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I'm rather optimistically showing my Irish setter at the Pointer and Setter show in Coventry at the begging of November. She'll be 8 months then, and I'm going as there is a minor puppy class, and the local Open Shows only seem to have Junior classes where she's up against older, more practiced and better developed dogs.

I'm a complete novice at showing, we've done a couple of Opens, and I go to ringcraft classes, although the people there don't know about showing setters.

She wasn't sold as a show dog, but her breeder (first time breeder) thinks she's good, and another couple of show people said she's got promise.

Sorry it's taken so long to get round to my question, but what I want to know is whether I should do any special grooming before the big show, eg ears trimmed and neck, or would they not expect that in a minor puppy class? Her feathers are only just coming through so she's not too hairy if you see what I mean.

Also, any advice on how I deal with a benched show? Does she just need a chain, or should I use a crate? And if a crate, what size is suitable for an adult setter (on the assumption that I won't get laughed out the ring and we continue showing).

Thanks for any help.

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Hi Trish, there is alot to learn it true, however, we were all absolute beginners at one time so try not to worry about getting everything spot on first time.

First things first, yes you will need to do a very little bit of trimming just to tidy up Bess' neck/throat area. Do you have any thinning scissors? I'd recommend 48 teeth, single sided. Use them flat against the coat and just trim off the hair that sticks out from chin down to the sternum. She might also have some excess hair between her toes. Use straight edge sissors for this. Pull the long ends of hair down so that it sticks out between the pads and trim it off flush with the pad, then pull it up between the toes and trim off anything that's left sticking up then trim carefully around the edges of the foot. Have a good look at the dogs at the show to see how they're presented, you might even catch someone doing some trimming, ask if they mind if you watch.


You'll need a benching chain and a collar to fasten Bess to her bench, remember to take a blanket or some piece of bedding so she's comfortable. She might not like it at first, so you might have to stay with her to begin with, then try leaving her for just a minute or two at a time so she knows you're coming back. You'll need a ring card clip or an elastic band if you want to wear your number on your upper arm. Have a cloth to wipe any slobber and a bristle brush. Do you have a slip lead? These are the most common leads used in the breed.


You'll undoubtedly be nervous, but try to focus on Bess and keeping her calm and last of all, enjoy yourself. Remember the most important thing ''you always take the best dog home'' regardless of whether you get a place or not. We all of us do much more losing that winning.


Have fun, regards Dawn R.

Thanks! I do have a slip lead but it's very thin and cuts into my hands. I'm thinking of getting a slightly thicker one. Great grooming tips - thanks for that!

I'm thinking of getting a canvass cage - Bess loves sleeping in her crate, and as Coventry is quite a long way from us we might do an overnight stay, so thought it would be useful for the bench and wherever we stay. Any views would be welcome?

First Open we did she came second out of two dogs! But I think she was lucky not to get disquafied. One comment was she ran better on two legs than I did! We did give the ringsiders a laugh though. Yesterday's show she was third out of three, but the winning dog must have been close to the upper age limit for junior, and moved in a way a gangly pup can't. But I was happy as Bess kept all four feet on the ground. Though her 'sit' in the ring was perfect! We need a lot of practice, and I'm going to be working hard on that over the next month.

One further question. An experienced breeder/shower told me to hold her mouth when making her stand. I tried this, but Bess is now head shy and won't let me put my hand near her chin. I've since read that a pups jaw is changing shape and the teeth coming through until around 11 months, which may explain her dislike for me touching her there. I've stopped trying to hold her that way, but would like people's opinion as to whether the jaw growing story makes sense, or whether I should persevere?
Thanks. I'll try your suggestions!

Hi Trish

just thought you would like to know , Mr Watt, who is judging the bitches, will be very kind & understanding. If your girl is playing up just quietly say you are both new to it all & I expect he will give you a little extra time.( no long conversation, it isn't allowed. )

As a judge I would rather see an puppy being a bit of a handful rather than looking bored. Of course there are degrees of naughtiness but the judge should be assessing the dog & not your handling skills. Judges & owners of this breed soon learn to have a sense of humour, don't worry about providing the entertainment, we've all been there!!

Don't wrestle with her too much in the ring, if she really won't stand, step back, relax & just let her stand naturally. the main thing is she enjoys it.

Feet should be neatly trimmed. Ears & neck only need doing if they are untidy, some young bitches only need the fluffy bits on top of the ears pulling out & the thicker hair under the ear thinned out.

Good advice on benching after you have been in the class & no crate.

 We will be at the show as well so come & say hello.

Most Irish Setter exhibitors are like their dogs ...very friendly. 

I'm feeling so much better about this already! Thank you all for your kind suggestions. Really glad I found this forum.

Good luck Trish and Bess, hope you have lots of fun.

I've decided to take Rigsby (Suteresett Mr Uppity), and as this will be his first proper show since March, I'm feeling excited and nervous.  

I'm also on a very steep learning curve but it's worth sticking with it.  I have seen improvement over the past couple of months so I'm hoping he's going to start catching up with his siblings!  

Good luck and above all enjoy yourself.


P.S.  I bought Dee Milligan Bott's grooming D.V.D which I found very useful.  It won't tell you everything you need to know but it's a good starting point.  It has some very useful tips on the bathing of the dog, which is just as important as the trim.  I use Groomers Evening Primrose Oil shampoos and conditioners as I find it suits Rigsby's coat.




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