Before we go to Dr. Battaglia’s abstract “60 Breeds – Extinction in the Conformation Sport“ let’s review a few things from it as they relate specifically to the Gordon Setter.
Why is it that so many Americans own a purebred dog yet do not choose to use a breed standard or chose to breed? Why don’t purebred owners join breed clubs these days? What can we do to change this?
For over 100 years dog shows have been a popular sport in America and for some grew from a hobby to a profession or business. This in turn created more difficulty for the novice to win against the professional handler, seasoned breeder and experienced exhibitors. For many years the sport continued to grow along with the number of dog clubs, breeders and exhibitors but then this growth was followed by a change in society that brought changes in the popularity of breeding and showing dogs. The sport began to shift as people became more careful with use of their time and discretionary dollars. As expenses increased and the novice exhibitor’s chances of success decreased, many quit. This led to problems for dog clubs in attracting new members to manage events. Millions of people continue to own purebred dogs but entries at dog shows, purebred breeders, litters and club members continue a downward trend.
What if nothing changes?
The Gordon Setter does not appear on the list of 60 at risk of extinction and that is genuinely a good thing for the breed. Is that comfort enough though, for us to do nothing? If nothing happens to change the current trends in purebred dogs that include the Gordon Setter, the following will occur:
- The number of breeders using the breed standard will continue to fall.
- The number clubs hosting shows will continue to decline.
- Show entries will continue to decline.
- The Gordon Setter Club of America, it’s event committees, and Independent Gordon Setter clubs will not be able to educate their members and the public.
- The Gordon Setter will experience declining gene pool size and genetic diversity affecting the breed’s health.
What can you and I do to positively influence these trends?
Here are a couple of suggestions that a Gordon lover could do that will help to turn the negative trends. These would be what I like to call “the one small part we each need to play”.
- If you are not a member of a local breed club or your national parent club (the GSCA) please join.
- If you are a member then bring just one new member to the club each year. If each member did this clubs could double in size in just one year, bringing a valuable increase in the club’s work force and revenue that would support programs, education, activities and thus publicity for the Gordon Setter.
- What if you own a Gordon Setter and are one of the millions of people who have never attended a dog show, agility trial, field trial, hunt test or any other AKC event? Set aside a few hours to attend one of these – that could be the one small part you play! You will learn something new about Gordon Setters and a bit about the sport and learning always has some positive effect.
If we brainstormed together I’m sure we would come up with many more ideas, things we could to do to play our small part. And, if we each committed to doing a small part every year, those would begin to add up and build that positive trend we want so much for the Gordon Setter we love.
This abstract by Carmen Battaglia measured 188 AKC breeds by four factors that are believed to be related to whether a breed is at risk of disappearing from dog show competition. That resulted in a list of *60 breeds who are at the highest risk. Consider if you will, that 60 breeds are nearly a third of all AKC recognized breeds. *Table 3d
- Number of litters and dogs registered
- Low conversion rate
- Low Entry
- Number of Limited Registrations
Number of litters and dogs registered
Ranked #105 out of 188 breeds the Gordon Setter falls nearly in the middle of all breeds and has ranked similarly among AKC breeds for several years.
TABLE 2 of the abstract tells us that the 3 year average of Gordon Setter litters was 114, and that from those litters an average of 389 individual Gordon Setters were registered per year.
The conversion rate measures the number of pups registered with AKC individually out of the number of puppies reported on litter registrations. The startling finding is that in 87 of the breeds studied, half of all pups are lost to the breed and stud book by not being registered – the conversion rate for those breeds is 50% or less.
Gordon Setter litters averaged 114 over 3 years with a total of 726 puppies born, and of those born 389 puppies were registered individually for a conversion rate of 53.5%. Close to half of all Gordon Setters are lost to the stud book and gene pool simply by virtue of never being registered.
Data for the breeds listed as Low Entry (LE) serve as a measure of a breed’s gene pool size and its genetic diversity. A breed is considered a low entry breed when entries for that breed fall below 3,500 per year. The LE Breed List is used during the judging approval process by AKC because the number of educational opportunities is limited by the low number of breed entries at dogs shows. The number of breeds on the LE list continues to grow and by 2016 reached 90 breeds or 47% of the studbook with most of those breeds being well below the 3,500 threshold.
The good news is that the Gordon Setter is not a low entry breed. TABLE 1 tells us that 103 Gordon Setters (3 year average) were entered in conformation events or 26.6% of the Gordon Setters registered during that time.
Limited Registrations (LR)
Based on population statistics the expectation is that poor quality animals should fall in the 4-6% range which should correspond with the number of dogs placed on a Limited Registration (LR). This study noted that many breeds have a significantly higher percentage than this expected range of Limited Registrations, and noted further that the number of dogs registered by LR has been steadily increasing. Overuse of LR for purposes other than removing poor quality dogs from the gene pool, especially when added to the number of pups that aren’t registered at all (the conversion rate) will have a negative impact on the stud book.
Out of the averaged 389 Gordon Setters registered in this study, 43 were on Limited Registration or 11% of the total registered. This is not an alarming trend for the breed.
Recommendations and Proposals by Dr. Battaglia
Out Reach to the Stakeholders – Breed Clubs and Breeders
Share this information with Officers of the club and beyond to our breeder/owners. Share the consequences for doing nothing as a first step in any effort to stabilize the decline in show entries, breeders, exhibitors and breed size. An organized public relation, marketing and education effort is warranted.
The proposal to create an AKC National Sweepstake and AKC National Maturity program for every breed is detailed completely in Dr. Battaglia’s complete abstract.
BEST NEWS! The Gordon Setter does not appear among the 60 high risk breeds!
BETTER NEWS! It’s easy and it’s never too late to become a part of the solution!
GOOD NEWS! We gain important information from this study that will help us promote and protect our breed – let’s we act on it!
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Photos by Ben Perez – GSCA National Specialty
Contributing Factors: Low Conversion Rates, Low Entry Breeds, Limited Registrations
Dr. Carmen Battaglia November, 2017
Couldn’t be more thrilled to share the news about about the
Gordon Setter Club of America, Inc.
Monday, October 22, 2018
C&R Center on the Norman G Wilder Wildlife Area
This is GSCA’s 3rd National event for 2018 and the newest addition to the GSCA lineup of spectacular events showcasing our talented and beautiful breed!
Feature photo by Jim McWalter
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
*Members are aware that since January 2017, I’ve served as Vice President and now President of the Gordon Setter Club of America, Inc. At times, GSCA financial matters, and Board controversy about these matters, have grabbed headline status in the newsletter, by email and during conversations at GSCA events.
What never changed or grabbed headlines was my dedication to the objectives of the GSCA and the reason we all belong – the dogs.
In September of 2015, well before I was elected to office in 2017, I wrote a blog that clearly states my personal dedication to our beautiful breed and my commitment to pursue and fulfill GSCA objectives. An excerpt from that article follows.**
“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 everyone who loves a Gordon Setter and that includes pet owners, breeders and hunters alike. We each need to heed the call to act, to 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 can 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.”
It would be impossible not to recognize that GSCA events, activities and charitable donations could come to a grinding halt, if the club’s financial matters aren’t managed consistently and appropriately. And that attending to this task ensures the club can fulfill its objectives. One thing follows the other and vice versa. It is after all, about the dogs.
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
*This is a personal message and is not intended to represent any official statement of or by the GSCA or the GSCA Board.
**excerpt from IS OUR BREED IN JEOPARDY?
Purpose of this survey was to begin to take a measure, the pulse of the GSCA membership so to speak, pertaining to our regional committees and independent specialty clubs, who by virtue of the GSCA’s current policies and procedures are the organizations upon whom we depend first, to host the annual GSCA National Specialty.
We asked respondents to project their opinion out to encompass the next 5 years after 2018 so we could begin to evaluate if there are enough regional committees or independent clubs with interest or plans to cover hosting the National Specialty for the next 5 years. The thought being, that if regional committees and independent clubs have no intention of bidding, perhaps we need to rethink current policies and procedures to better accommodate the future of the event.
67 individuals completed the survey that was posted on Facebook and sent via email to the 400 GSCA members follow the blog, Gordon Setter Expert. Respondents expressed opinions as to their own individual interest about working on a National Specialty, and also their own opinion as to whether the club or committee to which they belonged would be hosting a National Specialty in the future. NOTE: these were not club/committee responses, these are responses from some of the members of those clubs or committees. Polling the club or committee for a direct answer would be a Board decision and action.
First we asked folks to tell us which regional committee or independent specialty club they belonged to:
- 12 Did not belong to a club or committee but have worked on a NS committee
- 9 Tartan GSC
- 7 Nodrog GSC of MI
- 5 High Plains
- 5 Midwest
- 4 Mid Atlantic
- 4 Missouri Valley
- 4 Sunbelt GSC
- 3 Badgerland GSC
- 3 Golden Gate GSC
- 3 GSC of Greater Atlanta
- 3 North Country GSC of MN
- 2 New Mexico Gordonites
- 2 Pacific Northwest GSC
- 1 Southern CA GSC
In the past year or so, has your group/club discussed hosting a future National Specialty or is there an intent to discuss this in the near future?
NO 57% or 38 people
YES 43% or 29 people
How likely is it that YOU, as an INDIVIDUAL, would vote in favor of your group/club hosting the GSCA national Specialty in your region during any of these years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023?
44 Yes or likely 13 No or unlikely
- 38 Somewhat likely
- 6 Yes we will submit a bid
- 11 No, not at all likely
- 2 Somewhat unlikely
- 8 Other (these are responses are primarily from people who may not have a vote, as they do not belong to a club or committee)
I live in a region without an area committee. I have twice chaired events at previous National Specialties.
I try to support nationals with donations, raffle purchases, etc. I am not a member of a regional club.
I do not have a local club.
I live in QC/Canada
As we are hosting 2017 I can’t answer this question.
not involved in local often volunteer
Not sure as I have not been to a meeting recently
Being discussed but no consensus
Speaking as a member of the group/club, what is your best guess as to whether your group will be submitting a bid to host the National Specialty in your region during any of these years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023?
36 No or unlikely 13 Yes or likely
- 22 Not at all likely
- 14 Somewhat unlikely
- 11 Somewhat likely
- 2 Yes we will submit a bid
- 16 Other
Don’t know, but they know I won’t be there to help
I live in a region not covered by an event/are committee and has few active GSCA members.
Involved with a group considering 2019
I do not have a local club.
Unsure — too many variables
not a member of any other club in the USA
Not a clue.
Not a clue
Use this section to give the name of any other clubs to which you belong as listed above, as well as the answers to the two questions above.
I am also a member of the Standing National Specialty Committee
I belong to Fredricksburg Virginia Kennel Club and the GSCA. I used to belong to the Blue Ridge Gordon Setter Club.
I’ve been to the Rhode island National, it’s close to QC so I would go if possible again.
Badgerland is an Event Committee so has no actual membership and can’t charge any dues. About 5 years ago Badgerland was approached by Highlanders to have a specialty show in connection of the ones they used to have. This was brought to a meeting by a couple of our members (we were still a club at that time and not an Event Committee). When asked about the costs involved nobody could provide us with any information so we floored the discussion until more information was provided which never happened.
New Mexico Gordonites
Think I’m in Midwest (Ohio) by default, ie no action on my part, but get questionnaires referring to judges and specialty show timing.
WVESF, Willamette English Setters Fanciers
Badgerland although it is not an active club anymore
Use this space to provide any additional information regarding the obstacles or reasons why your group/club might be unable or perhaps unwilling to host the National Specialty?
The “new” committee rules which eliminated our ability to organize as a local club to retain interest and attract new members locally.
I love in a region without an organized area committee. Gordon owners in my region are primarily pet owners or hunters with little interest or experience in hosting a dog show.
Not enough folks in our area.
They didn’t even have a fall specialty this year.
Cant see any reason, they are highly capable.
Not enough people to do the work. Also the membership is older.
We do not have enough active members to even begin to host a national.
Enough reliable people. Need a person to coordinate.
lack of workers. Many are overworked from the past decades and feel that newer, younger members should work. There are many exhibitors that have never helped with a regional or National Specialty and many older members no longer exhibit and feel it is their turn it sit back and enjoy without spending so much time and out of pocket expenses for the benefit of others and often feel like they are unappreciated.
I don’t speak with other members very much lately.
Our independent club has hosted successful multiple national specialties and field trials. Quite frandly, our club is ‘aging’ out and we do not feel that we would be able to filed the bodies or time in order to host a national of the caliber we have become used to producing.
Hosting a National Specialty is a lot of work. The work falls on the shoulder of fewer and fewer volunteers as clubs become smaller.
I live at a distance from both these clubs so I am not involved in day to day decisions. However, I am able to help with online things which I did with the last TarTan NS.
Club members inability to participate. Money it costs. time constraints for those that might consider it.
TarTan has hosted the National Specialty in 1989, 1997, 2004, and 2012. It’s a lot of work and our membership is aging out and some who have headed up past events have stated they are no longer willing.
Cost and lack of members willing to help, like most clubs, it gets harder to find volunteers and those that do are aging.
Not enough people, not enough financial support from the GSCA
Once of the big factors in hosting a national specialty (especially in clubs which do not have large number of members) is the cost. In my opinion the national club need to commit to providing significant financial assistance with covering those costs that cannot be completely covered by entry fees, specialty “social” event fees, etc.
Too few volunteers, too big of a need for fundraising. It’s ususally the same people doing all of the work with little help from other club members who still will sit back and complain about things.
Lack of membership & opposing ideas on what would make a national a great event. members who want to do everything on the cheap vs putting your heart and sound into an event.
Our members do not show they hunt and are mainly pet people.
We just had one in Ohio so it wools dall in the latter part of that range.
Badgerland hasn’t even managed to put on a Hunt Test or Field Trial in the past couple years. We also don’t have am actual membership anymore because in order to do that we would need to form separate club. We don’t have meetings either. The majority of the male’s in our club don’t want to participate in any “show” events so they would not be willing to help with a national which also limits the number of people we would have to help.
Age of members, number of workers, amount of work involved.
Older people in group. Most are not willing to do the work involved. Same few do most of the work.
This is a bit lengthy to try and explain but pretty much ever since we became an area committee and not be considered a club, hold meetings, collect dues etc. we ahve lost interest. We have no reason to get together. Last several field events have been cancelled due to lack of entries. Since no reason to get together (hence the club feel) hard to get members (that is a whole other topic) to commit or gain new members. People want to belong to a club. Not just put on events for the parent club. We always had the same group doing the same thing. Personally I’m burned out and without you being a GSCA member you can’t be on the committee to begin with.
Fundraising is arduous and difficult. People now have health limitations and lifting restrictions that making setting up and long days of work difficult.
Not enough volunteers. And money.
We’re aging to the point where the physical work load is simply too much to handle. Carting around items to sell to raise fund to host the event is exhausting and we’re past the point where we want to do that.
Fewer people involved in the club makes it hard to spread the work load. We’re burned out and exhausted but at the same time do not want the event to go away.
We are hosting next year so I doubt we would be willing to do it so soon again.
I think age is taking it’s toll. Age of the people, not the dogs.
We hosted the National in 2013. At that time we had about 25-30 members. Now we have only about 5 members.
Feel free to share any additional thoughts or comments here that may be of value regarding this topic.
I have attended most of the National Specialties in the past 5 years and have shown dogs in Conformation. I prefer that the National Specialty be held in different parts of the country, not only so that I have the chance to travel, but also so that Gordon owners across the nation can have the opportunity to have the specialty located near them. I do not believe that a single permanent location is a good idea for the club membership as a whole. However, a standardization of the time of year or length of time between Nationals might assist members with seasonal obs, like teachers, attend the show and eliminate long tretches of time between shows, i.e. more than 12 months.
It seems that even having to come up with the volunteers and organization to hold a national specialty every few years is overwhelming for regional clubs. We all know that 10% of volunteers do 90% of the work in ANY volunteer organization, so no wonder we wear them out. I would support having a standing committee at the national level who would do the majority of the work to organize a national specialty with a local club providing a much more minor amount of support (since I have never been around a club doing a national I don’t know how that division of work would be decided but someone would!) much closer to dhow time. As a club we may want to think about a national every two years instead of every year or 18months, perhaps that would spread the work out as well. (This has likely been suggested in the past, not sure) Thanks!
Left the club because i was not made to feel welcome or like I belonged.
Fundraising is one of the biggest obstacles in putting this event on.
Having it spread out for 4-5 days in the middle of the week prevents a lot of working members from attending.
I think we need to get back to the basics of the national. Focus more on the ring experiences instead of too many extra fundraising activities. Don’t misunderstand me, I like the social interactions but I think we have jam packed too many in one day and it forces people to choose what they can afford or have time to do.
I am not a member of any dog club, but have participated in National Specialties in the past. As nice as it is to visit other parts of the country, the number of folks participating at this time seem to indicate that the Midwest is drawing the most participants. I know it is not fair to the coastal folks, but it is what it is. We need to think of the needs/wants of the many and not just a few. Also, perhaps looking into a certain time of the year instead f any time during the year might make it easier for people to plan. For instance the coastal people might be more inclined to drive through the mountains in early summer to early fall.
Since jobs and/or weather are factors in traveling long distances, Nationals should be held June through August every other year. Let’s not marginalize younger club members who are not retired. We are a club with an aged membership and need to solicit younger members and juniors.
We hosted extremely successful (in entries and financial outcome) events, yet we had the feeling that the GSCA board and the Club in general was not supportive of our efforts and some non working members were extremely critical and demanding of the hosting members. Did not leave a good feeling with some of our hard working members.
I do like the National moving around the country so everyone has a chance of attending, although I do know other breeds that have been happy to have all their Nationals at Purina Farms. I’ve never been able to attend one west of Ohio primarily because of the time of year—if the National is during the academic year, I can’t attend. For that reason I will be unable to attend the AZ National.
like I said I would be happy to participate in the east part of the USA near the border but I am not a member of any other club in the USA.
Badgerland “hosted” the NFT back in 2005 and we were treated like shit by the National Field Trial Committee so that has also left a very bad taste in our mouths about National event. We did take care of the silent auction at the Minnesota National and the Hunt Test at both of the Nationals put on by the Highlanders but we still had a difficult time finding enough people in our club (at that time we were still a club and not an Event Committee) to man the events.
Would love to attend a national…never have.
I find it hard to find people that want to even get involved anymore. You get a few people here and there. But if you look at the majority of who organizes these things. These people have been around for years. Haven’t had anyone interested in joining for quite some time. Tell me what they are joining?
Fund raising by National Specialty volunteers needs to stop or be made optional. Too much work and pressure are being placed on those who volunteer to put on the show. the same people volunteer over and over. Many, including board members, have never taken a leadership role in putting on a National and they have no idea what’s involved.
We need to develop a plan to streamline the work involved in hosting the event and that might mean using a single location where most of the set up, clean up, equipment etc. is handled by the site management such as that provided by locations such as Purina or Eukanuba. We must streamline fundraising, and we must find another means to finance the GSCA’s overall operations as the folks supporting the national Specialty should not be the only members who’s donations and generosity are being used to cover the GSCA’s bottom line expenses – proceeds from the national Specialty would all ideally be funneled back into the National Specialty and not disbursed to cover any and all other outstanding GSCA expenses such as the Newsletter, board expenses, printing, pictorial, etc. This would put less of a financial burden on the National’s committee, exhibitors and participants and alleviates much of the fundraising pressure.
Not sure why AZ should be an issue. Was RI an issue several years ago? Would be curious to know what entry counts at various Nationals has been compared to registered Gordons.
I really hope that the NS continues to move around the country. I know the general membership feels most of the exhibitors live in the mid-west or further east and the Purina Farms would be ideal. It is a lovely place but quite cost prohibitive to drive from western Canada.flying continues to be difficult. I have also flown to eastern Canada and then rented a vehicle to drive south to the NS again cost is a factor as to how many dogs I can bring and if I can find someone to share expenses. I do my best to get to most of the NS and I enjoy seeing the US.
Thoughts of course chairing between 2 clubs. Compromise is always difficult but would be less cost to each individual club. GSCA make a larger contribution maybe.
While it is fun to visit other areas, it would be nice to have a “central” location and especially nice to have the same week every year. It makes planning the trip much easier.
I feel the standing National Specialty Committee needs to plan to host the National yearly. There are a lot of parent clubs that host their National every year. I feel there are a good number of GSCA members who would be willing to help out if asked. You cannot always count on just asking who would like to volunteer but must specifically ask someone – can you do this ___? I would like to see at least 1 day of our event held on a weekend. I do not think we should overlook holding our National with an all breed show, our embers are dropping to a point that could be done.
Personally, I don’t think member input is valued by the GSCA. Decisions are made by the board in our name, but there is little discussion or request for input. It might have been nice to see an email blast about the 2018 national before a decision was made. It’s great that we had two bids, but a November national can be iffy with weather and holiday issues.
We are falling apart as a club. People make suggestions but nothing is changed. We need to have nationals over a weekend where people can go.
Published by Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Feature photo by Ben Gordon Setter Perez
GSCA Breeder Education – 2016 GSCA National Specialty
By Sally Gift
To begin let’s start with excerpts from
Positive and clearly explained judging can only be good for both judges and breeders, and for our breeds as well.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is for people to look at a dog and immediately point out what they don’t like about that dog? I think most often the first comments made by many people about a dog are negative. We hear an awful lot of “I don’t like” in conversations about dogs.
Probably we are all guilty of falling into the trap of finding fault, both as breeders and as judges, because finding fault is easier than finding virtue. Common faults are easily seen and identified by almost everyone, while breed-specific virtues can only be seen and appreciated by those who truly understand the breed they are looking at…Even judges (sic Breeders) with years of experience were tongue tied when forced to discuss their placements by pointing out only the virtues of each dog. They all wanted to fall back into the “I don’t like” syndrome.
…The positive mindset is not only important for judges but for breeders as well. How many times have I asked a fellow breeder, “What do you think of that dog?” only to have the first sentence come back starting with, “Well, I don’t like…” After my years of learning about positive judging and critiquing, my immediate reaction is to say, “But I want to know what you do like about that dog.” The look I get is generally priceless, but my question usually results in a thoughtful discussion of the virtue of the dog and a learning experience for both of us.
Not everyone will see the exact same virtues in every dog, and not everyone will place the same priorities on those virtues. That is why different dogs win on different days, and when the judging is positive and can be clearly explained, then no one is wrong. But regardless of differing viewpoints and priorities, striving to see dogs in a positive light can only be good for both judges and breeders, and for our breeds as well.
In forming our concept of the Hands On experience, and in addition to focusing on judging dogs positively, we also wanted to encourage breeders and exhibitors to take the time to put their hands on dogs owned and bred by others; to learn how to feel breed specific qualities to recognize correct structure (breed type), to learn a variety of ideas and concepts from others, and to learn how to see good qualities in all dogs, our own as well as those owned by others – to learn how to develop an unbiased eye.
Now let’s move on to highlights from the Hands On experience!
I can’t possibly write about all the topics we covered, nor all the positives of the dogs presented for exam. But if I haven’t covered a topic or a point that you want to see shared here please offer that in the comment section of this article.
The Hands On experience was open forum, and participants were encouraged to come and go at will, so the group size and the participants fluctuated throughout the program. Some brought dogs who were stacked in front of the group while other participants went over those dogs, the Hands On part. Then, those who examined were asked to share their view of the positive qualities they found on the dog they examined. Discussion about the positives followed with the group at large joining the talk. While committee members, Barb Manson, Peggy Nowak and I moderated to keep things on track, the teachers here were actually the participants, the many breeders and exhibitors who shared their dogs, views, and experience. The Hands On experience lead to many various, thought provoking and enlightening discussions. The participants and their dogs were the shining stars of the experience, and we thank each and every one of you for making this one of the best GSCA Breeder Education events. We have heard a magnitude of positive feedback, and what we heard most often was indeed “best Breeder Education program ever” and “let’s do it again”!
Topics that were covered during the experience
Esther Joseph (Australia) shared many interesting points about length of body and the length and structure of the rib cage. She noted that when compared to other countries, the American Kennel Club (AKC) Gordon Setter Standard, is the only standard to to call for a length approximately to equal height, interpreted by many to mean we seek a “a square dog”.
- AKC Standard – Proportion: The distance from the forechest to the back of the thigh is approximately equal the height from the ground to the withers.
- Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) Standard – Body: Moderate length.
One of the key takeaways that I would mention is the wording in the AKC standard, wording that says approximately equal, as this wording gives the Gordon room for sufficient length of body to allow for the driving stride he will exhibit if properly angled front and rear. A dog whose body is too short for the angulation of his rear can not move properly. If we were to breed for a completely square Gordon we would need to breed that dog with less angulation in the rear, so his rear stride does not interfere with his front. Perhaps we need to focus on the standard saying approximately equal and eliminate the word square from our lingo?
The AKC standard says Gordon Setter movement should be: A bold, strong, driving free swinging gait…The hindquarters reach well forward and stretch far back, enabling the stride to be long and the drive powerful. If, for example, a Gordon moves wide in the rear, or perhaps he crabs, we might consider that one of the causes could be that Gordon has too much rear angulation for the length of the body. Is this dog then too short in length (too square)?
(NOTE – as a question was raised, I did confirm the information I gave you regarding how to measure the dog’s length. I was correct, it is measured from the point of the forechest and never from the point on the shoulder joint)
Another discussion ensued on proper length, depth, and spring of rib. Here again Esther opened the chat and spoke in detail about the length of the rib cage and it’s importance for the protection of the Gordon’s vital organs (heart and lungs) when hunting in dense brush and brambles. To completely shield those organs the ribcage must be long from front to back, and we should measure this not simply by looking at the length from the side view of the dog, but also by reaching down under the dog to note how how far back the sternum extends. (The sternum being the floor of the chest, where the ribs meet underneath the dog.) The Gordon Setter needs not only his prominent forechest (for proper muscle attachment to provide reach) but also good length of the ribcage; a sternum whose length extends it’s boney protection to completely cover sensitive organs. A ribcage and which allows for the lung capacity he needs by it’s spring as well as depth for working in harsh terrain.
Barbara Manson began a discussion about short hocks by demonstrating that good quality on her dog. This led into a more in depth conversation among the group about the complete rear assembly, angulation, length of hock and sickle hocks. When viewing rear angulation we’d start at the highest point, the femur (think upper thigh) which has always been considered as the longest bone in the dog’s anatomy. The tibia and fibula (second thigh) should be second in length to the femur, and are attached to the hock which should be the shortest in this group of leg bones that contribute to rear angulation. Simple so far, right?
Standing around at rest (as opposed to lusting after a hot smelling bitch which brings every hot blooded dog up on his toes) a well built dog will naturally stand with the rear foot in a somewhat perpendicular line on the ground, right under the boney protuberance that ends at the point of the buttocks. Just like humans, dogs stand around with their feet almost directly under their butts. Why? Because that’s the dog’s column of support. So, if the second thigh (tibia and fibula) is longer than the upper thigh (femur), opposite the normal length of these bones, the only way the dog can reach his column of support is if the hock is long enough to get the foot where it needs to be – underneath the dogs butt. Proper ratio of length between upper thigh and lower thigh gives us the shorter hock we expect on our Gordon Setter. To sum it, a Gordon needs to have an upper thigh (femur) that is longer than the lower thigh (tibia and fibula), ending with a hock that is shorter than both of those bones. As a general rule, the genes that control the length of one bone are often linked to the genes that control the length of the corresponding bones so Mother Nature provides compensation when the ratio in the length of these bones gets out of whack, grow a lower thigh that’s too long for the upper thigh and Mother Nature will give you a longer hock to compensate.
Standing around ringside, looking at dogs standing in a relaxed state, the well put together dogs will be standing with their rear feet underneath the back half of the pelvis and their hocks slightly sloping – we should be able to see light between the ground and the entire length of dog’s hock. If a dog is standing with his hocks nearly flat to the ground, odds are excellent that we are looking at excessive angulation (a lower thigh that is longer than the femur).
Sickle hocks are a result of these over angulated rears. For me, sickle hocks are easily seen on the backward swing of the rear leg during movement. Instead of the joint between the lower thigh and the hock opening up into a nearly straight extended line, where the pads on the bottom of the foot end in a position that is nearly straight up (or reaching toward the sky), the sickle hock, due to the imbalanced length of the bones, at fullest rearward extension ends in a shape resembling a sickle – slightly curved instead of fully extended. No glimpse of the sky for the pads on these feet. The rear movement on the sickle hocked dog looks like the swinging of an old fashioned sickle when viewing the sickle from the side.
Our group also spent a bit of time discussing feet. We’re not going to cover all of that discussion here as this article has grown quite long. I did want to mention that I remember a brief conversation around the use of the term “cat foot”. Perhaps I remember wrong but I thought I heard someone say that “cat foot” no longer appeared in our standard. You were right, cat foot isn’t exactly right, but a reference to cat does appear. The standard says “Feet catlike in shape”.
I’m splitting this report into sections as it’s growing long, keep an eye out for Part II – The 2016 National Specialty Hands On experience in a future issue. In Part II I’ll share other discussions we held on topics like the width of jaw, angle of croup, block on block heads and vitiglio.
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ GSCA Breeder Education Committee Chair
Photos by Ben Perez
A slide show of random photos from the BOB class at the ’16 GSCA National Specialty courtesy of Ben Perez. We’ll be sharing more of these in future articles. Thanks Ben!
GSCA Breeders Education Program – 2016 National – from Noon Wednesday till…
we’ll be on the Show Site for this.
The Breeder/Exhibitor Education Committee will be holding a hands-on experience at this years National at the show site on Wednesday, May 11th, beginning at noon.
The purpose of this program is to give breeders and exhibitors the opportunity to examine, recognize and evaluate positive attributes of Gordon Setter Structure and breed type, to help lend direction to breeding programs and enhance exhibition of the breed. We are encouraging you to bring a dog for examination, but it’s not required. We are only critiquing positives and there will be no fault finding allowed.
This will be a casual program and you can come and go as you wish. All questions are fair game. We welcome everyone, experienced breeders, handlers and newbies alike to participate in a unique experience.
Refreshments will be served.
The deadline to order catalogs from the 2016 GSCA National Specialty has been extended to
April 20, 2016
CATALOG ORDER FORM
$15.00 per catalog – preordered and picked up at the show
$20.00 per catalog – limited quantity available at the show (no preorder)
$25.00 per catalog – preordered, marked and mailed the week following the show (includes US postage)
City, State, Zip
Amount Enclosed $
⃝ pick up @ the show ⃝ marked & mailed
Make checks payable to the GSCA
Mail order and payment to
945 Font Rd.; Glenmoore, PA 19343
Phone (610) 458-0596 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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