Tag Archives: breeding Gordon Setters

The Future of Purebred Dog Breeders and our Clubs

I am a responsible breeder of purebred dogs, if you are also a responsible breeder please understand the importance of educating the public to our cause. I am not anti shelter or anti rescue – I love what responsible organizations accomplish. I am not anti mixed-breed, they happen, but I cannot and will not support the creation of designer mixed breeds. I am a responsible breeder of purebred dogs and I want our purebreds to continue to be an option for those who seek a dog as their pet. If you are a responsible breeder I hope you  champion our cause by taking a stance and educating others with information that supports our cause. Breeders need to take action. 11870673_814576981996021_3150899512258634826_n

I am a responsible breeder of purebred dogs and for over 40 years I have belonged to many dog clubs such as, All Breed kennel clubs, my Parent (National) Breed Club, my regional Specialty clubs and my local Sporting Breed club. I belong to these clubs because I support and believe in purebred dogs. I believe that purebred dogs make wonderful, predictable pets and I want to contribute, where ever I can, to furthering their propagation in the healthy, responsible manner that a respectable breeder exhibits. I belong to these clubs as that is what we do, clubs provide a source of education through mentors and educational programs and those activities propagate the purebred dog. Our (club’s) purpose is not simply to host dog shows, obedience trials, hunt tests, field trials and the like, our purpose is to also educate about and promote purebred dogs.11885305_814593841994335_2629024497194385452_n

As I watch the number of registered purebred dogs decline while the membership of purebred dog clubs follows suit, I recognize that in addition to addressing this issue as individuals, so must we also band together as groups to address and send a more unified and potent message. If you are not a member of your Parent club, a local all breed club or a similar organization, and you want to continue your right to be a breeder, it’s time to join forces with others like yourself and become a working, contributing member. If you are already a member of a club I believe it’s time to recognize the need to go back to the educational basics of your organization, it’s time for our clubs to step up to the plate to publicly address head on, the issue around the bad rap that’s being handed out to the general public about breeders and their purebred dogs. Our club’s role should include educating the public through publicity to tell the story of purebred dogs and their breeders. Does your club have any plans in place to work on this? Has it ever been an agenda item for one of your meetings? Have the Officers & Board of your club ever held discussion around the topic? Have you brought this to the attention of your leaders, or are we all, leaders and members alike, simply sitting back waiting for someone else to heed the call to action, or worse yet simply hoping it will go away if we keep our head in the sand long enough?

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I for one believe we need to send a potent message. I am a responsible breeder of purebred dogs and I would like other breeders like me, and more importantly our clubs, to recognize the need to create and distribute our own “billboards” to promote what we do and who we are. Start with what we can do for free and move on to what our club budget allows, whether we use websites, Facebook, Twitter or newspaper ads and roadside billboards our message needs to be heard and through many, many more voices and media channels.

I am a responsible breeder of purebred dogs and I hate what they are saying about us. I will do my part to send a counter message. I hope that every other responsible breeder will join the campaign to promote purebred dogs, that every breeder will join forces with their fellow breeders through membership in organizations and clubs. I hope every one of you will step up and be a part of the collective voice of breeders who know and promote purebred dogs as a rich source of healthy, socialized, and predictable pets who’ve filled our lives with love and joy for centuries.

PetaBillboard

Boycott breeders breedersBoycott2

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

From the American Kennel Club website:

Why do I want a purebred dog?

  • Because I want a puppy whose parents have been carefully selected for health—and who have gone through a series of genetic tests to ensure that the dog I get has the best possible chance of being healthy and well-adjusted.
  • Because when looking for my puppy, I get to work with a breeder, who loves the puppies like they’re her own children and is available to answer all of my questions, give advice, or just happily accept a flood of photos of my puppy growing up. I get a healthy puppy, yes, but I also get a friend for life.
  • I’ll be able to predict my dog’s size, care requirements, temperament, and more from 100-plus years of traceable pedigrees. Also because I have a personal relationship with the breeder, she’ll be able to match an individual puppy’s temperament perfectly to my individual lifestyle.
  • When training my dog, I’ll have the advantage that the process has already been started for me. My puppy has been handled from the start and has already begun to be socialized, which greatly affects how well-adjusted he’ll be as an adult.
  • Furthermore, my puppy will have gotten top-notch expert care from day one. Perfect nutrition, the best medical attention, and ample supervised playtime—all the ingredients for a happy, healthy adult dog.
  • If something should happen to me, my family won’t have to scramble to find a caretaker for my dog because the loving breeder promised in writing to take him back from the start.
  • There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a dog’s natural instincts that have been carefully, expertly bred into him come to life. Watching a pointing breed aiming his muzzle at a bird even though he’s never hunted a day in his life? Watching a Border Collie herd ducks around the yard? Fascinating.
  • And it’s so satisfying to cultivate those instincts into earning medals and titles for my dog in fun sports, like lure coursing, herding, and more. Doing this will also build an unbreakable bond with my dog as we work together as a team.
  • With that new puppy comes a whole community of people who love their breed and their breeders. The American Kennel Club offers a huge network of dog lovers, available to give me advice and invite me to sports and play sessions
  • I’ll be taking time to research a breed that fits my lifestyle and personality perfectly. And by doing that, I’ll be practically guaranteeing that the bond with my dog will be like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. I’ll have a partner in crime—a friend who will never judge me and who will share my happiness and my tears for years to come. Who will break my heart when he passes away because he’s been in my life since he was a baby—and even so I know I’d do it all again for him.

That’s why I’m buying a purebred dog.

Style Versus Breed Type

Barbara Manson - photo by Silvia Timmermann 2014 GSCA National Specialty
Barbara Manson – photo by Silvia Timmermann 2014 GSCA National Specialty

A warm Welcome for Guest Blogger – Barbara Manson of Stoughton, WI who has been breeding and exhibiting Gordon Setters for…well…forever!  (Ok, maybe she’s not quite that old!) Getting back to the business at hand though, today we offer part one of a series she’s penning. This is also published in the GSCA Newsletter, August issue.

Style Versus Breed Type

by Barbara Manson

How many times have you been ringside and heard someone say “I can’t believe that dog won!  He doesn’t have any breed type!” or “That dog really is typey.” and you don’t agree?  Have you ever wondered about the validity of these comments?  Are these folks really critiquing breed type or the style of the dog in question?  Understanding this is particularly difficult for the newbie who has no experiences to draw from.  For the purpose of our discussion, and opening our eyes to other breeders accomplishments, we need to define exactly what is style and what is breed type.

Barb Manson judging
Photo by Silvia Timmermann 2014 GSCA National Specialty Puppy Sweeps judging.

So let’s talk style.  Certainly, all the dogs in the ring don’t look alike.  How can they when for one thing, our standard says dogs can be 24-27 inches at the withers and bitches can be 23-26 inches.  Imagine looking down the line at a group of 27 inch boys and seeing a dog in the middle of the group who is 25 inches tall.  As little as one inch can make a very big difference in the way a dog appears.  That picture alone would evoke a “not very typey” comment from many exhibitors.  Let me challenge you with this thought.  Doesn’t this dog’s size conform to the standard for Gordon Setters?  There is not a word in the written standard that gives preference to a particular size, as long as the dog falls within the described parameters.  So what is it that makes this dog less correct in the middle of the standard and the one at the top more correct?  If you were to closely examine that 25 inch dog, you may find he has several attributes that definitely define him as a Gordon Setter, but many of these points are in proportion to his size.  This is an example of personal preference or style and not type.  Another example of style can be differences in heads and expression.  Many times, when you closely examine heads, and are being completely honest with yourself, you can see examples that are both pleasing and in line with the standard but they are not what you have become accustomed to looking at.  That does not mean one or the other are incorrect.  Just different and someone else’s interpretation of the standard.

So what is breed type?  All of those characteristics discussed in the standard define the essence of the Gordon Setter.  Some of them are found in many standards for breeds not even in the sporting group.  Some are common to many sporting breeds.  Some are unique to the setters and others only to Gordons.  No other standard has this combination of characteristics, only Gordon Setters.  Therefore, they all contribute to breed type and true breed type lies in how closely our dogs conform to the standard.  We will be discussing some of these characteristics in detail at a later time.

breed-style 3
Photo by Bob Segal 2015 GSCA National Specialty

We have several specialties coming up.  If you go, I’m encouraging you to take time to watch dogs other than your own, especially some of the adult classes.  When viewing the dogs stacked, do they look like all the parts fit smoothly together and when on the move, is the gait easy, free flowing and efficient.  Take note of the head pieces and expressions.  Note the differences in the dogs.  Are they a matter of style or breed type?  I’m leaving you with one question to explore as our discussions continue.  Does breed type effect style?   I’m including the breed standard so you can easily reference it in the upcoming months.  I will be allowing a month between articles for comments from our membership.  Educating others through our insights and experiences is important to the preservation and improvement of our breed.  I hope you will all participate.  Comments will be due to our News Editor by September 12th.  You may also feel free to e-mail me as well.

Barb Manson, Stoughton, WI
kilernan@yahoo.com

GORDON SETTER BREED STANDARD click this link to read

Photo by Bob Segal 2015 GSCA National Specialty
Photo by Bob Segal 2015 GSCA National Specialty

The Power of the Breeding is in the Dam

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Photo by Bob Segal from 2015 GSCA National Specialty

I’m picturing a long time friend of mine who is sitting at home reading this, nodding her head while silently cheering me on as we’ve always shared a common thought about dog breeding…”the power of the breeding is in the quality of the dam“. Oh, we’re not the first to say or believe this, and we won’t be the last, but if there is one thing that has been of the most value to me, it has been this guiding principle.

Does the bitch carry a sort of magical sauce that causes her contribution to a litter to be greater than that of the dog? If so, what is that sauce, how does it work? I don’t have a black and white answer for you, but I do have some reading to share, it is interesting, enlightening, and who knows, maybe it’s the start to proving what our gut instinct has been telling us, that the bitch genes carry more influence, that she contributes more to the litter than her half of the genes and what she gives through her nurturing.

Here is the first of the links for you, an article titled GENETIC X FACTOR SHARED written by Master Breeder, Barbara “BJ” Andrews. It’s a fast, easy read that shares great points. All you have to do is point your little cursor at the colored title, click, and a new page will open for you! Oh, you will have to do your own reading, sorry it’s not an audio book!

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Photo by Bob Segal from the 2015 GSCA National Specialty

Barbara Andrews refers to information that is coming from the Thoroughbred industry and I have an article or two from them to share with you as well. The first is this (just point and click, you know the routine) Maternal Influences Make a Difference | BloodHorse.com.

The next link is to the actual abstract that founded the article Potential role of maternal lineage in thoroughbred breeding strategy

If I were here to simply offer advice it would be that, to be successful breeding dogs you must always maintain focus on the quality of the bitch you put in your whelping box. But, this is not new advice, it is ages old and comes from the experience of many wise men practicing long before me. Yes, the stud dog you choose is important, very important, but I believe that as the study of genetics moves ever deeper there may some day be scientific evidence to prove that the power of the breeding is in truly the dam.

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Photo by Bob Segal from the 2015 GSCA National Specialty

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Do breeders need to change?

The face of breeding, as I’ve known it, has changed considerably since I first joined the ranks of Gordon Setter breeders in the 70’s. So much more information is readily available, resources for every question can be found at the touch of a keyboard, cross-country breeding is accomplished without shuffling the bitch off to the airport, and the availability of genetic tests is growing quickly to theoretically help us breed healthier dogs. But are we, the breeders, utilizing the results of those tests with a consciousness that will improve the overall health of the breed or could misguided perception and dwindling numbers cause the downfall of the breed instead?

Photo by Susan Roy Nelson
Photo by Susan Roy Nelson “Four Ladies in a Row”

I just read, and then reread an article written by a Corgi breeder Joanna Kimball – “How We Must Change as Breeders and Why – A Football Field of Dogs”  published in Best In Show Daily (point and click on the bold title to link to the article). Joanna raised some valid points regarding breeding that I believe bear discussion among Gordon Setter breeders. I hope you’ll join me here in considering some of those points and then by sharing your own perceptions, agreements or disagreements as they be.

First the assumption that as a breeder we should all agree that only a very few dogs should ever be bred – is this true? The breeder’s thought process as Joanna wrote is “I should be as picky as possible, first health-test everybody, prove that each dog is healthy, make sure that only the ones who are incredibly high-quality in terms of conformation and show success are allowed to breed. I should build the next ten thousand dogs from the most elite pool of this one.” That’s the conventional wisdom, the way “good breeders” do everything, right?

In fact, Joanna says we should bear in mind thatEVERY DOG WHO IS REMOVED FROM THE POPULATION HURTS THAT POPULATION.” To maintain health in any breed we need to understand the need for genetic variation, and to retain genetic variation we need to be breeding from many lines, to many sires not only the one or two most popular sires and so on.

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Photo by Silvia Timmermann

I often want to go back to when I was younger, just starting out, and in this case I’m talking about the days when breeding wasn’t a four letter word and the propaganda of animal rights activists hadn’t put us all under their spell. The spell that makes breeders feel self-righteous for eliminating as many dogs as we can from the breeding pool because breeding is, after all, a very bad word. As the battery of DNA tests for genetic disorders continues to rise breeders are feeling satisfied as we believe we are gaining ground on health issues. But, should we also be considering that we might be losing ground on genetic diversity as we eliminate more and more dogs from the breeding pool with those tests?

Joanna states in another  point “SINCE EVERY DOG THAT IS REMOVED FROM THE POPULATION HURTS THE POPULATION, WE MUST REMOVE ONLY THOSE WHOSE PRESENCE WOULD HURT IT EVEN MORE.” To me this is like saying “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. A common sense approach would include knowing what health condition could cause the death of our Gordon Setters, or what health condition would ruin the quality of life for our dogs, before making breeding choices based primarily on health testing, testing that if used incorrectly could eliminate other necessary qualities from the breed’s gene pool. Using testing to learn what, if any, health condition might be passed from one generation to the next is a wonderful tool, but it is not the only tool that a breeder should be using. Utilizing health testing to obtain the appropriate result in breeding requires very judicious application on the part of the breeder, who must also keep in mind the continued genetic diversity of the gene pool, as well as the overall soundness of the breed both physically and mentally.

Why, for example, would one choose to breed an OFA fair bitch to a dog because he had OFA good or excellent hips but also carried an unsound front, instead of breeding her to an OFA fair dog who is sound and beautifully moving both front and rear? In this case the breeder might get one or two additional puppies with better hip ratings (might) but the breeder will also be adding some puppies with those unsound fronts? Did the breeder really improve the breed or the gene pool with that breeding? Or, what about choosing to breed the Rcd4 carrier bitch to the Rcd4 clear dog whose parents both died of cancer at age 7, instead of breeding to the Rcd4 carrier dog whose parents died of old age at 13. We don’t have DNA tests for cancer available for Gordon Setters, but we do know that cancer causes the death of many Gordon Setters before their time, and we know the history of certain cancers can be prevalent in families. By theory, 25% of the puppies in the Rcd4 carrier to carrier litter could be affected, and at age 10 there may be one, perhaps even two of those affected dogs who might (there’s that word might again)  go blind from late onset PRA. Doesn’t the carrier to carrier litter – as a whole – have a better chance of living a healthy, happy life until old age takes them from us? Which choice does a breeder make and how does it affect the diversity of the gene pool? What if the breeder decides not to do either breeding because they don’t like the health choices? Can the diversity and size of the gene pool continue to be maintained if this were to be the constant decision?

Photo by Silvia Timmermann
Photo by Silvia Timmermann

So, why all this fuss about the gene pool, and gene pool diversity, and strength and size of the gene pool? A relatively simple example to help us understand is to look at the mixed breed population, and their reputation for being “healthier” than their purebred counterparts. Why is that? Genetic diversity is solidly at play. Odds are there are no common ancestors for generations in the pedigree of any mixed breed dog. A huge and diverse gene pool lies behind the mixed breed.

Before you decide I might be plumb crazy talking here about an issue with the size of gene pool let me ask you if you’ve read and absorbed, yes absorbed to the point where it makes perfect sense to you, the article at the Institute of Canine Biology by Carol Beachat PhD “Is your breed drifting?” (point and click on the bold printed title to link to this article)

As I look at the Gordon Setter in general, comparing them to other purebred dog breeds, I believe that Gordon Setters have relatively few genetic health issues that occur regularly. We are lucky in that respect. However, we cannot hope to improve the health characteristics we’d like to change, if our gene pool continues to shrink to the point where the majority of dogs are related, where there is not sufficient diversity to enact change. We need a diverse and a large population and we need responsible breeders who understand how to accomplish those health driven goals while maintaining the integrity of the breed.

by show ring
Photo by Bob Segal

As I look at dog show entries, where the rubber meets the road when it comes to proving the merit of our breeding stock, I find an ever decreasing number of Gordon Setter entries along with a decreasing number of new faces joining the ranks of breeders. Those who are showing today find ourselves scrambling to locate shows where there will be points, majors are difficult if not impossible to find unless sometimes you can bring your own entry – which accomplishes what exactly as far as improving the breed when you’ve finished a dog simply by winning over your own breeding? Specialties are struggling to build 5 point majors and many are no longer able to do so, despite offering two shows in one day. Our National Specialty entries have dropped from all time highs of between 450 to 550 dogs in ’93, ’94, and ’95 to approximately 220 entries for 2015, half the number that were participating 20 years ago.  Fewer entries, fewer breeders, fewer litters equals a smaller gene pool and thus loss of genetic diversity. To me this issue is two-fold; as breeders we need to appropriately and wisely utilize health testing without the elimination of too many dogs from the gene pool, and secondly we need to address the shrinking gene pool by understanding that we need to bring new breeder/exhibitors on to follow in our footsteps, to pick up the reins and drive on.

Many of you have been at this breeding/exhibiting thing for a while now. I’m curious how you feel about these concerns or better yet do you even believe there are such concerns? What would you change if you believe change is needed? How would you drive change? What do you think could be utilized to bring about improvement? Who do you believe is responsible for leading change in the breed? Can or should breeders accept responsibility for driving change?  How can breeders mentor others? So many questions and opinions, let’s start a discussion by sharing them, discussion is the first step. Your thoughts and comments are very welcome here, do remember to be respectful of others please.

For those of you who are Gordon owners but perhaps not involved in breeding and showing, what might entice you to change your focus, what would drive your interest in showing/breeding Gordon Setters? How would you want to learn? Who would you want to learn from? As above, your respectful thoughts and comments are welcome here.

To share your thoughts you may use the reply field at the very bottom of this article or click “Leave a Comment” at the very top of this article.

I’d like us to talk to each other people, as I believe change is needed and that is why I write this blog for you…to bring change through the sharing of information, common goals, and a love for our breed, the Gordon Setter.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

 References:

Part 2 – Do Breeders Need to Change?

“Selecting the most appropriate method when breeding a bitch”

Seriously, you simply won’t want to miss this!

Dr. Dietrich Volkmann

“Selecting the most appropriate method when breeding a bitch”

Presented by GSCA Breeder Education Committee 
2015 GSCA National Specialty
Dr. Volkman has promised that his presentation will cover each and every available AI technique – and some that our members will not have heard aboutand he will provide information on success rates relative to natural breeding.

D VolkmannDietrich Volkmann is currently a Professor in Theriogenology at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri.

  • BVSc, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • MMed Vet, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Diplomate American College of Theriogenologists

Raised in Namibia, Volkmann studied veterinary medicine and specialized in Theriogenology in South Africa.  He pursued a clinical teaching career, first in South Africa and then in the USA where he has held academic positions as Chief of Theriogenology at Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania and now at the University of Missouri.  He describes himself as a comparative theriogenologist, always seeking to support clinical interventions with a thorough understanding of reproductive physiology.

We will keep you posted on the time and location for this presentation, our plans are tentative to host the event on Friday following the judging. Once the judging schedule is finalized we will get back to you with the details.

Please share this event with your friends!

 Dietrich Volkmann – Google Scholar Citations

Feature photo by Susan Roy Nelson

…and the survey said? Or – what were the results of the breeder surveys?

You know what? There are Gordon Setter breeders everywhere and I’ve found that you love to find ways to share experience and information with each other! At least, that’s what our surveys told me about you, our readers.  A while back I put a couple of short questionnaires out on Gordon Setter Expert to see what readers were experiencing on the breeding front, you know, to get some idea of what you folks might want to hear about based on your experience.

Photo by Bob Segal
Photo by Bob Segal

The surveys gathered information from 146 matings, and geographically the majority, about 95% were from the United States, 3 were from Canada and 3 from Australia, while 2 other responders were from European countries. Other than that, our survey tool does not disclose any other information about the people who answered the survey. I am not drawing any conclusions from the information that was collected here, I am simply sharing that information with you so you can gain insight into how frequently, or maybe not so frequently, other breeders may be encountering a similar issue. This is by no means a scientific survey, it is information gathering and sharing only.

Several of the comments that readers posted on the survey concerned the use of Artificial Insemination (AI):

Seems there are fewer and fewer breeders who breed naturally, even when both dogs are present, or can be present. When faced with a breeder who wants to do a natural breeding, some breeders can’t read dogs or don’t have a clue how to accomplish a natural breeding. How do we gauge natural breeding ability if we don’t allow our dogs to breed naturally? What has happened to survival of the fittest? Seems to me there were issues when we were all doing natural breeding!

Photo by Bob Segal
Photo by Bob Segal

“I’m concerned with breeding “vigor” for lack of another term, and the loss of desire and ability for natural breeding by our dogs. I have witnessed a lack of desire in bitches who are testing out on progesterone. I have witnessed related bitches who would flirt and play, but at standing, would do anything to avoid being bred. No medical reasons were found. These bitches are successfully bred via AI, then carry and whelp healthy puppies. Some breeders say that is enough. But what about the survival of the fittest, should breeding vigor not be included? I am concerned that breeders use AI far to frequently and have lost an interest in knowing how to manage a natural breeding stud dog and brood bitch. I realize natural breeding requires a great deal of planning and expense and some consider flying their dogs to be putting them in danger.”

“When I am breeding a bitch here, I always do an “insurance” AI just prior to the bitch being “ready”. I get a litter on the ground that is nice sized and with a good split.”

Photo by Bob Segal
Photo by Bob Segal

So what did the Gordon Setter survey responders tell us about the frequency of Artificial Insemination (AI) and other similar topics?

76% said their preference is to do natural matings assuming both the dog and bitch were ready, willing and able while 24% said that their preference is to do the mating by AI. (So while for some the preference is to do an AI some of those same breeders will agree to do a natural breeding if the other owner insists.) There were 12% of the responders who said they would not do a natural mating, they will only perform an AI using their dog or bitch. On the whole 88% of the Gordon Setter breeders who responded are willing to do natural matings even if that is not their personal preference.

When we look at the results then, as to the number of matings that were actually completed by AI as compared to the number that were completed by a natural breeding we find that the poll seems to be split almost 50/50 with just over half of the actual matings that were reported having been done by natural means.  From the answers given, when all was said and done and the mating was complete, 58% of the matings were reported to have been accomplished by natural means which allows that the other 42% of the matings taking place were completed by AI. Now, assuming that more of us are taking advantage of the opportunity to use stud dogs from different geographic regions by use of fresh chilled and frozen semen I do not find that number surprising, do you?

We asked those who only perform matings by AI to share their reasons as to why this is their preference. To prevent the spread of infectious agents between dog and bitch was the reason 16% of those breeders gave. Another 37% told us that it is more convenient than a natural breeding and the other 47% did not specify their reason for using AI only.

On the question of Gordon Setter Health Clearances

Stud Dog Owners – the percentage of Gordon Setter stud dog owners who require proof or documentation from the bitch owner on each particular test or clearance before agreeing to or completing a breeding:

90% – require bitch is clear of Hip Dysplasia

78% – require bitch DNA tested rcd4 (clear or carrier)

78% – bitche tested clear of Brucellosis

53% – bitch x-rayed elbows normal

50% – progesterone tested for ovulation timing

48% – CERF – current exam

38% – physical exam including proof of vaccinations and      clear of parasites

30% – bitch tested CA clear

25% – bitch tested thyroid normal

18% – vaginal culture

13% – vaginal smear to determine timing of ovulation

Brood Bitch Owners – the percentage of Gordon Setter brood bitch owners who require proof or documentation from the stud dog owner on each particular test or clearance before the breeding occurs.

93% – dog must be clear of Hip Dysplasia

76% – dog DNA tested rcd4 (clear or carrier)

70% – dog tested clear of Brucellosis

54% – dog x-rayed elbows normal

52% – dog is CERF – current exam

33% – dog tested CA clear

33% – thyroid test

Comments that were posted by Gordon Setter breeders who participated regarding additional exams or clearances that are in use by them, along with some other miscellaneous items that you wrote to us about.

“I don’t believe in vaginal cultures but I do put my own bitches on Baytril as soon as they come in season and stop the day of the first breeding. I discuss this with any potential bitch owners as well. I do sperm analysis on my boys prior to any breeding.”

Vaginal culture for my bitch and of course Progesterone testing.”

“SLO”

“Superchem CBC Urinalysis”

You listed thyroid for the stud, but thyroid normal for the dam, there is a difference. I want to see that the testing is done but don’t rule out breeding to dogs with abnormal results. Same thing with CA carriers”  (Note:  that is right and a good catch thank you. I did list the questions this way and it was done in error as I meant to use thyroid normal for both.)

“My bitch gets an exam to make sure she can have a natural breeding. It was determined through this exam that she could not and we did the AI.”

“Using frozen semen and a surgical implant presents its own set of possible complications.”

“If the stud dog has passed away and have only frozen semen I will not breed to a maiden bitch. I will not be told by their vet how many straws are needed, will go by history of prior breeding of the stud dog and by what the company says who has the frozen semen storage (from now on).”

“Using chilled and frozen semen more (often) because there is a wider gene pool available for breeding.”

“I am assuming you are referring to AI as fresh/chilled only. Don’t have the same option when located in remote places or with tight quarantine rules – frozen may be the only option…”  (Note:  the intent of the survey was to try to determine how often matings are being done by AI no matter what the reason (fresh, chilled or frozen) and then to find out how many times breeders are making an actual choice to do an AI when it would have been possible to do a natural breeding with both the dog and bitch available. I expected to find that the number of AI matings would be higher than they were, say 20 years ago, because of the use of fresh chilled and frozen semen to accomplish long distance matings.)

Gordon Setter breeding complications, how often, what are they? How did breeders respond?

Breeders responded to the survey regarding 80 Gordon Setter matings where it was known that the breeding included only properly deposited and viable sperm and it was indicated that 61% of those matings resulted in conception. That means in 39% of the matings the Gordon Setter bitch failed to conceive. Breeders weren’t always able to identify why their bitch failed to conceive, when they did we were told that 25% failed for various hormonal reasons, 17% identified a bacterial or viral infection, 8% found thyroid abnormalities, 8% had structural problems and the remaining 42% fell under “other” or unknown causes.

Of the live litters that were born breeders told us that 79% of the time there were at least 3 or more live puppies in those litters. When asked the question regarding the frequency of stillbirths in litters breeders reported that about 14% of the time the number of stillbirths was higher than they would have expected. In another 10% of the litters that were born breeders reported that there were an abnormal number of puppy deaths in the first 3 weeks of life.

Some breeders did share information regarding the causes puppy deaths during those first 3 weeks. Their comments follow along with other questions and observations:

“Undiagnosed Mastitis”

“Herpes Virus”

“C-Section, dam’s incision dehised,  6 out of 9 puppies died after being removed from the dam and bottle feeding started. (note – “incision dehised” sounds like a wound dehiscence which is a surgical complication where the wound ruptures along the surgical suture).

“mother laid on pup 2 days after birth”

“one puppy #12 came out without a sack and could not revive him, #13 came out with no problems and this was the last puppy of the litter”

“one to respiratory infection (aspiration of fluid) passed at about 10 days, another from extremely low birth weight passed away at 12 days”

“Previously (before the last 5 years) I had a bitch that reabsorbed part and all of her litters. This was due to low progesterone after conceiving. I was able to maintain a litter with progesterone injections. I kept and bred a puppy from this litter and eventually bred her. She also had the same problem, when I kept one of her pups, it too carried the same problem. All were spayed and I started over with an unrelated female. The other problem with the injections is that the bitch will not go into labor, therefore a C-section is a must. A friend had the same problems with one of her Standard Poodle bitches, and the same results with breeding offspring. She had bred Standards for 40 years, her bitch was from her own line, she had never had this problem before, but once it appeared, it seems it is passed on to the female offspring. Neither of us tried breeding a male from one of these bitches, so don’t know if there was any effect on them.”

“No bitch or stud dog failed here, I give vaccinations or medications like Drontal or others to pregnant bitches. Only before mating she’s on the top of health…when the bitch starting her season she received worm cure, vaginal culture and is not allowed to swim in natural rivers…”

“I did have a bitch who conceived but then reabsorbed her litter. She was confirmed pregnant via ultrasound at 28 days”

“Hearing more Gordon bitches with cystic ovaries that fail to conceive”

So my friends, now it’s time for you to chime in, offering advice and further comments using the comment section. This can be a great place to start conversations, ask questions, provide advice and all those other great things we like to do for each other. Looking forward to your participation!

Many thanks to Bob Segal for the adorable puppy photos!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

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Survey Gordon Setter Bitch Fertility

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Photo by Susan Roy Nelson

GORDON BREEDERS WE NEED YOU:  We have created a very quick online survey for Gordon Setter breeders that will help us learn what, if any, issues you may have encountered in producing quality litters. We are preparing for an upcoming seminar on reproduction and need your input in order to prepare topics that would be most relevant to you. Please take one minute to link to the survey only if you own a bitch or bitches you have bred or attempted to breed in the past 5 years.The survey is completely anonymous.

This link when clicked will take you directly to the survey’s 8 easy questions.

What I Have Learned

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Photo by Susan Roy Nelson

I want to thank Barbara Manson for sharing this link to an excellent article, What I Have Learned written by Kathy Lorentzen reflecting on her 45 years of experience breeding dogs. Kathy shares her 10 most important lessons and they are certainly some of the best advice I have ever read by a seasoned breeder. Whether you’re breeding Gordon Setters, our primary audience, or any other purebred dog, I hope you take a minute review and reflect on the wisdom found in this article.

What I Have Learned  by Kathy Lorentzen

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Gordon Setter Health Clearances before Breeding

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Photo by Bob Segal

As with any question, ask several breeders the same question and you’ll get several different answers. When it comes to acting responsibly as a breeder to bring healthy Gordon Setter puppies into the world it’s agreed that completing certain health clearances on breeding animals before any mating occurs should be a priority. However, ask any breeder which tests are necessary or which certifications are the most important – that could become a topic for debate. For purposes of this article, we are listing the screening tests that address health issues that pertain to the Gordon Setter along with where to obtain or find proof of existing certification. These screening tests are suggested tools that will prepare you to make informed breeding choices that will affect the health of many future generations of Gordon Setters. OFA Sticker

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) – screening/certification organizations. Click any of the active links below to be taken directly to that website for complete information.

Elbow Dysplasia

  • OFA
  • OVC (discontinued – certifications from 2007 – 2012 are available in a searchable database.)

Eye Examination by a boarded ACVO Opthalmologist:

RCD4 Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA Late Onset)

Cerebellar Degeneration (CD) ( Cerebellar Cortical Abiotrophy CCA or Cerebellar Ataxia CA)

As a breeder it would be also important to understand the role CHIC plays for future genetic research. Canine Health Information Center (CHIC)  Please see our previously published article by Jerold S. Bell DVM The CHIC DNA Repository for Gordon Setter for more complete information regarding this organization. Briefly Dr. Bell’s opening stated… “The CHIC DNA repository is a joint project of the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), and the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC). It is open to all breeds of dogs. The stated objectives of the program are to: Facilitate more rapid research progress by expediting the sample collection process; Provide researchers with optimized family groups needed for research; Allow breeders to take advantage of future DNA based disease tests as they become available; and to Foster a team environment between breeders/owners and the research community improving the likelihood of genetic discovery.” Additional Links:  GSCA Health Survey 2004 Results

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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 

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