Tag Archives: dog shows

Straight Shoulders Don’t Reach – Here’s Why

“The leg bone’s connected to the thigh bone, and the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone…”

That quirky little song from my childhood keeps bopping about my brain as I’m trying to focus on writing to you all about how structure, specifically a straight shoulder, restricts the Gordon Setter’s reach in the front. If you’re showing or breeding Gordon Setters then you must certainly be aware of the Breed Standard, and thus are also aware of the angulation that is in order for the shoulder assembly.

“Shoulders – fine at the points, and laying well back. The tops of the shoulder blades are close together. When viewed from behind, the neck appears to fit into the shoulders in smooth, flat lines that gradually widen from neck to shoulder. The angle formed by the shoulder blade and upper arm bone is approximately 90 degrees when the dog is standing so the foreleg is perpendicular to the ground.”

Now reading the words, looking at the dog, watching the dog move, and understanding why it is that a straight shoulder restricts the dog from reaching in the front, well that’s just not as easy as it sounds. To get where we need to go we’ll look under the skin and down to the bone for a clear picture of what we’re breeding, how it works, and why it works the way it does.

First off, obviously a person or an animal with a longer stride covers more ground with less effort, and thus we have energy savings resulting in the ability to cover longer distances with fewer steps (must picture long-legged runners…not my stubby short legs). Hunting dogs such as our Gordon Setters need to be able to go long distances for long periods of time, so they need to have efficient structure that helps to retain their energy for the work at hand. Now actually, long legs don’t really have anything to do with shoulder assembly, and very little to do with the dog’s reach (I was just “pulling your leg” so to speak), but the reference did get you thinking about how the bones play the major role in how well the dog does, or does not, cover ground with the least amount of energy expended. That my friends was step one of this lesson. Maybe we all had that one down, but it’s always best to start at the beginning, right?

The dog’s shoulder assembly is unique as compared to the human shoulder as it is not actually connected by a joint, you know, like ” the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone…” Think about it, the shoulder lies flat against the rib cage, and it is not connected to the skeleton, neither the rib cage nor backbone, not by any type of joint like those found at the hip/thigh/backbone.  The front assembly, shoulder, upper arm and leg literally float on the body attached only by muscles and ligaments. This assembly is perfectly suited for the dog, a predator, as it gives the dog maximum cushioning and the flexible and agile movement that is needed to chase and catch prey, which for the Gordon Setter would translate into searching out and “setting” on wild game birds.

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This dog is Moonstone Maxwell Smart bred by Debbie Cournoyer, NY. Photo by Lisa Croft-Elliot was used in a book published in the UK. Gordon Setter by Lavonia Harper.

So what is the function of the angulation (bones meeting at angles to each other) between the shoulder and the upper arm? First of all the angled bones provide levers on which the muscles exert force, which in turn changes their position to allow movement of the leg which propels the dog in the direction they wish to go. The two bones when properly angled to each other provide a much larger and broader canvas for the musculature that attaches the front assembly to the chest, rib, back and neck area, more space for muscle to attach provides more strength, more flexibility, and more agile movement.

For the second function provided by this angulation one can look at the front to see that the angle between the shoulder and upper arm acts like a leaf spring (like the leaf springs on a carriage, wagon, or car) to provide shock absorption. Did you realize that the front of the dog carries anywhere from 65% to 75% of the dog’s weight? So without the flex provided by the two bones meeting together at an angle, the weight of the dog when moving would quickly break down the front.

On a side note the shoulder-blade in a young puppy starts out fairly short and upright for maximum weight-bearing and later, as the puppy grows and uses his legs more over a period of months (years for a Gordon Setter) the muscles mature and define the adult shoulder placement. Yes, shoulder placement (angulation) can change in your growing Gordon Setter puppy and the muscling they develop affects this.  The shoulder muscles and the angles between the bones develop by responding to the need for shock absorption during the stresses of gait. This is one very important reason why proper exercise during the growth period needs to be attended to, it does have some effect on the final structure of the adult dog. And while we’re on the subject of the front assembly let me draw your attention to that shoulder-blade (scapula). It is a very large bone, and is one of the slowest growing bones in the dog’s body because of that size. It takes longer for the shoulder-blade to reach its full length, longer than other bones in the body. You may find in the Gordon Setter that a young immature dog with what appears to be a wide shoulder (too much space between the tips of the shoulder-blade) at a year to eighteen months of age may continue to grow more length to those shoulder blades, so that by the age of two or three they have developed a much smoother looking shoulder assembly. This change happens as the shoulder blades on each side of the body grow longer, and as the these bones are angled on the body toward each other at the tip, the additional length that is added with maturity closes the distance between the shoulder-blade tips. This can be why puppies may look chunkier or rough over the shoulder, their shoulder blades are somewhat shorter in proportion to what will be the shoulder’s adult length, and so with full maturity of the bone structure and musculature one may see improvement and smoothing of this area from puppy-hood to the finally full-grown adult dog.

Now then, to get back to the straight shoulder and why it restricts reach. So, if there is no actual joint anchoring the shoulder and front leg assembly in place on the body, one would think that perhaps the shoulder would be able to swing more freely as it’s held in place by muscle, which would allow every dog to open up or reach out regardless of the angulation. Why then does a straight shouldered dog have less reach than one with the proper lay-back, what restricts or stops forward reach of the leg?

First lets take a look at the principle muscles that work together to move the front leg forward shown in this illustration. There are many other muscles filling in this area on the body, those shown here are the primary labeled with their function.

Proper angulation of shoulder and upper arm assembly with principle muscles attached.
Proper angulation of shoulder and upper arm assembly with principle muscles attached.

The joint that has the most impact on the amount of reach, or extension of the leg is the joint between the shoulder-blade and the upper arm. Here we go now with a bit of a geometry lesson as it applies to our Gordon Setter’s front. The muscles on the dog, when moving can rotate the shoulder-blade up to 15 degrees from the standing position of a 30 degree angle (from the vertical). Adding the additional 15 degrees of rotation when the assembly is at its maximum extension you get the 45 degrees which is the angle of the maximum stride length shown below on the first row of drawings illustrating a well angled dog. Note on the second row of drawings how the straight shoulder is limiting the reach. The straight shoulder is also limited to that 15 degrees of rotation but is starting from a steeper and more upright angle which, in turn, does not allow the leg to get as far out from under the body.

Length of stride
Length of stride comparison between dog with proper front angulation and one with straight angulation in the front. Notice how much shorter the stride can be for the dog with a poorly angled front.

Looking at the drawing below one can note the lack of balance found in the muscling of the dog who lacks proper angulation (is straight) in the front. Because the shoulder-blade is in a more upright position there is a more limited area for the attachment of muscles, the angles are just too steep to allow full development and proper length of the muscling. And, because of the angles at which the muscles are attached to the bones, there are limits to their mechanical advantage as well. (Think about using a lever and the effect the length and angle has on the power or movement at the opposite end).

Shoulder and upper arm angulation that are too straight to allow for maximum reach in the front. Notice how there is not as much length for the muscles as this structure affects proper muscling of the front also.
Shoulder and upper arm angulation that are too straight to allow for maximum reach in the front. Notice how there is not as much length for the muscles as this structure affects proper muscling of the front also.

The end result is that the first dog (see length of stride illustration) the one with proper shoulder angulation, will be able to move easily on a loose lead with his head held at a higher (90 degree) angle to the axis of the shoulder-blade. This dog has a long stride (good reach) and will demonstrate a fluid, effortless gait assuming the rear is equally balanced and properly constructed. On lead and off this dog will look great, easy free-floating movement.

The dog with the straight front assembly will be limited, having trouble extending his front legs and because of the steep angle he will probably lower his head which is needed to get more effective use of the muscles which move the leg forward.  Dogs with straight shoulders often look like they are “hanging” on the leash as they use this device to assist themselves in getting the front more airborne. Because the dog has a shortened front stride, the rear legs, rather than reaching under the dog may kick up more behind, or the dog may move wide in the rear rather than single tracking to get the rear legs out of the way of the front legs when moving. If the dog is kicking up in rear to get those legs out of the way you may see that this dog moves “high in the rear” when looking at his topline. Sometimes dogs with straight shoulders may tolerate being trained to move “strung up” on the leash, and as the handler is helping him get his front off the ground by holding it in the air, this may allow the rear legs freedom to propel the dog forward. While this may look flashy at times, it is ineffective movement and a loose lead will show the true story.

So, what exactly stops the dog from flexing the joint between the shoulder and the upper arm more than 15 degrees which would allow more reach if the dog is straight shouldered? The amount of extension for this joint is controlled by means of a notch on the top of the humerus.

This notch stops the joint so that it can never open to 180 degrees, it is stopped about 15 degrees short of that angle. Thus the maximum angle of the upper arm very much depends on the angle at which the shoulder-blade is set on the body.

Take a look at the illustration below for clarification. It compares the shoulder and upper arm connection on two dogs, the top row of drawings shows a dog reaching with a properly angled shoulder, and the bottom row shows the effect of the straight shoulder. In this illustration, you are looking at the shoulder (scapula) connected to the upper arm (humerus) connected to the leg (radius). Starting at the top left the first drawing illustrates the joints as the dog is standing, moving to the right is the assembly as it is beginning to flex, and on the far right as it is fully extended with the notch on the end of the upper arm closing the gap between itself and the shoulder.

why shoulders can't reach

Next, by looking closely at the inner view of the shoulder to upper arm joint (provided in the blue circle in the very middle of the illustration), you will see that notch on the top of the upper arm bone, the built-in stopping mechanism that prevents the dog from extending the upper arm past a certain point as the dog reaches out when moving.  So, in the moving dog, as the shoulder rotates in an upward motion pulling the upper arm out and forward (creating the forward reach of the leg below) the amount of outward movement, the outward reach of the leg below, is restricted when that notch on the upper arm bone is stopped by closure with the shoulder bone to which it is attached. The blue circle to the left shows the notch while the dog is standing still. The circle on the right shows the shoulder/upper arm joint fully extended as the dog reaches during movement and here you see that the notch has closed the gap, stopping any further outward movement of the leg below.

Moving down now to the bottom row of drawings in this illustration we see the effect the straight shoulder will have  on the amount of reach that is allowed by this construction.  The shoulder cannot rise to the same height as a properly angled shoulder due to it’s more upright starting position (see how much further that shoulder needs to rise up in order to move the upper arm outward) as the upper arm stops that upward and outward movement by the notch on its end closing with the shoulder-blade. Final result is that the leg bone (the part we are most likely to be watching when evaluating movement) cannot reach out as far … “to a place well under or past the dog’s nose”… like the well angled shoulder allows.

Insight on the importance of the front assembly is also offered in our article “That Elusive Front” reached by clicking this link.

For more information on movement and a study of the topline on the Gordon Setter see our previously published article “Moving Toplines” by clicking this link.

Gordon Setter Movement – List of Reference Materials is linked here.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

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Photo by Bob Segal 2015 GSCA National Specialty

Photos by Bob Segal from the 2015 GSCA National Specialty

Gordon Setter photos are included for viewing pleasure only and are not intended to illustrate any material presented here.

 PS  Nope, never said I could draw. If there are artists in the crowd who are now cringing because of my illustrative artwork please do consider donating your more polished renditions …they would be appreciated by everyone, I’m sure!

Peg McIntyre shared this comment below, we’re adding it and the photo she refers to here so you can all see what she’s referring to:

I guess it is safe to say that I’ve become a layperson-student of canine anatomy and locomotion. After reading this article last night and looking at this photo just now, it might be safe to say this is a perfect-to-near perfect shoulder assembly doing its job. I had to laugh though… I don’t know where all of her hard muscle disappeared to in this photo! Her forearm looks like it’s all bone and coat here, doesn’t it?!

Photo by Peg McIntyre
Photo by Peg McIntyre

Preferred Breed Type – Why the Stand-out Dog Can Be a Loser!

… “Ask Yourself These Questions”

  • Why do breeder judges put dogs with handlers when they know the animal does not represent breed excellence?
  • Why do handlers accept such dogs knowing once they finish, they will be “petted out”?
  • Are you kennel blind and do you breed to standard?
  • Should breeders and newcomers read the standard prior to stud and bitch selection?
  • When will more mentors open up to newcomers?
  • And lastly, are “gas money” and “filler” dogs destroying our sport?

Today we share a link to an article Preferred Breed Type: Why the Stand-Out Dog Can Be a Loser! written by Edna “Katie” Gammil, it can apply to any breed, including our Gordon Setter. Good food for thought concerning breed type and common trends in breeds, raising issues that every serious breeder should consider as we’re making our breeding choices.

Photo by Bob Segal 2015 North Country Specialty
Photo by Bob Segal
2015 North Country Specialty

Katie writes…When “current type” does not equal correctness, the best dog can lose because in many rings, the fatal flaw is being a stand-out.  A dog show friend, absent from the sport for several years, attended some local shows with me. Welcoming the opportunity to view dogs in general after her sabbatical, she became visually distressed. Her despair increased when a “less than average” class dog received BOB. The waning quality in her beautiful breed breaks her heart. She stated it would be wasted effort to show a dog correct to the standard today, as some judges feel compelled to award dogs conforming to the majority of the entries.” 

Observing other breeds, she remarks on the lack of neck, restricted front movement and the lack of rear follow through; we discuss “gay tails” and breed type variances. We watch faulty movement and see coats dragging the ground. Weak pasterns and sickle hocks complete the picture. She wonders what causes this to happen to functional dogs in such a short time. It seems the correct dogs have fallen victim to what one may refer to as the “Perfection of Mediocrity”.   Read the entire article by clicking here…

Preferred Breed Type: Why the Stand-Out Dog Can Be a Loser! by Katie Gammil

Photos by Bob Segal from the 2015 North Country Specialty.

Photos are for your viewing pleasure and are not intended to illustrate any point related to this article.

Photo by Bob Segal 2015 North Country Specialty
Photo by Bob Segal
2015 North Country Specialty

Grooming, You Need To Know Anatomy To Do It Right!

I feel like I’ve been knee deep in black dog hair for the better part of the last four decades, and I’m not talking about those little black haired dust bunnies that whisper along the tile floor in the hallways of the house.  I’m talking big, honking piles of hair that I’ve clipped, stripped, scissored and thinned off the bodies of my Gordon Setters to ready them for the ring. I kid you not, there have been times when I have built a whole other Setter out of the hair left on the floor. Good grief these dogs grow coat, acres and acres of it so that sometimes I find myself thinking “I’m gonna to get me one a them big ole John Deere mowers to tackle this petting zoo”.

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Photo by Bob Segal

Well obviously most of you own a Gordon Setter so you know what I’m talking about when I say that they take a bit of grooming to keep them looking less like a Newfie and more like a Setter. And, if you’re heading to the show ring you probably know by now that a proper groom makes a world of difference in your chances for success. Groom that dog poorly or trim him the wrong way and you can end up accentuating or creating faults you don’t want seen. Bad idea.

It is not easy to learn to properly groom a Gordon for the ring, and I for one, will admit that even after all these years I am always learning. New things come along, methods change, equipment is developed, it’s a never ending learning curve. Sometimes I feel like my grooming skill is no better now than when I was in grade school cutting doll hair with those little rounded kiddie scissors. Did you ever notice that doll hair doesn’t grow back? My sisters did. They weren’t very happy with me. Sibling rivalry I guess?

Photo by Bob Segal
Photo by Bob Segal

Grooming can be complicated, but it will get a whole lot easier if you start with a clear picture of the dog’s anatomy, the dog breeder’s basic knowledge, and using that mental picture of your breed’s anatomy as your guide when you’re trimming, stripping or thinning your show dog should help you sculpt that dog into a lovely picture of the standard. To give an example, sometimes we might groom what appear to be faults onto the dog by leaving a vertical line of stripped hair going straight down the dog’s side from the bottom of neck to the foreleg. In fact we want to show angles there, the angle where the shoulder and upper arm meet, so there should be a sideways V shape to that line. Leave a straight line down the side of the dog when you’re stripping out coat and the judge will see a straight front, one that lacks proper angle of shoulder to upper arm. It’s an optical illusion that can hurt your chances of winning. Or, ignore trimming the under body coat to into soft flowing lines, leaving instead shorter or longer coat in the wrong area and you destroy the flow of the Setter’s natural body contour, he looks unbalanced and a maybe a bit box or tube shaped, not the picture we’re looking for.

I found a grooming blog, Beyond the Fur… written by Melissa Verplank who published an excellent article The Importance of Canine Anatomy and it teaches about using the structure of the dog to set a pattern when grooming. This is right on the money and I highly recommend, especially if you are a new learner, that before you begin grooming your Gordon Setter, particularly for the show ring, that you take the time to read this article and review her diagrams. You absolutely must have an ideal picture of the structure of a Gordon Setter in your mind in order to properly scissor and strip and shape that body coat. And you must keep that picture in mind so that when you step back away from the dog to view your work, you are seeing all of the excellent qualities you want a judge to notice about your dog.

Here’s the link, simply point and click, a new window will open on her site:

The Importance of Canine Anatomy

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Photo by Bob Segal

Earlier articles that were published here on Gordon Setter Expert about grooming can be found here for those looking to get started grooming their own dog.

Grooming by Bev Holoboff

Grooming the Gordon Setter by Heidi Moon

Hope you enjoy these articles. We’re gearing up to come back from the GSCA National with some great “how to” videos of exhibitors grooming their dogs, we’re sure that we’ll find some great Gordon Setter folks who will share their tips and tricks with you.

Photos by Bob Segal

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Going to the GSCA National? Take a quick survey to see how many others will be there too!

We promise to keep a running count posted here of how many people answer YES, they are planning to attend the GSCA National Specialty, Purina Farms, St. Louis, MO. Memorial Day Weekend! Click here to cast your vote in the survey it only takes seconds!

# Attending  40 YES     11 No    4/21/2015

The Power of Trust – Mentoring

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Photo by Bob Segal

“Our sport is failing and only we can turn the tide…If our (dog) show world is to survive we absolutely must take on the challenge…” This rings so true to me and that’s what I’m writing about today, what I intend to do for my part to help turn the tide.

I promised myself that I was going to do more, that I would speak out, to help turn the tide in the war against breeders of purebred dogs.

I promised myself I was going to do more to help mentor and teach newcomers to the sport, so I started this blog.

I promised myself I was going to do more to be kind to other breeders, to encourage sportsman like conduct not only in the ring but also in every day-to-day interaction with other breeders and exhibitors.

I promised myself I would treat others in the sport with respect even if, and especially when, I disagreed with their opinion.

I promised myself that I would continue to speak out against injustice, poor treatment of dogs and other people. I  know that this sometimes earns a label like controversial or possibly crazy, but what that means to me is that someone else heard, and by being heard have we not at least made a little difference, somewhere? How can this not be better than apathy?

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Photo by Bob Segal

And, I promised myself I would seek and endorse leaders for our clubs who understand and engage in open communication, who not only possess but also utilize negotiation skill to resolve conflict, those who actively engage in the preservation of the sport and the growth of organizations, as opposed to those who inadvertently drive membership away.

If we could all start here, by reading and understanding Viki Hayward’s – Mentoring The Power of Trust we might realize the importance of taking just one step toward turning the tide. Let’s bring new fanciers to the sport, bring success to another individual, bring back the recognition of our gorgeous purebred dogs.

I love Gordon Setters, don’t you?

What are you willing to contribute to bolster our failing sport?

Judging the Gordon Setter – Gary Andersen

Thank you to our Guest Blogger – Gary L. Andersen for sharing this article with us regarding judging of the Gordon Setter in conformation.

About Gary L. Andersen – Scottsdale, AZ

GaryI have been involved with Gordon Setters since 1972 along with my wife Beverly. We have owned and shown all four Setters, English Cockers and Smooth Fox Terriers. I have been judging Gordon Setters since 1993. I am now AKC licensed to judge BIS, Sporting and Non-Sporting groups, two hounds and three working breeds. I serve as the Judge’s Education Chairman for the Gordon Setter Club of America and was instrumental in starting the Sporting Dog Association of Arizona for whom I now serve as President. I am the past president of Scottsdale Dog Fanciers and currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Gordon Setter Club of America and the Sun County Terrier Club.

JUDGING THE GORDON SETTER

When judging the Gordon Setter remember it is the heaviest of the four setters, having more bone and body. They are a sturdy built well muscled, with plenty of bone and substance. Gordon Setters are a single person hunting dog. They have a unique front movement. The other three setters are used more for open field work, the Gordon work heavier brush and because of this, the front legs lift up and then fold back at the pasterns so the feet do not get caught in the brush.

Look for a black and tan dog with plenty of substance and is good-sized. Active, upstanding and stylish, capable of doing a full day’s work in the field their appearance suggesting strength and stamina rather than speed.   Gordon Setters are equally at home as companions dogs, obedience, agility, field competitors and show dogs. The head is fairly heavy and finely chiseled. His bearing is intelligent, noble and dignified, showing no signs of shyness or aggressiveness. Clear colors and either a wavy or straight coat are acceptable. A dog of well balance in all points is preferred to one with outstanding good qualities and defects. A smooth, free movement with high head carriage is typical. Many of the words used in this description are taken from the official AKC standard.

The suggested height is 24 to 27 inches for a male and 23 to 26 inches for a female. This is a wide scale. You can have females and males of the same size in the ring, a 24 inch male with the substance of the Gordon is as good as a 27 inch dog. You may see dogs over 27 inches and our standard says that as long as the proportions are correct, it is ok. To me, going below our standard is more of a fault than going over. A 22 inch female is getting into the Spaniel size. Dogs should weigh 55 to 80 pounds and bitches 45 to 70 pounds. Again showing the substance of our breed. We want our breed shown in field condition, hard muscles not overly fat or under weight as this hinders the working ability. Again, the weight to height ratio makes him heavier than the other setters. The proportion of the Gordon should be square when measured from the fore-chest to the back of the thigh verses withers to the ground. The English and Irish Setters are slightly longer than tall.

The head should be deep rather than broad, we do not want an elegant head. The eyes are dark brown, the darker the better, good-sized, oval rather than round and not deep-set, nor bulging. The eye rims should be tight and pigmented. The ears are set low on the head, preferably on the line of the eye, they are fairly thin and large, well folded and carried close to the head. The skull is widest between the ears, nicely rounded and good-sized. There should be a clearly indicated stop. The muzzle is fairly long, not pointed either as seen from above or to the side. The muzzle should be fifty percent of the length of the head and should be parallel to the line of the skull. The flew should not be pendulous. The nose should be broad with open nostrils and black in color. Snow nose is very common and should not be penalized. The lip line from the nose to the flew shows a sharp, well-defined square contour. A strong under-jaw also helps fill out the muzzle so as to avoid a snippy muzzle. A scissor bite is preferred, but a level bite is not a fault.

The neck should be long, arched and lean flowing into the shoulders. The throat should be as dry as possible. The neck must be long enough to pick up the downed game and bring it back to the shooter. The topline should straight with a moderate slope to it. The body should be short from shoulders to hips. The Chest is deep reaching to the elbows, but not too broad to hinder the front leg movement. The ribs should be well sprung and long to allow room for heart and lungs. There should be a pronounced fore-chest. The loin is short, strong and broad with no arch. The croup is nearly flat with a slight slope to the tail-set. The tail is thick at the root finishing in a fine point and should reach to the hock. The placement of the tail is important for correct carriage. The placement is judged in relationship to the structure of the croup. The tail is also a barometer to temperament.

The shoulders should lay well back. The tops of the shoulders should be close together. When viewed from the behind the neck should flow into the shoulders in smooth line and gradually widen from neck to shoulder. The angle of the shoulder-blade and upper arm should be 90 degrees. The front legs should be straight and well boned, not bowed, with the elbows not turning in or out. The pasterns are short, strong nearly straight with a slight spring. Dewclaws may be removed. Catlike feet with well arched toes with plenty of hair between them and full toe pads. The feet do not turn in or out.

The hind legs are long from hip to hock, flat and muscular. The hock is short and strong when standing they should be perpendicular. The stifle and hock joints should be well bent and not turned in or out. The feet are the same as the front.

The coat should be long and straight, a wave is permissible, but not curls. The hair will be the longest on the ears, under stomach and on the chest. The tail feathering is long at the root and tapers to the tip forming a triangular appearance.

Considering color when judging, the Gordon is primarily a black dog with tan markings, which can be a rich chestnut or mahogany shade. This color can go from a very light chestnut to a very dark mahogany. Black penciling on the toes is allowed. The borderline between the colors should be clearly defined. There should not be tan hairs in the black. The tan markings are as follows: 1. Two clear spots above the eyes, not over ¾ of an inch in diameter. 2. On the sides of the muzzle, which should not reach the top of the muzzle from one side to the other.   3. On the throat. 4. Two large clear sports on the chest, (looks like a bow-tie). However on a darker dog these spots may appear to be a darker brown, this is acceptable. 5. On the inside of the hind legs showing down the front of the stifle and broadening out to the outside of the hind legs from the hocks to the toes. It should not completely eliminate the black on the back side of the hind legs.   6. On the forelegs from the corpus or a little above downward to the toes. 7. Around the vent. 8. A white spot on the chest is allowed, the smaller the better. This is the only disqualification for the Gordon; Predominantly tan, red or buff dogs.

A bold strong driving free-swinging gait is desired. The head is carried up and the tail is constantly flagging while the dog is in motion, as mentioned earlier, this is a barometer to temperament as well as his “rudder”. He should be straight coming and going with reach and drive on the side gait. The overall appearance of the moving dog is one smooth-flowing, well-balanced rhythm, in which the action is pleasing to the eye, effortless, economical, harmonious and powerful.

The Gordon Setter is alert, gay, interested and confident. He is fearless and willing, intelligent and capable. He is loyal and affectionate, yet is strong-minded enough to stand the rigors of training. They are slow maturing, so sometimes this doesn’t show up early in life. The field trainer that we used always left our Gordon Setters in the puppy class until they were over two years of age.

In 2002 the Gordon Setter Club of America put the 100 point scale back into our standard. It is as follows:

Head and neck, eyes/ears                            10

Body                                                                  15

Shoulders, forelegs/feet                               10

Hind legs/feet                                                 10

Tail                                                                     5

Coat                                                                  8

Color/markings                                               10

Temperament                                                 10

Size/general appearance                              15

Gait                                                                    12

Some points to remember when judging the Gordon Setter:

  • Inch per pound the Gordon is the biggest Setter.
  • Should have a deep head with a squared off muzzle.
  • Muzzle perpendicular to back skull.
  • Topline is a smooth line from the back of the skull to the tail set.
  • No sharp angles.
  • Square dog.
  • The dog is to be shown in field weight and muscular.
  • Must be black and tan.
  • Large boned.
  • Smooth and powerful moving.
  • Style plus soundness equals TYPE.
  • It takes the sum of the whole dog or the complete standard to make the ideal Gordon Setter.

Gary L. Andersen

Gordon Setter movement – list of reference material

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Photo by Bob Segal

When it comes to mentoring new Gordon Setter exhibitors I’m asking all experienced breeder/exhibitors to join us in our “it takes a village” approach on this blog. For this article I’ve started a list of video links, books, DVD’s and articles that I’ve located related to canine structure and gait. These are all-breed reference materials, not Gordon Setter specific, hopefully we will have breed specific material to add to this site soon.

  • What is needed from you, “the village”, would be your comments regarding whether you have read or viewed any of these references and if you found them helpful or maybe not so good. This way our learners will have your experience and advice to guide them.
  • Also, if you can add any items to this list I hope you will share those. Please add your insight by posting in the comment section that follows the article.

Online Videos Simply move your cursor to the title and click to go directly to the item.

AKC Video Series: Dogsteps  by Rachel Page Elliott

Dog (Canine) Movement by Dogue De Bourdeaux

Gordon Setter Video: AKC website

DVD

What to Look for in a Dog by Rachel Page Elliott

Books

Dogsteps New Look by Rachel Elliott

K-9-Structure-Terminology by Edward-Gilbert

Whats Your Angle: Understanding Angulation and Structure for the Performance Dog by Helen Grinnell King

K-9 Structure & Terminology by Edward M. Gilbert & Thelma R. Brown

The Dog Structure & Movement by R.H. Smythe

Article links

More Than Meets the Eye by Carmen L. Battaglia

Insights Into the Motion of Dogs source Frederich Schiller University Jena published Science Daily

Success in Show Dogs: Breed Type Is Flexible, Not Liquid

Thank you to our Guest Blogger – Barbara Manson for sharing this excellent article for breeder/exhibitor regarding the oft debated issue of type.

From Dog Channel we bring you  Success in Show Dogs: Breed Type Is Flexible, Not Liquid.

Share this site with your friends…email…word of mouth…we’re all serious Gordon Setter lovers here, sharing information!

Photo by Silvia Timmerman

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

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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