Q: I am the owner of an English Setter and need some advice on how to clip him for show. I have an Oster clipper but don`t know how much and where I need to clip on my dog’s body?
A: The beautiful English Setter does not have its body coat clipped for the show ring. Instead, the groomer or handler uses a carding tool, stripping knife or pumice stone to hand-strip the coat on the body to produce a smooth glossy “jacket” fitting tightly to the body contours of this elegant sporting dog. To do the job properly, you would need to learn this skill from an expert.
On English Setters that have a very thick or wooly coat, the groomer would de-bulk all that hair with single-sided thinning shears, removing less hair with each stroke than the double-sided thinners do. After each “bite” of the thinning shears, the coat would be brushed to remove cut hair and check the result to see if the desired look had been achieved. When preparing these dogs for show, the coat must never look cut or chopped; the aim is a smooth natural look, your show prospect looking like he was born that way. On show dogs of this ancient breed, clippers are used only on the muzzle, throat, the top third of the ears and between the pads of the feet.
For English Setters that are not shown but are pets and/or working dogs, we often do use clippers to set the pattern, usually using a #5f or #7f blade, clipping from just above the breastbone to the point where the chest meets the top of the front legs, but leaving a full fringe on the chest. The body is clipped in a saddle pattern, accentuating the musculature of this athletic hunter. The full furnishings under the dog’s deep chest from the breastbone down and its arched undercarriage should be well-blended and shaped with thinning shears. No clipper lines should be visible. The dog’s triangular tail is carried straight out and proud when he is performing his function in the field but when it’s down in relaxed repose, it should reach the top of the hock. We also trim the muzzle and top of the head smooth and use our thinners to get rid of wisps between the toes to give it neat catlike feet.
We see the English Setters in our clientele every four to six weeks and encourage their owners to give them a thorough brushing at home at least once a week between appointments.