Bred as a trained bird dog for over 400 years, the English Setter’s origins lie in evidence pointing to crosses of Spanish Pointer, large Water spaniel and Springer Spaniel combining to produce a superb bird dog with a high degree of proficiency in finding & pointing game in open country.
Having owned an Orange Belton many years ago and my ex’s family having a magnificent matched pair of Blue Beltons to match I suppose their matched pair of Purdeys, I have long had affection for this elegant dog spending inordinate hours in years gone past, bathing and blow drying the featherings and furnishings to perfection.
Apart from his rather boisterous nature as a youngster, the English Setter is defined as being of medium height, clean in outline and elegant in appearance & movement with a keen game sense. He is nonetheless, intensely friendly & good natured. Thus being an outdoors dog, one needs to keep in mind the secret to a good coat and that is to keep it oiled and even shaded if in hot climate to prevent damage.
Between shows oil this coat with Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil at a ratio of 1 tbspn to 1 gal/4 Lt water. Work well into the coat with a large sponge or carefully pour over and squish through well. Then use the oil undiluted direct from the spray to the areas around where they pee. This is a bad area for breakage. Keeping it oiled will help prevent the hair from getting brittle or tangled and will deter accumulation of debris from the yard. This is a super oil, all organic and primarily top quality Evening Primrose & Calendula Oils. It is water soluble & won’t build up or be greasy or nasty to live. There simply is nothing quite like it & it is the best secret on the planet! We love the depth of colour it tends to add to the coat & the wonderful healthy vigour that goes with continued use.
I also recommend Plush Puppy Sunshade every couple of days to keep the coat from burning. Orange, lemon, blues & livers are a nightmare to keep from fading in the sun and despite best efforts, if you have an outdoors woodsman as you canine friend, it’s going to be a tough call otherwise. I like to spray enough onto the hand & spread between my hands over the top of the head & top line. This unique pump action on this bottle allows for a spray with a light depression of the nozzle and a full lotion dispenser when fully depressed. Clever innovation in pumps!
For show grooming, your standard calls for the coat & feathering to be a long silky coat, flat without curl or woolliness. Use Plush Puppy Herbal Whitening Shampoo which is a great toning shampoo for whites and indeed any faded colours too and best suited to the English Setter, at a ratio of 5:1, I.e. 5 parts water to one part shampoo. This allows for easier and even dispersion.
Follow after rinsing with Plush Puppy Silk Protein Conditioner diluted at the same ratio as the shampoo to keep the silkiness and required texture on the furnishings & featherings – not on topline. Your topline will already be hydrated with the Seabreeze Oil routine.
Now here’s where the hard stuff begins. In order to get that soft, draping fall to the lengths without wave, use Plush Puppy Swishy Coat. There are those who like to apply it undiluted but I always recommend dilution as you have a large dog & not only is it easier to work through the coat but also it ensures even application. Dilute at a ratio of 1 tbspn to 3 cups water depending on the texture – you can dilute further or less but this is a good rule of thumb for most English Setter coats. Sponge or pour thoroughly through the coat ensuring even distribution. Squeeze out excess & blow dry.
A little hint for show baths, is to include a small amount of the Seabreeze Oil into this final rinse. I suggest a tspn only which can be included to save time with the 1 tbspn Swishy into a 4 Lt/1 gal bucket of warm water and left in.
I always use the Plush Puppy Oval Pin Cushion Brush for blow drying as you never want to overstretch or rip the coat at this point. When 3/4 dry, switch to the Plush Puppy Porcupine Brush which is an oval 1/2 bristle 1/2 nylon brush, This will give that smoother, straighter and glossier finish to your drying that the Pin Brush cannot 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. I find this just flicks the short pieces in the coat outwards and gives a fly away look to the coat. We are after all wanting a polished professional look that once you have mastered, is just breathtaking. Should you have a coat that is too curly or wavy, add a tbspn of Plush Puppy Blow Dry Cream to the Swishy mix as this will further flatten the coat.
On show days, Plush Puppy OMG is just the best grooming spray. Available also in a Concentrate, the concentrate allows you to dilute to suit the individual coat type rather than the „average“ dog. As a general rule, I would say 1 part OMG to 30 parts water would be great for most English Setters. This reduces static, allows for eash show day prep and won’t build up on the coat
The trimming is relatively easy but does need attention & time. There are those who are the purists and don’t like a neater, trimmed look and those that do. Whatever is your preference & whether as in the AKC standard which does stipulate trimming is required, or the ANKC standard where it is not mentioned at all and does not therefore penalise you for doing it, it is is up to your conscience and preference if and how much you do it.
The standard states an emphasis on lean head & 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 & around the sides. The nape ought to be hand stripped in concert with a stripping knife. All whiskers should come right off to emphasise that long & lean head. Some like to go in in with the blade of the clipper & emphasise this further along the whisker area with long strokes stroking back & upwards. The topline ought to sit flat & needs relatively little stripping. The ears, some like to take almost right off & 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 the 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 & 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 & Plush Puppy Shine & Comb for that 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 the dog into the glitter fairy!
Your English Setter is now ready to compete. You have not sold your soul to the devil in the process & the dog is showing himself as a true part of the gundog group in both form & function. Your dog is also groomed to perfection able to vie with all those glamour queens of the dog world and is second to none.