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Over trimming or shaving of the Show Irish Red Setter?

I would like to know the opinion of all show people on the over shaving(trimming) of the setter? I was very surprised to see that trimming is actually mentioned in the AKC breed standard (coat section)"Trimming is done to preserve the natural appearance of the dog" How over trimming or shaving can preserve a natural look is quite puzzling to me!!!! I make my dogs as neat as possible for shows with a scissors or hand plucking but never put a blade near them!! I think that over grooming is quite the opposite of the natural appearance!! I believe over trimming/grooming makes setters look a bit like cardboard cut outs,not real dogs!!!!!!!!

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Perhaps it is due to the weather you are having (but then Ginger I thought you lived around Seattle...not so hot is it?) I have never in all my years with setters come across even one single dog that had folds in their lower jaws that would collect food?! I wonder if most of this trimming and clipping not just stems from the..."we have allways done it like this"-thinking? I do remember that my first ever setter was groomed for shows (1970's = Sweden) by having his whiskers cut off. I remember this was supposed to give him a cleaner outline (how a few thin hairs can destroy an outline beats me) it was not me doing the trimming so I just sort of took it. Like I also "took" a hunter taking the same dog behind a shed to "teach" him to retrieve...all I heard were yells from the dog.
(He never retrieved after that either!)
There are, unfortunatly, so many things we do in the name of "we have allways done it like this"
I love dog's whiskers and I think they actually add to the overall expression of the setter! I am a bit of a rebel in the show ring and groom my dogs the way I feel best suits the setter!!
I have even stopped over trimming the ears as I did when I first started showing because it is too severe a look! I am still doing well at shows and have made up one Champion(Rua) and Megan is placed well and graded excellent by most judges!!
Susan, that was a great reply, and I think you've worded it very well. Whiskers are important and I can see where a dog might miss out on a important sense without them. Thanks, Loma
When I got my first show Irish Setter and was learning how to show groom my bitch, my breeder explained why the dogs here in the US are trimmed the way they are. The feathers on the feet, especially between the toes is thinned out because the fields here that our dogs run in are full of what we call foxtails. These have a sharp end that if caught in the hair between the toes will work it's way right into the foot between the toes, sometimes traveling up the leg of the dog and requiring surgery to remove. The tops of the ears and under the throat is trimmed for basically the same reason, cleans up the hair around the ears for better air circulation on a tightly fitting drop eared dog to help prevent moisture from accumulating in the ear and preventing ear infections. Also helps to keep the hair short on the tops and around the underneath side of the top part of the ear to prevent the hair from picking up those foxtails and having them work their way into an ear canal. The dogs can still sniff the foxtails right up into their nostrils and many do when working in dry fields over here. Some of our dogs are very heavily coated, right or wrong, genetics are what they are and a thick coat needs to be thinned out to present a cleaner outline of the body of the dog, shorter trimmed on the backs of the hocks to accentuate and not hide a nice short hock. Why trim the long feathers off of an otherwise lovely ear? Again, in the eye of the beholder, we love the long feathering and softer look it adds to the Irish Setter headpiece here and in Canada and now Australia and New Zealand. It's all in what you are used to seeing. I know that when Debbie Kirilenko was showing an American bred Irish Setter in Europe, the biggest compalints were his ear feathers were too long and he had too much hair! He was a typical American bred Irish Setter with a moderate amount of coat (compared to some of his littermates anyway) yet to Austrians and other European exhitibors, he had too much hair. Some of the FCI International Judges felt the same way, they just were not used to seeing an American style of Irish Setter. Everyone liked his movement and especially his temperament, but he was judged on how much coat he had in comparison to the other competitors. Coat should never be a factor when judging a dog, structure and movement is what should be judged. We all have our personal likes and dislikes, and I personally dislike seeing a dog sculpted by blunt scissoring the feathering in straight lines. This "fashion" was started by a professional handler a few years ago and because that dog "won consistantly", other handlers followed the example until Judges themselves complained that they didn't like it either! Using thinng shears to even up the length of a dog's feathering is one thing, just makes the dog's coat look a little neater as long as it is not overdone. I also don't like to see the tops of the heads shaved, I much prefer them to be thinned out with shears and a stone to smooth the coat if it's thick and not naturally short on the top of the skull. I've had both types of coat on my Irish over the years. Garnett has a very thick coat on the top of her skull, it's cottony to boot. If I used clippers and shaved her skull, this type of coat would leave clipper marks so I use thinning shears and a pumice stone to remove the coat and smooth it down. Otherwise, she would look like an Afghan on the top of her skull. My Annie on th other hand, had naturally short hair on the top of her skull with a few hairs that would grow long, I could take those off with just a few strokes of the pumice stone. Never had to touch the top of her skull with scissors or thinning shears to keep her looking smooth and neat. Annie's ear feathers grew and grew and grew, they never stopped growing, I had to trim inches off of the length of her ear feathers every couple of months, same thing with her front leg feathers. She had hair that grew like human hair does, had to cut it off to keep it looking neat and tidy otherwise her leg feathers drug the floor and so did her ears and other feathering. Garnett's coat on the other hand just grows to a certain length and stops growing except for the thick stuff on top of her skull and the backs of her hocks and her feet. Each dog is an individual when it comes to type of coat and how much grooming is going to be required to keep them neat and tidy, much less show groomed to look their very best. We like to enhance their special attributes like a beautifully tightly folded ear, long ear leather, elegant head, etc. That's what show grooming is all about, enhancing the best attributes of each dog.
i think , will not the same thing happens when i come with my totally english bred gordon showing between the american ones , different groomed , different type , excellent confirmation , lovely thick coat and deep shiny black , great mover ? , what would a american judge do?
Again, all Judging is done by the Judge of that day's show. I have seen novice owner/handlers show really nice dogs under Am. Judges when their dogs are not groomed the way we generally see them groomed and it did not affect their placements or wins. We have UK, Australian, New Zealand bred Irish Setters and Gordon Setters doing very well here in the U.S. at shows. If the "type" fits the written breed Standard for the country where the dog is being shown, grooming should not be an issue at all. When in doubt about whether or not your dog will meet that countries Standard as written, then decide if it will be competitive in that country or not. I'm talkiing about structure and movement, not grooming ability or style of grooming. Because the throats are trimmed with clippers by some or by hand plucking and scissoring by another, as long as that throat is "clean and neat", regardless of how it's trimmed, it will present the dog's throat in a similar manner to a Judge. Same thing with the tops of the ears or if you strip the feathering off of the entire ear, if there are several dogs in the same class of equal quality, appearance and grooming may well be the deciding factor. Judges are human too and if one prefers the softer look of a dog with long ear feathers over one with no ear feathers at all, then the softer look will probably win over the other one. When I'm in the ring judging, my eye is drawn first to the structure and movement of all the entries. When it comes down to the final decision making between dogs of equal quality, one that is more "pleasing to the eye" will place over the one who is less pleasing. Lack of feathering on the ears for instance won't matter as much as an incorrect balance of headpiece, length of neck, fit of the shoulders, shoulder layback, front angulation, are the legs set correctly under the dog for that breed, topline, rear angulation, is it balanced with front angulation, tail set, and how well does the dog move out, from the rear, from the front and lastly, side gait. Structural faults are most visible when viewed from the front and from the rear, balance front to rear is more visible when viewed from the side. Those are my criteria when judging and most judges that I know in the U.S. and Canada judge on a similar basis. The whole dog is more important than just a grooming style.
thanks , Barb , for your honest opinion , i showed my boy under American judges but in Europe , and so far they all liked my dog , just curious how it would be in America with a real English bred dog and European way groomed
We have a lady here in the U.S. formerly from the UK who brought UK bred Irish with her. They have been competing quite successfully here in the States. Second generation is also doing well and I know of at least 2 of those puppies who have crossed the pond back to the UK and are being shown very successfully in the UK. Grooming is just meant to accentuate the good points of any dog, not to detract from their overall quality. Remember this, structure and movement are of the upmost importance, over grooming at all times.

Wanted to expand a bit on Barb Simpson's email. My Mother is British and as a young girl I spent 9 months here in the USA for education and then 3 months in the UK as my Mother had many relatives to visit.So I was born here US Citizen but more Transatlantic in Nationality.I moved over to the UK in 1985 as a single mother with two children (Lynn and Danny- who is disabled) because of a very nasty divorce and the US Educational system at the time was not benefiting my Danny very well. After all the dust finally settled, I acquired my First Irish Setter Jazz. He was bought as a Pet for my son. I grew up with Irish Setters in my life (Father Bred them for the gun), my children grew up with them, then in 1992 Jazz came into our lives. When my 2nd hubby was out walking our Jazz someone stopped their car and told him they thought Jazz was show quality and that we should show him. So back to the Breeder and tons of question & answers later we entered Jazz at a local Open Show.
Well, he went Best Puppy in Breed and 1st place in the Puppy gundog group.At his first Championship show he won his class and next I am being told "Well Done, Lovey he is now qualified." Stupid me at the time I replied"Qualified for what?" "Crufts my Dear, Crufts!"
Off to Crufts the following March and much to my delight Jazz was placed 4th in his class.
Anyone who knows about Crufts, being placed at Crufts is quite an accomplishment.
The rest is History, Jazz went unto being lifetime qualified for Crufts ( BKC Stud Book #), then along came our Casey who moved like a dream but most times came 2nd in his class as we were competing with "JJ" Sh.Ch. Caspian's Intrepid most of the time ("JJ" did win Best In Show at Crufts as did his sire "DD" Sh.Ch. Danaway Debonair.Then we acquired "Megan (Erinade Exclusive) who became our foundation bitch.) Next came our "Dudley" Burrenmist Ring Leader at Kerrsienna. "Dudley" was mated to our "Megan" and from that liter our "Jamie" Kerrsienna Chicago Rascal and "Dana" Kerrsienna Chicago Rave graced out lives."Dana" was a real star in the UK ring. UK Junior Warrant, UK Challenge Certificate at the age of 16 months, Crufts lifetime qualification, BKC Stud Book # and won both her classes at Crufts 2000.
I came back to the States in June 2000 because my Father became very ill.I brought Over 5 Irish Setters and 1 English Pointer.Again when the dust settled "Dana" was mated to a USA Champion and from that liter, 3 are AKC pointed (1 attained her Canadian Championship and only 1 major away from her USA title (Brea-Kerrsienna Love N' Kisses), 1 two 3 point majors away from his USA title (Bentley-Kerrsienna Divide N' Conquer) and 1 AKC Pointed (Bridget-Kerrrsienna Heart N' Soul). "Dana" had another liter and from that 3 USA Champions (Lance- Ch. Kerrsienna Once in a Lifetime, Chopper Ch. Roux Chien Life of Kerrsienna JW- Junior Hunter Title and Malachy, Ch. Kerrsienna Livin" Legend), our "Liberty"Kerrsienna Life of the Party only needs one 3 point major for her USA title and "Paige" Kerrsienna A Paige In History who has been in the UK since she was 10 months old attained her UK Junior Warrant, BKC Stud Book#, lifetime qualification for Crufts and Reserve Challenge Certificate at the age of 14 months.
An finally "Lance" Ch. Kerrsienna Once In A Lifetime sired his first liter August 2006. To date 2 are AKC pointed, 3 attained Best Puppy in Breed,1 was placed 2nd in a Puppy Gundog group and 1 has his UKC (United Kennel Club) Ch. title.
And to make this more related to this topic, my first reaction when I saw the British Bred Irish Setters was " Why ever is the ear feathering cut off?" Found this totally alien! Was told it is because the judge is able to ascertain that the ear leather is of the proper length???!!
Sorry, this did not fly with me. A judge can easily feel the length of ear leather with the feathering kept intact.There is an old saying "When in Rome do as the Romans would do."
When I came back to the States in 2000 I had to revamp my grooming skills and would definitely say I prefer the USA grooming over the UK grooming.I realize that a dog show should not be a Beauty contest but there is no excuse for laziness and complacency.I have never waivered either here or in the UK. All my Irish Setters there and here are always groomed to perfection. Presentation I feel is the key word. Not only the dog but also the handler and NO I don't agree that after 5 cocktail dress is appropriate when handling a Gundog.I do feel that many go over the top but there is no reason why a happy medium can't be attained.

Rosemary & The Kerrsienna Irish Setters
Presentation I feel is the key word. Not only the dog but also the handler and NO I don't agree that after 5 cocktail dress is appropriate when handling a Gundog.I do feel that many go over the top but there is no reason why a happy medium can't be attained.Regards,
Rosemary & The Kerrsienna Irish Setters

I had to chuckle at that Rosemary. I also believe some of the outfits I'm seeing in the ring are "over the top". If you're looking at the handler and their outfit, then you're not looking at the dog.

Do love it when people dress up for the "Veteran's Sweeps" class at the National though. Lovely outfits and Tuxido's look so elegant behind a Grand Old Dog.

Loma and Red Friends
Lifted this old topic up as this is about trimming and specially about shaving... ;-))) Or maybe I should have started a new one about grooming in a bit more positive tone...

What kind of clippers you have and which blades? I use Andis Power Groom with 10 blade. Now I'm thinking about purchasing blade nr 7FC (fine cut) and the special blade for paws. I have been considering both Andis and Oster blades. Any opinions on those?

Which scissors you find best? I love my Roseline scissors, but I have some very good ones from Eicker too.
I have Oster A2 clipers, use several different blades, depending on what part of the dog I'm grooming and what breed of setter, also what type of coat does the dog have? My favorite is an 8 1/2 blade. I prefer it over a #10 or #15. The 7F skip tooth is what I use when grooming a spayed/neutered setter or sometimes an English or Gordon Setter down the backs of their necks.

I can use the 8 1/2 against the grain of the hair to leave it slightly longer than a #10 does. Remember, the larger the # of the blade, the shorter it leaves the hair.

Barb Simpson, Rustwood Irish Setters and Borzoi (who require no clipper work at all)




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