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Hairway to Heaven

Whether you show your dogs or you just want your English Setter to look like a rock star at home, one subject that always gets people talking is grooming products. I decided to ask English Setter fanciers about their favorite shampoos, conditioners, and grooming tips. They offered a surprising mix of old favorites and new products.

Without question, the number one line of products recommended for English Setters was Traleigh. Tom and Pat Skol of Stargaz'r English Setters called Traleigh products “musts.” Traleigh is available from some dog show vendors and online but due to its popularity their products are sometimes on back order. Traleigh has been around for years so it wasn’t completely surprising to see that it was so popular. While it’s always been used by a lot of show people, word seems to have spread and now it’s popular with all English Setter owners.

Plush Puppy and Isle of Dogs are also popular. These brands are long-time favorites for the breed. This is not your mother’s Isle of Dogs. Many of the products look like they could be sold in a human salon. Take a peek if you haven’t looked at Isle of Dogs recently.

Another old favorite for English Setters that was mentioned by Laurie Engel and Judy Prusnick was Pantene. Yes, you’ll find admonitions online not to use human shampoos on dogs, but handlers and others have been using Pantene on Setters for years. Laurie said she uses the Pantene Classic shampoo and conditioner on her dogs, which have included multiple Best In Show winners. Judy uses the 2-in-1 formula for her retired dogs, which have done their share of winning in the past.

Other people said they mix and match products. Lisa Nielsen said that she is currently using Isle of Dogs’ Heavy Management on her male special’s top coat and Traleigh on his pee feathers. Several people noted that it’s important to use the right product for the dog since different coats respond to different shampoos and conditioners. It can take trial and error to figure out what works on a dog’s coat.

One of the newer products people mentioned was Espana Silk. Numerous people said they loved the detangler from Espana Silk and they also have an all-natural bug spray. People also love their medicated conditioner which gives a dog’s coat volume even if the dog has sensitive skin.

Another new line of products recommended by several people, including groomers, was Panagenics by Eric Salas. People like the shampoo, conditioner, and the hydrating spray. This is expensive stuff. Several people said they wanted to try it but haven’t yet. If you are grooming a pet English Setter you might want to hold off buying this brand until there is more feedback.

Chris Christensen has been around for a while but they continue to update their products. Many people mentioned CC products they liked for the show ring such as Tame It and Spectrum 10 shampoo and conditioner. Chris Christensen is also making the D-Flite aluminum tack boxes that disappeared for a while. It’s great to see them back – especially if you’re like me and you take everything but the kitchen sink to a dog show.

People with performance dogs also had some favorite products. Chris Christensen Ice On Ice is still a favorite for combing dogs out and protecting pee feathers. You can count on minimal coat loss in the field when using this product. Another good product for coping with mats and stickers is Cowboy Magic – a perennial favorite available at feed stores and pet supply stores. Protect-A-Coat by Summerwinds was also recommended for use before running dogs in the field and general conditioning. #1 All Systems was suggested for therapy dogs because the scent doesn’t seem to bother people who are sick when dogs visit hospitals and nursing homes.

Maura Ptacek of Birdhaven English Setters has finished and specialed many dogs over the years. A handler shows her dogs but Maura cares for her dogs’ coats at home in between shows. Maura said she uses both Coat Handler and Plush Puppy. For the dogs that are currently being shown she uses One Shot Whitening Shampoo by Best Shot products. She also uses their Ultra Plenish Conditioner and their UltraMAX Pro Finishing Spray. For coat problems Maura said she prefers Traleigh.

Maura also had some great tips about grooming and products. She said that she attends grooming seminars and competitions as a spectator whenever she can. Even though the grooming styles are different from what we see at dog shows, she said she learns a lot. It’s also a great way to buy grooming products at low prices. At one grooming seminar she let a friend use one of her dogs (not being shown) as a demo dog for Andis clippers – and went home with a new set of clippers as thanks. Her friendly English Setter had a great time meeting the public during the demonstration.

Another tip Maura had was to talk to handlers at shows. They know lots about grooming and you can learn from them if you have a genuine desire to learn. Maura said she also exchanges grooming products with friends, such as her Golden Retriever friends. If she buys products that don’t work for her dogs, she will offer them to someone who might be able to use them and vice versa. It’s a great way to find products that work without wasting expensive shampoos and conditioners. It’s certainly better than having a closet full of old products you can’t use at home.

One more tip from Maura that she picked up from a handler: use a mesh bath sponge to wash your English Setter’s front legs. According to Maura you won’t believe how much more dirt you can remove from your dog’s legs by using the bath sponge with a little shampoo. You don’t need to use the bath sponge on the rest of your dog’s body but dirt can really get down to the skin on the legs.

I asked around and if you’re looking for help in grooming your English Setter, the DVD offered by the Kettle Moraine English Setter Club – Groom Your English Setter Instructional DVD – is still the best. Contact the club for information on ordering. http://www.kmesc.org/Grooming-DVD.html

Many thanks to everyone who answered questions and offered information!

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