A warm Welcome for Guest Blogger – Barbara Manson of Stoughton, WI who has been breeding and exhibiting Gordon Setters for…well…forever! (Ok, maybe she’s not quite that old!) Getting back to the business at hand though, today we offer part one of a series she’s penning. This is also published in the GSCA Newsletter, August issue.
Style Versus Breed Type
by Barbara Manson
How many times have you been ringside and heard someone say “I can’t believe that dog won! He doesn’t have any breed type!” or “That dog really is typey.” and you don’t agree? Have you ever wondered about the validity of these comments? Are these folks really critiquing breed type or the style of the dog in question? Understanding this is particularly difficult for the newbie who has no experiences to draw from. For the purpose of our discussion, and opening our eyes to other breeders accomplishments, we need to define exactly what is style and what is breed type.
So let’s talk style. Certainly, all the dogs in the ring don’t look alike. How can they when for one thing, our standard says dogs can be 24-27 inches at the withers and bitches can be 23-26 inches. Imagine looking down the line at a group of 27 inch boys and seeing a dog in the middle of the group who is 25 inches tall. As little as one inch can make a very big difference in the way a dog appears. That picture alone would evoke a “not very typey” comment from many exhibitors. Let me challenge you with this thought. Doesn’t this dog’s size conform to the standard for Gordon Setters? There is not a word in the written standard that gives preference to a particular size, as long as the dog falls within the described parameters. So what is it that makes this dog less correct in the middle of the standard and the one at the top more correct? If you were to closely examine that 25 inch dog, you may find he has several attributes that definitely define him as a Gordon Setter, but many of these points are in proportion to his size. This is an example of personal preference or style and not type. Another example of style can be differences in heads and expression. Many times, when you closely examine heads, and are being completely honest with yourself, you can see examples that are both pleasing and in line with the standard but they are not what you have become accustomed to looking at. That does not mean one or the other are incorrect. Just different and someone else’s interpretation of the standard.
So what is breed type? All of those characteristics discussed in the standard define the essence of the Gordon Setter. Some of them are found in many standards for breeds not even in the sporting group. Some are common to many sporting breeds. Some are unique to the setters and others only to Gordons. No other standard has this combination of characteristics, only Gordon Setters. Therefore, they all contribute to breed type and true breed type lies in how closely our dogs conform to the standard. We will be discussing some of these characteristics in detail at a later time.
We have several specialties coming up. If you go, I’m encouraging you to take time to watch dogs other than your own, especially some of the adult classes. When viewing the dogs stacked, do they look like all the parts fit smoothly together and when on the move, is the gait easy, free flowing and efficient. Take note of the head pieces and expressions. Note the differences in the dogs. Are they a matter of style or breed type? I’m leaving you with one question to explore as our discussions continue. Does breed type effect style? I’m including the breed standard so you can easily reference it in the upcoming months. I will be allowing a month between articles for comments from our membership. Educating others through our insights and experiences is important to the preservation and improvement of our breed. I hope you will all participate. Comments will be due to our News Editor by September 12th. You may also feel free to e-mail me as well.
Barb Manson, Stoughton, WI
GORDON SETTER BREED STANDARD click this link to read