Let’s Talk Breed Education!
BY B.J. PARSONS, DVM, AND JILL WARREN, PHD ENGLISH— THE MODERATE SETTER
A n English Setter is often described as moderate. In fact, our standard specifically states, “Extremes of anything distort type.” The hallmarks of the English Setter can be found in the first sentence of the standard under General Appearance: “An elegant, substantial and symmetrical gun dog suggesting the ideal blend of strength, stamina, grace, and style.” Elegant, substan- tial, and symmetrical are key words, but what do those italicized words mean? “Elegance” indicates there should be some “pretty” to the dog. A long, lean head lead- ing into a long, lean, graceful neck blend- ing smoothly into the shoulders help to give the impression of elegance. To be typey, the head should have level, parallel planes and a squared-off flew with a well-defined stop, and a moderately defined occiput. A dark, large, nearly round eye with dark pigment and a soft expression complete that look of elegance. When in motion, the dog should be light of foot with efficiency of gait. Prancing, while pretty, is incorrect, as are mincing steps. “Substantial” indicates the English Setter has enough bone and body to hold up well in the field. Given their job as a gentleman’s hunt- ing companion, they should be able to cover ground in search of upland game birds for the better part of the day. They were developed to hunt in English fields, so there was no need for heavy bone as in the Gordon Setter who works in heavy cover, or lighter bone as needed by the Irish and the Irish Red and White Setters who work in Irish terrain. The body should have enough heart and lung room (depth of chest to the elbow, and rib spring) to carry the long- distance runner through the day. Starting to see how this all comes together? “Symmetrical” indicates a dog that is bal- anced front and rear, with the front angle approaching 90-degrees and a rear that match- es the front. A straight front causing extra lift to the front legs with diminished reach,
An example of a typey English Setter head. This is an Orange Belton bitch.
A Blue Belton show dog on point, showing correct coat texture, even flecking all over, and great intensity.
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coupled with a long, over-angulated rear that lacks drive will cause the dog to soon tire at his job. While this combination can present a striking picture in the show ring, it is not a correct English Setter. The proper front construction also helps with the “set” (the position a Setter tends to use to indicate game) versus a Point- er who indicates birds with an upright stance. Both breeds have intensity, but a Setter often crouches to indicate the location of the bird; a throwback to when they were hunted over with nets instead of guns. Before the introduction of fire arms, hunters used large nets, which they threw over the place where the birds were— including over the dog—to reap the birds. When the hunter flushed the birds, they took flight and became caught in the net and were easily harvested. If the dog did not crouch, or “set,” it could become entangled in the net. A high tail carriage could cause the tail to get caught in the net, but a tail carried level with the back did not interfere with the net. The reproduction of the painting by Percival Rous- seau shows how an English Setter sets to indicate a bird. This photo also illustrates how form follows function because a dog must have good angulation front and rear in order to assume the setting position. This position often needs to be maintained for several minutes while the hunter approaches and prepares to harvest the bird. When firearms began to be used to hunt birds, selective breeding of English Setters allowed for a more upright stance for the dog to indicate birds because the dog was easier to see from a distance when standing upright. But the tendency to set is hard-wired in their DNA, and it comes naturally to many of them. ACCEPTABLE MARKINGS AND COLOR Color helps to define breed type in English Setters and is one of the traits that distinguishes the English from the other Setters. There are no disqualifications in the English Setter standard, including for color. All English Setters have a white base coat covered with varying degrees of orange, black or liver fleck- ing known as Belton. (Named for the English town of Belton where the dogs so marked were first seen.) Eng- lish Setters flecked with black are called Blue Beltons. Lemon Belton (dilute orange) and Liver Belton (dilute blue) are also acceptable colors, but have become rare. If in doubt whether a dog is Lemon or Orange Belton, check eye color, as the lemons have lighter-colored eyes and lighter pigment than the oranges. It is geneti- cally impossible for a Lemon or Liver Belton English Setter to have very dark eyes, so a lighter-colored eye is acceptable in those colors. Dogs with tan points are called tricolors. Tri-markings can occur in all colors, but they are harder to see in the oranges, lemons, and livers than in the blues. The tricolor marking is a spe- cific gene pattern. All colors listed in the standard are equally acceptable, and there is no preference given to any of them. There can be little ticking, so that the dog appears almost totally white, through all gradations to very heavy ticking so as to appear almost solid in color (known as roan). Evenly flecked all over is preferred. Patches may occur, especially on the head and neck;
English Setters On Point , 1918, by Percival Rousseau. The very open marked dog in front is almost in a set. A true set would have the rear as flexed as the front and almost on the ground. The dog behind is in an upright point.
Liver Belton is a rare, but perfectly acceptable, color in English Setters. This Liver dog won a major award at the National.
An example of a field bred English Setter
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these also being acceptable. Occasionally, patches occur else- where, such as on the body, a leg, or base of the tail. Body patch- es are often areas where the soft, solid-colored undercoat (for warmth) is not covered by top coat (for weather proofing). Body patches are undesirable because the dog is more quickly wet to the skin in rainy weather on areas not protected by topcoat. While not preferred, remember it is only color, and the confor- mation and temperament should always be considered first. You would only consider color or markings when comparing two equal specimens—and looking for a tie breaker. In that case, the dog with the more preferred coloration may break the tie. SHOW VERSUS FIELD The show dog should be synonymous with the field dog. The field is where the dog proves that he can perform the function he was developed to perform, and the show dog reflects this athletic ability. While a well-built field dog can do his job, we require that the show dog adhere to the written breed standard and also be pretty. Excessive coat is a detriment in the field and it can also hide the dog’s true lines in the show ring. Creative grooming can make a dog look different than how he is actually built. To know for sure what’s under that coat, you must get your hands on the dog. The feathering on an English Setter is there to help protect the dog as he runs through the brush in search of birds. Too little and he is no longer protected. Too much and it can be a nightmare entangled in briars, twigs, burrs, etc. Coat texture is also a huge factor in allowing the dog to perform its hunting function. A correct, silky coat combs out easily whereas a soft, cottony coat takes hours to remove debris from the field, pulling a lot of coat in the brushing process. Ideally, a dog should be able to go into the field one day and be competitive in the show ring the next day. Realistically, this is difficult because the cur- rent fad for a profuse coat is very prevalent in the ring. A dog in moderate coat may not be as dramatic as a dog with extremely long coat, but the moderate coat is far better for the true hunt- er, and is more correct. The standard calls for “good” but not excessive length. The show dog should cover ground efficiently, without any high action or fancy stepping. Fluid movement is essential to an efficient, ground-covering gait. The tail should be level with the back, although the excitement of the ring may cause an other- wise correct tail carriage to be a little high. An examination of the croup will tell whether the high tail is a structural fault or the result of high emotion. Tail carriage is best evaluated on the last go-around, to allow the dogs to settle in and relax. There should be no flag waving in the wind. The topline should be level when moving (and standing still), indicating strength and grace, and carrying the rest of the body with it. There is a variety of English Setters, bred mainly for the field, with very different goals than conformation breeders have. The goal for field bred dogs is to run very big in field trials, so they are lighter and leaner than their conformation cousins. Field bred dogs tend to have a more triangular head, viewed both from the side and from the top. While their angles front and rear tend to match, always the tail is carried “Terrier high.” This flag helps to find the dog when afield, since they are gener- ally at a far distance from the handler when on point. These dogs are usually much smaller than dogs bred for conformation (the AKC standard calls for males to be about 25 inches at the withers and bitches about 24 inches, though there is no DQ for size), often with more body patches, little feathering, and much less bone. The eye may be dark, but many have quite light eyes.
English Setters make great family dogs and are wonderful with kids.
The temperament is the same sweet gentleness that is the trademark of the English Setter, whether bred for the show ring or strictly for the field. All are great family dogs because of their gentle nature and their patience. English Setters have been around a long time—at least 400 years. Their type was defined and refined in the 1800s by breeders Edward Laverack and R. Purcell Llewellin. Some field English Setters today are known as Llewellin Setters, but they are actually a sub-branch of English Setters. We in the US are proud of the fact that the very first dog in the AKC stud book was an English Setter named Adonis. Whichever color, whether open-marked or roan, this elegant, substantial, symmetrical gun dog is a very handsome member of the Sporting Group.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS B.J. Parsons is a conformation and hunt test breeder-judge of English Setters, breeding under the BJ prefix in partnership with her daughter, Kristen Apodaca (Festivity English Setters). Breeding for over 40 years, BJ has competed in conformation, obedience, rally, tracking, hunt tests, and field trials. Her family was raised with English Setters, and both daughter and son continue the tradition. Jill Warren is a breeder-judge, breeding under the Esthete prefix. Jill strives for a complete dog with beauty, brains, soundness, and trainability that can compete successfully in many different venues, including conformation, hunting, agility, obedience, and rally. The trademark English Setter temperament—gentle, affectionate, friendly— is very important to her. Jill has bred Best in Show, specialty-winning (including the National), nationally ranked dogs over a breeding career that has spanned more than 40 years. She acquired her first English Setter in 1983 and bred her first litter in 1991.
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ENGLISH SETTER THE
Is “style” an important aspect of type in my breed? Style when competing in Field Trials is very important. Type is very important for our breed. How does my breed’s head di ff er from those of its Setter cousins? English Setters are the moderate Setter. Th ey are smaller than the Irish and Gordon and not as extreme. Th eir heads are to be brick on brick. How does my breed’s silhouette di ff er from that of its Setter cousins? Th e English isn’t as much dog as a Gordon and not as tall and extreme as an Irish. Is there such a thing as too much feathering on my breed? Eng- lish Setters originally did not have the heavy coats they have today. It is really incorrect to have the heavy, long coats. Everything about an English Setter should be moderate. Do I see any preferences for color or markings in the show ring? Th e orange beltons win the most. What is my breed like at home and in the fi eld? Once they mature out of the puppy stage, they become calm, quiet house dogs, amazing with kids and other animals. In the fi eld, they are to have the balance to hunt all day every day; endurance and e ff ortless movement. Does the future look bright for the English Setter? I believe there is always room for improvement, but I think we are making good strides to keep the breed healthy and keeping our type. Anything I’d like to share about the breed? English Setters are the Gentleman’s Gun Dog. Th ey were the fi rst breed inducted into the AKC Stud Book. Th ey were a very popular upland pointing dog back in the early 1900s, especially in the South. Th ey have lost popularity due to the Pointer being used as a gun dog and never having a famous movie made about them. Th e bonus to this is the breed is in much better condition than breeds that have reached popularity at a very fast rate. JOHN FABELO John Fabelo, AIA born
1. Where do you live? What is your occupation? How many years in dogs? 2. Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? 3. How did you come to choose the English Setter? 4. Is “style” an important aspect of type in the breed? 5. How does the breed’s head di ff er from those of its Setter cousins? 6. How does the breed’s silhouette di ff er from that of its Setter cousins? 7. Is there such a thing as too much feathering on an English Setter? 8. Do you see any preferences for color or markings in the show ring? 9. What is the English Setter like at home? In the field? 10. In your opinion, does the future look bright for the English Setter? 11. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. MELISSA NEWMAN
Setter Ridge has been work- ing with English Setters for more than 39 years. We special- ize in Dual English Setters. Th ey both Show and Field Trial their English Setter as well as hunt, fi eld trial, show and compete in performance events. Here are some of Setter Ridge’s more notable accom- plishments: Melissa Newman won the fi rst Sporting Group Breeder of the Year given by the American Kennel Club; Breeder of over 250 American Champi- ons, plus many Champions in many other countries; Breeder of the #1 English Setter Sire of
in Cuba in 1962, moves to Spain in 1963 and to USA in 1964. Graduated Clemson University with a Bachelor’s in Architecture, and Miami University with a Master’s in Architecture. Working as a partner at LWC, an architec- tural design fi rm in Dayton, Ohio. I live with my wife, Barbara Fabelo, in Fair fi eld, Ohio. I have three children: Bittny Klyne, Daniel Fabelo and Corrie Fabelo.
all time; Breeder of seven All-Breed Best In Show dogs; Breeder of multiple Best In Specialty winners; Bred, owned, handled and trained the eighth and twelfth Dual Champions in the history of our breed; Breeder of National Specialty winners including Best of Breed; Breeder of multiple High in Trial dogs; Owners of multiple top-producing stud dogs. I live on an island in the Puget Sound o ff Washington State. I started professionally boarding dogs 48 years ago and professionally training dogs 44 years ago. I bought my fi rst English Setter in 1981. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? I have always ridden horses, and was thrilled to get involved in the sport of Field Trialing (hunting upland birds com- petitively with pointing dogs, while riding a horse). How did I come to choose the English Setter? I started hunting upland birds with my dad when I was eight years old. He had many Sporting dogs. I wanted a beautiful dog that could win at Westmin- ster and be a fabulous hunting dog. Th us, I chose English Setters.
We live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am one of two owners in an archi- tectural design fi rm and am Director of Design. We own English Setters and Miniature Wire-haired Dachshunds. Do I have hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? I love to build things, anything creative: painting, gardening, house remodeling and designing. How did I come to choose my breed? My wife and I owned Afghans and when we lost our fi rst Afghan at 15 years old we decid- ed it was not a good time to get another dog. However, within 18
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ENGLISH SETTER Q&A
THE ENGLISH SETTER IS ALWAYS THE ELEGANT AND SYMMETRICAL HUNTING DOG, THE PERFECT BLED OF STAMINA, GRACE, STYLE AND STRENGTH, THEREFORE THE MOST ELEGANT SETTER. ” “
How does my breed’s head di ff er from those of its Setter cousins? I always look at them as three di ff erent types of cars: the Gordon Setter is the truck, all-terrain and heavy bone; the English is the family sedan, stylish, but not extreme, always elegant; and the Irish is the sporting car, fast and lean. How does my breed’s silhouette di ff er from that of its Setter cousins? Th ey are very di ff erent. Th e Gordon is heavy bone and sub- stantial, built for stamina and strength. Th e Irish Setter is fast, racy, outgoing and always ready to play. Th e English Setter is always the elegant and symmetrical hunting dog, the perfect bled of stamina, grace, style and strength, therefore the most elegant Setter. Is there such a thing as too much feathering on an English Set- ter? Yes, the breed standard calls for feathering and not excessive, the breed should not be skirted, but feathered appropriate for a dog that can go in the fi eld and still look elegant and natural. Th e coat should be smooth and not woolly or curly. Do I see any preferences for color or markings in the show ring? No, I like any color, but not too white. I believe the ticking is char- acteristic of the breed, so I like to see color, don’t like big head and neck color patches on an open dog, but on a roan dog it can be beautiful, the dog that we fell in love with Foxchaple Black Gold was a beautiful dark roan tri. What is my breed like at home and in the fi eld? Th e English is a great family dog, at home they think they a big lap dogs happy to play with you or just watch TV, but press the “let’s go outside” but- ton and they come to full energy. Th ey are smart and determined, but always want to please you, thru at times it’s hard to focus on intensity to hunt vs being with their humans. Th ey are happiest when they get to work in the fi eld and fi nd birds, whether for fun or work. Does the future look bright for the English Setter? Yes, it’s a great family dog that is elegant and easy to live and take care of, they are gentle about life. Th at is why I like to standard referring to feathering, this helps with the maintenance of the breed the average owner should be able to care and groom them without them looking like a di ff erent breed. DONNA JORDAN My husband, Shaun,
months I could not live without the pitter patter. So we decided to look for a new family breed: Two votes for the Dalmatian; two votes for the Afghan; and one vote each for the Dachshund and the English Setter (spots with long hair). Well, it took a little more studying, but the English Setter was just the perfect family dog; smart, elegant, active, lovable, gentle and always funny. We started learning about the English Setter breed and at the time a beautiful tri English Setter caught our eye; Foxchaple Black Gold, from the Hemlock Lane Kennels. We put our name in for a male dog from all the litters we could fi nd that he sired that winter (1998). By sum- mertime we had our fi rst English Setter, Stardom’s Magic Tri Sum- mer Hill, a beautiful tri-male called Clue. From that day on the love a ff air with English Setters started. Our family has raised, trained, and shown eight English Setters and our males have produced 29 o ff spring and our bitches also 22 o ff spring in 21 years with English Setters. Th e Dachshund, with one vote strong, did not come into the picture until 2004 as my youngest daughter’s Junior dog, Penny. Penny went on to produce 13 o ff spring, with one achieving a Best in Show. Is “style” an important aspect of type in my breed? Style and type are the heart of any breed. We need to always think of the breed’s purpose and how we are making each generation better for what they were meant to be. If we lose focus on this, we lose type and without type we should be asking ourselves, “Why are we breeding?” I believe purebred breeders have an important job just like zoos around the world; we are the protectors of the breeds so future generations can see and understand why we have 193 pure- bred breeds, each with a distinct purpose. Th eir structure, tempera- ment and style are all grounded back to their jobs as dogs. Future generations should be able to see why this dog is built the way it is and it should give clues to its purpose and terrain origins. Both the breeds that we have are all about movement, and in order to move they must be built correctly. Structure, angles and balance are essential to sound movement. Just like in my profession as an architect, I say three essential design rules must be accomplished (I use the same rule in breeding dogs): A building must belong to its site (a dog must be able to live in its intended environment); a building must be able to accomplish its purpose and function better than any of the past generations (a dog must be capable of hunting if that is its purpose and they must be built accordingly). If not why have we built a new building? Just move into an existing one; and last, but most importantly, a building must add some value to the world’s built environment and tell my story as an architect and our current world ( a dog must tell the breeder’s story about this breed’s type). Th e English Setter’s elegance is critical. Th eir general appear- ance is elegant; a substantial and symmetrical gun dog suggesting the ideal blend of strength, stamina, grace, and style, moving freely and smoothly with long forward reach, strong rear drive and fi rm topline. As a breeder, I have to interpret how to achieve this and tell this story with each breeding.
and I have shown and bred English Setters since 1981 under our kennel name, “Country Squire.” We have had great success as breed- er/owner-handlers and had the #1 English Setter (all-breed system) in 1997. We have nine consecutive generations of either Best In Show or Group winners
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ENGLISH SETTER Q&A
TODAY, COAT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE, NOT ONLY IN LENGTH, BUT ALSO PROPER CONDITION TO CREATE A PERFECT OUTLINE. ” “
Setter Association of America’s health and genetics chairman for the last ten years with the primary duty of reviewing research grants for possible funding. My fi rst experience with showing dogs started when I was 13 years old when a neighbor let me watch them train their Labrador Retrievers for CDX titles. With all the con fi dence that only a teenager has, I immediately became certain I could train my parent’s Miniature Poodle to do the same thing. Eventually, through a lot of hard work and very supportive dog people, I was able to put a UD on this dog. Th is started my journey into the sport of showing dogs. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? My husband, Greg, has a ranch near College Station where he raises Longhorn and Angus cattle. We have two rescue horses, Guinness and Sadie, that we ride, admittedly, at a slow pace. When Greg proposed seven years ago, he also presented me with a pregnant miniature donkey which, of course, means I now have two miniature donkeys. If I am not in the classroom, I am generally reduced to cow wrangler and general contractor. I also have a pas- sion for ziplining and CrossFit. How did I come to choose the English Setter? When I was in college, I was dying to get an Irish Setter to show. Th is was at the height of Irish popularity and wasn’t one of my best decisions. I found a nine-month-old Irish male, but I hadn’t done my “home- work” on the breeder and I was very naïve on how di ffi cult it was going to be to fi nish an Irish. By the time this dog was two years old he was so hyperactive and such an escape artist that he was driving me crazy. Th ere wasn’t a fence that could hold him. It wasn’t until he was eight years old that he calmed down and became a great pet. I knew I loved all the Setters, but fi gured maybe Irish Setters weren’t a fi t for me. Th is time I did my homework, talked to English and Gordon Setter breeders and studied pedigrees. After a lot of research, I decided I wanted an English Setter from the bloodlines of Ch. Guys ‘N Dolls Annie O’Brien. Eventually, I got my fi rst English Setter and I have never looked back. Is “style” an important aspect of type in my breed? When I think of “style,” I envision an English Setter that is showy with that extra bit of “class.” It is a dog with that exceptional dash of something that takes an ES over the top in the show ring. Style is di ffi cult to describe, but is easily and instantly recognized when you see it. I would imagine that most people that have shown dogs over the years could sit ringside of any breed and pick a winner. It is that certain dog that is balanced, but your eye is instantly drawn to because it has personality and fl ash. Th ree years ago, I was at the Royal Canin National Championship Dog Show in Orlando watching the ES judging. I was instantly drawn to a young male that had just begun his specials career. He was beautifully groomed and outstandingly presented as most of the ES entered, but when I saw this dog move it blew me away. He was gifted with that desir- able attribute of style that put him over the top. I followed his show career and he quickly soared to the top rankings. Last December, I saw this same dog and I immediately felt the same way about him as I had three years ago. He was even more exceptional and stun- ning. A dog that has style is the one that you see and say, “I love that dog!” Like many people who have shown dogs for several years, I have had a few ES that were lovely and sound dogs, but hated show- ing and it was written all over the dog when I walked in the ring.
and we are now working on the tenth generation. I am most proud of our great health clearances throughout the years. Another pas- sion is helping Juniors get started in this breed, and several have had outstanding careers. I live in Brighton, Colorado, and am a successful small business entrepreneur. I have been showing dogs for almost 40 years. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? My family loves to play golf. We also are avid sports fans. How did I come to choose the English Setter? When I lived in Connecticut in the 1970s, my insurance agent recommended the English Setter breed because of temperament. Is “style” an important aspect of type in my breed? English Set- ters are a very stylish breed and one of the most beautiful. How does my breed’s head di ff er from those of its Setter cous- ins? You would recognize the English Setter head from a view from the side as opposed to the other Setters because of the fl ews being squared and fairly pendant. How does my breed’s silhouette di ff er from that of its Setter cousins? Th e English Setter silhouette also di ff ers from the other Setters because of the head, as mentioned above, and the outline being moderate with the topline appearing level or slightly sloping. Is there such a thing as too much feathering on an English Set- ter? Th e coat should be of good length, but not so excessive as to hide the true lines or the movement. After all, they are a hunting dog. Today, coat does make a di ff erence, not only in length, but also proper condition to create a perfect outline. Do I see any preferences for color or markings in the show ring? Th e Orange Belton is the dominant color and most often seen in the ring. Th e Blue Belton is next and the Tricolor third. Tricolors are very popular, but much more di ffi cult to get. Other allowable col- ors are rare. Di ff erent judges have their favorite color, but because of numbers the Orange Belton does the most winning; lighter or darker in color. Patches, except for the head, are not as desirable. What is my breed like at home and in the fi eld? Th e English Setter is a great dog to have in your house and are happiest sleeping on a couch. Th ey are a good watchdog, but very adaptable to your lifestyle and they love their people. Th ey are de fi nitely a free spirit. Does the future look bright for my breed? Th e English Setter is not way up there on the popularity charts, but the breed has its loyal followers. Th ere are enough conscientious breeders out there to make sure the breed is in good hands. MICHELLE J. RAISOR, PHD I’m from College
Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M Univer- sity and Blinn College where I am a Profes- sor of Anthropology. I currently teach courses in biological, cultural and, my favorite course, forensic anthropology. I also have had the honor of being the English
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ENGLISH SETTER Q&A
ENGLISH SETTERS ARE THE MOST GENTLE, SWEET AND LOVABLE DOGS THAT YOU WILL EVER MEET. I FREQUENTLY DESCRIBE THEM AS ‘TENDERHEARTED.’ THEY ARE ATHLETIC, BUT ARE TOTALLY THE HAPPIEST TO BE CUDDLED WITH YOU ON THE COUCH. SMART, DEVOTED, LOYAL AND THE EPITOME OF A CLASS CLOWN. HOWEVER, THEY WILL STEAL YOUR PIZZA IF YOU’RE NOT VIGILANT ON PROTECTING YOUR FOOD! ” “
even the Brittany. On the downside, heavy coats can disguise a multitude of structural problems that can be masked by precise grooming. Th e coats that are seen on English Setters today make them totally impractical for a dog working in the fi eld and almost impossible to maintain. Dog handling legend, Will Alexander, said it best when he stated in an interview, “It’s hard work. For every 15 minutes of fame there are 23 hours 45 minutes working on your dog.” Do I see any preferences for color or markings in the show ring? Well, there shouldn’t be, but some judges do have preferences; usu- ally orange. Th e most common colors in English Setters are blue belton (the ground color is white with black hairs that fl eck through the white), orange belton (orange takes place of the black) and tri- color. Head and ear patches are acceptable. When I fi rst started out in English Setters it was extremely di ffi cult to exhibit a blue belton or tri-color. I also think that an orange belton that is more roan in color has a much easier time of fi nishing than a blue roan. Judges, in general, seem to favor orange dogs even if a blue or tri is more structurally sound. Even today most top-ranked English Setters are orange because I think they are easier to exhibit, and judges wrong- ly believe they are more desirable. I even had a very well-respected judge tell me that she would never put up a blue in the Group ring because she said the dark color ruined their expression. Ridiculous! I have had blues, oranges and tri’s and I have no color preference. It should be more about how the dog is put together, not about the color. What is the English Setter like at home? In the fi eld? English Setters are the most gentle, sweet and lovable dogs that you will ever meet. I frequently describe them as “tenderhearted.” Th ey are athletic, but are totally the happiest to be cuddled with you on the couch. Smart, devoted, loyal and the epitome of a class clown. How- ever, they will steal your pizza if you’re not vigilant on protecting your food! Th ey truly are the perfect family dog and great with kids. I would never sell a dog if the intent of the buyer was to keep the dog kenneled or con fi ned outside. Th ey would be miserable. Several years ago, I was going through chemo and was horribly sick as well as bald. I had this very sweet ES bitch that would sleep at night with her neck and head wrapped around my bald head. I never taught her to do that, she just sensed that I needed her. If grooming is not an issue, I highly recommend this breed as a companion. In the fi eld, they are tireless workers. Nothing is more beau- tiful than watching an English Setter working the fi eld. Here in Texas where we have high temperatures and humidity, you have to be cautious of them getting over-heated because they won’t stop until they drop. Most owners who hunt their dogs generally cut o ff their feathering, so they don’t collect burrs. Any potential owner needs to remember that, at heart, English Setters are Sporting dogs and natural hunters. Th ey will be just as fascinated by squirrels and
Th ey frequently would be beaten by dogs that were mediocre, but had style. Style is illusive, but it is an important quality. How does my breed’s head di ff er from those of its Setter cousins? English Setters are the “medium” of the Setter cousins. One of my early ES mentors described the side pro fi le of an English head is like two bricks sitting on top of each other. Th at analogy stuck with me and is stated in the standard; the side silhouette head-planes are parallel with a well-de fi ned stop. Most importantly English Setters should have fl ews! I have seen a tendency of some ES having snipey fl ews instead of the desirable squared contoured muzzle. Whereas Irish Setters have a long and lean head and the Gordon Setters have a deep, slightly broader skull, the English Setter’s skulls should be of medium width with a distinct occipital protuberance. I consider the ES’s eyes as the gateway to the soul; dark, slightly round and fully-pigmented around the rims, giving the ES the beautiful soft- ness of expression. How does my breed’s silhouette di ff er from that of its Setter cousins? Gordon Setters are more square, heavier and bigger boned in silhouette, whereas the Irish has a longer, leaner pro fi le with a re fi ned head. English Setters are more moderate, not as long as the Irish, but not as squared as the Gordon. Th e topline of the English Setter should be level or slightly higher at the shoulder than at the hips forming a fl owing outline of medium length. Again, the adjec- tive that best describes the ES is “moderate” in comparison to the other Setters. Is there such a thing as too much feathering on an English Set- ter? It is important to remember that English Setters are Sporting dogs and excessive feathering inhibits the dog in the fi eld. When you look back to top-winning dogs of the 1970s and ‘80s, the ES carried moderate coats. You can see this if you look at old annuals of the English Setter Association of America. Th e old types didn’t have the excessive coats seen today. Breeders wanted pretty, elegant dogs, but they were also hunting them. When I fi rst started in Eng- lish Setters, my mentor warned me against overly trimming my dog. Although you were expected to clipper the throat and ears, the neck and body were lightly blended with thinning shears and stoned. Trimming the undercarriage was considered a big “no-no” and dogs were expected to look more natural. Excessive grooming was thought to detract from the dog. Th is trend shifted in the early 1990s when a top-winning Gordon was shown extremely sculpted at Westminster. Th ere was an immediate swing with other exhibi- tors following the same pattern of grooming. Now English Setters are meticulously trimmed with striping knives and fi ngers on their back coat so that it is shorter and tighter to an extreme. Lush, long feathering is considered a must if you plan on exhibiting your dog. Plus, let’s face it, judges expect the dogs to have excessive coats because they look like a special. However, this is true of a lot of Sporting breeds like the Cocker Spaniels, Goldens, all the Setters,
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TEMPERAMENT IS PARAMOUNT IN OUR BREED. THEY ARE GREAT FAMILY DOGS AND GOOD FOR NOVICE OWNERS. THEY ARE ACTIVE ENOUGH FOR KIDS, BUT LOVE TO BE COUCH POTATOES IN THE HOME. THEY STILL HAVE A HUNTING DRIVE; THE SHOW SETTERS ARE PERFECT FOR WALKING HUNTERS. THE FIELD SETTERS RUN BIGGER AND YOU WOULD NEED A HORSE OR QUAD TO KEEP UP! ” “
in her show English Setters. She had a litter and I ended up with a tri colored male and went to shows with the breeder and got hooked then. Is “style” an important aspect of type in my breed? I believe that type is most important in any breed and there are styles within the type. Not all dogs are cookie cutters; they are all di ff erent and you choose which style is closest to true type. How does my breed’s head di ff er from those of its Setter cousins? Th e heads of all Setters call for parallel planes. Th e stop is slightly di ff erent with the English, the moderate of the Setters, and the depth of the muzzle is di ff erent for each of them. Th e English calls for a squared-o ff fl ew without being too heavy. You should be able to tell each of the Setters by their silhouette. Th e English is not as tall, should have a level to slightly sloping topline, and is more moderate than the Gordon or the Irish. Is there such a thing as too much feathering on my breed? I do believe that we have gotten to the point of having too much coat on our dogs. My fi rst dogs had nice feathering and I had to do some stripping of the top coat, but now the top coat is way too thick with undercoat and takes a lot of upkeep to keep it fl at. Feathering is thick and gets mats easily. It is a lot of work to keep up a coat now. Way too much for pet people to do. I treasure an easy care coat! Do I see any preferences for color or markings in the show ring? I think an orange belton is always in style. Blues and tris are some- times fl avors of the month. Th ey should all be judged equally. We allow for head and ear patches; body patches are highly discour- aged. Th ere is a reason for that statement in our standard: Belton markings are one of the hallmarks of our breed; patching is a very dominant trait and becomes very hard to breed out if you get it in your lines. What is my breed like at home and in the fi eld? Temperament is paramount in our breed. Th ey are great family dogs and good for novice owners. Th ey are active enough for kids, but love to be couch potatoes in the home. Th ey still have a hunting drive; the show Set- ters are perfect for walking hunters. Th e fi eld Setters run bigger and you would need a horse or quad to keep up! In my opinion, how does the future look bright for the English Setter? I believe that our breed has dedicated breeders who continue to produce lovely dogs. Th e breed’s popularity hasn’t changed much and I think we are meeting the demand. I know it has been hard to be a dog breeder in this anti-breeder time, but I do believe society is softening some.
rabbits as a quail or pheasant. My dogs are always on constant vigil for marauding squirrels! In my honest opinion, I believe the future looks grim for Eng- lish Setters. Litter registration is down, entries have plummeted at shows, with fewer newcomers entering the breed. It has now become commonplace to have specialties with no majors. Th is has been a drastic change from when I fi rst started showing. Why the change? Maybe it has to do with the expense of showing. Maybe it is because it is a hard breed to break into. It could also be that we have not done enough to promote our breed to the public. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that few people recognize an English Setter. Every- one knows what a Golden or Labrador Retriever is—and everyone wants one—but rarely are people looking to buy an English Setter. From a health and genetics standpoint, I am also concerned about what I call the “popular sire e ff ect.” It seems that the same sires are being repeatedly used over and over again. Th is causes a genetic bottleneck where you lose genetic diversity within the popu- lation. Some breeders are also tightly linebreeding to their own dogs which leads to heritable defects that are sometimes life threaten- ing or at the very least reduces the quality of life. Inbreeding can also lead to a reduction in litter size as well as a reduction in adult size. I have seen this trend where some dogs and bitches are being exhibited that are tightly linebred and unusually small in height. Our breed standard states that dogs should be about 25 inches with bitches about 24 inches in height. Th e term “about” may be somewhat vague, but this is to allow some variation. However, the diminutive “pocket rockets” that you see in the ring today are not preferred. With all my concerns aside, I believe English Setters are a beau- tiful gem that I have loved sharing my life with. JOAN SAVAGE I live outside of Portland, Oregon. I am a licensed, certi fi ed vet- erinary technician and have had English Setters since 1974. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and show- ing dogs? I still breed and show my dogs, and I am very involved with the local clubs, serving as president of our local breed club and show chairman for the Rose City Classic in January. Otherwise, I do enjoy the outdoors and gol fi ng. How did I come to choose the English Setter? I grew up with an Irish Setter and was working as a vet tech when a client brought
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BY ANN YUHASZ Th ank you to the editors of ShowSight Magazine for highlighting the English Setter, a breed close and dear to my heart! I have been asked to comment from a judges’ perspective on ES. I found as I was assembling the following that I was more or less quoting the standard. My daughter, who now handles all the breeding, exhibiting and choosing of bitches and sires, asked why I was repeating the standard. Well, to answer her question, I believe that as a judge, one is required to judge to the standard. Yes, there is interpretation that varies from judge to judge, but it is the standard that we must adhere to. So please keep this in mind. English Setter judging the
T o evaluate the English Setter, one must first understand the sim- ilarities and differences in the four Setters. These differences arise from the purpose of each breed and why they were devel- oped as individual breeds. All Setters were bred as upland gun dogs (birds that are either pointed or flushed on land) versus ducks or water birds. All Setters originally were accompanied by the hunter on foot, so they worked the bird field fairly close and within shot range. Originally the dogs would find the birds and “set” or crouch and the hunters threw nets over the quarry and the dogs—thus the term “Setters.” This concept is really important as you can imagine these dogs need to get down between their shoulder blades. The breed differences come mainly from country of origin and the terrain they hunted over as well as the breeds and breeders who developed each. The Irish and the Red and White, (think Ireland) come from rolling ground, the Gordon (think Scotland) from rugged craggy ground, and the English (think England) over moderate terrain. All these dogs represent their owners and breeders as well; the Irish and Red and White with a rollicking personality, the Gordon with a more dour outlook and the English with a serious, dignified way. So if you start by thinking Setter in general then you can begin to understand each breed. For the purpose of this article we will concentrate on the English. We know that there were Irish-English crosses in the mid 1800s. By the late 1800s there were two distinct strains of English Setters, the Lavarack and the Llewellyn, both named after the gentlemen who developed them; the first as the bench type or show dog, the second as the field type. Today, the modern Lavarack English is further away from that original dog than perhaps in the early 1900s as we see a more stylish, trimmed animal that to the eye stands out in the ring. We will concentrate on this modern dog, but do remember they both can hunt and they originally came from the same genetic stock. The ES is a well-balanced, moderate, elegant gun dog, but with no part to show exaggera- tion. There should be no part out of balance—no necks like Giraffes or heads plopped straight onto shoulders, no bodies a mile long, no legs too short or too long, no straight front and over-angulated rears—I am sure you get the picture! His head is not as lean as the Irish, nor as deep and wide as the Gordon, but shows parallel planes as the others. He has a definite stop and occiput and a lovely dark, almost round eye, well-set. Full pigmentation of the eye and lips is important as it is essential in creating that wonderful, soft expression. The head should be in balance with the rest of the dog and neither underdone nor overdone. These are scenting animals so it is important to have good noses and straight nasal bones.
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JUDGING THE ENGLISH SETTER
A lean, arched neck should lead into well laid- back shoulders. Front and back assembly must match if this dog is to be well-balanced and good angulation front and back is ideal, but often lack- ing. Abrupt, steep shoulders create a pounding movement that is far from effortless. The same can be said for short upper arms. I find this to be a common problem in most Sporting dogs. I am thrilled when I find a correctly assembled front and rear and as a fellow Setter judge just com- mented to me, “If you find that run to the table and throw them every ribbon you have!” A chest with fill in the front and depth to the elbow will provide the lung room needed for a dog who is hunting hard all day. Ribs should be well-sprung, but not barreled. The ribs need to be carried back with a short loin for the efficiency of movement. This correct assembly should result in an oval look when viewed from the top. A wide thigh is a plus. Our standard does not give any height to length measurements, but balance is key—too short or too long in body will distort just as legs too short or long. I need to caution you not to dwell on pieces and parts, but judge the whole dog. Yet, the summation of the pieces and parts are what makes the dog. Might I mention again that it is impor- tant to reward animals with correct assembly. We ask for medium bone, good feet essential for hunting, and nice short hocks that will propel him with ease. Tails are extensions of the spine and should be straight off the back and lively. They should be long enough to only reach the hock and taper from the set. This does not mean a flag flying in the breeze nor a tail pointing to the head. Incorrect tails have become the norm. If the croup is correct it would be almost impossible to have an incorrect tail carriage. Look at the dogs in the accompanied pictures—those tails could not be elevated. If the dog is well-balanced, he will move with ease, effortlessly, with good reach and drive, down and back, and around. Coming and going should show good flexion of the hocks with no weaving or crossing of legs or feet. From the side it is essential that the back be quiet and firm indicating balance fore and aft. Movement is a test of the construc- tion. Remember we are not to select the best mov- er, but the best type who moves well. The ES is a single-coated dog with a straight to slightly wavy coat. He should exhibit a top-coat of some length which protects the body in the field and feathering in all the usual places. It is permis- sible to use a clipper on the face, top of the ears and under the neck down to the point of chest, but never on the back. Soft, wooly coat is incorrect as is excessive length which is not in keeping with the purpose of the ES. This is basically a hunting dog and emphasis is on such. If you have a choice of two equal dogs, I would not let exquisite groom- ing or length of coat make my decision; but rather his suitability to get the job done. The ES is basi- cally a white dog with ticking in various degree of orange (brown), blue (black), lemon, liver and
If the dog is well-balanced, he will move with ease, e ff ortlessly, with good reach and drive, down and back, and around.
The author with CH. OLawdy’s Time Out of Hemlock Lane at the AKC Centennial Show under breeder judge Warren Brewbaker.
AM/CAN CH Ludar of Blue Bar
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tricolor (black, tan and white). These degrees can range from very white to very dark (roan). There is NO preference in colors when judging although dark patches are not preferred anywhere other than the head. I personally caution you to remember that color is only a part of your evaluation of the dog and one of the most wonderful things about this breed is the variety of those permitted colors. There has been discus- sion about body patches and my personal recommendation is that patching has always been inherent in the breed, espe- cially in the field variety, so please fault accordingly. I feel personally involved in the color issue as I did have a dark, tri male with some patching who had a head and wonder- ful body to die for. I was reluctant to use him because he was so very dark and would have preferred to use his open tri brother. Alas, the open tri dog never could sire a litter. When we then used the dark tri he produced the most won- derful heads and bodies—yes—that darkness and patching did occasionally show up, but I wouldn’t trade anything for what he gave the breed. Personally I can’t think of a breeder who has deliberately bred for patching. I also hope that no one would eliminate a patched dog with wonderful attributes from their breeding program. Though the breed has been around for a long time, you may have trouble finding English Setters to view. (We share a low number on the list of popularity; usually around 65.) We don’t mind this, but as you can imagine it can present a challenge for new judges. It is important to attend special- ties to see good examples in numbers. We do have dedicated breeders, but our litters tend to be small and puppies are usu- ally pretty fragile in the beginning which is odd from a large dog. The reproduction rate is not always a given and I find that A-I’s either frozen or extended do not work very well. Our health issues include deafness, hip and elbow issues and thyroid, but basically our dogs live a long life to 13 or 15. We have an active health committee and work hard at addressing the above issues. In summation, the English Setter should greet you with a soft wag of his tail and extend his head into your hand. He is a sweet, loving companion who will curl upon the sofa after a hard day of hunting. He should never be aggressive, shy or exhibit any temperament other than that of a wonderful, friendly dog. He is loving of children and makes a wonderful family dog. He is most often exhibited by his inexperienced owner-handler so please be forgiving and encouraging of those as we want their experiences to be positive. I hope this helps you in your evaluations of our wonderful breed and that you enjoy your time in the ring with him!
CH Ike of Blue Bar
CH Rock Falls Cavalier
CH Sturdy Max 2nd There are other important English Setters, but these representatives share the same dog, Rummey Stagboro, as a grandfather and, in one case, he is the great-grandfather. He was the greatest sire of his time and traces back to the Mallwyd Strain (Welsh) on the sire side with Swedish bloodline on the dam.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ann Yuhasz is a second generation breeder-judge of English Setters. Her mother, Nancy Frey, raised the breed in the 50s and 60s and was a judge of Sporting and Herding dogs. Ann has been raising ES since the early 60s though she has finally given up and left her breeding program in the hands of her daughter, Rebecca Smith. Ann also raised Flat-Coated Retrievers and was involved in English Cocker Spaniels. She is approved to judge the Sporting, Herding and Terrier Groups as well as Poodles. She has judged worldwide and at many National Specialties and most major shows in the US, including twice at the prestigious Westminster KC. She feels that dogs have been a thrilling ride and the most wonderful of sports! Ann and her husband now split their time between Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Key Largo, Florida, with one very spoiled Norfolk Terrier.
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