Tag Archives: temperament

Impressions

Another chapter in our review of the Gordon Setter breed standard

Barb Manson

Written by  Barbara Manson

There are a few things that we need to tie together in regard to the standard.  I’ve discussed most of the pieces but we need to see how they work together to create a good quality Gordon Setter.  As breeders and exhibitors, it’s important that we not “fool” ourselves as we evaluate our own dogs and those of our competitors.  We want what’s best for our breed and we need to be confident and articulate in regards to our choices.  We must also establish, in our own minds, what represents a correct Gordon Setter and what is simply personal preference.  These can be two separate things.  By so doing, we are keeping our minds open and we are better able to evaluate the qualities found in competitors dogs.  This is vital if we are to advance our breed.

Impressions
Photo by Ben Perez, 2016 GSCA National Specialty

 

What does the judge see when he/she is evaluating our dogs on the go around.  We all know he sees dogs who may be limping.  These dogs are usually excluded from competition because they are considered unsound on that day.  If you’re new, and this happens to you, don’t worry.  This has happened to most of us at one time or another.  Though disheartening, you will compete another day.  There are many other things that can be seen from the judge’s vantage point.  Under general appearance, size is mentioned.  I’ve covered this previously, but the judge can do an initial comparison between competitors at this point.  He should also see an “active, upstanding and stylish” dog ” appearing capable of doing a full day’s work in the field”.  Balance, and how all the pieces I’ve discussed fit together, is also apparent.  A “long, lean” neck, a “rather short back” and “a short tail” can be seen along with a correct topline on the move.  The expectation is a “high head carriage” and a back that remains relatively level on the move, not running down hill or overly slopingshoulder to rear.  The correctness of the tailset and its relationship to the croup is in evidence at this point.  The tail should appear as an extension of the back and be “carried horizontal or nearly so”.  The gait should be “bold, strong, driving and free-swinging”.  The tail flags constantly while the dog is in motion”.  So what constitutes a “free-swinging” gait?  It is a “smooth flowing, well balanced rhythm, in which the action is pleasing to the eye, effortless, economical and harmonious”.   The dog moves so easily it seems as though he is floating and could move that way all day without tiring.  If you’re the handler of such a dog, you can actually feel him ” collect” himself as he starts to move.

Impressions2
Photo by Ben Perez, 2016 GSCA National Specialty

Temperament also comes into play here.  He appears, at this point, “alert, gay, interested and confident”.  He is “fearless and willing”.  Many of us have had the experience of trying to show a dog who was not exactly “willing”.  It’s not what we want to see in the ring but when this happens, I prefer to think of them as “strong minded enough to stand the rigors of training”.  Some are just more strong minded than others.  We’ll discuss training techniques another day but this can be one of the challenges of showing a Gordon Setter.  It may take time and patience, but even the tough nuts can be cracked.  As you consider the importance of these impressions, remember, they are the first thing the judge sees on the initial go around.  He sees them again when your dog is evaluated individually, and they are the last thing he sees before he points his finger.  These impressions are big clues as to the dog’s ability to withstand a long day in the field.  Dogs who exhibit these attributes are a pleasure to watch and they draw your eye to them.  They may seem elegant but closer examination should reveal substance.  They are, after all, Setters.

Impressions5
Photo by Ben Perez, 2016 GSCA National Specialty

I’ve had a couple of people bring up the amount of coat we are seeing in the ring today.  Heavily coated dogs are certainly much more prevalent today than they were when I came into the breed.  You can look back through old reviews and see how this factor has changed.  The current standard only addresses coat as “soft and shining, straight or slightly waved, but not curly”.  It goes on to describe where the long coat appears, but gives no parameters regarding how much coat our dogs should carry. It was once said, you could hunt with your Gordon on Saturday and show him in the ring on Sunday.  That’s definitely harder to do today.  I truly believe you can still finish a championship on a well constructed dog, under knowledgable judges, without an over abundance of coat.

Impressions1
Photo by Ben Perez, 2016 GSCA National Specialty

Once you move to the specials ring, the game is stepped up a bit.  To compete in today’s groups, coat and presentation become big factors.  I believe it would be very hard to pull out group placements and specialty breed wins without it.  It’s become an expectation.  The dogs who are truly competitive at this level, generally have more than coat and meticulous grooming going for them.  I urge breeders and newcomers to politely seek out opportunities to examine as many of these dogs as possible.  I will bet you find “hidden” attributes you didn’t know were there.  That said, if you bought a dog with an abundance of coat for hunting, but you also want to show him in the breed ring, be prepared to take measures to protect the coat or make choices as to which endeavors you wish to pursue and when.  I don’t think we will be returning to the way things were in the sixties or seventies.

Impressions4
Photo by Ben Perez, 2016 GSCA National Specialty

 

I really enjoyed seeing many of you at the National.  The committee did a great job and I enjoyed the low key atmosphere.  It was so nice, as it always is, to see the dogs.  Thank you to all who participated in the hands on breeders education and a special thank you to those who shared their dogs with us.  Without you, it would not have been a success.

Barbara Manson, Stoughton  WI

Photographs by Ben Perez are shared for your viewing pleasure and are not intended to illustrate any specific point in this article.

Impressions3
Photo by Ben Perez, 2016 GSCA National Specialty

 

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

Living with a Gordon Setter

Thank you to Guest Blogger – Denise Paquette for submitting this article sharing her thoughts around living with the Gordon Setter.

A day in the life of a Gordon Setter…….

Denise P - Duff -First thing in the morning – the alarm goes off and the snuggling starts. Although  a Gordon is ready to roll in the morning, it must be preceded by some serious snuggling. After 30 minutes of hitting the snooze button and being smothered by a 70 pound dog, it’s time to get up.

A friend of mine once called one of my boys “a love sponge”. Gordon Setters are a bit needy and high maintenance. They are not “backyard dogs”. If you leave them alone in the yard while you’re off at work, neither you nor your Gordon will be happy by evening.

Temperament:

Most Gordon Setters are social and love to go with you to town, the park, the beach or best of all hunting. All they really want is your attention, your love, and to be by your side. Gordon Setters are family dogs and do well with children. Mostly they are very sweet and love the attention and games that children play. They do well with other dogs and often enjoy the company of cats. If you have a busy life and don’t have much time for a dog, a Gordon Setter would not be the dog breed for you. Did I mention that the Gordon Setter is extremely loyal? They are the most defensive of all the Setters. Most bark to alert their owners to the approach of strangers, but do not generally do any nuisance barking. They protect their home and their people well.

Training:

Training is very important for a young Gordon. They do well with a balanced approach to basic obedience training. Using positive reinforcement works well with many breeds, but in general a few corrections thrown in draw the line with a Gordon and may help them to understand your limits. Left to their own devices they will cross the line to get your attention. Training gives them guidance and structure so they fit into your family. Incorporating exercise into a young dog’s life is good for their health. It also gives them a release for all their energy. Training is just as important as exercise. It helps to mold your dog’s personality so they fit into your lifestyle. A sense of humor is needed when training a Gordon Setter. Often the girls understand exactly what you are asking of them and they decide to do things with a twist and give you that humorous look – “are you nuts yet?”. In general, most Gordon girls are food motivated while the boys are motivated more by praise and love (there are always exceptions). They don’t see the point in mindless repetition, so do make sure to keep your training sessions fun and exciting. Communication skills are not a problem for most Gordons. They are very efficient at letting you know what they want. Whether it’s a bark, a whine, a woo-woo, a paw or a kiss, they will have you trained in no time!

You just need to dial in to your dog, figure out what motivates them and help them understand what’s important to you. Be ready to comprise when something is important to them and the relationship blossoms into something very special.

Activities:

Gordon Setters are very smart and trainable and can be trained for many activities. They do well in conformation, obedience, agility, tracking, rally and the field. While many herding dogs make great ranch dogs, the Gordon will not excel at this job. They are too trusting of livestock and a bit too inclined to frolic. They typically don’t take the time to read the intentions of the other animals and this is a recipe for injury. They are very athletic and enjoy activities that usually end with some snuggling on the couch.

Coat Care:

A moderate amount of coat care is necessary to keep your Gordon in good shape. If you don’t groom them often enough they will mat and then you’ll have one heck of a mess on your hands. Most Gordon Setters should be bathed at least every 2-3 weeks and groomed every few months. The hair cut keeps the matting to a minimum and makes for easier maintenance of the coat. A good quality shampoo and medium heavy conditioner should be used to keep the coat clear of mats and soft for all that snuggling. Combing a dry dog breaks the coat. It’s best to use a spray leave on conditioner that you comb into the coat.

Health:

Gordon Setter breeders and owners have been very diligent to maintain health in the breed. We are constantly working on maintaining type without compromising health. The cancer rate in Gordon Setters is similar to most sporting dogs. The health clearances recommended by the Gordon Setter Club of America include OFA hips, OFA elbows and CERF eyes. There are two new genetic tests available for testing juvenile renal disease (JRD) and late onset progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Many breeders also routinely check their breeding stock for low thyroid. Sometimes the Gordon will develop minor sebaceous cysts as they age. All in all, though the Gordon is a very healthy breed.

Denise PThe end of a day with a Gordon usually consists of snuggling on the couch while watching TV or maybe that could become falling asleep while watching TV! The more snuggling and love the happier the Gordon.

Denise Pauquette

Photos by Denise Pauquette