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.

Temperament:

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:

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.

Activities:

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.

Health:

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 gordonsetterexpert@gmail.com.

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

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.

Hair color changed in a few days time?

macallan**An answer to this question will now be found posted here: Vitiligo: My Gordon Setter is turning white!

One of our readers submitted this puzzling issue. We would like to hear from anyone who may have an answer for why Macallan’s hair turned white in the span of a weekend? Please comment below or email us at gordonsetterexpert.com if you have seen this before or can suggest a cause.

“A friend of mine sent me a photo of her older boy, Macallan–who will be 9 in March. She said over New Year’s Weekend his face went totally white. Her vet has never seen this before, and she asked if I had. All of my kids have slowly turned white as they got older, not in just two days. It’s a very white white. I’m posting his picture here, if you know about this, let me know so I can let _____know.”

Thanks!

Estimating the breeding value of a dog

There are so many moving parts when it comes to breeding a litter of Gordon Setters that sometimes folks find themselves staring blankly, like a deer in headlights not knowing what to do, where to go, and who to believe. For many Gordon Setter expert breeders the final decision is going to come down to the pedigree, who were the ancestors of the proposed stud dog and brood bitch, and do they have the qualities being sought in the breeding?

Ivy litterWell, I just read an article that reminded me once again of the importance of pedigree and introduced relatively new terminology to me. There is also mention within about the possibility of a new tool for the serious breeder. Follow the link to “Estimating the breeding value of a dog” and post your comments below, we’d like to know what you think.

Thanks for dropping in folks…hope to catch you back here with us again soon!

Estimating the breeding value of a dog – The Institute of Canine Biology.

Photo by Laurie Ward

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

Lifelong Immunity – Why Vets Are Pushing Back

I remember 1978 when we breeders thought vaccinating our dogs every year was a must do item because that was the current veterinary protocol. I had several Gordon Setters living with me back then and would buy the vaccines online or through my local vet and administer myself. Paying $40 – $50 for each dog to visit the vet every year as opposed to $3 or so for the vaccine was a “no brainer” that allowed me to pocket those dollars for vet visits related to injuries and sickness as opposed to well-doggie exams.

By the time statements like this “Dr. Schultz concludes:  “Vaccines for diseases like distemper and canine parvovirus, once administered to adult animals, provide lifetime immunity.”  “Are we vaccinating too much?” JAVMA, No. 4, August 15, 1995, pg. 421” went public it was apparent to me that what we had been practicing in order to keep our Gordon Setters safe, was instead perhaps harmful, and I dropped those re-vaccination practices.  Of course changing my behavior so radically wasn’t easy, this was a radical change, however using antibody titers to monitor immunity on my Gordons over the past decade has a addressed the anxiety, no adult has required a booster.

If you’re thinking that more is better, that you must continue to provide booster shots for the life of your Gordon, reading this article Lifelong Immunity – Why Vets Are Pushing Back | Dogs Naturally Magazine  may give you food for thought.

Sally Gift

Photo by Amy Baitinger

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

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.

%d bloggers like this: