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Official Standard for the Gordon Setter

AKC-Logo3Approved October 7, 2002

Effective November 27, 2002

General Appearance: The Gordon Setter is a good-sized, sturdily built, black and tan dog, well muscled, with plenty of bone and substance, but active, upstanding and stylish, appearing capable of doing a full day’s work in the field. He has a strong, rather short back, with well sprung ribs and a short tail. The head is fairly heavy and finely chiseled. His bearing is intelligent, noble, and dignified, showing no signs of shyness or viciousness. Clear colors and straight or slightly waved coat are correct. He suggests strength and stamina rather than extreme speed. Symmetry and quality are most essential. A dog well balanced in all points is preferable to one with outstanding good qualities and defects. A smooth, free movement, with high head carriage, is typical.
Size, Proportion, Substance: Size  – Shoulder height for males, 24 to 27 inches; females, 23 to 26 inches. Weight for males, 55 to 80 pounds; females, 45 to 70 pounds. Animals that appear to be over or under the prescribed weight limits are to be judged on the basis of conformation and condition. Extremely thin or fat dogs are discouraged on the basis that under or overweight hampers the true working ability of the Gordon Setter.  The weight-to-height ratio makes him heavier than other Setters. Proportion The distance from the forechest to the back of the thigh is approximately equal the height from the ground to the withers. The Gordon Setter has plenty of bone and substance.standard
Head:  Head deep, rather than broad, with plenty of brain room. Eyes of fair size, neither too deep-set nor too bulging, dark brown, bright and wise. The shape is oval rather than round. The lids are tight. Ears set low on the head approximately on line with the eyes, fairly large and thin, well folded and carried close to the head. Skull nicely rounded, good-sized, broadest between the ears. Below and above the eyes is lean and the cheeks as narrow as the leanness of the head allows. The head should have a clearly indicated stop. Muzzle fairly long and not pointed, either as seen from above or from the side. The flews are not pendulous. The muzzle is the same length as the skull from occiput to stop and the top of the muzzle is parallel to the line of the skull extended. Nose broad, with open nostrils and black in color. The lip line from the nose to the flews shows a sharp, well-defined, square contour. Teeth strong and white, meeting in front in a scissors bite, with the upper incisors slightly forward of the lower incisors. A level bite is not a fault. Pitted teeth from distemper or allied infections are not penalized.
Neck, Topline, Body:  Neck long, lean, arched to the head, and without throatiness. Topline moderately sloping. Body short from shoulder to hips. Chest deep and not too broad in front; the ribs well sprung, leaving plenty of lung room. The chest reaches to the elbows. A pronounced forechest is in evidence. Loins short and broad and not arched. Croup nearly flat, with only a slight slope to the tailhead. Tail short and not reaching below the hocks, carried horizontal or nearly so, not docked, thick at the root and finishing in a fine point. The placement of the tail is important for correct carriage. When the angle of the tail bends too sharply at the first coccygeal bone, the tail will be carried too gaily or will droop. The tail placement is judged in relationship to the structure of the croup.
Forequarters: 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 that the foreleg is perpendicular to the ground. Forelegs big-boned, straight and not bowed, with elbows free and not turned in or out. Pasterns are strong, short and nearly vertical with a slight spring. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet catlike in shape, formed by close knit, well arched toes with plenty of hair between; with full toe pads and deep heel cushions. Feet are not turned in or out.
Hindquarters: The hind legs from hip to hock are long, flat and muscular; from hock to heel, short and strong. The stifle and hock joints are well bent and not turned either in or out. When the dog is standing with the rear pastern perpendicular to the ground, the thighbone hangs downward parallel to an imaginary line drawn upward from the hock. Feet as in front.
Coat:  Soft and shining, straight or slightly waved, but not curly, with long hair on ears, under stomach and on chest, on back of the fore and hind legs, and on the tail. The feather which starts near the root of the tail is slightly waved or straight, having a triangular appearance, growing shorter uniformly toward the end.
Color and Markings:  Black with tan markings, either of rich chestnut or mahogany color. Black penciling is allowed on the toes. The borderline between black and tan colors is clearly defined. There are not any tan hairs mixed in the black. The tan markings are located as follows: (1) Two clear spots over the eyes and not over three quarters of an inch in diameter; (2) On the sides of the muzzle. The tan does not reach to the top of the muzzle, but resembles a stripe around the end of the muzzle from one side to the other; (3) On the throat; (4) Two large clear spots on the chest; (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 hock to the toes. It must not completely eliminate the black on the back of the hind legs; (6) On the forelegs from the carpus, or a little above, downward to the toes; (7) Around the vent; (8) A white spot on the chest is allowed, but the smaller the better. Predominantly tan, red or buff dogs which do not have the typical pattern of markings of a Gordon Setter are ineligible for showing and undesirable for breeding. Predominantly tan, red or buff dogs are ineligible for showing and undesirable for breeding.
Gait:  A bold, strong, driving free swinging gait. The head is carried up and the tail “flags” constantly while the dog is in motion. When viewed from the front, the forefeet move up and down in straight lines so that the shoulder, elbow and pastern joints are approximately in line. When viewed from the rear the hock, stifle and hip joints are approximately in line. Thus the dog moves in a straight pattern forward without throwing the feet in or out. When viewed from the side, the forefeet are seen to lift up and reach forward to compensate for the driving hindquarters. The hindquarters reach well forward and stretch far back, enabling the stride to be long and the drive powerful. The overall appearance of the moving dog is one of smooth flowing, well balanced rhythm, in which the action is pleasing to the eye, effortless, economical and harmonious.
Temperament:  The Gordon Setter is alert, gay, interested, and confident. He is fearless and willing, intelligent and capable. He is loyal and affectionate, and strong minded enough to stand the rigors of training.
Disqualification:  Predominantly tan, red or buff dogs.
Scale of Points
To be used as a guide when judging the Gordon Setter:
10  Head and neck (include ears and eyes)
15 Body
10 Shoulders, forelegs, forefeet
10 Hind legs and feet
 5  Tail
 8  Coat
 5  Color and markings
10 Temperament
15 Size, general appearance
12 Gait

100 Total

Approved October 7, 2002
Effective November 27, 2002

Late-Onset (rcd-4) PRA in Gordon Setters

Thank you Jerold S. Bell for your permission to reprint this article.

Late-onset (rcd-4) progressive retinal atrophy in Gordon Setters:

Where are we, and where do we go from here?

Jerold S Bell DVM, Clinical Associate Professor of Genetics, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

(This article originally appeared in the August, 2011 TarTan Tidings)

Most owners have now received their rcd-4 PRA test results from the Animal Health Trust that were collected at the GSCA National Specialty in Ohio in June 2011. The AHT reports that of the 107 cheek swabs submitted from the collection; 3% test as affected (two copies of the defective gene), 30% test as carrier (one defective and one normal copy), and 67% test as clear (two normal copies of the gene).

The AHT previously reported a 50% carrier rate worldwide for the defective gene in Gordon Setters. However, this included all of the initial families of affected dogs that were used in the research to find the defective gene. The 30% carrier frequency from the dogs collected at the 2011 National probably represents a more accurate breed-wise US carrier frequency.

The rcd-4 gene that causes Gordon Setter PRA is one that similarly causes autosomal recessive late-onset progressive retinal atrophy in man. Owners of dogs who received affected test results are probably surprised with the result, and find no vision problems with their dogs. This is because this is a late-onset disorder. It was originally reported that the average onset of this form of PRA was around 10 years of age. This is the average age of Gordon Setters recognized with visual impairment that test affected with rcd-4 PRA. The actual age of onset of Gordon Setter rcd-4 PRA is possibly much older; with may affected dogs never reaching the age of onset of visual impairment. In addition, owners of very old Gordon Setters with visual impairment may believe that it is “normal” for old dogs to not see well, and do not pursue a diagnosis of PRA. The fact of the matter is that there is a range of age of onset for the clinical signs of Gordon Setter rcd-4 PRA where some may slowly lose their vision at younger than 10 years of age, and some may never show clinical signs of a vision problem.

Rcd-4 PRA is not the only inherited PRA in the breed. It has been shown that there is an earlier-onset PRA in the breed, with an average onset of 5 years of age. Some Gordon Setters clinically affected with this form of PRA and their parents have tested clear of the defective rcd-4 gene, proving that there are two separate genetic PRA disorders in the breed. Dr. Cathryn Mellersh at the AHT (cathryn.mellersh@aht.org.uk) is currently searching for the defective gene causing this form of PRA in the breed, and is interested in cheek swab samples from affected dogs and their close relatives.

Tucker driving Jeep (red flag)
Photo by Paul F. Doherty

Because there is more than one form of PRA in the breed, and because Gordon Setters can also have other disorders of the eyelids, cornea, lens, and retina, the rcd-4 genetic test does not replace the need for annual CERF examinations of the eyes. (since original publication of this article CERF is no longer operating see OFA website instead.) The most important thing that we need to do about rcd-4 PRA is to not devastate the Gordon Setter gene pool with widespread spaying/neutering, and the removing of quality dogs from breeding. Aside from the loss of quality dogs, the breed cannot withstand the removal of 30% of breeding dogs from the gene pool and maintain breed genetic diversity. This is the first direct gene test that is available for the breed, but it will not be the last. We must all recognize that the proper use of genetic tests for recessive disease is to breed quality carrier dogs to quality clear dogs, and replace the carrier parent with a clear-testing offspring that is of equal or better quality. If a quality dog that you determine deserves to be bred tests as a carrier, you certainly can and should breed the dog. You must make a decision counter to the emotional reaction when you received the carrier test result. Making a decision to not breed a quality dog based on a single testable gene is not appropriate. As long as carriers are not bred to carriers, no affected dogs will be produced. This is a testable and controllable gene. By dealing with rcd-4 PRA in an objective and informed manner, we can continue to produce quality Gordon Setters and work away from this single hereditary disorder. The goal is to slowly decrease the carrier frequency in the population and slowly replace carrier breeding stock with normal offspring. This will take many generations. A genetic test should not alter who gets bred, only who the dog gets bred to. For more information, please refer to the articles in the February TarTan Tidings (or the March, 2011 GSCA Newsletter).

Lastly, it is important to remember that this is about the dogs. We belong to a community that loves Gordon Setters. No one wants to produce carrier or affected dogs. The stigmatizing of breeders and quality dogs due to carrier status is an old, outdated and unacceptable practice. We need to be able to raise the level of conversation to constructive communication. We should all report rcd-4 test results on our dogs to the OFA open health databases. This includes clear, carrier, and affected dogs. An application form is available in the DNA tests section of the OFA website. The application should be mailed with a copy of the official test results from the Animal Health Trust. The fee for entering rcd-4 results into the OFA database is $15 for clear and carrier dogs, and is free for dogs testing affected. As more genetic tests become available, we will find that there are no “perfect” dogs. By working together we can improve our breeding attitudes, our breeding programs, and the overall health of the Gordon Setter breed.

(This article originally appeared in the August, 2011 TarTan Tidings)

(This article can be reprinted by permission of the author jerold.bell@tufts.edu)

Notes from the Editor

Additional links related to PRA:

About CERF:  After nearly 30 years of working towards the elimination of heritable eye disease in dogs, The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) is now closed.

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