The Setter of the Emerald Isle
What a joy to behold this flash, red fellow with his big gait, driving smoothly from the rear with that vision of length and strength from hip to hock. His is a glamorous silhouette, and a good one presented beautifully, is darned hard to go past in the show ring. The Irish Setter takes a bit of understanding for his best grooming and a decided effort to put in the hard yard between shows.
Your Irish is a bit of a busy dog and because of his exuberance tends to end up messier than most, gathering up bits of the yard like a moving compost heap. The secret is to keep the coat oiled and shaded to prevent damage. Between the shows I recommend oiling his coat with the Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil at a ratio of 1 tbspn to 1 gallon/4 litres water.
Work this well into the coat with a sponge or carefully pour over and squish well through. Then use the oil straight from the spray or applied undiluted to the areas around where they pee. This is a bad area for breakage. Keeping it oiled will help to prevent the coat getting brittle or tangled and will dissuade the accumulation of debris from the yard. This is a super oil as it is water soluble and won’t build up or be nasty to live with. It is also all naturally derived and there is nothing quite like it. Love the depth of colour it tends to add to the coat and the wonderful healthy vigour that goes with continued use.
I also recommend using the Plush Puppy Sunshade every couple of days to keep the coat from burning. Reds are a nightmare to keep from fading in the sun and despite best efforts, if you have an outdoors woodsman as your canine friend, it’s going to be a tough call otherwise. Spray enough onto the hand and spread between your hands over the top of the head and topline.
Now for the show grooming and your standard calls for the coat and feathering to be as straight and free as possible from curl or wave. It also states that the texture be fine and silky, so, after bathing with the Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo which is the shampoo for high shine and particularly wonderful on reds, (at a ratio of 3:1 i.e. 3 parts water to one part shampoo) you then condition with the Plush Puppy Silk Protein Conditioner diluted at the same ratio as the shampoo. You can dilute both further but I like the intensity of the shine from the shampoo at this dilution and the silkiness of the conditioner for the show occasion. Okay here’s where the harder stuff begins.
In order to get that soft draping fall to the lengths without wave, use Plush Puppy Swishy Coat. I always recommend dilution as you have a large dog and it is easier to get even dispersion throughout the coat this way. Dilute at a ratio of 1 tbspn to 3 cups water depending on the texture of the coat. You can dilute further or less. Sponge or pour thoroughly through the coat ensuring even distribution. Squeeze out excess and blow dry. Use the Plush Puppy Oval Pin Cushion Brush for this as you don’t want to rip the coat or overstretch at this point. When ¾ dry, switch to an oval ½ bristle ½ plastic brush such as the Plush Puppy Anti Stat Brush.
This will give you that smoother, straighter and glossier finish to your drying that the pin brush won’t do. You need also to get in under the lengths with the brush and gently bend the ends around the curve of the brush. I never entirely dry with a top brushing action only. This just flicks the short pieces in the coat outwards and gives that fly away look to the coat. You are after a polished professional look that once you have mastered, is just breathtaking. Should you have a coat that is too full which is fairly rare in this breed, you can add a tbspn of Plush Puppy Blow Dry Cream to the Swishy Coat mix as this will further flatten the coat.
The trimming is relatively easy but does need attention and time. There are those who are the purists and don’t like a trimmed neater look and those that do. Whatever is your preference and whether as in the KC standard which does stipulate trimming is required or the ANKC standard where it doesn’t mention it at all and does not therefore penalise you for doing it, it is up to your conscience if and how much you do it.
The standard states an emphasis on the lean head and clean neck. I suggest a #10 blade on an Oster clipper for the neck to a V at the top of the sternum in front of the neck and around the sides. The nape of the neck ought to be hand stripped in concert with a stripping knife. All whiskers should come right off to emphasise that long and lean head. Some like to get in with the blade of the clipper and emphasise this further along the whisker area, with long strokes stroking back and upwards. The topline ought to sit flat and should need relatively little stripping. The ears some like to take almost right off and others just the top 1/3 off depending on which standard is applicable. The featherings seem to be the point of contention.
How about a compromise? Rather than going gungho with the scissors and sculpting a sharp curve or doing nothing at all, why not use the thinning shears and following the desired arc, gently shape that edge for a softer effect giving a fairly natural look to the curve. The end result is still to shape the dog to his best without looking totally contrived. All excess feathering is to be removed from the feet but I am advised by an expert that the rear hock looks just wonderful if when trimmed, you angle the line slightly outwards as you go upwards and then angle downwards from the top of the hock to meet the upward line already created.
This gives the illusion of a really long line from the hip to the hock. enforcing the requirements of the standard. Show day spray with Plush Puppy Odour Muncher and Plush Puppy Shine & Comb for that final glamour. I do like a dusting of Plush Puppy Pixie Dust just lightly applied on strategic areas with your brush. The secret is just a dusting and not to turn it into the glitter fairy.
He may not be in Ireland and you may not be Irish but the dog now will at least look the absolute essence of an Irish Setter. I do like this breed and I hope you all present them as they ought to be, glamorous and magnificent.