The Gordon Setter has a beautiful coat and an easy-going nature, two ideal characteristics for any dog preparing for competition. You think your dog is beautiful and destined to be a star, but will the judges agree with you? There are several areas on which you should focus if you are seriously considering entering your Gordon Setter into competition; training, conditioning and grooming & nutrition.
Even though you've spent endless hours training and socializing your new Gordon Setter, you've mostly trained and socialized it in the context of the home setting. If your pet has been trained at least a little as a puppy, you and your Gordon Setter could benefit from handling lessons. These lessons will help you learn more about the proper ways to handle your Gordon Setter while it learns how to interact with other dogs in an environment very similar to that of a competitive dog show. For competition, you want your Gordon Setter to be in peak form. This means making sure that he or she is used to being in the presence of other dogs and competing for attention.
Because the Gordon Setter is first and foremost a hunting dog, it already possesses a great deal of discipline. But as any athlete can attest, possessing discipline and exercising discipline are two completely different things, the difference between the two is winning or losing. As the owner and handler, it is your duty to condition your pet for competition.
Conditioning means different things for different breeds and different owners. But the one thing you should know, particularly about the Gordon Setter is that it requires plenty of exercise on a daily basis. This should be your main focus for conditioning. But daily means daily, so if you're intent on showing your Gordon Setter, you should be sure you have a way of conditioning your pet even during inclement weather. Be sure you don't overdo it for Gordon Setters only require 60 to 80 minutes of exercise daily. Be sure to check with your vet prior to conditioning.
Diet & Grooming
These are perhaps the most important elements for any successful show dog. A healthy Gordon Setter should be no more than 80 pounds for a male and 70 for a female, and luckily whether or not your pet qualifies is completely up to you. A proper diet from a young age is the sole responsibility of the owner. At any time, you can gradually change your dog's diet if it needs to lose or add a few. You should also consult your vet to see what foods you should feed your Gordon Setter to bring out the amazing shine of its coat. Because the beautiful black and tan coat of the Gordon Setter is its most distinguishing feature, you should take extra care grooming it, but especially leading up to competition. For specifics, consult the American Kennel Club (AKC).