Friday, June 13, 2008

History of the Breed, Part V

Today closes out this series, and I've added a modern picture of Castle Gordon for some perspective. I hope you've found the series interesting and informative, and gained some insight into the fascinating and eclectic breed that the Gordon really is...


The late Mr. Isaac Sharpe, Inglewood, Keith, has been the leading breeder of Gordon Setters after Mr. Chapman. Mr. Sharpe was an exceptionally fine shot and experienced breaker and handler of gun dogs. He had the great satisfaction to win the Kennel Club Derby with his Gordon setter, Stylish Ranger, in 1901. This famous dog was bred by Mr. Robert Chapman, Glenboig, and was by Heather Crack, K.C.S.B. 662E, (Sloper-Topsy), out of Flair, (Heather Earl-Heather Fairy). He won Several first prizes in England at field trials and was later exported to Norway, where he has been extensively used for breeding purposes. A son of Ranger, Champion stylish Billie was a dog of very high class. Of later celebrities among the many Stylish Gordons must be mentioned Stylish Jester, K.C.S.B. 41AA, (Stylish William-Stylish Kate), a winner at field trials. This dog was also imported to Norway.
Stylish Scorcher, (Stylish Lad-Stylish Queen), has been a great stud force in Mr. Sharpe's kennel in later years and Stylish Little Betty, (Stylish Scorcher-Stylish Tan), was good enough to secure first prize in the International Gun Dog League's field trials at Douglas Castle, Scotland, in 1926. In her sire's line her pedigree can be traced directly back to Stylish Ranger. Mr. Sharpe has tried to develop the working qualities of his Gordons, and during a long range of years when the breed did not have a high star among the public, Mr. Sharpe has been a keen supporter and prominent breeder of Gordon Setters. Friends of the breed are greatly indebted to him for the care and pains he has taken to prove at field trials the value of the breed as a sporting dog.
The late Mr. David Baillie, Garbethill, Castlecary, was for many years a prominent breeder of Gordon Setters and his "Garbet" Gordons were among the best. His Champion Garbet Nap, K.C.S.B. 711G, a grandson of Champion Duke of Edgeworth, was a fine specimen, and in his pedigree we find Mr. Chapman's celebrities and lines going back to Champion Bellmont and Monarch, K.C.S.B. 5099, and the strains of Messrs. Pearce and Lang. Champion Garbet Nap was imported to Norway. Mr. Baillie's bitches, Lady Shuna, (Kyle Chief-Kyle Shuna), and Garbet Jan, (Ranger-Bonnybridge Nell), were of very high quality and among the best at the shows in there time. Garbet Vera, (Ch. Garbet Nap-Garbet Bess), was imported to Norway and has so far been of interest as her descendants have proved themselves to be excellent workers in the field trials in Scandinavia.
Another breeder of Gordons, Mr. J. E. Graham, Hunter House, Penrith, owned many good specimens such as Fellside Minnie (Master Nap-Novelty), Penrith Nel (CH. Garbet Nap-Nora), and Fellside Grouse (Nap-Baston Gyp). His strain combines the blood from Messrs. Chapman's and Baillie's Gordons.
One of the Gordon Setters who in later years has been of the greatest importance is Burnvale Ranger, K.C.S.B. 644AA. Through Barbon Manor the pedigree goes back to the well known Bang lV, 20377, and White Heather ll, 26789, and the old strain, and does not contain so many of the usual calebrities, though it is a rare, good one. Burnvale Ranger has been extensively used for breeding purposes. The infusion of his blood has no doubt been valuable for many strains. He was owned by Mr. Andrew Baird, but later on acquired by Professor Turton Price and used as a stud dog in the "of Crombie" kennel, Dundee.
There seems to be a bright outlook at the present time for the beautiful bird dog of Scotland. With the British Gordon setter Club to look after it's interests, and with many keen and able breeders and supporters a sound development must be expected.

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To get the true setter type, the head is of importance. It must be show quality and have real setter lines. Mr. Robert Chapman succeeded in breeding setters with a fine type of head as we see it with Champion Heather Grouse. The Gordon must not be larger in head and heavier in build than the English and Irish setter. The skull must be oval but not domed. A forehead and skull a trifle more developed than with the other setter varieties is perhaps a peculiarity with the breed. But, any exaggerations here towards a domed and heavy head must be warned against, asd any other details indicate alien blood.
On the top of the head we very often see a superfluity of hairs, a "topknot." To realize a correct view of this we must remember the Gordon Setter originally was an old Scottish tri-colored setter. Mr. Laverack tells us the the Naworth Castle breed has a topknot. This was not an unusual trait with these northern setter strains. The topknot with some Gordons may perhaps be an old setter inheritance. It has been said that it indicates an admixture of Irish Water Spaniel.
Mr. Hugh Dalziel in his book British Dogs, Vol. 1, second edition 1889, pages 321-322, tells us (referring to the family likeness of the setters and spaniels: "No more pronounced instance if this has come under my notice for years than a number of dogs, all of the same blood, shown by the Earl of Carlisle, in January, 1877. These were mostly liver and white in color, stood higher than the show bench spaniel, shorter and rounder in the head than the present day setter. They were all strong, useful looking dogs, showing a lot of spaniel character in general formation, carriage of ears and coat and feathering, the coat having a strong tendency to curl, and some of them having as distinct a topknot as the Irish Water Spaniel, although not so large.
"I find, since writing the above, that the late Mr. Edward Laverack, in his monograph on the setter, had described this strain as the Naworth Castle and Featherstone Castle breed, and our descriptions are practically identical. Mr. Laverack speaks of some specimens as liver, others liver and white, and says some of these setters were sent to Ireland seventy years ago. When I first saw this breed, I was struck with several points of resemblance to the Irish Water Spaniel, and it is quite likely that the blood of the Naworth Castle Setter runs in the veins of our Irish Spaniels. In favor of this idea, it may be necessary to tell many readers that until quite recently, a distinct difference was recognized between the Water Spaniels of the South and north of Ireland. And the latter were certainly more like the Naworth Castle Setter than those of the South. The resemblance between the two breeds does not consist alone in the top knot, which undoubtedly is a feature that readily catches the eye; but the strong fore quarters, the upstanding style, and lofty carriage, are remarkable in both....
The characteristic topknot with the Northern Irish Water Spaniel, therefore, may be an old setter inheritance.
The color of the Gordon setter is very attractive when of the right sort. The black color nust be glossy, raven black and must not show any rustiness. The tan must be bright mahogany tan. with age, the tan color grows paler. The Gordon Setter has been attributed to have a specially keen nose. It is, however, impossible to generalize in this respect. As with other breeds there are Gordons with good and Gordons with bad scenting powers. The nose must be wide open, choke nose, moist, and always on the move.
As to pace, staying powers, and working qualities there are, among the Gordons, animals which are able to compete with any other breed. Many Gordons have exceptional brains and need very little training. Many of them are stalthy and make no noise when questing, even in gallops, and are much sought after and convenient for shooting in the woodlands.
If one obtains a really good Gordon Setter, he is an exceptionally attractive shooting companion.

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