All posts by Sally Gift

I have been an active participant in the sport of showing and breeding purebred dogs since 1973. While I began my journey with an Irish Setter, Gordon Setters became my passion in 1977 and I've been breeding them exclusively ever since.

Success in Show Dogs: Breed Type Is Flexible, Not Liquid

Thank you to our Guest Blogger – Barbara Manson for sharing this excellent article for breeder/exhibitor regarding the oft debated issue of type.

From Dog Channel we bring you  Success in Show Dogs: Breed Type Is Flexible, Not Liquid.

Share this site with your friends…email…word of mouth…we’re all serious Gordon Setter lovers here, sharing information!

Photo by Silvia Timmerman

(This article contains photos that are not intended nor do they relate to the content of the article.)

Grooming the Gordon Setter by Heidi Moon

Please join me in thanking Guest Blogger – Heidi Moon for sharing the grooming lessons she wrote. We think you’ll find this is the perfect thing to share, especially with your puppy buyers who just want their pet to look well trimmed and don’t want to pay for a salon grooming every time the dog gets shaggy. Best of all you don’t have to worry about printing copies, you can send them to our blog and they’ll have these at hand whenever they need them…how sweet is that? (Don’t forget to remind them to click our “follow button” so they get all our good stuff!)

Thanks again Heidi, you’re awesome!

“Please note, these grooming instructions apply more to grooming a pet than for show competition” Heidi Moon
The Gordon Setter breed standard says the coat
  – “Should be soft and shining, straight or slightly waved, but not curly, with long hair on ears, under stomach and on chest, on back of the fore and hind legs and on tail.”

Grooming Equipment NeededSuggested Grooming Tools

A pair of straight shears (at least 7 inches long), a pair of thinning shears – 42 or more teeth work best (don’t skimp on quality when purchasing your shears, you’ll only end up regretting it). A medium/coarse comb, a medium-sized slicker brush, a wire pin brush, a nail trimmer (preferably not the guillotine type) clotting powder such as Kwik Stop (for accidents when trimming nails). A quality dog clipper such as the Andis AGC or Oster A5 models. Useful clipper blades to own are a #10, #7F, and a #5F (the Andis and Oster blades are interchangeable). Other useful tools to own are the Mars Coat King Stripper (18-Blade), a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a dental tools for scraping excess tarter.

Grooming Procedure

The purpose of trimming any dog is to make it resemble as closely as possible the Standard of it’s breed. For instance, if a particular Gordon has a large head and a light body, it would be best to trim the head closely and leave the body coat thick. On the other hand, a dog with a small light-boned head would be trimmed more closely on the body and not as fine on the head. These are extreme examples, just chosen to give the idea behind the suggestions which follow. The end result of the advice is to enable you to trim your dog so it presents the appearance of a well-balanced Gordon Setter type.

In order to do a good job of grooming your Gordon, he/she must be accustomed to the routine and stand reasonably still while you’re working on him. It’s important to start with your puppy, beginning as early as possible. Place the puppy on a slip-proof table or crate top. It’s not advisable to use a grooming arm on a restless puppy as they may slip off the table and sustain injury, even if you are standing right next to them.


Clipping from under chin down the neck.
Clipping from under chin down the neck.


Using a #7F blade on the electric clipper (a #10 can be used when you become more proficient with the clipper, however the #7F leaves nice length of coat), begin at the chin and run the clippers down under the throat to a point about two inches above the breast bone.

Clean hair under and behind ear
Clean hair under and behind ear

327_finished_neck_throatThen, working back, clean out hair around and under the ears. For the sides and top of the neck, start clippers directly behind the occiput and bring back in one continual sweep, in a slanting line down the neck and across the shoulder to the top of the shoulder blade. If there are any clipper marks on the shoulder or neck after this, they should be removed with thinning shears.

Avoid pushing in on the clippers where the neck joins the body. Do not use the clippers at all on the very top of the neck. Clean entire face with the clipper. This is the best way to remove the whiskers which should be taken off to give a clean outline to the jaw.  Go over the sides of the head also, and slightly on the top to give a “nicely rounded skull”. Ears are trimmed with the #10 blade, one-third of the way down and blended into the longer hair.

Clip top of head
Ears clipped 1/3 way down.
Use thinning shear to smooth neck and back coat

Never stop a trim abruptly – always finish off using the coarser blade or thinning shears to blend into the longer hair. Thinning shears are always used in combination with a comb. Holding thinning shears pointing in the direction of the hair, thin and comb out hair as you go along. It is better for beginner to use the longer-cutting blades and advance to the closer-cutting blades as they become more proficient.

Excess neck and back coat can be trimmed using your thinning shears or removed with a Mars Coat King Stripper. The Coat King works beautifully when the dog is still wet, in the tub – but be careful not to get too carried away!

Use clipper or thinning shear to remove hair on leg

The excess hair on the front and sides of the front legs can be trimmed with your thinning shears or carefully clipped with a #5F blade (don’t clip too close to the furnishing on the back of the front legs). There should be a definitive “feather free” area on the sides of the front legs and between the fore-chest feathering and that on the back of the leg.

Feet should be trimmed with the dog standing up. Lift one foot at a time and trim hair on bottom of feet even with the pads. Do not take any hair out from between the toes as the feet should be “well-arched with plenty of hair between.” Using regular straight shears trim to achieve a rounded, high-appearing foot that is “cat-like” in shape.”

Trim hair on bottom of foot around pads
Brush hair between toes up and backward

With the  dog’s foot in one hand and your slicker brush in the other, brush the hair between the toes up and in a backwards motion towards the leg.

Trim hair between toes

This hair can then be trimmed off with your straight or thinning shears being careful not to trim down between the toes. Working with shears pointed toward the ground at a slight angle, trim off excess rough hair around the foot. Nails should be trimmed so the tips clear the floor at the very least. It may be necessary to trim a little off the nail at a time several time to get the desired length, if the nails have been allowed to grow too long. The back feet are done the same. 262_trim_feet

Comb hair on hock down.

The hair on the back of the hock is combed down, and holding your scissors perpendicular to the floor, make a nicely rounded shape to the hock.

Scissor hair on hock
Trim the hair at base of tail in half circle

Using the #7F or a #5F blade in your clipper trim the hair on the bottom of the tail about 2-3 inches from the base. This is best done in a half-circle motion moving from a point approximately 3 inches down the tail from the body back toward the body circling down into the rump area.

Trim excess hair at end of tail.
Finished tail.

While holding the tail with one hand slide your grip down to the end stopping about one-half inch past the end of the actual tail.  With a straight shears, trim off the excess feathering in a straight perpendicular cut. This gives a perfectly tapered appearance to the remaining tail hair.  Be careful not to trim too close to the actual tail as you do not want to cut into the tip.

320_Mairead2_6.21.09Don’t forget to clean your Gordon Setters ears regularly using a commercial ear cleaner and a soft cotton wipe or cotton ball. Regular teeth brushing between veterinary cleaning is also helpful in reducing tartar build-up and can prevent more serious health issues from developing.

  Heidi Moon, MN


Thank you to Guest Blogger – Laurie Ward who shared her suggestion for one of her favorite books on canine nutrition:

Canine Nutrigenomics – The New Science of Feeding your Dog for Optimum Health . A clip from the book review reads: “Optimum health begins in the cells—and this book shows you how to achieve it for your dog!”

Our Facebook friends are already commenting about the book…what do you think? Please leave a comment to share your views with our readers! Not everyone is on Facebook so please share our site by word of mouth and email with your friends – that’s

  • Barbara Manson I just bought the book. I’ll let you know what I think.
  • Laurie Ward Thanks – I will be eager to hear your thoughts!
  • Barbara Manson I have an old dog who has frequent yeast flare ups. I’ve changed foods but still can’t get a good handle on it. I do all the supportive measures but my gut tells me the answer may be nutritional. I’ll see what the book has to offer.


Genetic test for renal dysplasia (Caution advised)

Breeders – if you are currently using or are considering the use of genetic testing for renal dysplasia you should read the website article “Genetic test for renal dysplasia (Caution Advised)” posted by the Institute of Canine Biology. While breed survey results for the Gordon Setter did not return a frequency of incidence for this disease one should be aware that it can occur in many breeds of dogs.

Carol Beuchat PhD “Renal dysplasia is a serious and complex genetic disorder that occurs in many breeds of dogs.”

Genetic test for renal dysplasia (Caution advised) – The Institute of Canine Biology.

Additional Links:  GSCA Health Survey 2004 Results

The Trail to Advancement by Jim MacWalter

Thank you to our newest Guest Blogger -Jim MacWalter for this article written in 2013 sharing his experiences training Gordon Setters for their Senior level Hunt Test title.

Brodie 1st Master QualificationLast spring, after entering my two Gordon Setters (Brodie & Ceilidh) in a few hunting tests in the new Junior Advanced level, the thought occurred to me that perhaps it was time to get serious and start their training toward Senior level and perhaps we might even achieve Master if we worked hard enough.

So in June we started our training with Jeff Reis of Berkley, Massachusetts. I say “we” because that’s how Jeff trains. He trains not only the dog but the handler as well. This is exactly what I was looking for as I wanted my dogs to recognize me as their handler and to be an integral part of any achievement my dogs may earn.

We started our training with Brodie, as I thought he might be the most difficult one to train due to his age, (Brodie turned seven this past December), and the number of years that I have hunted with him with little to no training, (my bad).

DSC_0528I was most pleasantly surprised when Brodie’s training progressed much faster than I ever anticipated. He quickly caught on to the table training, where he was taught the “Whoa” command and heeling command. He was soon in the field on a check cord, learning to implement the commands he learned on the training table. He was pointing the bird when he first caught scent rather than inches from the bird. This placed him ten to twenty feet from the bird, and in a position that made it less likely for him to break should the bird move. We moved on to teach him to be steady to the flush and the shot. This took a little longer as Brodie had never had to do this in the past six years that we have hunted together. Brodie thought it was the greatest thing to chase Sierra Exif JPEGthe bird when it was flushed so he could be there when, (assuming I hit it), it hit the ground. But he did catch on, and was soon making me proud as he held point though flush and shot. It wasn’t always a given that he would hold, and occasionally he would break, but considering his past this was terrific!

Brodie soon graduated from the training field we had been using to a new field and also a change from pigeons to quail. In one of our latest training sessions, the quail woke up from his nap and was walking around in front of Brodie and the boy held his point!! I was so proud of him that day that I thought I was going to bust the buttons right off my shirt!

DSC_0003We are now working with retrieving which is something that neither Brodie or Ceilidh care for, but must be accomplished in order to achieve our goals. So we sit in our living room with one of them sitting in front of me and I say “Fetch” and place a training dummy in their mouth, telling them to “Hold” and ending with the command “Give”. In the beginning this resulted in severe head shaking, trying to dislodge the dummy. But after awhile, the head shaking reduced and just recently Brodie has reached out to take the dummy when the command “Fetch” was given. So we are making progress, slow but steady

Ceilidh 3rd Sr. QualificationCeilidh’s training started in August. Ceilidh turned three this past October and she is a spit-fire. Since her training began, she has progressed from the training table to the training field with admirable results. She is much softer than Brodie and we have to be very careful with her in training so that any correction we give her is constructive and will not have a detrimental effect on her. Ceilidh is now holding steady to flush and shot and will soon be graduating from pigeons to quail.

photo 1CMy experience in Brodie and Ceilidh’s training has been amazing. I have learned much during this process and I believe I still have much to learn.

Witnessing when the light bulb comes on during the dog’s training is something not to be missed. You can see it in their eyes and in their body language when they understand what it is that you want them to do. It can be easily seen that they are as happy as you are when this event happens.TOSHIBA Exif JPEG

Both my dogs and I look forward to every training session and whether we have a good day or a bad day, we arrive back home knowing that we have learned something that day.

I have always had a great respect for the dogs and handlers in hunt tests. Watching a handler and his dog in a Senior or Master test is akin to watching a ballet. The team of dog and handler work together in a symbiotic relationship. The dog and his amazing sense of scent locates the bird and indicates it’s position to the handler by a staunch point. The handler may steady the dog with a soft “whoa” and goes in to flush the bird. The bird explodes into the sky, and the gunner does his job. The dog has held his point and watched intently as the bird fell. The handler instructs the dog to “Fetch” and the dog is off, finds and retrieves the bird back to the handler.

Brodie Sr. Hunter TitleAs with most things that are done well, the dog and handler make this look so easy. Since I have started training, I have learned this is not easy. It takes months of hard but rewarding work to attain a level where the dog and handler are now ready to enter themselves into a Hunt Test. Personally, I can think of no better activity than to spend some rewarding time in the field with my dogs.

Jim MacWalter

Living with a Gordon Setter

Thank you to Guest Blogger – Denise Paquette for submitting this article sharing her thoughts around living with the Gordon Setter.

A day in the life of a Gordon Setter…….

Denise P - Duff -First thing in the morning – the alarm goes off and the snuggling starts. Although  a Gordon is ready to roll in the morning, it must be preceded by some serious snuggling. After 30 minutes of hitting the snooze button and being smothered by a 70 pound dog, it’s time to get up.

A friend of mine once called one of my boys “a love sponge”. Gordon Setters are a bit needy and high maintenance. They are not “backyard dogs”. If you leave them alone in the yard while you’re off at work, neither you nor your Gordon will be happy by evening.


Most Gordon Setters are social and love to go with you to town, the park, the beach or best of all hunting. All they really want is your attention, your love, and to be by your side. Gordon Setters are family dogs and do well with children. Mostly they are very sweet and love the attention and games that children play. They do well with other dogs and often enjoy the company of cats. If you have a busy life and don’t have much time for a dog, a Gordon Setter would not be the dog breed for you. Did I mention that the Gordon Setter is extremely loyal? They are the most defensive of all the Setters. Most bark to alert their owners to the approach of strangers, but do not generally do any nuisance barking. They protect their home and their people well.


Training is very important for a young Gordon. They do well with a balanced approach to basic obedience training. Using positive reinforcement works well with many breeds, but in general a few corrections thrown in draw the line with a Gordon and may help them to understand your limits. Left to their own devices they will cross the line to get your attention. Training gives them guidance and structure so they fit into your family. Incorporating exercise into a young dog’s life is good for their health. It also gives them a release for all their energy. Training is just as important as exercise. It helps to mold your dog’s personality so they fit into your lifestyle. A sense of humor is needed when training a Gordon Setter. Often the girls understand exactly what you are asking of them and they decide to do things with a twist and give you that humorous look – “are you nuts yet?”. In general, most Gordon girls are food motivated while the boys are motivated more by praise and love (there are always exceptions). They don’t see the point in mindless repetition, so do make sure to keep your training sessions fun and exciting. Communication skills are not a problem for most Gordons. They are very efficient at letting you know what they want. Whether it’s a bark, a whine, a woo-woo, a paw or a kiss, they will have you trained in no time!

You just need to dial in to your dog, figure out what motivates them and help them understand what’s important to you. Be ready to comprise when something is important to them and the relationship blossoms into something very special.


Gordon Setters are very smart and trainable and can be trained for many activities. They do well in conformation, obedience, agility, tracking, rally and the field. While many herding dogs make great ranch dogs, the Gordon will not excel at this job. They are too trusting of livestock and a bit too inclined to frolic. They typically don’t take the time to read the intentions of the other animals and this is a recipe for injury. They are very athletic and enjoy activities that usually end with some snuggling on the couch.

Coat Care:

A moderate amount of coat care is necessary to keep your Gordon in good shape. If you don’t groom them often enough they will mat and then you’ll have one heck of a mess on your hands. Most Gordon Setters should be bathed at least every 2-3 weeks and groomed every few months. The hair cut keeps the matting to a minimum and makes for easier maintenance of the coat. A good quality shampoo and medium heavy conditioner should be used to keep the coat clear of mats and soft for all that snuggling. Combing a dry dog breaks the coat. It’s best to use a spray leave on conditioner that you comb into the coat.


Gordon Setter breeders and owners have been very diligent to maintain health in the breed. We are constantly working on maintaining type without compromising health. The cancer rate in Gordon Setters is similar to most sporting dogs. The health clearances recommended by the Gordon Setter Club of America include OFA hips, OFA elbows and CERF eyes. There are two new genetic tests available for testing juvenile renal disease (JRD) and late onset progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Many breeders also routinely check their breeding stock for low thyroid. Sometimes the Gordon will develop minor sebaceous cysts as they age. All in all, though the Gordon is a very healthy breed.

Denise PThe end of a day with a Gordon usually consists of snuggling on the couch while watching TV or maybe that could become falling asleep while watching TV! The more snuggling and love the happier the Gordon.

Denise Pauquette

Photos by Denise Pauquette


Pesky ole Pee Feathers…

Boys will be boys! If you’re working on show coat for your boy or maybe even just trying to keep him looking nice and mat free, maintaining a male’s coat in condition is challenging because…well let’s face it…they dribble all over themselves when they lift their leg to pee…the dreaded “pee feathers”. (Now guys don’t go getting offended here, we’re not talking about cleaning the bathroom toilet, this article applies to Gordon Setters not men!)

pee feather
Loin coat that’s become a bit thin…could be the dreaded “pee feather” syndrome.

We’re talking today about all the beautiful coat that looks so great when it’s growing evenly down from the loin area. But as we’ve all seen or perhaps experienced, if you don’t stay on top of grooming it, that coat becomes dirty, matted and brittle in a minute. Then, before you know what happened you’re missing chunks of coat or the coat looks all thin and straggly, and unless you even the ends out with scissors it looks ragged compared to the rest of the dog’s coat. Maybe not the picture you intended to present in the ring and especially if you’re headed for BOB or Group judging. To be competitive you do want to stay on top of little things.

So, proper grooming of the male does have it’s own particular quirks and there are many of you out there who may be wondering what the secret is and others who could share your tried and true solutions with them for maintaining coat.

Jodi Hurd-Cavanagh had offered her suggestions in a comment on a previous article (Thank you Jodi!) and we are publishing that again here to start the discussion…what do you do to maintain pee feathers?

And Jodi said: “The main way to grow and maintain the coat is a clean coat, bathing the dog every other day in a gentle shampoo RINSE WELL, conditioner RINSE WELL. Rinsing is imperative to the process, as you don’t want to leave any soap residue (you will get white flakes pop up) Blow dry on the table and you are ready to trim. Maintaining pee feather area is a daily routine. on the days you aren’t giving a full bath, rinse the pee coat area with conditioner and water mix about 3 ounces of conditioner to 15 ounces of water apply liberally and rinse with water, and dry.”

1904091_10152331678311402_3225587546707196030_nType away folks, use the comment section to share your solutions or to ask more questions.

Photos courtesy of Silvia Timmerman

Calling on Field trainers!

J Mcwalter photo
Photo from Jim McWalter

We know you’re out there having the time of your life doing what comes naturally to man and bird dog – hunting! But after you’ve come in out of the cold we’re wondering if you would share your expert knowledge – as in how did you get your dog to do that?

We need field trainers who are willing to share their training methods, such as what resources do you use to guide you, do you have favorite books or websites that you recommend, can you or would you write articles about field training or field training issues to help other trainers resolve their problem? Especially and most importantly if that training applies and works well with Gordon Setters, because that’s the breed this blog is all about.

Please send your articles, links, recommended reading, videos, websites, the things you believe are very important to know when training your Gordon Setter to hunt to

mcwalter photo
Photo from Jim McWalter

Grooming by Bev Holoboff

Let’s give a round of applause for guest blogger Bev Holoboff, Alberta Canada

Gordon Setter – Grooming for show


Creating The Look

blunt scissors
Blunt Edge Scissor

First make sure the dog is completely free of mats. You may need to pay particular attention to the feathering between the front legs and chest.

Using the blunt-ended scissors, trim the whiskers on the cheeks, flews and above the eyes.


With your clippers, going with the lay of the hair, clip the top of the skull to just behind and below the occiput. If the back skull drops away, try not to clip too closely near the back as that will accentuate the lack of level planes.

Oster clipperClip down the throat to about 2 inches above the sternum. Clip from behind the occiput and the ear, about the width of your clipper blade around the ear, down the neck towards the sternum and slightly lower than the clipped area above the sternum. In other words, looking at the chest and shoulders from the front, there will be a reverse ‘U’ of clipped to unclipped area.

Clip the top third (front and back) of the ear, leaving coat on the front fold of the ear beginning where it joins the skull. If you are trying this for the first time, or if a show is coming up in the next couple of days, you will clip with the lay of the hair. However, you may find it more effective to do as I do, going against the grain on the upper ears. This will give a very smooth finish as the hair regrows but, for most dogs will take a full week to get to the most attractive stage.

Thinning Shear
Thinning Shear

Using the thinning shears and cutting up into the lay of the hair, smooth the seam between the clipped and unclipped areas, the rough coat along the shoulders and elbows, over the back ribs, loin, hip and outside thigh. The amount of work you will need in this area largely depends on the dog’s coat. The flatter the coat, the less it is needed. This is also the most difficult part to do well but the effort put in here will make a lot of difference in the final appearance.

Some people advocate the use of stoning to remove excess back coat. I don’t. It seems to me to be the equivalent to scraping sandpaper over the shiny cuticles of the remaining hair shafts. What you may gain in hair removal, you’ll lose in shine. An alternative to thinning shears is the use of a Mars Coat King. This gives a very nice appearance and is almost foolproof.

Mars Coat King
Mars Coat King


With the thinning shears, trim the feathering on the hock to create a rounder, cleaner appearance. Shaving the hock makes it look strange and lacking in bone but not trimming the feathering makes the hock appear to lack in strength and stability. Developing your eye to recognize what looks good may take some time.

Trim about one inch at the tail root, creating a vent and delineating the body from the tail. This area is the underneath of the tail and around the anus.

Using thinning shears, trim the tail as close to the tip as possible, creating a smooth rounded look.

To create the desirable tight, rounded, cat-foot, scissor around the outside to the foot, Scissor the hair growing on the underside, between the pads. Use your thinning shears to level off the hair between the toes with the outline of the foot. Thin the hair by the dewclaw (or area it was removed) and on the back of the pastern.

Nail Grinder or Dremel
Nail Grinder or Dremel

Clip the nails as closely as possible. Since Gordon Setters have black nails you may need to check the underside of the nail to ensure that you do not cut back into the quick. Using a Dremel can smooth the edges of the toenails and keep them looking even better.

This is a very basic guideline. Only by constant practice and watching the effects other people achieve, will you find that the process becomes second nature.

In addition to this method of getting a coat show-ready, a tool called the Mars Coat King is a wonderful way to thin out back coat. You can use it on a weekly basis to keep the coat looking almost perfect and then just use the thinning shears for a touch up.

Prefer a more natural look? If your dog needs grooming simply to make him a pleasure for you to look at and for his own hygiene, regular brushing and clipping of the feet will get the look you are after. You might also want to remove the hair around the base of the ear to ensure sufficient air circulates to the ear canal. Trimming the hair at the underside base of the tail will also be a good idea.


If you are grooming a pet Gordon, much of this information will not necessarily apply to you. In many cases, you might be better off not to use clippers on your dog as, once you’ve started, the hair will grow in curlier than before and you’ll need to continue clipping forever.

However, if you have a show Gordon or want your Gordon to look like one, this is a very simplistic description of how we groom our dogs.

There are many items you can purchase to aid in your grooming endeavors but the essentials for me are:

  • Electric clippers (I use an Oster A5 or an Andis Rechargable and, more recently a Wahl Chromadore), a #10 and #15 blade or an adjustable blade which can be set to those numbers (If you’re nervous, you might want to start out with a #10. This might also be the more appropriate blade to use if the dog is old and its coat is thinning.),
  • Thinning shears (with finer teeth)
  • Mars Coat King
  • Regular hair scissors
  • Metal comb
  • Brush
  • Small blunt end scissors
  • Dremel or nail clippers

Shampoo and Conditioning:

Contrary to common thought, bathing a dog frequently is not a problem. Only bathing them with inappropriate products seems to cause dry coat and skin. Particularly once the dog is ready for ‘competition’, more frequent cleaning with the appropriate products will make for a better looking coat. When I’m actively showing a dog, it will get a bath at least once a week with a full condition and light washes in dirty areas in between. Use a shampoo formulated for dogs and make sure it is all washed out. I use the entire line of Chris Christensen products and find them very satisfactory for regular maintenance and show preparation. However, I found another shampoo (Jardines) that’s a horse shampoo recommended to me by a handler and it’s excellent. Another brand that comes well recommended is from Summerwinds. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of finding what’s best for you and your dog but I couldn’t live without my Chris Christensen – Ice on Ice.

Ice on Ice by Chris Christensen
Ice on Ice by Chris Christensen

Coat Maintenance:

Between shampoos, just regular brushing should maintain the gloss. With my adult dogs, even the ones not being shown, I tend to maintain a regular (every one to two weeks) bath routine, finishing with a conditioner, another rinse and then a spray on conditioner. With puppies, I just use the shampoo and make sure it is really washed out of the coat.


As with all long-eared dogs, you should keep a watch on your Gordon’s ears to make sure that no problems are ever encountered. If they ever appear dirty, you can clean them with a cotton ball, dampened with Hibitol or Epiotic – Cleanser (available from your vet). Only clean the area that you can see. If dark wax and an odor are present, consult your veterinarian.


Cleaning your dog’s teeth should be part of your on-going health care. The back molars are particularly susceptible to build up of tartar. Getting your puppy used to the process will prevent difficulties later. A tooth scaler may be purchased from most pet-supply shops, dental supplies or an accommodating dental hygienist may give you her discards. Gently scraping the buildup off will be an easy job if you stay on top of it. Dog toothpastes (and toothbrushes) are available but are a bit tedious as they should be used every day to be effective. Some of the chewable solutions like Denta-bones seem to also suffice for many dogs. This same toothpaste can also be applied to a wash cloth, covering your index finger, and works just as well. Some of the chewable solutions like Denta-bones seem to also suffice for many dogs.


Keep the nails short by frequently clipping them. Dark toenails are more difficult to judge but frequently taking off a little every week or so will usually keep them short enough. Although smaller clippers may seem sufficient when the puppy is small, buy one that is strong enough to easily cut the larger toenails that are sure to come. An alternative is an electric toenail grinder but that is more expensive and, while they do a wonderful job may be more difficult to accustom the dog to its use. Personally, I prefer to do a little of both, clipping the ends off and then smoothing the edges with a Dremel. An extremely good description of how to prepare a dog for that process can be found at

Grooming Feet – Gordon Setter Cat Paws

See how the feet on this dog are shaped like
See how the feet on this dog are shaped like “cat paws”
Photo by Bob Segal

I have a bit of a dilemma here with the Gordon Setter grooming video I’m about to share with you. See, I have a confession, and it may shock you just a little but please remember not to gasp too loudly as you’ll wake the sleeping dog! So my confession is, while I had every intention of (1) either sucking someone into doing a video to share here or (2) having someone film me doing a foot grooming demonstration – I haven’t actually gotten around to doing either of those things yet. But wait, that’s not the confession. See the confession is, this is meant to be a Gordon Setter demonstration, but, well the truth is, the dog on the table is either highly marked for a Gordon, a red Gordon, or maybe – perhaps it’s our red-headed cousin the Irish Setter. Shhhh, I told you the dogs were sleeping!

So, anyway, this is a darn good video, the lady who’s doing the demonstration gives excellent instructions, (and her dog holds still much better than mine would). But most importantly, what I loved about this video was that she takes the time to explain about cutting the hair between the toes in straight up and down lines, rather than at an angle, and that my friends can make all the difference between whether your Gordon Setter’s feet look like the cat paws they are supposed to resemble, or like Briar Rabbit’s hare feet!

Hare feet
Hare feet – toes look too long and flat on front feet.

So just click right here to see the video titled “Grooming ____ Setter Feet”

Oh, and if there are any budding film-makers out there with a pair of scissors and a hairy Gordon Setter who’d like to top this award-winning presentation please send those entries to:!