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Grooming Guidance

A challenge facing new English Setter owners is learning to groom. Not rare but not plentiful, English Setters must often be imported from several states away. There may be no experienced groomer living near the new owner to demonstrate grooming techniques unique to this long-coated breed.

Help is here in the form of a DVD produced by the Kettle Moraine English Setter Club. If a picture is worth a thousand words, moving pictures with audio must be worth at least a million words. Seeing the grooming tools used and hearing techniques explained in video format makes understanding what to do and how to do it easier.

On the DVD, knowledgeable members of the club demonstrate how to use clippers, thinning shears, stripping knives, grooming stones, ear cleaner, and nail clippers on English Setters with several different structures, coat textures, and markings. They demonstrate how to adapt your grooming technique to fit the dog you are grooming and to accentuate the dog’s positive traits. They demonstrate how to groom various parts of the English Setter, including head, throat, hocks, feet, tail, chest, and body, especially that most difficult area, shoulders.

They emphasize using the English Setter Breed Standard as the blueprint for grooming. For example, the standard calls for a prominent occiput and stop, and the DVD shows how to heighten those traits on any English Setter.

Here are a few tips that are not included on the DVD.

Frequent (at least weekly) brushing of the furnishings is a must, or your ES will develop dense mats that are tedious to brush out and painful for the dog. A quick mist with conditioner or detangler and regular gentle brushing with a pin brush or soft slicker brush keeps mats from becoming a problem.

Always bathe your ES indoors with warm water (exception, hot summer days when cool water from the hose feels good). Not only is a cold bath extremely unpleasant for the dog, but it could also bring on “cold tail,” a condition where the tail lies limp and seems numb. A dog with cold tail is in pain and cannot be shown because it can’t lift its tail level with the back while gaiting. If a show site cannot provide warm water, you can bring an electric tea kettle (and perhaps a generator for electricity) to heat up some water for your dog’s table bath.

If you don’t have a raised doggie bathtub, you can bathe your dog in your own bathtub with a hose, obtainable from any hardware store, attached to your shower head.

A grooming table makes the grooming process much easier. If you don’t have one, you can make something that works pretty well. Get a one-inch-thick piece of plywood, 24” x 42,” glue a piece of carpet or rubber matting to the entire top, bungee it securely to the top of your dog crate or sturdy table about 30” high, attach a grooming arm with a clamp, and add a loop (a.k.a. noose)that goes around the dog’s neck. The arm, clamp, and loop are available from most on-line dog equipment suppliers.

Thanks to the Kettle Moraine English Setter Club for providing this valuable resource for folks who want to learn to groom their English Setters themselves. To order the 80-minute grooming DVD, go to http://www.kmesc.org/ .

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