Let’s give a round of applause for guest blogger Bev Holoboff, Alberta Canada
Gordon Setter – Grooming for show
Creating The Look
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.
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.
Clip 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.