PREFACE: The sport of purebred dog competitive events dates prior to 1884, the year of AKC’s birth. Shared values of those involved in the sport include principles of sportsmanship. They are practiced in all sectors of our sport: conformation, performance and companion. Many believe that these principles of sportsmanship are the prime reason why our sport has thrived for over one hundred years. With the belief that it is useful to periodically articulate the fundamentals of our sport, this code is presented.
Sportsmen respect the history, traditions and integrity of the sport of purebred dogs.
Sportsmen commit themselves to values of fair play, honesty, courtesy, and vigorous competition, as well as winning and losing with grace.
Sportsmen refuse to compromise their commitment and obligation to the sport of purebred dogs by injecting personal advantage or consideration into their decisions or behavior.
The sportsman judge judges only on the merits of the dogs and considers no other factors.
The sportsman judge or exhibitor accepts constructive criticism.
The sportsman exhibitor declines to enter or exhibit under a judge where it might reasonably appear that the judge’s placements could be based on something other than the merits of the dogs.
The sportsman exhibitor refuses to compromise the impartiality of a judge.
The sportsman respects the AKC bylaws, rules, regulations and policies governing the sport of purebred dogs.
Sportsmen find that vigorous competition and civility are not inconsistent and are able to appreciate the merit of their competition and the effort of competitors.
Sportsmen welcome, encourage and support newcomers to the sport.
Sportsmen will deal fairly with all those who trade with them.
Sportsmen are willing to share honest and open appraisals of both the strengths and weaknesses of their breeding stock.
Sportsmen spurn any opportunity to take personal advantage of positions offered or bestowed upon them.
Sportsmen always consider as paramount the welfare of their dog.
Sportsmen refuse to embarrass the sport, the American Kennel Club, or themselves while taking part in the sport.
Blastomycosis, or Blasto as it is often called, is a very serious and potentially deadly, systemic fungal disease that can affect dogs, humans, and other mammals. Blasto is caused by inhaling the spores of the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis. B. dermatitis grows as a mold in acidic, organically rich …
Why do I have pictures of an English Setter and a Pointer in my article about Gordon Setters? Good question. They are here so we can discuss how angles function and their importance to breed type.
To summarize, from the last article, we know that the angle formed from the top of the shoulder blade (withers) to the to the humorous to the back of the elbow (in practice refered to as upper arm) should be approximately ninety degrees. To add to this, the length of the blade should be approximately equal to the length of the upper arm. We can hopefully see this from looking at the dogs stacked from across the ring or from the judges perspective as he evaluates them from the middle of the ring. There are other things we can see to help us evaluate the correctness of the angle. Does the dog appear to have sufficient length of neck or does it seem short in relationship to his body? The standard says, “Shoulders – fine at the points, and laying well back. The tops of the shoulder blades are close together. When viewed from behind, the neck appears to fit into the shoulders in smooth, flat lines that gradually widen from neck to shoulder”. If the portion of the angle created by the shoulder blade is too wide so the blade is more upright, the neck can appear short or you may get the impression the way the neck fits into the shoulder is less than pleasing and somehow out of balance with the rest of the dog. This is more often seen in Irish Setters. More commonly in Gordon Setters, when the neck appears short, it’s because the shoulder blade is too short. If we were able to look at this dog from over the top, we would find excessive width between the shoulder blades. Many years ago, it was felt the correct distance between the shoulder blades should be no more than two fingers and this was thought to be universal among all breeds. I personally don’t believe, in practice, this works for Gordon’s. The standard calls for “ribs well sprung, leaving plenty of lung room”. If this shoulder blade is to “lay well back”, it has to accommodate for a rather robust body which may require more width. Maybe two fingers isn’t the proper width between the shoulder blades for this breed but neither should we be able to place a whole fist between the blades. The width should be just enough to accommodate the body so that “The tops of the shoulder blades are close together”. The standard also calls for the shoulders to be “fine at the points.” The neck into the shoulder should always appear smooth and seamless. If the blade is not long enough or the shoulder blades are not fine at the points, the dog will appear rough in shoulder. Another dead giveaway that the shoulders are incorrect, if you are close enough to observe it, is a tendency for there to be a roll of skin over the shoulder blades when the head is positioned normally. The width between the shoulder blades at the withers and the fineness of the points is often referred to as the lay on of shoulder. A well layed back shoulder blade and good lay on of shoulder contributes the most to to the dogs ability to “reach far forward to accommodate for the driving hindquarters”.
The other part of the front angle, the upper arm, may also add a little more reach, but its primary importance in the setter is the flexibility it adds to the front allowing the Setter to “set” rather than point with the more upright stance of the pointer. I chose to use the English Setter to demonstrate this because the photo was not only incredibly good, but the coloring of the white dog made it easier to see. Compare the English Setter to the photo of the Pointer, who is also pointing, and notice the structural difference of the front assembly. This length of upper arm is very important to breed type. It’s the major structural characteristic that separates the setters from the pointers and in these days of declining numbers of Gordon Setters, care must be taken so we don’t loose this as its already hard to find.
Rear angulation is the easiest to see and assess. The standard says “The hind legs from hip to hock are long, flat and muscular; from hock to heel, short and strong. The stifle and hock joints are well bent and not turned either in or out. When the dog is standing with the rear pastern perpendicular to the ground, the thigh bone hangs downward parallel to an imaginary line drawn upward from the hock.” The impression you should have, when viewing a correct rear from the side, is one of power and flexibility. It should be able to reach far forward and drive far back to help propel the dog. Note the photo of the Gordon. Look at the length of the upper arm and also the flexibility the angle allows in the rear. Maximum angle and balance from front to rear would allow this dog to “set”.
We’ve talked about correct angles but I would be remiss if I didn’t add a bit about balance. When visualizing a relatively square, short backed dog, imagine for a moment how this dog would move if he had more angle in the front than the rear or more in the rear than the front. Somehow, that dog would have to compensate for his unbalanced angles when moving. We will talk more about the impact on movement later, but for the sake of function, balance, regardless of angle, is most important. However, to have a truly good specimen of the breed, we must strive for correct, balanced angles and we must be striving to keep correct upper arm.
Angulation serves another very important function. From “a slight spring” of the pastern through the correct series of angles, our dogs are equipped with a remarkable set of shock absorbers. These angles absorb the pounding and stress of hard work and allow this heavy boned, muscular dog to put in a full day in the field. A dog so endowed should not tire easily, provided he is fit. This, along with the ability to set, are examples of where form meets function and that is indeed breed type.
I would like to thank Oddur Orvar Magnusson for the use of the photographs of the English Setter, “Erro”, and the Gordon Setter. I would encourage you to take a look at his videos (English Setter Iceland) on You Tube. They are amazing examples of English Setters, and an occasional Gordon, doing what they were bred to do. They will do a wonderful job of demonstrating the impact of angles on Setters.
Also thank you to Kevin and Samantha Freeburn for the photo of the pointer, “Drake”, Quail Hollow Genesis, JH. In my opinion, these photos have created great visuals for learning purposes.
We’re in dire need of Field material to publish for our readers on this Gordon Setter blog. We truly need your support and expertise to build reference material for those who are seeking information and mentors to help them learn more about hunting and field competition. We need your expertise and encouragement to draw more owners to enjoy time with their Gordon Setters in the field.
We are always seeking writers to share their material, experiences, or expertise here.
We are always seeking field enthusiasts to share links to websites or other blogs of value to those who share your passion.
We are always seeking your recommendations of books and videos.
You can reach us at email@example.com with your contributions or questions.
Hope you’ll join in to make some noise about your adventures in the field!
Introducing an ideal video sharing a true Breed Ambassador – Tyler Dargay and his loved ones, Bill and Diane Dargay.
“Beauty, Brains & Birdsense” are the watchwords describing how life can be loved with a Gordon Setter as your family companion. In this video Tyler plays a starring role, taking us on a tour of his life and times. From his relaxed pose as a regal and beautiful member of the Gordon Setter breed calmly enjoying a well-behaved moment with his family, this video follows Tyler and takes us through his many and versatile paces; from his job as lifeguard, to treks in the field to find game birds with Bill, to the fast paced fun and games of Flyball competition with Diane, to the quiet time he devotes to soothing and comforting the ill. Tyler is indeed a true Breed Ambassador, a superb example of life at it’s best with a Gordon Setter by your side.
The next time you’re trying to explain why you love Gordon Setters, you might simply show them with this video!
Thank you to Gordon Setter Club of America members Bill and Diane Dargay for sharing Tyler with us!
This 4:35 minute video clip is from a 12 Episode session for Doggone It about Sporting Breeds produced by ESPN and aired in 2004.
I started a new discussion group that you may find totally useful if you’re seriously into breeding and/or competing with your Gordon Setter. Now, I realize that many of you are not on Facebook and may well have sworn never to go there BUT you don’t have to turn into a Facebook junkie, nor do you need to accumulate a slathering of friends, but you will need to set up a Facebook account in order to view and post to the group. There are already fabulous discussions starting, questions being posed, and pictures being shared of dogs from way back, all things educational can be shared here.
Welcome Gordon Setter students and mentors! This group is meant to serve as a resource and learning tool for Gordon Setter fanciers who are serious students or experienced breeder/exhibitors willing to join forces where everyone can learn about and mentor the art of breeding better Gordon Setters. A place also to fine tune our skill and expertise when competing in conformation, performance or field events. Topics might include such things as genetics, structure, pedigrees, ancestors, health, and proper care, grooming, as well as training tips pertaining to competition in conformation, performance and field events. To make the most of this forum you are encouraged to submit questions, content and photos to provide examples as well as actively participate in discussions with helpful answers and guiding principles.
Things to keep in mind:
No personal attacks, ridicule, or harassment on or about another member’s post. You will be removed from the group and blocked. We don’t always need to agree and various opinions on a topic are encouraged to promote a learning environment, however remember when you are expressing an opinion to please do so in a tactful and polite manner.
Since this group is meant to serve educational purposes only, please do not submit your win photos and brags, we do love to see those and are very happy for you, but let’s post them on other forums to maintain focus here. The same would be true of those happy Gordon photos we post just for fun.
Please focus on the positive traits of any dog pictured. If you have constructive criticism always be considerate and tactful in your comments to ensure you are providing encouragement as well as an educational experience for the student. Please do share educational articles and links to other sites that will educate and promote better breeding and competition practices.
No SPAM or ads to promote the sale of merchandise or dogs. Spammers will be removed.
No personal attacks on other members! We are here to help each other learn and we will respect everyone and treat each other with dignity because of our differences, a different view could be where a new learning begins.
I’m an average Jo and I’m worried about the future of my favorite hobby – showing and breeding dogs. I want to do something to help turn the tide of the declining number of show and trial entries, the number of purebred dogs registered, and the declining membership in our dog clubs. A decline that has sometimes been the cause of local specialty clubs that have gone extinct.
Yes, I’m just an average Jo. I get to call myself a Jo because it’s my middle name. I’ll never understand what my mother was thinking, but that’s my name. I’m not “what’s his face” the plumber or electrician or cable guy or whoever that dude was they talked about during the last election. I’m just an average Jo who has what I think is a funny name. It was a great name back in the day, when I was learning to read and Sally was a main character in the books they taught us from. Back then I thought I was pretty darn special. That specialness has faded though, and now I’m just an average Jo. But I’m an average Jo who has a cause that won’t make world headlines, but my cause has given me much pleasure and I’d like see it stick around for new Jo’s to enjoy.
There are many and various reasons why this decline is taking place, but for today, let’s talk just about the personal enjoyment we’d like others to experience when they join our sport as opposed to the bullying that sometimes occurs. Whether we want to admit it or not, whether we believe it or not (and most who do bully others will not believe it) sometimes, just like a group of school kids, there are those in our sport who engage in bullying, and that behavior will drive the hardiest exhibitor away from our midst in a heartbeat. It adds to the declining numbers and accomplishes absolutely nothing positive.
Dog show people are a mixed bunch and I’ve met my fair share of wonderful people who are my life long friends. They’ve dried my tears, cheered me on, offered advice or consolation, they’ve been my best friends, and many of them have a wacky sense of humor that just sucks me right in! Who doesn’t love a good laugh and I have shared so very many with my doggy crowd!
I firmly believe that there are many wonderful people involved in dog shows. And I wonder sometimes, do we forget about those wonderful people when the stories we hear mostly pertain to bad behavior? When was the last time you heard someone spontaneously share a wonderful story about how another person helped them, encouraged them, boosted their morale etc. at the ring, at a show, in their club? It’s easy to take those actions for granted, that people will be nice and act in a caring manner toward each other, and why shouldn’t we expect that from each other? But, the drama of a person or a group of people acting out badly is so riveting to behold, that we may lose those other acts of kindness in the shuffle. It’s like watching the News – how many good stories do you find there? What draws the masses is drama and drama we remember. As a group can we try to maintain focus on letting “the good times roll” while we police our actions for the bad behavior that turns people off from our sport?
Besides for that, do I think there are other less likeable people in the sport? Yes unfortunately, and I’d have to add that I’ve also met a few truly awful bullies among the crowd. But, and this must be said with force, they are not only the professional handlers as some might imply. Can we all agree or have we had personal experience with bullies among all ranks in the doggy crowd? Are bullies also found among the breeders, owner handlers, exhibitors, dog show superintendents, judges, vendors, the club members hosting a show, your fellow club members or the Officers & Directors of your dog club? Have you ever felt bullied and if so who was that bully, another exhibitor, a club member, a group of people? What “group” did they belong to? And, what would you tell them (or the rest of us here) about how that impacted you and whether you will continue to stay in the sport or simply walk away from it thus adding to those declining numbers that I mentioned in the beginning?
So what’s the solution? Is there a solution? Would it help if we were all more proactive, following the advice that is currently pointed toward our kids – “Stop Bullying”? Would you be willing or would you be afraid to band with the person being bullied to make the bullying behavior stop? What if that meant taking a stance against someone who, in the sport, considers themselves “important”” or is recognized as a “top dog” by virtue of being a handler, experienced breeder, or club officer?
Bullying. Where does it start? Where does it end? Do you believe it has had, or is having an impact on the decreasing numbers pertaining to our breed – Gordon Setters? Is it impacting our National club? Our Regional clubs? And if so, what would you do to put a stop to it? What needs to be changed?
Feel free to share your thoughts, comments, suggestions and the like in the comments section. If you would prefer to withhold your name so as not to call out anyone specific, you may share by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post for you without your name. That’s what we’re here for, to share and to make a difference in the sport of purebred dogs!
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.