The Gordon Setter

Grooming Advice

I try to find the magic of each breed when writing articles and loved the essence of this breed as written in an article I read recently – "Beauty, brains and bird sense are the prime qualities". Wow! I like 10 words or less wrap ups on everything and this encapsulates it for me.

The Gordon Setter hails from Scotland with ancient lineage tracing back to the early 17th century. Popular among hunters of Scotland, the black-and-tan Setter came into prominence in the kennels of the fourth Duke of Gordon in the early 19th century.

He is a stylish dog, with galloping lines. Consistent with its build which can be compared to a weight carrying hunter & symmetrical in conformation throughout. Intelligent, able and dignified. Bold & outgoing, of a kindly, even disposition.

As your standard calls for a soft, shining, straight or slightly wavy coat, we need to work at keeping that beautiful glamour and workability of the coat. Coats are not made overnight and a great coat is the result of many long weeks of preparation and care.

Between shows oil his coat with Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil at a ratio of 1 tbspn to 1 gallon/4 litres water. Work this well into the coat with a sponge or carefully pour over and squish well through – it must be saturated from skin to tips of coat. Then use the oil straight from the spray or applied undiluted to the areas around where they pee. This is a bad area for breakage. Keeping it oiled will help to prevent the coat getting brittle or tangled and will dissuade the accumulation of debris from the yard.

Seabreeze Oil is a super oil as it is all natural, water soluble and won't build up or be nasty to live with. There is nothing quite like it. I like the depth of colour it highlights in the coat and the wonderful healthy vigour that goes with continued use. Made from Evening Primrose Oil and Calendula Oil, it doesn't get better than this!

We recommend using Plush Puppy Sunshade every couple of days to keep the coat from frying in the sun and fading the colour. Blacks are a nightmare to keep rich and dark and despite best efforts, if you have an outdoors adventurer as your canine friend, it's going to be a tough call otherwise. Spray enough onto your hand and spread between your hands over the top of the head and topline for ultimate protection.

Now for the show grooming, and in keeping with your standard, your shampoo ought to be chosen with shine and/or depth of colour retention in mind. Use either Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo for shine or Plush Puppy Herbal Whitening Shampoo which is the shampoo for toning warm tones and best suited to the Gordon. Or, mix 1⁄2 and half of each. Dilute (at a ratio of 3:1 i.e. 3 parts water to one part shampoo for perfect, even dispersion throughout the coat).

I know it sounds strange to use a Whitening Shampoo when the dog is clearly not white, but this shampoo does not lighten but instead tones and the toning will reduce the red/ brown tones for a Gordon's coat. If the red/brown warm tones are really conspicuous, use Plush Puppy Black Opal, at the same ratio of 3:1 and leave for 5-10 mins then rinse. This shampoo gets better the more you use it and I'm sure you will love the results.

After shampooing, to promote the silky feel to the coat, condition with Plush Puppy Silk Protein Conditioner diluted at the same ratio as the shampoo and here's where the harder stuff begins. In order to get that soft draping fall to the lengths without wave, apply Plush Puppy Swishy Coat a fabulous anti stat and smoothing agent diluted 3 cups water to one dspn Swishy. Slather it on with a large sponge after the conditioner. There are those who like to apply it undiluted but I always recommend dilution as you have a large dog and it is easier to get it evenly applied and just right this way. Squeeze out excess and blow dry.

I also even for show baths like to include a small amount of Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil. A quick easy one step operation can be to add 1 teaspoon in with 1⁄4 cup of Silk Protein conditioner and the dspn of Swishy with 4 L or 1 gallon of water and left in.

For drying use the Plush Puppy Oval Pin Cushion Brush Regular as you don't want to rip the coat or overstretch at this point. When 3⁄4 dry, switch to an oval 1⁄2 bristle 1⁄2 nylon brush such as the Plush Puppy Anti Stat Brush. This will give you a smoother, straighter and glossier finish to your drying that the pin brush won't do. I also like to get in under the lengths with the brush and gently bend the ends around the curve of the brush. I never entirely dry with a top brushing action only as this just flicks the short pieces in the coat outwards and gives a fly away look to the coat. We are after a polished professional look that once you have mastered, is just breathtaking.

Should you have a coat that is too curly or wavy, you can add a dspn of Plush Puppy Blow Dry Cream to the Swishy Coat mix as this will further flatten the coat.

On show days Plush Puppy OMG Concentrate is a great grooming spray. The concentrate can be diluted to suit each dogs coat type. As a general rule 1 part OMG concentrate to 40 parts water would be a great for most Gordons. This reduces static, allows for easy show day preparation and won't build up on the coats.

The trimming is relatively easy but does need attention and time. There are those who are the purists and don't like a trimmed neater look and those that do. Whatever is your preference, it is up to your conscience if and how much you do it.

The standard states an emphasis on the lean head and clean neck. I suggest a #10 blade on an Oster clipper for the neck to a V at the top of the sternum in front of the neck and around the sides. The nape of the neck ought to be hand stripped in concert with a stripping knife. All whiskers should come right off to emphasise that long and lean head. Some like to get in with the blade of the clipper and emphasise this further along the whisker area, with long strokes stroking back and upwards.

The topline ought to sit flat and should need relatively little stripping. The ears some like to take almost right off and others just the top 1/3 off depending on which standard is applicable.

The featherings seem to be the point of contention. How about a compromise? Rather than going gungho with the scissors and sculpting a sharp curve or doing nothing at all, why not use the thinning shears and following the desired arc, gently shape that edge for a softer effect giving a fairly natural look to the curve. The end result is still to shape the dog to his best without looking totally contrived.

All excess feathering is to be removed from the feet but I am advised by an expert that the rear hock looks just wonderful if when trimmed, you angle the line slightly outwards as you go upwards and then angle downwards from the top of the hock to meet the upward line already created. This gives the illusion of a really long line from the hip to the hock enforcing the requirements of the standard.

Show day, spray with Plush Puppy Odour Muncher and Plush Puppy Shine & Comb for final glamour. I do like a light dusting of Plush Puppy Pixie Dust applied on strategic areas with your brush. The secret is just a dusting and not to turn it into the glitter fairy.

Your Gordon is now all ready to compete & showing himself as a true heavy weight setter of the gundog group in both form and function. Watch this fabulous dog go round the ring, alert & with harmonious rhythm, head help up and showing everyone that he is a Setter that has his rightful place in the world.

- Cheryl Le Court