Gordon Setters (Reg'd)

Grooming Your Gordon Setter

Standard Regarding Coat

Coat - Should be soft and shining, straight or slightly waved, but not curly, with long hair on ears, under stomach and on chest, on back of the fore and hind legs, and on the tail.


Equipment Needed

A pair of straight shears (at least 7 inches long), a pair of thinning shears, 42 or more teeth work best (don't skimp on quality when purchasing your shears, you'll only end up regretting it).  A medium/coarse comb, a medium-sized slicker brush, a wire pin brush, a nail trimmer (preferrably not the guillotine type), clotting powder such as "Kwik Stop" (for accidents when trimming nails). A quality dog clipper such as the Andis AGC or Oster A5 models. Useful blades to own are a #10, #7F, and a #5F (Andis and Oster blades are interchangeable).  Other useful tools to own are the Mars Coat King Stripper (18-blade), a toothbrush, tooth paste, and a dental tool for scraping excess tartar. 


Grooming Procedure

The purpose of trimming any dog is to make it resemble as closely as possible the Standard of its breed. For instance, if a particular Gordon has a large head and light body, it would be best to trim the head closely and the leave the body coat thick. On the other hand, a dog with a small lightboned head would be trimmed more closely on the body and not as fine on the head. These are extreme examples, just chosen to give the idea behind the suggestions which follow. The end result of the advice is to enable you to trim your dog so it presents the appearance of a well-balanced Gordon type.


In order to do a good job of grooming your Gordon, he/she must be accustomed to the routine, and stand reasonably still while you're working on him.  It's important to start with the puppy, beginning as early as possible.  Place the puppy on a slip-proof table or crate top.  It's not advisable to use a grooming arm on a restless puppy, as they may slip off the table and sustain injury, even if you are right there.


Using a #7F blade in an electric clipper (a #10 can be used when you become more proficient with the clipper, however the 7F leaves nice length of coat), begin at the chin and run the clippers down under the throat to a point about two inches above the breast bone.  Then, working back, clean out hair around and under the ears. For the sides and top of the neck, start clippers directly behind the occiput and bring back in one continual sweep, in a slanting line down the neck and across the shoulder to the back of the shoulder blade. If there are any clipper marks on the shoulder or neck after this, they should be removed with a thinning shears. Avoid pushing in with the clippers where the neck joins the body. Do not use the clippers at all on the very top of the neck.  Clean entire face with the clipper.  This is the best way to remove the whiskers which should be taken off to give a clean outline to the jaw. Go over the sides of the head also and slightly on the top, to give a "nicely rounded skull."  Ears are trimmed with the #10 blade, one-third of the way down and blended into the longer hair.


Never stop a trim abruptly - always finish off using the coarser blade or thinning shears to blend into the longer hair. Thinning shears are always used in combination with a comb. Holding thinning shears pointing in the direction of the hair, thin and comb out hair as you go along. It is better for beginners to use the longer-cutting blades and advance to the closer-cutting blades as they become more proficient.


Excess neck and back coat can be trimmed using your thinning shears or removed with a Mars Coat King stripper.  The Coat King works beautifully when the dog is still wet, in the tub - but be careful not to get too carried away!  The excess hair on the front and sides of the front legs can also be trimmed with your thinning shears, or carefully clippered with a 5F blade (don't clip too close to the furnishings on the back of the front legs).  There should be a definitive "feather free" area on the sides of the front legs, between the forechest featherings and that on the back of the leg).


Feet should be trimmed with the dog standing up. Lift one foot at a time and trim hair on bottom of feet even with the pads. Do not take out any hair between the toes, the feet should be "well-arched with plenty of hair between." Using regular straight shears, trim to achieve a rounded, high-appearing foot "cat-like in shape.". With the foot in one hand, and your slicker brush in the other, brush the hair up/backwards towards the leg.  This hair can then be trimmed off with your straight or thinning shears, being careful not to trim down between the toes.  Working with shears pointed toward the ground at a slight angle, trim off excess rough hair around the foot. Nails should be trimmed so they clear the floor at least. It may be necessary to do a little at a time several times to get the desired length if the nails have been allowed to grow too long. The back feet are done the same and the hair on the back of the hock is combed down, and holding scissors perpendicular to the floor, make a nicely rounded shape to the hock.


Using the #7F or a 5F blade, trim the hair on the bottom of the tail, about 2-3 inches from the base.  This is best done in a half-circle motion, from a point approximately three inches down the tail, back towards the body, and down into the rump area.  While holding the tail with one hand, slide your grip down to the end, stopping about one-half inch past the end of the actual tail.  With a straight shears, trim off the excess featherings in a straight perpendicular cut. This gives a perfectly tapered appearance to the remaining tail hair.  Be careful not to trim too close to the actual tail.

Don't forget to clean your Gordon's ears regularly using a commercial ear cleaner and soft cotton wipe or cotton ball.  Regular teeth brushing between veterinary cleaning is also helpful in reducing tartar build-up, and can prevent more serious health issues from developing.

The following photographs illustrate the techniques described above.

(Please note, the grooming instructions on this page apply more to grooming a pet than for show)

grooming tools
Recommended grooming tools & products
neck clipping
Begin at the chin and run clipper down under the throat...
The chin, neck and ears before clipping
Clean out hair around and under the ears
Go over sides of head and slightly on top
Excess neck & back coat can be trimmed using your thinning shears
Trim hair on bottom of feet even wth pads
Hair can be trimmed off with straight or thinning shears (back feet are trimmed the same way)
Hair on the back of hock is combed down
Clipper the hair on the bottom of the tail 2 to 3 inches from the base using a #5F blade
The finished tail after clipping anal area and trimming excess hair from the end
... to a point about 2 inches above the breast bone
Chin, neck and ears after clipping/thinning
Clean entire face with the clipper
Ears are trimmed one third of the way down
Excess hair on sides of front legs can be removed with thinning shears or carefully clippered
Brush the hair on foot up & backwards
Trim off excess hair around the foot
Make a nicely rounded shape to the hock
Trim off excess tail feathering with a straight, perpendicular cut (be careful not to clip the end of the tail!)
A nicely groomed Gordon Setter is a lovely sight to behold!