Category Archives: Dog Shows

Grooming by Bev Holoboff

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

Gordon Setter – Grooming for show

grooming

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.

Clippers

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

Thinning

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.

Equipment

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.

Ears:

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.

Teeth:

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.

Toenails:

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 http://www.doberdawn.com.

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: GordonSetterExpert@gmail.com!

Breed Standard – It all starts and ends here if you’re showing or breeding.

Breed standard imageThis is a quick and easy blog post peeps. Simply put, if you’re involved in showing or breeding Gordon Setters you must start your learning experience with the breed standard. If you study it hard enough you’ll soon find yourself standing ringside with other exhibitors quoting sections out loud to each other, or maybe under your breath depending on what you are seeing in the ring!

All joking aside, the purpose of this article is to provide you with that all important link defining what should going through the Judge’s mind while sorting out a class of dogs. Once you’ve clicked the link you should find yourself on the AKC website, if you’ve not spent any time there browse around, it’s a wealth of information.

The Gordon Setter Breed Standard

standard

Movement: Very Much a Part of Type

ted moving
Photo by Bob Segal

Understanding correct structure and movement in our Gordon Setter and understanding how that relates to breed type is a topic I’ve heard debated many a time, as I bet, have you. The article I’m sharing with you today “Movement: Very “Much a Part of Type” written by Richard G. (“Rick”) Beauchamp addresses that topic in a fairly simple, straightforward manner.

I’m not going to review Mr. Beauchamp’s article here, I’m simply recommending you read it for yourself. I will however, pull out a few of my favorite quotes…just because I just can’t stop myself from chatting!3 setters

“Is it possible for a dog to be typey without correct movement? The answer to that question could be yes if our task was simply to evaluate a dog stacked or standing in a well-taught position.”

“Changing movement changes type.”

“…there wouldn’t be English and Gordon Setters if the developers of the respective breeds weren’t attempting to create a dog of a different kind and of different purpose.”

“The purpose of the Gordon Setter is significantly different from that of his Irish cousin. The Gordon worked the rocky, frequently inhospitable terrain of the Scottish Highlands. Care and deliberation in movement were important to the breed. Running headlong across the moors could prove extremely dangerous to the dog’s legs and feet, to say nothing of the hunter trying to keep up with the dog in such difficult terrain.”

“The movement of these three setters should prove the very point of their existence. One breed moving like the other proves how wrong the individual dog is.”

Movement: Very Much a Part of Type.

It’s the learning that’s important! The 2015 GSCA National Specialty

JUST SAYIN – you don’t want to miss the excitement and the learning opportunities at the most anticipated event in our breed, the GSCA 2015 National Specialty. With this year’s convenient location in the heart of America the geographic location for the 2015 National allows folks from both coasts a more equal opportunity to make the trek. I’m expecting to see the very best in competition at this event with fabulous dogs from all corners of the U.S.

All aspects of the 2015 GSCA National Specialty will be held at Purina Farms’ state-of-the-art  Event Center.  Purina Farms is a short, 40 minute drive from downtown St. Louis, MO.”

BOB 14 NationalYou’ll never find an opportunity to see as many fabulous Gordon Setters if you limit yourself to attending only local All Breed Shows and Specialties. In my opinion, you cannot fully develop successful breeding programs if you don’t know the competition’s best attributes. What better place to learn those attributes than by seeing them in the flesh at the National? (Notice I’m not mentioning finding their faults? That’s because I believe relying primarily on fault judging of your competitors dogs will be the fastest method you can employ to failure.) Yes, we must know the faults but breeding decisions should be based on strengths. You’ll never find a better place to view the strengths of so many other Gordon Setters if you don’t take the time to actually see them at their very best, in competition, in the ring, in the flesh.

If you are a serious exhibitor/breeder attending the National Specialty is the most versatile learning opportunity you can give to yourself. It is here that you’ll broaden your view of Gordon Setter type, style and structure. Your knowledge of the breed will broaden merely by sitting ringside to watch the judging. Ringside is where it’s at people, as this is there where you’re certain to see every example of Gordon Setter, and often multiple generations of Gordon Setters from breeding kennels all over the US, Canada and sometimes beyond. Seeing is learning, nothing can replace that for the serious breeder.

Are performance events like Obedience, Agility and Rally your thing? Well then why would you miss this chance to meet others who face the same challenges and successes that you’ve encounter with your Gordon Setter? The people you’ll meet at the National competing in performance events are your best source of training methods that work the well with our breed. Why would you deny yourself the chance to meet others like yourself involved in your breed, the Gordon Setter, to share knowledge and training methods? Ask any good trainer how they “got their dog to do that” and they’ll be sure to share.

Agility jumpIf you’re serious, really serious, about breeding or training Gordon Setters you’ll not find a better opportunity to sharpen your skills and learn, learn, learn.

It’s not about going to the National to win, it’s about winning through learning! Hope to see you there!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

2015 Gordon Setter Club of America National Specialty 

2015_gsca_logo

The Breeder— Endangered?

I recently read an excellent article representing many of my own thoughts and concerns regarding the plight of the purebred dog and purebred dog breeder. While the Gordon Setter has never reached the popularity of breeds like the Doberman, Gordon Setter breeders are sharing that same fate of losing the future and integrity of our breed through the loss of new and younger breeders to take the reins and carry the breed forward.

I too believe the promotion of rescuing mixed breed dogs has had a harsh and alarming effect on the future of all purebred dogs that only breeders can change by challenging that propaganda . We must get back to promoting the purpose bred purebred dog as the best resource for a reliable source of quality companion dogs with dependable, predictable, and stable temperaments and physical characteristics.

I hope you’ll take the time to read the AKC Dog Lovers article The Doberman Breeder—An Endangered Species? | AKC Dog Lovers and share you own comments with us regarding whether the rescue fad of adopting mixed breeds has hurt breeders and how we can better promote our Gordon Setter and the breeders dedicated to preserving and improving our breed?

Sally Gift

Photo by Silvia Timmerman

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