Tag Archives: Gordon Setter Club of America

Is Our Breed in Jeopardy?

As a Gordon Setter lover I believe there has been a call to action that has been largely overlooked or ignored. I’m going to introduce you to that call if you’ve not heard it, or reintroduce you to the reasons why there is a call if you’ve lost focus or need more incentive to find your voice and play your part.

Since 1992, the AKC registry has experienced momentous losses in dog registrations and the numbers are alarming. AKC’s peak year for registrations was 1992 with approximately 1.5 million dogs registered. In 2010, the total annual AKC dog registrations were 563,611. This was a staggering 63% decrease in annual dog registrations for the AKC, and the decline has not stabilized since then.

In 2010 the AKC registered 535 Gordon Setters, approximately .095%  of the total AKC registrations for all breeds. If we simply assume the breed has remained in a similar popularity ranking over that 20 year period, for 1992 we could estimate that AKC registered about 1,425 Gordon Setters. Now compare 1992 registrations of 1,425 to the 456 registrations of 2014 and we discover our breed has experienced a decrease of 969 Gordon Setters, a 68% decline in the number of Gordon Setters in the AKC registered population in 22 years. Last year, only 32% of the 1992 population were registered.GS Stats

Several issues have been suggested as having an impact on the decline in AKC registrations that would also adversely affect our breed:

  • AKC is experiencing more competition from other purebred dog registries and event organizations such as the United Kennel Club (UKC)
  • Economic downturns impacting the funds available to purchase purebred dogs. (rescue pets are less expensive to obtain)
  • Legislation restricting dog breeding and dog ownership at local levels.
  • Unfavorable publicity in the form of marketing campaigns by Animal Rights Groups and Rescue/Shelter operations regarding “breeders” who compete for a market share of new pet owners. “Adopt Don’t Shop” type of messaging, even informational publications like the AHA Pet Population Fact Sheet implies a negative message regarding the purebred and the incidence of cancer. Would you buy a purebred dog after finding them listed here specifically by breed? Cancer scares everyone…

From the American Humane Society – US Pet population Fact Sheet

62% (72.9 million households) own some type of pet

Most popular type of dog – Mixed breed 53% of all U.S. Dogs

Source of dogs: Family/friends 38%, Shelter Rescue 22%, Breeder 16%

Purebred dog registration has declined in the past decade with “designer dogs” becoming more popular (e.g., Cocker Pug, Labradoodle, Cockapoo, etc.). Pitbull-type dogs have also increased in popularity over the past decade.

Cancer is the #1 cause of death in dogs over age two. 1 in 2 dogs will acquire cancer, 1 in 4 will die from cancer.

Golden retrievers – 60% will die from cancer

Certain breeds of dogs are at-risk for certain type of cancer examples:

Greyhounds – Bone cancer

Scottish terriers – Bladder cancer

Pugs – Mast cell cancer

Bernese Mountain Dog – Histiocytic sarcoma

Boxer – Brain cancer

Collie – Nasal cancer

Chow Chow – Stomach cancer

Golden retrievers – Hemangiosarcoma and Lymphoma

Labrador retrievers – Hemangiosarcoma and Lymphoma

Poodles – Mammary tumors (incidence greatly reduced in dogs neutered prior to puberty)

There is a call to action to be heard here, for those who want to protect and preserve the Gordon Setter, and that call goes out to all who own and love them. I am not advocating that we begin to mass produce Gordon Setters by indiscriminate breeding and one should never interpret this data, nor my words, to mean such action should take place. The AKC however, is taking appropriate action steps to improve the reputation and increase the interest in purebred dogs and we can follow their action plans and their lead. The AKC cannot be successful on their own though, it will take the support of each individual who loves a Gordon Setter and that includes pet owners, breeders and hunters alike. We each need to heed the call to take action and do our own small, yet vital part, to promote purebred dog ownership and the benefits of owning a purebred. We need to join and support our National club and regional specialty clubs to do any small part there that we are able to contribute. At the next level the breed’s parent club, the Gordon Setter Club of America, also needs to visit this call to action to ensure that we, as an organization, are doing our part on a larger scale to promote the breed, interest in the sport, the preservation of our breeders and the development of a future generation of breeders.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

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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.

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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.

Are There Dog Show Bullies?

I’m an average Jo and I’m worried about the future of my favorite hobby – showing and breeding dogs. I want to do something to help turn the tide of the declining number of show and trial entries, the number of purebred dogs registered, and the declining membership in our dog clubs. A decline that has sometimes been the cause of local specialty clubs that have gone extinct.

Yes, I’m just an average Jo. I get to call myself a Jo because it’s my middle name. I’ll never understand what my mother was thinking, but that’s my name.  I’m not “what’s his face” the plumber or electrician or cable guy or whoever that dude was they talked about during the last election. I’m just an average Jo who has what I think is a funny name. It was a great name back in the day, when I was learning to read and Sally was a main character in the books they taught us from.  Back then I thought I was pretty darn special. That specialness has faded though, and now I’m just an average Jo. But I’m an average Jo who has a cause that won’t make world headlines, but my cause has given me much pleasure and I’d like see it stick around for new Jo’s to enjoy.

Photo by Susan Roy Nelson
Photo by Susan Roy Nelson “Nial”

There are many and various reasons why this decline is taking place, but for today, let’s talk just about the personal enjoyment we’d like others to experience when they join our sport as opposed to the bullying that sometimes occurs. Whether we want to admit it or not, whether we believe it or not (and most who do bully others will not believe it) sometimes, just like a group of school kids, there are those in our sport who engage in bullying, and that behavior will drive the hardiest exhibitor away from our midst in a heartbeat. It adds to the declining numbers and accomplishes absolutely nothing positive.

Dog show people are a mixed bunch and I’ve met my fair share of wonderful people who are my life long friends. They’ve dried my tears, cheered me on, offered advice or consolation, they’ve been my best friends, and many of them have a wacky sense of humor that just sucks me right in! Who doesn’t love a good laugh and I have shared so very many with my doggy crowd!

I firmly believe that there are many  wonderful people involved in dog shows.  And I wonder sometimes, do we forget about those wonderful people when the stories we hear mostly pertain to bad behavior? When was the last time you heard someone spontaneously share a wonderful story about how another person helped them, encouraged them, boosted their morale etc. at the ring, at a show, in their club?  It’s easy to take those actions for granted, that people will be nice and act in a caring manner toward each other, and why shouldn’t we expect that from each other? But, the drama of a person or a group of people acting out badly is so riveting to behold, that we may lose those other acts of kindness in the shuffle. It’s like watching the News – how many good stories do you find there? What draws the masses is drama and drama we remember. As a group can we try to maintain focus on letting “the good times roll” while we police our actions for the bad behavior that turns people off from our sport?

Besides for that, do I think there are other less likeable people in the sport? Yes unfortunately, and I’d have to add that I’ve also met a few truly awful bullies among the crowd. But, and this must be said with force, they are not only the professional handlers as some might imply. Can we all agree or have we had personal experience with bullies among all ranks in the doggy crowd? Are bullies also found among the breeders, owner handlers, exhibitors, dog show superintendents, judges, vendors, the club members hosting a show, your fellow club members or the Officers & Directors of your dog club? Have you ever felt bullied and if so who was that bully, another exhibitor, a club member, a group of people? What “group” did they belong to? And, what would you tell them (or the rest of us here) about how that impacted you and whether you will continue to stay in the sport or simply walk away from it thus adding to those declining numbers that I mentioned in the beginning?

So what’s the solution? Is there a solution? Would it help if we were all more proactive, following the advice that is currently pointed toward our kids – “Stop Bullying”? Would you be willing or would you be afraid to band with the person being bullied to make the bullying behavior stop? What if that meant taking a stance against someone who, in the sport, considers themselves “important”” or is recognized as a “top dog” by virtue of being a handler, experienced breeder, or club officer?

Bullying. Where does it start? Where does it end? Do you believe it has had, or is having an impact on the decreasing numbers pertaining to our breed – Gordon Setters? Is it impacting our National club? Our Regional clubs? And if so, what would you do to put a stop to it? What needs to be changed?

The article that started this one on the topic of Bullies can be read at this link:  Are There Dog Show Bullies?

Feel free to share your thoughts, comments, suggestions and the like in the comments section. If you would prefer to withhold your name so as not to call out anyone specific, you may share by sending an email to gordonsetterexpert@gmail.com and I will post for you without your name. That’s what we’re here for, to share and to make a difference in the sport of purebred dogs!

Sally Jo Gift  Mesa, AZ

Photos by Susan Roy Nelson, WY