Showsight Presents the English Setter

ENGLISH: THE MODERATE SETTER

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.

B.J. Parsons

Jill Warren

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.

228 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2021

Powered by