presidential election and the excitement of US athletes on the Olympic world stage. Both events are inspiring people all over America to think about what is important to us – to act for the greater good, to show pride in our nation, and to keep our traditions alive. For all of us, our dog sports are the traditions that have kept us by the whelping box, inside a ring or in the field, and on the road so many weekends a year. It is our sports — and more importantly our dogs — that motivate us to serve in this Body and make positive changes that will benefit everyone who shares our love of purebred dogs.


The sport of Conformation is the flagship AKC event, and is the sport that is at the very foundation of our Registry. The pursuit of Championship points, records and rankings is only a set of mileposts along a journey that is at its core about the evaluation of breeding stock. We have held true to this purpose for the last hundred and forty-two years, when the first documented all-breed dog show in the United States took place back in 1874. Yet, the trends over the past ten years show us that Conformation is in a tenuous position. “The graying of the Sport” has become something of a buzzword in recent years, but we know that the issue is far more complex than the simple fact of an aging population. As a community, we need to take a close look at what is happening within Conformation, and work together to find solutions. I would like to take this opportunity to show you where things stand today and describe the work that is being done to address the matter head on. And, just as importantly, I would like to ask you to think about how you can help as well.

The numbers show a pretty clear picture.

All-breed and conformation entries have been falling over the past ten years.


Fewer conformation championships have been earned.


Every year, fewer dogs are exhibited in conformation.


Why is this happening?

chair-rpt6Yes, we’re getting older. At least some of us are! Our constituents have told us about other reasons too. Concerns about judging, perceptions of professionalization of the sport and busier lives with more choices are some of the challenges we face.

Other factors certainly include cultural pressures and their resulting canine legislation. We all know that the animal rights movement has waged a war against breeding and purebred dogs for decades now. Zoning laws keep some of us from owning as many dogs as we would like to maintain our breeding programs. The Internet age has created a proliferation of platforms that play host to “keyboard warriors” engaged in all manner of debate, often anonymous and not constructive.


Fundamentally, the American public’s understanding of conformation is limited to what they see on television two or three times a year. Recent focus groups revealed that we have a long way to go when it comes to educating the average dog owner.

What are we doing about it? None of us, including the clubs we represent, should be passive observers. There is too much at stake; we cannot risk the loss of our heritage in the coming generations. That is why we have taken strides in the past year and with our additional staff leadership, to create programs that will retain, if not attract, people in and to the sport. chair-rpt8

If a new prospect isn’t waiting in the wings or in the cards, a compelling reason to stay in the game is crucial for retention. To fill that gap, we created the Grand Championship title, which has given thousands of exhibitors a reason to keep showing their Champions and remain part of the community that they built through the quest for those first fifteen points. And it is working. Since we introduced the Grand Champion and its subsequent levels of competition, over 45,000 dogs and exhibitors have experienced the joy of earning these titles instead of perhaps hanging up their leads.

chair-rpt9On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are also those who are just starting out. The 4-6 puppy class is another place where seeds of hope have been planted. We have been able to follow the trajectory of those who have entered this class with their young prospects, and we have seen that these exhibitors have continued in the sport with subsequent entries in other events.

We have broadened opportunities for devotees of Miscellaneous and FSS breeds with Open Shows, and we have seen these enhance entries as well.


We heard many of you and your constituents express frustration about the challenges of competing against professionals. The National Owner-Handled Series has become a forum to celebrate and reward the dedication and contributions of show-dog owners. Our data show that the availability of owner-handled classes does drive entries to some degree. In some cases, the need for bigger rings is proof enough that NOHS is at the very least helping to slow the decline of entries overall.


Casting our gaze on the future would be a fruitless exercise if we did not put special emphasis on our Juniors program. Juniors is where passion for dogs is sparked, skills are honed and young talent is encouraged. We must recognize that if fewer parents participate in conformation, the Junior classes will not grow. Juniors who are active today face compelling choices for all types of entertainment and ever-dwindling free time. We must engage with our Juniors to keep them involved – to help them keep dogs and canine sports a central part of their lives. To do that, we want to expand opportunities for these young competitors. Significant changes are being considered for our Juniors ranking program. There will be stronger outreach to community organizations such as 4H. To prevent falloff among the “aging out,” we aim to reach the 18 to 25 age group with more ways to be involved and more targeted communications to maintain and build continuing relationships with this important segment. Cultivating our youth is key to preserving our future.


The health of our clubs is an important area of focus for all of us. Running on the sheer dedication and efforts of volunteers like you, our clubs are the fuel and the backbone of our sport. Dog shows owe their success to the careful planning and seamless execution by their event-hosting clubs. But, as it is said, “it takes a village.” That’s why AKC has created the All Breed Advisory Group, which began last July offering clubs the opportunity to work with a panel of experienced peers to pinpoint areas for improvement and to help put changes in place. After all, enhancing the dog show experience benefits not only our clubs, but exhibitors and spectators as well. If your club would like to learn more about working with the All Breed Advisory Group, contact Doug Ljungren in the Raleigh office.


One of AKC’s greatest strengths is our use of digital tools to communicate on different levels with a variety of audiences, all linked by a common passion for dogs. Thousands of new dog owners are added to the Registry every month, but in the course of that same month, the people who visit AKC online number well over four million! We need to harness that potential for the benefit of our sport.


Marketing strategies are being put in place today that will allow us to tell prospective exhibitors and spectators about dog shows, matches, open shows, puppy classes and other events that may be just right for them. The “e-blasts” of old will be replaced by targeted messaging that tells our customers, “we know you, we listen to you, and we think this event may be right for you.” Our new capabilities in trigger campaigns will drive even better response to our communications; the science of data management is already helping us react strategically to our customers’ needs. Years ago, a new owner would register a puppy, and after the certificate came in the mail, AKC became a distant memory. We are changing that. Today, new registrants receive an email inviting them to a match, an open show or a 4-6 month puppy class. After all, as we all know, every Champion started somewhere.

Enhancements to our web site will have prospective exhibitors and the uninitiated in mind. Our Events Calendar should be a destination that serves the seasoned exhibitor as well as the newcomer. With over 4 million unique people coming to every single month, there is an excellent opportunity to tell the world about what we have to offer. It has been said, “If you build it, they will come.” We believe, “If we build it right, they will learn.” To share the joy of showing dogs, we have to begin with education and sharing our knowledge with newcomers to our sport.

All of these efforts to support Conformation are only the beginning of a broader strategy to breathe new life into all Events across the board. We are committed to conducting market research to define our strengths, identify weaknesses, and uncover new opportunities. We want to fully understand the barriers, so we can work towards removing them.


There is more that we can do together, as a community. Most of us would agree that what keeps us in the fancy is the joy of being with our dogs the camaraderie in sharing a weekend with friends who understand our great passion for this sport. It’s up to all of us to widen the circle. Let’s each make an effort to mentor one person in the coming show season – a new club member, an unfamiliar face at a dog show, a new puppy owner. Tell them your story, and one day they will tell their own.

As a delegate body, let’s allow ourselves to think creatively and keep our minds open to new concepts. Instead of voting ideas away, let’s take a hard look at rule changes and consider sunset clauses for out-of-the box proposals that deserve a try. Let us not fear failure. As any dog show exhibitor or obedience trialer will remind us, even an unsuccessful day brings a learning opportunity and a plan for what to improve upon next time.

It is always a challenge to evolve and adapt in order to preserve tradition. Many of us have spent a lifetime in the sport, inspired by legendary breeders and majestic purebred dogs that live on through pedigrees we revere. For all of us who care to sustain and nurture the magic of the human-canine bond inside our rings, and for generations who will follow to experience that same joy, we must work together constructively. We owe it to the sport that has given us all so much, and to our much loved dogs, who have made it all possible.



Ronald H. Menaker

Video – Internal View of Muscles – Dog in Motion

Thanks to Gary Andersen, Scottsdale AZ for recommending this video link for our blog!

Video provided by Veterinary Medicine – Facebook.

For those who are visual learners like me, this video specifically highlights the various muscles in sequence as the dog moves. Watch as the next muscle to do a job turns red as it’s function comes into play. Understanding how the muscles work together to create the forward drive of the dog enables breeders to establish a clear picture of how and why the angulation and structure described in the standard are important to proper proper movement and breed type.


Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Feature photo by Bob Segal, IL

Communicating the Truth About Purebred Dogs

For some time now I’ve stated that I believed that the activity of Animal Rights groups to promote the adoption of shelter dogs has been a leading cause in the decline of the purebred dog. This month the AKC has published a report and introduced action that we, as purebred lovers and breeders need to be aware of. If the purebred dog is to survive, if pet ownership is to survive, support for this AKC effort, from us as individuals and as well as our parent clubs will be needed.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

The following article appears in the Chanine Chronicle and can be access by clicking here.

September Chairman’s Report


New York, NY – Last Thursday we posted a charming photograph of three Golden Retriever puppies on the American Kennel Club Facebook page. The caption was “I love my breeder” with a request to “share your love for your dog’s breeder.”  The image was shared 2,500 times, received 11,000 likes and almost 500 comments. We posted this because we love responsible breeders, but also because we wanted to see the reaction it would elicit.

The post sparked a lengthy conversation about the merits of finding your new dog at a breeder vs. adopting a dog. That passionate debate proved two important issues. There are ardent, articulate, and knowledgeable supporters of responsible breeding who possess facts and are capable of persuasively educating the public about the truth of responsible breeding. However, it also proved that there is a great deal of misinformation about responsible breeding that result in significant prejudice against breeders. There is no doubt that prejudice against breeders has impacted our breeders, our sport, and the public’s ability to enjoy the unique experience of a purebred dog in their lives.

Just 20 years ago, a purebred dog was the dog to have in your life. Twenty years ago, a responsible breeder was viewed as a respected resource. Twenty years ago there were virtually no important legislative efforts aimed at eradicating all dog breeding.

What changed in those 20 years? The noble quest to give every dog a “forever” home was co-opted by the animal rights organizations as a method to raise funds for their mission to completely eliminate pet ownership. Under the guise of supporting adoption, they have been raising a significant war chest – over $200 million last year alone – to fuel a campaign aimed squarely at destroying our ability to preserve breeds for future generations.

As told by AR groups, responsible breeders have been dishonestly accused of being the sole cause of dogs in shelters – not irresponsible owners.

As told by AR groups, purebred dog breeders have been maliciously portrayed as evil people only interested in money and winning at events, at the expense of their dogs’ health and well-being.

As told by AR groups, purebred dogs have been wrongly defined as being plagued with genetic health and temperament problems caused by breeders.

After 20 years of this propaganda – mostly unchallenged by those who know better – a portion of the public has accepted this fiction as reality.

No more.

AKC Staff led by Chris Walker along with Bob Amen and I have been working with Edelman, our new public outreach partner, on the plan that will change the current conversation, as demonstrated in that Facebook post, by confronting the prejudice and telling the truth about purebred dogs and their responsible breeders.

We will focus our efforts on two key audiences – families with kids 8-12 and empty nesters. These groups represent the critical inflection points for dog ownership and hold our best opportunities to correctly educate the public about purebred dogs and responsible dog breeding.

An additional audience will be federal and local legislators. Our experience makes it clear that once legislators know the truth, the legislative outcome is positive.

We will expand our voice to include breeders, dog owners, AKC thought leaders, veterinarians, and AKC’s over 700,000 grassroots followers.

We will relentlessly focus on these foundational story themes: the unique qualities of purebred dogs, the desirability of purebred dogs as family pets, the truth about the health of purebred dogs, and the truth about responsible breeders.

We will use every outreach channel to relentlessly tell our story in a shareable and searchable way, including national and local media, hybrid media, AKC’s own media, and social media.

By focusing on these key audiences with expanded, credible voices centered on our core narratives we will get better stories in the media, more often.

In addition, we will immediately and aggressively respond to any attack utilizing our partners, our supporters, and our full media assets.

There are three things you can do to help regain control of our destiny.

Tell us what you are hearing from your community, what the toughest questions are that you face. We’ll compile the answers and get you a toolkit to respond from a position of knowledge, strength, and pride.

Tell us your story – how you picked your breed, why you became a breeder and what has changed about the health of your breed due to the efforts of your Parent Club.

Tell us who you know who can help tell the truth – supportive officials in parent, children’s, or seniors’ organizations either locally or nationally; a veterinarian who is actively involved in a professional organization either locally or nationally; or an informed and outspoken government official.

You can share all of this information with Chris Walker at or 212-696-8232.

As an avid Bullmastiff breeder, I am reminded of the description of that great protector of the family and property – fearless and confident, yet docile. I believe the AKC is a great protector of our rights to responsibly breed dogs. We too are fearless and confident, but it is time to stop being docile regarding the lies and propaganda that defile purebred dogs and responsible breeders.

We will communicate the truth about purebred dogs and their responsible breeders, emotionally and memorably.

We will increase the desire to own a purebred dog.

We will de-stigmatize responsible breeders.

We will change the conversation.

We will change the future.

As always, your comments are most welcome at


Alan Kalter


Short URL:


Legislative updates August

Charles KushellWritten by Chuck Kushell
“With the summer upon us and, mercifully, many local and state legislatures in recess (you know, like we had in grade school), not a great deal of action to report.
However, worthy of note include:
MA:  Continuing issues remain with SB2390, which has now been cleverly renamed SB2370 (no doubt to cover its odious trail) and has been passed and referred to the Ways and Means Committee for further action.  As residents will recall, this bill, actively opposed by the AKC and local Club associations, seeks to severely and unnecessarily restrict legitimate breeders.  Contact your local reps and register your opposition to this bill.
MD:  In Baltimore Cty, the effects of the rabid animal rights crew are on display in bill 42-16 which in a massive overreach seeks to overturn the long-standing law that permits use of county lands by those training dogs for hunting.  Meaning, if this bill passes, planting a pigeon for your JH in training dog would earn you a fine and citation.  Needless to say, anyone who pays taxes and has the right to use these lands and is concerned about the never ending march of animal rights nutcases should get on the horn to their county board members and tell them to stuff this bill at
NJ:  Again and continually, SB63 is coming to a vote and represents the worst of what the animal rights loons bring to the table.  Draconian indictments in the form of a screed against all dog breeders as well as unconstitutional restrictions (see 4th Amendment) are in the offing if NJ breeders don’t support the AKC’s efforts to get this bill crushed.  There’s always hope Christie won’t sign it, although given his issues of late, faint hope that this will come to his attention, should it pass the Senate.  Follow this link to see what you can do:
That’s it for now.  May your future be legislation-free (fat chance) and the rest of your summer productive in the ring, field or whelping box.  And as H. L. reminds us, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”
Featured image by Susan Roy Nelson

Sportsmanship Reigns at The Greenville Kennel Club Dog Show | Canine Chronicle

By Bev Crosby, Greenville Kennel Club Obedience & Rally Chairperson Each year at the Greenville Cluster, there is an elderly handler who comes to show her Shih Tzu in obedience. This is the only show she does each year. She comes alone, carrying her dog in her arms. Someone drops her off and picks her up at the end of the day. Usually she shows up too early for her class, but always finds the courage to ask someone where she should go and when her class starts. She isn’t very knowledgeable of the rules, nor has she progressed very far out of any of the various options of Novice classes. But, she loves to show her dog. She sits silently in a chair outside her assigned ring, waiting…waiting. Invisible to the rest of us bustling about warming up our dogs, worried about the slighest bobble. Close your eyes and imagine the picture of what I witnessed today. On one side of the obedience venue, Utility B is celebrating a 200. With that party over, I return to my […]

Source: Sportsmanship Reigns at The Greenville Kennel Club Dog Show | Canine Chronicle

For your dam’s sake, know the signs of Eclampsia

Photograph by Sarah Armstrong


Your new litter is doing wonderful, they’re all snuggled in next to mom, squeaking and squirming, gaining weight and growing strong. But something doesn’t seem right with mom and you can’t quite put your finger on it. She’s always loving on those puppies, seems like she’s nursing them round the clock, but her appetite is off, she won’t eat, and she seems so nervous and restless, panting and drooling at times. Her movements were stiff, like an older, arthritic version of herself when she got up to go outside with you, and when you called her to come in from outside she seemed disoriented, like she couldn’t figure out how to get to where you were standing.

These are just a few of the signs of Eclampsia (some folks call this Milk Fever) in it’s early stages. While Eclampsia occurs more often in small or toy breeds, it can affect large breeds like our Gordon Setters too, especially those who have given birth to a large litter, or who have gone through a particularly difficult or prolonged labor. Risk factors include large litter size, prolonged or difficult labor, poor nutrition during gestation, stress, underlying systemic illness and excessive calcium supplementation during pregnancy.

Eclampsia is an emergency medical condition resulting from a life-threatening drop in blood calcium levels. Eclampsia occurs in nursing dams and is most common when the puppies are one to five weeks of age and the dam is producing the most milk.

Signs of Trouble

Eclampsia comes on suddenly. It progresses very quickly. It seems like one minute you have a healthy, lactating bitch with a thriving litter and the next minute she is on the ground convulsing. This is not a wait and see disease…seek immediate emergency veterinary attention at the first sign that something’s amiss.

The symptoms can be subtle at first and resemble those seen before whelping, including:

  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Panting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Pacing
  • Whining
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Ataxia (lack of coordination)
  • Muscle tremors or spasms
  • Shaking
  • Twitching
  • Convulsions
  • Tightening of facial muscles
  • Stiffness
  • Aggression
  • Hypersensitivity to touch or other stimuli
  • Continuous, steady muscle spasms without distinct twitching (called “tetany”) Tetany usually presents as rigidity in the legs, unusual pricking of the ears and/or flaring of the nostrils. The signs of eclampsia can advance to where the dog begins to walk in an abnormal, stilted manner and may seem unable to walk in a specific direction.
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Vomiting
  • Itchiness (pruritis)
  • Head rubbing
  • Biting at the feet
  • Extreme thirst
  • Increased water intake
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased body temperature (hyperthermia)

If eclampsia is not treated immediately, it can lead to death. Respiration eventually becomes compromised, heart arrhythmia develops and the bitch’s condition deteriorates to seizures, paralysis, coma and death.

To learn more about Eclampsia, including how it is treated, I’ve included reference links below for you.

Merck Veterinary Manual – Puerperal Hypocalcemia in small Animals (Postpartum hypocalcemia, Periparturient hypocalcemia, Puerperal tetany, Eclampsia)

Knowing the Signs of Eclampsia Can Save a Dam’s Life – Best in Show Daily written by Susan Chaney

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photographs by Sarah Armstrong





We are dedicated to building a knowledge base and a sharing site for those who are involved in all of the various aspects of competition with Gordon Setters, competitions that showcase the Gordon Setter’s Beauty, Brains and Bird-Sense.

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