Let’s Talk Breed Education!
Genetics and Dog Shows Share Centuries of History
A s you know, genetic research didn’t start at Embark Veterinary. It started with the fathers of evolution and genetics. During the 19th century, an era of curios- ity about nature, animals, and scientific discoveries blossomed. In 1859, Charles Darwin published Origins of Species about his theory of evolution using natural selection. A few years later, Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel discovered through his experimentation with pea plants that characteristics can be passed down through generations. Mendel, considered by many to be the father of genetics, also defined t he words “recessive” a nd “ domi- nant” in his 1866 paper explaining how invisible factors (geno- types) can predictably produce visible traits (phenotypes). Following Mendel’s discoveries, Friedrich Miescher, a Swiss physiological chemist, discovered what he called “nuclein” or the nuclei of human white blood cells. What he actually discovered became known as deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA. Despite these revolutionary discoveries, the scientific community took decades to embrace them. Meanwhile, for centuries, dog breeders had been selectively breeding purpose-bred dogs. But around the 1850s, breeding programs (starting with English Foxhound packs) began to be recorded. In 1873, the Kennel Club in England started the first purebred dog registry and published official breed studbooks. Across the Atlantic, American dog fanciers were just as keen as their British Isle counterparts in holding field trials and dog shows. By 1877, the Westminster Kennel Club held its first dog show. In 1884, the American Kennel Club became the governing body of the sport of purebred dogs through its dog show rules, registry, and breed studbooks. Westminster was its first member club. Around 1900, British biologist William Bateson brought Mendel’s theories back to the forefront of the scientific community. Savvy dog breed- ers began to follow Mendelian inheritance when planning their breeding programs, with a new understanding of visible and invis- ible traits. Selective breeding of purebred dogs with closed gene pools would advance canine genetic research in the future. As more dog breeds emerged at the turn of the 20th century, dog shows began classifying them by type into Sporting, Non- Sporting, Terrier, Toy, and Working Groups. In 1944, Oswald Avery identified DNA as the substance responsible for heredity and, in 1950, Erwin Chargaff continued that research with his discovery that DNA was species specific. Genetic discoveries con- tinued with Rosalind Franklin’s work in 1951 on X-ray diffraction studies, which set the groundwork for the discovery of DNA’s dou- ble helix structure by James Watson and Francis Clark in 1953. By 1983, not only did the Herding Group debut at Westminster but Huntington’s became the first mapped human genetic disease. In 1999, Narcolepsy became the first mapped canine genetic disease by a team of researchers at Stanford University. During the 21st century, the human genome was sequenced in 2003, followed by the canine genome in 2005 with “Tasha” the Boxer. In 2008, “Uno” the Beagle became the first Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winner to donate DNA to research. His contribution helped to launch the first ever canine SNP array.
Courtesy of The Westminster Kennel Club.
By 2015, Embark Veterinary founders Ryan and Adam Boyko’s DNA research contributed to the understanding of the origins of the domestic dog. Their love of dogs and science, guided by their mission to improve the life and longevity of all dogs and end pre- ventable diseases, evolved into the founding of Embark Veterinary. In 2019, Embark Veterinary was selected as the official Dog DNA Test of the Westminster Kennel Club. In 2021, Embark scientists published their roan gene discovery. This was followed by the red intensity gene research article in May. Embark Veterinary may have a short history compared to that of the Westminster Kennel Club. However, the contributions of Embark’s founders, Ryan and Adam Boyko, have been felt across the canine world thanks to their research into the origin, over 15,000 years ago, of domesticated dogs. Ryan and Adam have spent the last decade learning everything they can about dogs and genetics. Meanwhile, The Westminster Kennel Club is America’s oldest organization dedicated to the sport of dogs. The West- minster Kennel Club Dog Show is the second longest continu- ously held sporting event in the US and, since 1948, is the longest nationally televised live dog show. The club has spent more than a century enhancing the lives of all dogs. A partnership between the two organizations was simply a natural fit. In June 2021, Embark and Westminster will team up again at the 145th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, held at Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, New York, on June 11th-13th. Embark will have an on-site swabbing station for exhibitors and award every Best of Breed winner an Embark for Breeders DNA Kit. Embark will also donate $10,000 toward canine health research in honor of the Best in Show winner. It’s evident that genetics and dog shows have shared a long history over the centuries, coming together today with a shared love of purebred dogs.
Beauty, Brains and Bird Sense BY JIM THACKER, DUNBAR GORDON SETTERS, FRANKLIN, OHIO F or as long as anyone can remember, the motto of the Gordon Setter Club of America Inc. has been “Beauty, Brains and Bird Sense.” In the 1980s, Nancy Large, a Gordon owner and breeder from New Hampshire, suggested to the parent club that an award should be given to Gordons that exemplified those characteristics through their accomplishments. Ask almost any Gordon owner about their dog and they will tell you that their own Gordon is beau- tiful, it is very smart (but stubborn), and it is always interested in birds. Even though this is probably more than some of them would say about their children (except perhaps the bit about the birds) it hardly qualifies as a basis for an award. A committee was appointed and, after a bit of work, finally settled on the criteria for the award—and they were presented for the first time in 1986. Beauty, Brains and Bird Sense is not an easy title to achieve, nor is it a quick one.
The Gordon in the picture is the second recipient of the award, Dual Ch. Shadowmere Ebony Shane CD. The picture was taken at a Working Certificate test, five months after Shane had his right front leg amputated due to bone cancer. He still could hunt on three legs and lived several more years after this picture was taken; Gordon Setter heart.
Looking at the award in the order it’s stated in the title, the first criteria is Beauty. Even though there is nothing more beautiful than a Gordon running in the field in the fall (with its black and tan markings racing past the browns, reds, yellows, and oranges of fall colors), floating effortlessly around a show ring or sailing over jumps in an agility ring, the committee determined that a Gordon needed to be an AKC show champion to earn this part of the qualifications. Earning a show champion title takes some work and it must be done under at least three judges who are evaluating the dog based on the AKC standard approved by the parent club. Three opinions in this case are better than that of one owner or breeder who might have a tendency to be a wee bit biased.
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BEAUTY, BRAINS AND BIRD SENSE
ONCE AGAIN, IT REQUIRED THREE LEGS TO EARN THOSE CERTIFICATES AND IT REQUIRED
The second part of the award is “Brains.” The committee determined that an AKC obedience title was the minimum requirement for this part of the award. Once again, this requires practice and a time commitment to achieve, even at the lowest level of Companion Dog. It isn’t like training your Gordon to roll over or fetch that bag of chips that is just out of your reach. (Gordons would charge you a fee for that little "chip trick.") When Agility trials became an AKC sponsored sport, the award was changed to include those titles as well. Allow me to reiterate here—a Beauty, Brains and Bird Sense award is not easy to achieve. The “Bird Sense” part of the award proved to be the most difficult to win approval. Obviously, an AKC Field Champion title would qualify, but at that time in the 1980s there were only a couple Gordons a year earning those titles. Field trials required horses, they were seasonal, and they were beyond the reach of most people. Also, at that point in time the AKC did not have the hunting dog program and the titles that are available now; that program was still several years away. However, the GSCA had in place a precursor to those hunting tests in the form of its Working Dog Certificate and Working Dog Certificate with Retrieve tests. Once again, it required three legs to earn those certificates and it required effort in both time and training to achieve. With the advent of the AKC Hunting Tests, the number of Gordons working at basic levels in the field soared, and so did the number of dogs that have earned the Beauty, Brains and Bird Sense award. Listed here are the current requirements for the award; one title from each group: Awarded to the owner of any Gordon that has attained an AKC Championship conformation title (CH) and... Obedience, including Companion Dog (CD), Graduate Novice (GN), Graduate Open (GO), Versatility (VER), Rally Excellent (RE), Tracking (TD), Novice Agility (NA), or Open Agility Preferred (OAP)] and... Field, including Junior Hunter (JH), Senior Hunter (SH), Master Hunter (MH), Field Champion (FC), Amateur Field Champion (AFC), GSCA Working Dog (WD) or GSCA Work- ing Dog Retrieve (WDR) Certificate title. Finally, some special mentions need to be made. Two dogs that had ended their careers prior to the establishment of the award were given full credit and received the first two awards. They were both Dual Champions with obedience titles; DC Gunbar’s Dare Devil CD, owned by Bill and Marge Platt of Illinois and whelped in 1952, and DC Shadowmere Ebony Shane CD, owned by Jack and Barbara Cooper of California and whelped in 1974. One other Gordon deserves special mention. OTCH CH Chaparral Justin Time UDX MH, owned by Janie Bristow of North Carolina and Linda Sanders of Nevada, is the most-titled Gordon to earn the award—and is the only OTCH to earn it.
EFFORT IN BOTH TIME AND TRAINING TO ACHIEVE. WITH THE ADVENT OF THE AKC HUNTING TESTS, THE NUMBER OF GORDONS WORKING AT BASIC LEVELS IN THE FIELD SOARED, AND SO DID THE NUMBER OF DOGS THAT HAVE EARNED THE BEAUTY, BRAINS AND BIRD SENSE AWARD.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jim Thacker has owned, bred, and campaigned Gordon Setters in the show ring and field since 1977 under the Dunbar kennel prefix. His dogs have earned titles in each part of the sport, including one Dual and Amateur Field Champion who was twice the parent club's Gun Dog of the Year. He previously judged AKC and American Field pointing breed trials and hunting tests, and has also judged Spaniel hunting tests. He is currently the Gordon Setter breed columnist for the AKC Gazette. He lives in southwest Ohio.
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BEV ANDERSEN I live in Scottsdale, Arizona. Out- side of dogs, I quilt, sew, knit, and read as many books a month as pos- sible between other activities. We pur- chased our first purebred dog before we were married, and then our second purebred dog which launched our show career 43 years ago. I have been judging for 10 years. GARY ANDERSEN
movement that is proper for a Gordon Setter with appro- priate reach and drive. GA: Overall balance, deep head (top to lower jaw) big bone, substance (body), level topline, square and SOUND. BB: Good Color, Substance, Head and structure. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? BA: Sloping toplines, exaggerated rear angles with straight fronts and lastly lacking bone. GA: Yes, over angulated rears and lacking in bone. BB: Negative temperaments. Straight fronts, too long, lack- ing substance. We are losing the lift and reach that the front should have in this breed. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? BA: Yes, the Gordons are very different from when we pur- chased our first Gordon Setter. Rears have improved dra- matically as in the 70s many exhibits were cowhocked with longer hocks. Toplines have improved as you do not see as many with very low tailsets as in the past. Heads have improved as there was a time when the backskull could be too wide or not enough flew. Overall, move- ment has improved. GA: Oh my goodness yes! Much better now. When we first started showing no two looked alike. They had terrible roaching toplines, low tail sets, some had bone and no body, others had great fronts and terrible rears. BB: Yes, the heads are improving, substance is better, move- ment is better coming and going. 5. Your pet peeve in the show ring is…? BA: Long toenails, dirty teeth, dirty dogs and showing dogs with the lead under the right ear when the dog clearly is fighting this and throwing its front movement as a result. (If the dog is not fighting the lead under the ear, that does not bother me.) GA: Exhibitors over-showing their dogs! BB: Pro handlers not respecting owner handlers.
I live in Scottsdale Arizona. Outside of dogs, I enjoy photography (since the day of the Kodak box camera), volun- teering and when I have time work on my 69 Ford Mach I, or 70 Ford Torino. Have been in and showing dogs for 43 years, I started my animal interest showing cattle in high school through 4-H. I have been judging for 23 years.
I live in Freeport, IL—I am a Paralegal, elected Official (Town Clerk) and a retired Emergency Medical Technician— Intermediate. Showing since 1979— Judging since 1990.
1. Describe the breed in three words. BA: Square, bone and body. GA: Substantial, beautiful and stylish. BB: Sturdy, family dog and intelligent.
2. What are your "must have" traits in this breed? BA: Bone, square outline, level topline, outgoing tempera- ment, (not shy), balanced angles, soundness, and lastly
6. Do you think the average judge understands the temperament of the Gordon Setter?
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QuesTions & answers:
wiTh bev andersen, gary andersen and barbara burns
“THE STRUCTURE OF THE GORDON IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHER SETTERS. The sTandard is expliciT on proper movemenT and sTrucTure of The fronT and rear which is very differenT from mosT sporTing breeds.”
BA: Yes I do. GA: Yes, I do not see this being a problem. BB: Better now than in years past.
8. And, for a bit of humor, what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? BA: Not at a dog show, but an experience I had with our second Gordon Setter litter. We had a beautiful 6 month old male puppy who had the “throwback white” neck down into the chest area. I asked several people about dying this white area to the Gordon Setter mahogany. After advice from several people and from my cousin who owned a beautician college, I decided to try this feat. It took several hours and when finished, I was so pleased with the new beautiful “mahogany” neck, down into the shoulders. I turned him loose in our backyard to dry. About 30 minutes later, checking on him running around, I could not figure out where he had obtained the bright pink “rag” that he had. Unfortunately, it was not a rag, but the entire area I had dyed, had turned bright pink. YIKES!! Needless to say, he was placed in a lovely pet home and that ended my attempts at dying the coat. GA: There have been many funny things that have happened through the years. There is not one episode that stands out. They have all added to the pleasure I have experi- enced for the last 43 years! BB: I was showing a dog for a friend and she “forgot” to tell me he would not show without bait. I did not have bait. So the dog laid down and rolled on his back while in the ring in defiance and the crowd was hysterical and I was embarrassed, needless to say.
7. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. BA: The four setters are distinct breeds. I like to see them judged accordingly with the appropriate movement for “form following function” for each specific breed. GA: We are losing the correct movement in the front. Gor- dons are not to move the same as the other Setters, it is more of a power stroke and not moving as fast, they are bred to work in heavy brush, not open plains. BB: Breeders need to work on front angulation and not encourage a rear that is over angulated. The structure of the Gordon is very different from the other setters. The standard is explicit on proper movement and structure of the front and rear which is very different from most sporting breeds. They were developed in an environment that was not condusive for just any setter, thus the impor- tance of the structure is to get the dog out of the thick and very rugged terrain. The lift and reach is important to get out of the vegitation and the proper rear angula- tion drives the dog out of the vegitation. The heavy bone absorbs the shock of the rocky jagged terrain in which they are required to hunt. They should be slow and methodical as hunters as well as in their movement in the ring. They are the “work horse” of the setters.
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JUDGING THE GORDON SETTER
By Gary Anderson
W hen judging the Gordon Setter remember it is the heaviest of the four setters, having more bone and body. Th ey are a sturdy built well muscled, with plenty of bone and substance. Gordons are a single person hunting dog. Th ey have a unique front movement. Th e other three setters are used more for open field work, the Gor- don work heavier brush and because of this, the front legs lift up and then fold back at the pasterns so the feet do not get caught in the brush. Look for a black and tan dog with plen- ty of substance and is good sized. Active, upstanding and stylish, capable of doing a full day’s work in the field suggesting strength and stamina rather than speed. Th ey are equally at home as companions dogs, obedience, agility, field competitors and show dogs. Th e head is fairly heavy and finely chiseled. His bearing is intelligent, noble and dignified, showing no signs of shyness or aggressiveness. Clear colors and either a wavy or straight coat are accept- able. A dog of well balance in all points is preferred to one with outstanding good qualities and defects. A smooth, free move- ment with high head carriage is typical. Many of the words used in this description are taken from the o ffi cial AKC standard. Th e suggested height is 24 to 27 inches for a male and 23 to 26 inches for a female. Th is is a wide scale. You can have females and males of the same size in the ring, a 24-inch male with the substance of the Gordon is as good as a 27-inch dog. You may see dogs over 27 inches and our stan- dard says that as long as the proportions are correct, it is ok. To me, going below our standard is more of a fault than going over. A 22-inch female is getting into the Spaniel size. Dogs should weigh 55 to
80 pounds and bitches 45 to 70 pounds. Again showing the substance of our breed. We want our breed shown in field condition, hard muscles not overly fat or under weight as this hinders the working ability. Again, the weight to height ratio makes him heavier than the other setters. Th e proportion of the Gordon should be square when measured from the forechest to the back of the thigh verses withers to the ground. Th e English and Irish Setters are slightly longer than tall. Th e head should be deep rather than broad, we do not want an elegant head. Th e eyes are dark brown, the darker the better, good sized, oval rather than round and not deep set, nor bulging. Th e eye rims should be tight and pigmented. Th e ears are set low on the head, preferably on the line of the eye, they are fairly thin and large, well folded and carried close to the head. Th e skull is widest between the ears, nicely rounded and good sized. Th ere should be a clearly indicated stop. Th e muzzle is fairly long, not pointed either as seen from above or to the side. Th e muzzle should be fifty percent of the length
of the head and should be parallel to the line of the skull. Th e flews should not be pendu- lous. Th e nose should be broad with open nostrils and black in color. Snow nose is very common and should not be penalized. Th e lip line from the nose to the flews shows a sharp, well defined square contour. A strong under jaw also helps fill out the muzzle so there isn’t any snippiness. A scissor bite is preferred, but a level bite is not a fault. Th e neck should be long, arched and lean flowing into the shoulders. Th e throat should be as dry as possible. Th e neck must be long enough to pick up the downed game and bring it back to the shooter. Th e topline should straight with a moderate slope to it. Th e body should be short from shoulders to hips. Th e Chest is deep reaching to the elbows, but not too broad to hinder the front leg movement. Th e ribs should be well sprung and long to allow room for heart and lungs. Th ere should be a pronounced forechest. Th e loin is short, strong and broad with no arch. Th e croup is nearly flat with a slight slope to the tailset. Th e tail is thick at the root finishing in a fine point and should
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“THE SHOULDERS SHOULD LAY WELL BACK.”
reach to the hock. Th e placement of the tail is important for correct carriage. Th e placement is judged in relationship to the structure of the croup. Th e tail is also a barometer to temperament. Th e shoulders should lay well back. Th e tops of the shoulders should be close together. When viewed from the behind the neck should flow into the shoulders in smooth line and gradually widen from neck to shoulder. Th e angle of the shoul- der blade and upper arm should be 90 degrees. Th e front legs should be straight and well boned, not bowed, with the elbows not turning in or out. Th e pas- terns are short, strong nearly straight with a slight spring. Dewclaws may be removed. Catlike feet with well arched toes with plenty of hair between them and full toe pads. Th e feet do not turn in or out. The hind legs are long from hip to hock, f lat and muscular. The hock is short and strong when standing they should be perpendicular. The stif le and hock joints should be well bent and not
turned in or out. The feet are the same as the front. Th e coat should be long and straight, a wave is permissible, but not curls. Th e hair will be the longest on the ears, under stom- ach and on the chest. Th e tail feathering is long at the root and tapers to the tip form- ing a triangular appearance. Considering color when judging, the Gordon is primarily a black dog with tan markings, which can be a rich chestnut or mahogany shade. This color can go from a very light chestnut to a very dark mahogany. Black penciling on the toes is allowed. The borderline between the colors should be clearly defined. Th ere should not be tan hairs in the black. Th e tan markings are as follows: 1. Two clear spots above the eyes, not over ¾ " in diameter. 2. On the sides of the muzzle, which should not reach the top of the muzzle from one side to the other. 3. On the throat. 4. Two large clear sports on the chest, (looks like a bow-tie). However on a
darker dog these spots may appear to be a darker brown, this is acceptable. 5. On the inside of the hind legs show- ing down the front of the stif le and broadening out to the outside of the hind legs from the hocks to the toes. It should not completely eliminate the black on the back side of the hind legs. 6. On the forelegs from the corpus or a little above downward to the toes. 7. Around the vent. 8. A white spot on the chest is allowed, the smaller the better. Th is is the only disqualification for the Gordon; Pre- dominantly tan, red or buff dogs. A bold strong driving free-swinging gait is desired. Th e head is carried up and the tail is constantly flagging while the dog is in motion, as mentioned ear- lier, this is a barometer to temperament as well as his “rudder”. He should be straight coming and going with reach and drive on the side gait. Th e overall appearance of the moving dog is one smooth-flowing, well balanced rhythm,
“Considering color when judging, THE GORDON IS PRIMARILY A BLACK DOG WITH TAN MARKINGS, WHICH CAN BE A RICH CHESTNUT OR MAHOGANY SHADE.”
Continued on pg. 208
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Breeding & Presenting GORDON SETTERS
By Mary Ann Leonard Sastya Gordon Setters
B reeding and exhibiting dogs of Championship quality is both a science and an art, with a whole lot of luck thrown in for good measure. To make the decisions that produce a dog that not only has these fine qualities but also possesses health clearances and great temperament only makes the task more daunting. Th row bird ability and agility into the mix and the challenge can appear insurmountable. Ours has become a sport that is extremely expensive—just the entry fees and travel expenses alone make a stag- gering total to middle class people such as myself. Add to that the high cost of clear- ances and stud fees and vet bills... it is very hard for normal folks to compete. Now that I have reached the age where I can no longer show my own dogs, I must hire a great and kind handler as well. Th e costs become staggering and prohibitive. I learned a very long time ago from a wise mentor, that for me to be competi- tive on a shoe string budget, I had to put not just good dogs on the ground, but outstanding dogs on the ground. In order to pull that o ff , I had to be ruthless about decisions I made concerning breeding stock. If I was willing to make those tough
decisions, I could compete with the big guys, my mentor promised me. I have to admit that I feel I have done that. I have two All Breed Best in Show Gordon Setters, two National Specialty winners, most everything I own and exhibit finishes with at least one specialty win, some with all specialty wins. Not only do my bitches produce, but my stud dogs as well, bred to other lines. I feel uncomfortable saying this—it feels like I am bragging—but that is why I was asked to write this article. It has only just been brought to my attention that my dogs have had a positive impact on the breed and that makes me feel both humble and very proud. Th ere has never been big money behind my dogs, I have not had a “huge face” handler showing my dogs, but I have been blessed with a wonderful and talented handler who has taken my dogs to heights that neither of us thought possible in a sport described as being so political. It warms my heart that this is still possible to achieve—not always, but sometimes. I was asked to write an article for Show- Sight Magazine explaining how we have been able to achieve this success while continuing to consider temperament and health clearances. And, in addition,
I was asked to comment on anything I feel is important for judges and exhibitors to know about Gordon Setters. My philosophy about breeding stock, based on the advice from my mentor so many years ago, is that just because a dog earns a championship title does NOT mean it needs to be or should be bred. If it is mediocre and it struggled to finish, it will produce mediocre at best. Only the very best should ever be bred and that outstanding bitch should be bred to the very best and most appropriate stud dog that can be found. Th at “most appropri- ate stud dog” doesn’t necessarily mean a male standing in my own back yard… one that happens to be black and tan as well as the bitch. I see people breed what they’ve got to what they’ve got—over and over—and rarely do I ever see them get much better than what they’ve got. I see top breeders who breed one of their bitches to a dog on the other side of the country or many states away and get puppies that take my breath away. Th ey may own stunning Champions that they certainly could use, but choose not to. My advice is be ruthless in your decisions about what should be bred and most assur- edly don’t be kennel blind when you make that decision.
“I learned a very long time ago from a wise mentor, THAT FOR ME TO BE COMPETITIVE ON A SHOE STRING BUDGET, I HAD TO PUT NOT JUST GOOD DOGS ON THE GROUND, BUT OUTSTANDING DOGS ON THE GROUND.”
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Continued from pg. 204
If you don’t do a credible job presenting your own dog, then don’t bemoan the fact that it doesn’t win when competing against dogs that are well presented. Sounds pretty easy, but how often do we see dogs poorly presented only to see the own- ers gripe and complain that they haven’t won and a handler beat them? When the truth is that the handler is showing a clean and well-groomed dog that is competently presented to its best. Keep careful track of your judges. Not every dog wins under every judge. I usually give any judge 2 or 3 entries with dif- ferent dogs, but if I find a pattern that they only see what is at the end of the lead, or they want a dog unlike my line… I save my money and don’t enter under them again. Some judges I will enter under no matter where they are judging, other judges wouldn’t see my dogs if they judged one mile down the road. I know judges consider drawing good entries at shows as something they take pride in. If that is so, be watchful of whom you point your f inger at; because most certainly I am watching and if you want to see one of my dogs again, you need to point to a good dog—not necessarily mine—but a good one; one that looks like a Gordon Setter. Gordon Setters are a type breed… they are to be substan- tial. Th ey are not a Black and Tan Irish Setter, should not be presented like an Irish Setter with that extreme sloping topline of the Irish, should not be groomed like an Irish Setter and should not be moved like an Irish Setter. If the dog was painted green… could you tell it was a Gordon, or would you be likely to guess it to be an Irish Setter? Th ey are to be SUBSTAN- TIAL! Th at means they have BONE! SUBSTANCE! BODY! RIB CAGE SPRING! If they do not have those traits, and if they fly around the ring at break neck speed, then they are an Irish Setter in a black and tan coat, and that is NOT correct type. Flashy, pretty, stylish, but not correct type. Type also depends to a very large extent to head type. The Standard states the head should be “brick on brick.” The head planes are to be level with a good stop (not too much or they look like a Pointer, not to little or they look like a Collie). There needs to be good depth of muzzle with suff icient f lew, though not overly pendulous. And a point that should NOT be ignored in head type is the eyes. If you know me, you know I am a fanatic on dark eyes. Dark eyes in a correctly-shaped almond eye—NOT round. The expression should be sweet and soft, never hard or harsh (which often comes from tan spots too large over the eyes). Lastly, a Gordon should have a big effortless stride… with great reach and drive. They shouldn’t scramble, they shouldn’t shuff le, they should move like nothing hurts and NOT TOO FAST! It is possible to put a healthy, sound Gordon Setter in the ring with great breed type and have it be successful. I am grateful that there are many good judges left who take their job seriously… and look to find the best dog in the breed that day to point to. As exhibitors, it is our job to breed the best Gordon Setters we can and we need to take that job very seri- ously as well!
in which the action is pleasing to the eye, e ff ortless, economi- cal, harmonious and powerful. Th e Gordon Setter is alert, gay, interested and confident. He is fearless and willing, intelligent and capable. He is loyal and a ff ectionate, yet is strong minded enough to stand the rigors of training. Th ey are slow maturing, so sometimes this doesn’t show up early in life. Th e field trainer that we used always left Gordons in the puppy class until they were over two years of age. Standard Point Scale In 2002 the Gordon Setter Club of America put the 100 point scale back into our standard. It is as follows:
Head and neck, eyes/ears . . 10 Body . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Shoulders, forelegs/feet . . . 10 Hind legs/feet. . . . . . . . 10 Tail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Coat . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Color/markings . . . . . . . 10 Temperament . . . . . . . . 10 Size/general appearance. . . 15 Gait. . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Some points to remember when judging the Gordon Setter: • Inch per pound the Gordon is the biggest Setter. • Should have a deep head with a squared o ff muzzle. • Muzzle perpendicular to back skull. • Topline is a smooth line from the back of the skull to the tailset. • No sharp angles. • Square dog. • Th e dog is to be shown in field weight and muscular. • Must be black and tan. • Large boned. • Smooth and powerful moving. • Style plus soundness equals TYPE. It takes the sum of the whole dog or the complete standard to make the ideal Gordon Setter.
BIO Gary has been involved with Gor- don Setters since 1972. We have owned and showed all four setters, English Cockers and Smooth Fox Ter- riers. I have been judging Gordons since 1993. I now judge BIS, Sporting and Non-Sporting groups, two hounds and three working breeds. I am the
Judge’s Education Chairman for the Gordon Setter Club of America. I was instrumental in starting the Sporting Group Club in Arizona. I am the past president of Scottsdale Dog Fanciers and am a board member of the Gordon Setter Club of America and the Sun County Terrier Club.
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LIVING WITH THE GORDON SETTER
By Colleen O’Brien
B eauty, brains and bird sense are key words that describe the Gor- don Setter. It is also the motto of the Gordon Setter Club of America. History suggests the existence of black and fallow setters as far back as the 16th cen- tury in Scotland and England. Th e Duke of Gordon is credited with establishing the breed with its present characteristics in the 1820s. George Blunt and Daniel Webster imported the breed to America in 1842, with the purchase of two dogs from the Duke of Gordon kennels, Rake and Rachael. Th ese dogs founded the breed in the United States, which the Ameri- can Kennel Club o ffi cially recognized in 1892. At one of the first organized dogs shows held in Mineola, NY back in Octo- ber of 1874 a Gordon Setter was awarded Best In Show. Gordons were initially bred as bird dogs, for hunting upland game birds such as pheasant and quail. As hunting
Photo: Chuck & Heidi, Olivia Moon. Moonsetter Gordon Setters.
“GORDON SETTERS ARE ALERT AND LIVELY, PLEASANT AND EXCEEDINGLY LOYAL. They tend to be devoted to members of their household, but are not overly friendly to strangers.”
companions, Gordons are frequently described as “personal hunting dogs,” with emphasis on the word personal, as they are a close working hunter and also breed to work heavy brush vs. the moors. Gor- dons thrive when they share both hearth and field with their masters. Th ey do not take well to being part of a kennel string.
Although the hunting instinct remains strong in the breed, Gordons are equally at home as companion dogs, obedience and agility competitors and show dogs. Gordon Setters are alert and lively, pleas- ant and exceedingly loyal. Th ey tend to be devoted to members of their household, but are not overly friendly to strangers.
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not always aware of how to treat a dog, and must be taught to respect the rights of the dog as a member of your household. Many Gordons are great talkers. Th ey can develop quite a vocabulary with various tones to express themselves. Th ese might include pleasure at seeing the food dish pre- pared, needing a drink, greeting the family or warning of strangers. Constant wagging of their tail seems to be part of their style as well. Owning a Gordon will provide a lov- ing devoted companion for life. BIO Colleen O’Brien acquired her first Gor- don Setter in the summer of 1981. Since then the Black and Tan Setters have been a large part of her life. Breeding on a small scale (only 10 litters in 30 years) under the Fair Isle prefix, Gordon Setters owned (or co-owned) by Colleen have earned over 60 AKC titles in conformation, obedience, rally, agility and hunt tests. Over the past ten years, in an e ff ort to improve her own breeding stock, Colleen has imported a number of dogs from Tri- seter Kennels in Melbourne, Australia as well as frozen semen from several other Triseter dogs. Th ese Gordons have had a huge impact on the breed in North Ameri- ca as well as Europe. Colleen resides in Chester County, PA with her Gordons: Shea, Clare, Coco, Tux and Ida.
“THERE IS NO DENYING A GORDON WOULD STAY A ‘PUPPY’ FOREVER, but with proper techniques young Gordons can be trained without breaking their spirit.”
As a general rule, Gordons tend to tolerate attention from people they do not know rather than seeking such attention. Th ey also have “antics” which bring a smile to their owners. Rumor has it that Disney’s Goofy was modeled after a Gordon Setter. When you see images of Goofy ambling across the field with those big ears flop- ping, it resembles a Gordon. Th ere is no denying a Gordon would stay a “puppy” forever, but with prop- er techniques young Gordons can be trained without breaking their spirit. Th ey are not a breed that responds well to heavy-handed style obedience. Gor- dons are highly intelligent dogs, as quick to spot an advantage as to spot game. Basic obedience training will make your Gordon a better companion and a bet- ter canine citizen. Obedience classes, ranging from puppy kindergarten to advanced competition classes are avail- able in most areas through local kennel clubs or humane societies.
Gordons are capable of adapting to a variety of living situations, as long as they are assured of the love of their masters. Th ey do, however, need plenty of daily exercise to maintain peak physical and mental condi- tion. Gordons need a safe, fenced area in which to run and play. Th ey also need to be taken for frequent on-leash walks. Th is breed should never be allowed to roam free- ly because Gordons have a tendency to put their noses to the ground where the hunting instinct might lead them to follow a bird or a squirrel across a busy highway. Children and Gordon Setters are a good combination, especially when the dog is introduced to children at a young age. Th ey occur in the top ratings for a family dog. Gordons tend to show strong protective instincts to their young charges. If a child persists in teasing a Gordon, the dog will tend to remove himself from the child’s reach rather than frighten a child by so much as a growl. If you have chil- dren, please remember that children are
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