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Grooming the Gordon Setter by Heidi Moon

Please join me in thanking Guest Blogger – Heidi Moon for sharing the grooming lessons she wrote. We think you’ll find this is the perfect thing to share, especially with your puppy buyers who just want their pet to look well trimmed and don’t want to pay for a salon grooming every time the dog gets shaggy. Best of all you don’t have to worry about printing copies, you can send them to our blog and they’ll have these at hand whenever they need them…how sweet is that? (Don’t forget to remind them to click our “follow button” so they get all our good stuff!)

Thanks again Heidi, you’re awesome!

“Please note, these grooming instructions apply more to grooming a pet than for show competition” Heidi Moon
The Gordon Setter breed standard says the coat
  – “Should be 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 tail.”

Grooming Equipment NeededSuggested Grooming Tools

A pair of straight shears (at least 7 inches long), a pair of thinning shears – 42 or more teeth work best (don’t skimp on quality when purchasing your shears, you’ll only end up regretting it). A medium/coarse comb, a medium-sized slicker brush, a wire pin brush, a nail trimmer (preferably not the guillotine type) clotting powder such as Kwik Stop (for accidents when trimming nails). A quality dog clipper such as the Andis AGC or Oster A5 models. Useful clipper blades to own are a #10, #7F, and a #5F (the Andis and Oster blades are interchangeable). Other useful tools to own are the Mars Coat King Stripper (18-Blade), a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a dental tools for scraping excess tarter.

Grooming Procedure

The purpose of trimming any dog is to make it resemble as closely as possible the Standard of it’s breed. For instance, if a particular Gordon has a large head and a light body, it would be best to trim the head closely and leave the body coat thick. On the other hand, a dog with a small light-boned head would be trimmed more closely on the body and not as fine on the head. These are extreme examples, just chosen to give the idea behind the suggestions which follow. The end result of the advice is to enable you to trim your dog so it presents the appearance of a well-balanced Gordon Setter type.

In order to do a good job of grooming your Gordon, he/she must be accustomed to the routine and stand reasonably still while you’re working on him. It’s important to start with your puppy, beginning as early as possible. Place the puppy on a slip-proof table or crate top. It’s not advisable to use a grooming arm on a restless puppy as they may slip off the table and sustain injury, even if you are standing right next to them.


Clipping from under chin down the neck.
Clipping from under chin down the neck.


Using a #7F blade on the electric clipper (a #10 can be used when you become more proficient with the clipper, however the #7F leaves nice length of coat), begin at the chin and run the clippers down under the throat to a point about two inches above the breast bone.

Clean hair under and behind ear
Clean hair under and behind ear

327_finished_neck_throatThen, working back, clean out hair around and under the ears. For the sides and top of the neck, start clippers directly behind the occiput and bring back in one continual sweep, in a slanting line down the neck and across the shoulder to the top of the shoulder blade. If there are any clipper marks on the shoulder or neck after this, they should be removed with thinning shears.

Avoid pushing in on the clippers where the neck joins the body. Do not use the clippers at all on the very top of the neck. Clean entire face with the clipper. This is the best way to remove the whiskers which should be taken off to give a clean outline to the jaw.  Go over the sides of the head also, and slightly on the top to give a “nicely rounded skull”. Ears are trimmed with the #10 blade, one-third of the way down and blended into the longer hair.

Clip top of head
Ears clipped 1/3 way down.
Use thinning shear to smooth neck and back coat

Never stop a trim abruptly – always finish off using the coarser blade or thinning shears to blend into the longer hair. Thinning shears are always used in combination with a comb. Holding thinning shears pointing in the direction of the hair, thin and comb out hair as you go along. It is better for beginner to use the longer-cutting blades and advance to the closer-cutting blades as they become more proficient.

Excess neck and back coat can be trimmed using your thinning shears or removed with a Mars Coat King Stripper. The Coat King works beautifully when the dog is still wet, in the tub – but be careful not to get too carried away!

Use clipper or thinning shear to remove hair on leg

The excess hair on the front and sides of the front legs can be trimmed with your thinning shears or carefully clipped with a #5F blade (don’t clip too close to the furnishing on the back of the front legs). There should be a definitive “feather free” area on the sides of the front legs and between the fore-chest feathering and that on the back of the leg.

Feet should be trimmed with the dog standing up. Lift one foot at a time and trim hair on bottom of feet even with the pads. Do not take any hair out from between the toes as the feet should be “well-arched with plenty of hair between.” Using regular straight shears trim to achieve a rounded, high-appearing foot that is “cat-like” in shape.”

Trim hair on bottom of foot around pads
Brush hair between toes up and backward

With the  dog’s foot in one hand and your slicker brush in the other, brush the hair between the toes up and in a backwards motion towards the leg.

Trim hair between toes

This hair can then be trimmed off with your straight or thinning shears being careful not to trim down between the toes. Working with shears pointed toward the ground at a slight angle, trim off excess rough hair around the foot. Nails should be trimmed so the tips clear the floor at the very least. It may be necessary to trim a little off the nail at a time several time to get the desired length, if the nails have been allowed to grow too long. The back feet are done the same. 262_trim_feet

Comb hair on hock down.

The hair on the back of the hock is combed down, and holding your scissors perpendicular to the floor, make a nicely rounded shape to the hock.

Scissor hair on hock
Trim the hair at base of tail in half circle

Using the #7F or a #5F blade in your clipper trim the hair on the bottom of the tail about 2-3 inches from the base. This is best done in a half-circle motion moving from a point approximately 3 inches down the tail from the body back toward the body circling down into the rump area.

Trim excess hair at end of tail.
Finished tail.

While holding the tail with one hand slide your grip down to the end stopping about one-half inch past the end of the actual tail.  With a straight shears, trim off the excess feathering in a straight perpendicular cut. This gives a perfectly tapered appearance to the remaining tail hair.  Be careful not to trim too close to the actual tail as you do not want to cut into the tip.

320_Mairead2_6.21.09Don’t forget to clean your Gordon Setters ears regularly using a commercial ear cleaner and a soft cotton wipe or cotton ball. Regular teeth brushing between veterinary cleaning is also helpful in reducing tartar build-up and can prevent more serious health issues from developing.

  Heidi Moon, MN