“Assessing virtue is the essence of the whole judging process. However, the assessment of faults is also a part of that process.” Ann Gordon, Dachshund Club of America, February 2013 AKC Gazette
New dog show exhibitors will soon find that it is relatively easy to learn about, recognize and evaluate faults in construction. Soundness, proper construction, is a virtue that is necessary in any breed and is especially so for our Gordon Setters who are bred as hunters. Noting constructional faults during judging, like weak top-lines, poor tail-set, flat feet, or an incorrect bite; these things help a judge (and a breeder) to evaluate the dog against the typical competition.
What is also important though, what can pose a problem is the dog who is structurally sound but departs from an ideal type. An example might be the Gordon Setter with less than ideal angulation both front and rear who moves very clean coming and going, from the side however, this dog does not have the appropriate reach and drive of the Gordon Setter and does not display the outline of breed, this dog instead resembles more closely the Irish Red & White. In this case the dog would not be considered wholly typical, he lacks breed type, he has a fault of type.
Whether we are new to breeding or have spent years putting puppies on the ground, we must always maintain perspective in the assessment of faults. When a dog possesses a fault that detracts from the very essence of Gordon Setter breed type, then both breeders and judges will need to be cautious in their assessment of that particular animal; and breeders need to be extra cautious as to the judicious use and the depth to which those faulty genes are going to be introduced into the gene pool, if at all.
Let’s be honest, there are many dogs who are very glamorous, who have beautiful showmanship and when those qualities are added to the fundamentals of breed type that dog is a sight to behold for breeders and judges alike. Where we need to be cautious is in viewing the dog who is superficially attractive but missing a fundamental quality of breed type, we must learn to see beneath the flash and glamor to the place where breed type is also needed to assess the overall quality of the dog and his use for breeding. (remember that the word “dog” used here is equally as applicable to a bitch)
In weighing faults of type one must include in the assessment, all the attributes this dog brings to the breed in order to properly determine the judicious use of the dog and the legacy left in the gene pool. If this dog is a top winner and breeders all rush to use him, then it is his owner who may be holding the reins that guide the future direction of the breed through the gene pool, especially if other breeders do not make appropriate choices for their bitch.
On the flip side, we must also understand that it is not always the top winning dog, lacking in type, who negatively impacts the gene pool, though it is easier to hold them accountable as their high profile makes them more obvious targets. Sometimes faults of type are being replicated litter after litter in a more prolific manner by those who fail to recognize the qualities of breed type, and therefore, unaware that they are replicating fault, continue to put multiple litters on the ground with faults of type.
So we must all, new and experienced, understand faults, both in soundness and in type, and we must all recognize that we each have a grip on the reins guiding the future of the breed. And most importantly for those who are experienced, we must be there to guide and mentor those with less experience as they may quickly learn to see soundness but breed type is best learned through the guiding eyes of others.
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Photos by Bob Segal are for viewing pleasure only and are not intended to illustrate points in this article.
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.
All the Gordon Setter health clearance links in one place. If we’ve missed any, or there is information here that needs updating please be sure to send us a comment or an email at: email@example.com
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. Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) – screening/certification organizations. Click any of the active…
Thank you to Jerold Bell DVM for allowing us to reprint this article.
Jerold S Bell DVM, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, N. Grafton, MA USA
Cerebellar Degeneration CD (also referred to as Cerebellar Cortical Abiotrophy CCA, or Cerebellar Ataxia CA) is a hereditary neurological disease seen in the Gordon Setter breed, and caused by a simple autosomal recessive gene. It causes slowly progressive muscular in-coordination, with an onset or age of recognition of clinical signs between six months to four years of age. Pathology studies performed in the 1970’s show the onset closer to six months of age; but with mild clinical signs affected dogs may not be identified until later in life. CD is not related to the metabolic disorder lethal neonatal encephalopathy (DUNG’d) seen in 3 to 8 week old Gordon Setters.
The clinical signs of CD include: poor balance, frequent stumbling, a wide-based stance (feet planted far apart), a high-stepping gait, and head or body tremors. Affected dogs have normal mental alertness. Most affected dogs have a normal life expectancy, and pass away due to unrelated causes. There is no treatment for CD.
Drs. Alexander de Lahunta, Linda Cork, and Steven Steinberg published the clinical description and mode of inheritance of CD in the breed in the early 1908’s. In 2012, Dr. Natasha Olby at North Carolina State University identified the mutated gene. With autosomal recessive inheritance, both parent must be carriers of this mutated gene to produce affected offspring. Approximately one-quarter of offspring from such matings are expected to be affected; but statistical chance can cause none to several affected dogs in a litter. A genetic test is available for this mutated gene that will determine normal, carrier, or affected status. The test can be run at any age with cheek swabs, and costs $15 (US) per dog tested. (Submit DNA for Testing – NC State Veterinary Hospital). (Link to form for submitting DNA for testing)
Gordon Setters affected with CD have been identified since a least the 1960s in both conformation and field trial lines throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Affected and carrier Gordon Setters worldwide do not “connect up” before generationally early ancestors of the breed. All confirmed affected Gordon Setters around the world have the identified mutated gene causing CD. This same mutation was identified in Dr. Olby’s laboratory to be the cause of CD in the Old English Sheepdog breed – showing a common ancestor as the original source of the mutation in both breeds. No other breeds have been identified with the same mutation to date.
Over the years, Gordon Setter breeders and owners have been surprised by a diagnosis of CD in their dogs, due to a lack of known relatives with the disorder. These occurrences are traditionally followed by more affected dogs from related lines. The ancestrally ancient origin of the mutated gene explains this occurrence. The mutated gene has been dispersed and propagated in the Gordon Setter breed since its origination. Now that there is an inexpensive and accurate genetic test for the mutated gene, ALL breedable Gordon Setters should be tested.
As with all testable simple autosomal recessive genes, quality carrier dogs can be bred to quality normal-testing mates. This prevents affected dogs from being produced. Quality normal-testing offspring should replace the carrier parent for breeding. Carrier offspring should be selected against for breeding homes. In this way, you have eliminated the single mutated gene, without losing the quality traits of the line. A genetic test for a simple recessive disorder should not change who gets bred, only who they get bred to.
To assist breeders with health-conscious breeding, each dog’s results should be entered into the OFA Cerebellar Degeneration registry (OFA Form for submission of DNA). The test results will be listed on the dog’s OFA page. The cost is $15 per dog, $30 litter of 3 or more, and a kennel rate of $7.50 per dog if 5 or more dogs are entered by the same owner (all in $US). If a dog is out of two DNA tested clear Gordon Setter Parents, the OFA will provide a Clear by Parentage (CBP) certification. In this way, generations of Gordon Setters do not have to be tested. CBP certification requires that both parents are CD tested and entered into the OFA registry, and that the parents and offspring have been DNA parentage certified (usually available through your national Kennel Club).
Cerebellar degeneration is not the most frequent genetic disorder affecting the breed, but is the oldest documented simple inherited disorder in Gordon Setters. With the availability of an accurate and inexpensive genetic test, no Gordon Setter, their owners or breeders should have to deal with the affected state of this disorder going forward.
(This article can be reprinted with permission from the author Jerold.firstname.lastname@example.org)
To order cheek swab kits by phone, call:
North Carolina State University Veterinary Genetics Laboratory
Phone-Voice Mail: 919.513.3314
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Facility: NC State CVM Research Building
To order cheek swab kits via an e-mail at the following address: email@example.com Please state the following in your e-mail:
Your mailing address.
Number of kits you would like.
Type of test, (which breed), you are requesting,Gordon Setter, Cerebellar Degeneration.
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.
Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) – screening/certification organizations. Click any of the active links below to be taken directly to that website for complete information.
OFA – Cleared by Parentage Certification replaces the need for testing.
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
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.