Showsight Presents the English Setter

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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