Gordon setters in Sweden - past and present, by Anita Aronsson.

This article has previously been published in The British Gordon Setter Club Christmas Newsletter 1994 and is published here with the consent of the author Anita Aronsson.

It is not known to me when the first Gordon setter came to Sweden. King Oscar I (1799-1859) of Sweden and Norway, howerver, kept "Scottish setters" for hunting, and his son Prince August (1831-1873) owned Bonin, an offspring from these dogs. I found Bonin in a single Gordon setter pedigree from the 19th century. Mac SKKS 131 [Dash ex Katy], born in 1888 and bred by Mr J. Swedenborg, was the first Swedish Gordon to be registered in the first volume of the Swedish Kennel Club Stud Book (SKKS) published in 1893. As a curiosity, Mr Swedenborg was a decendant of the mystic and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). Gaston SKKS 134 [Bishop KCSB 10235 ex Belle KCSB 15187], born in 1887 and bred by Prince Albert zu Solms-Braunfels in Germany, was the first registered import.

Gordon setters has never been kept in large numbers in this country. Only a few individuals has appeared in field trials and dog shows. In October 1893 the Swedish Kennel Club held its first field trial, at Näsby in the south of Sweden. Shot SKKS 796 [unknown] was the first Gordon to be awarded 1st prize at a trial in 1896.

The Scandinavian Gordon Setter Club (SkGSK) was established in 1900 for members resident in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. The old Gordon Setter Club (SvGSK) was founded on 19 January 1907 by Captain T.Kroplien, Captain R. Nicolin and Mr W. Schumacher. Those two clubs had a tremendous impact on the quality of the breed. Large amounts of money were spent on stud dogs and brood bitches. They were imported mainly from Norway like Ranger SKKS 1792 [F.T.Ch. Stylish Ranger KCSB 1247 F ex Heather Leah KCSB 720 B], Fly SKKS 1293 [Norway Prince KCSB 416 A ex Norway Queen] and Ch. Rose W SKKS 2943 [Splendid ex Fairy W]. Ch. Heather Fly SKKS 2255 [Ranger ex Norway Queen], the first field trial champion in Scandinavia, was imported from Denmark by SvGSK on 1907, and Turton Trojan KCSB 653 D [Ch. Duke of Edgworth ex Turton Jess] and Ch. Garbet Nap KCSB 711 G [Garbet Grouse ex Garbet Floss] from England to Norway and then to Sweden.

Successful breeders of Gordon setters the first decades of 20th century were Dr K. Schiller (Flying), Captain T. Kroplien (Odinsheim), Captain R. Nicolin (Frösö), Mr N.M. Hallman (Arfvesund), Mr I. Ljung (af Köping), Mr K.H. Eriksson (Sörängen), Mr N. Solovjeff (Fjällvidden) and Captain E. Edström (af Hågesta).

Ch. Rose W, born in 1903, had the reputation as the best Gordon setter on the bench in Scandinavia for many years. Grace NJHSB 1226 [Prince ex Garbet Vera] was an excellent brood bith, who in 1913 produced the eminent litter consisting of Sam SKKS 289 L, Campàn SKKS 9 M and Donna SKKS 518 N, all with the Sörängen prefix. Racer SKKS 358 K [Ch. Lappo Odinsheim ex Belle], a grandson of Rose W, sired the puppies. These litter mates were outstanding at field trials. Around 1920 Sam was exported to Norway and Campàn to Denmark, and both became prominent stud dogs. The foundation bitch of Fjällvidden kennel, Dashing Ena SKKS 265 K [Snögg ex Dashing Top] imported from the famous Dashing kennel in Norway, was another field trial star around the First World War.

Between 1907 and 1920 the Swedish Gordon Setter Club was a wealthy and active club, but during the recession years in the late 1920s its membership failed to support it financially. In 1936 the Swedish Kennel Club finally withdrew SvGSK's association. Moreover, the quality of the breed declined during the late 1920s and the early 1930s, most probably because of excessive inbreeding on Sörängen and Fjällvidden blood. The last champion of the first golden age of the Swedish Gordon setter was the Norwegian import Ch. King SKKS 1210 FF [Boy ex Narka av Storhovde] in 1937 and Si IV af Hågesta SKKS 215 TT [Fjällviddens Jan ex Gaddy], the last to be awarded at a trial in 1944.

The 25 years following the Second World War was a dark period for the breed. Dellfort Trigo KC. Reg. 63331/45 [Premier of Dendy KC. Reg. 43495/38 ex Dellfort Moffat KC. Reg. 11003/42] was imported from England in 1950, and Eagl von Brunnenwald was brought from Austria in 1955 to refresh the blood. These efforts were apparently futile, since few litters were born, and many of the puppies were of substandard quality. Only a handful of Gordons were shown but no Swedish bred dogs entered at trials.

The Swedish Gordon Setter Ring (SGSR) was founded as a subdivision of the Swedish English Setter Club in 1973 with the ambition to restore the Gordon setter as a healthy, good-looking hunting dog. Stud dogs and brood bitches were again imported from Norway, Denmark and England. In this way Gordons of today are related to the old Swedish blood lines, which had been so badly wasted in Sweden.

In 1975, Vinstamarkens Kittie S-19924/71 [Ulavatnet's La Guerre ex Tina] was the first Swedish bred Gordon after the war to be placed at a trial. Nine years later, Kittie's grandson Steely Flying Monthy S-57254/78 [Zandy ex Steely Amaze] got his S.Sh.Ch. title, and in 1985 he was placed 2nd best in the Swedish Woodland Championship Stakes. Unfortunately, Monthy, like his dam and grandmother, suffered from hip dysplasia, and his use in breeding was limited accordingly. The owner of Monthy got a second champion in his Norwegian import S.Sh.Ch. Flying Pirat N-5549/81h [Int.N.S.Sh.Ch., N.F.T.Ch. Krutrøykens Tell ex Bubakkens Toya] in 1987. Three years later Pirat repeated Monthy's success in the Swedish Woodland Championship Stakes. Pirat was frequently used as a stud dog. These champions inspired a new generation of Gordon setter owners, and the number of entries at trials went up considerably.

In 1989, another Norwegian import Eggafjellet's CV Cola N-12985/87 [GB.F.T.Ch Freebirch Viner KCSB 69 BP ex Eggafjellet's Connie III] won her S.Sh.Ch. title. She appeared to have hip diplasia and was therefore never used in breeding. Mrs Eva Posner-Storm (Åshöjden) and Mr T. Larsson (Svitjod) got their first champions in 1992 with S.Sh.Ch. Åshöjdens Nicole S-24944/87h [GB.F.T.Ch Freebirch Viner KCSB 69 BP ex Åshöjdens Zoraya] and S.Sh.Ch. Svitjods Isa S-35859/89h [Su-Li's Raider ex Falljägarens Ronja], respectively.

SGSR in 1993 formed the new Swedish Gordon Setter Club (SGSK) which was recognised as an independent breed club the same year. SGSK now has about 250 members, and it arranges trials and shows. To educate its members and stimulate the use of Gordon setters as hunting and field trial dogs, the club arranges field training courses twice a year. In the period between 1983 and 1993, the Gordon entries at trials increased almost tenfold, from 19 entries to 180, in spite of the fact that the numbers of puppies born were about the same during the entire period of time.

Svitjods Isa won the prestigious Swedish Lowland Championship Stakes in 1993, as the first Gordon ever in 100 years. This triumph made Isa a field trial champion, and the first dual champion for more than half a century. She was awarded the title "English Pointing Dog of the year 1993" in competition with pointers and setters. In the meantime Isa also got her N.Sh.Ch. and Int.Sh.Ch. titles. In the same year´, Eggafjellet's CV Cola was close to win the Swedish Highland Championship Stakes, but was placed as number four because of a minor mistake in the finale brace. The youngster Getryggens Tobie van Tootsie S-67830/91h [DK.F.T.Ch. Fjellet's Dannie ex Bitihorns Tootsie] placed 5th in the derby. Åshöjdens Nicole was awarded her Norwegian Sh.Ch. title in 1993.

Around midsummer 1994 we got a new Swedish show champion in Tvärdala Bryanthus S-35868/89h [Adive Shot of Ensay KCSB 2151 BU ex Martini's Gipsy]. Getryggens Tobie van Tootsie got an obedience champion title (SL.Ch.) in the spring. Tobie may well be the first triple champion of the breed.

Swedish show champions are few compared with the state in many other countries. The reason for this is the high demands for success. It is mandatory for a dog to be field pointed before it can enter the challange class at show. The ticket to the CC class is at least a 3rd prize in either Youngster or Open class trial. All Swedish trials are open to setters and pointers; pure Gordon trials do not exist. Before a dog is allowed to enter the Open class at a trial, it must earn a Retrieving certificate. In addition to the necessary three CC:s, a Scandinavian Gordon setter must hve been awarded a 1st prize Open class at a trial to become a show champion, national or international. Last year, only two Gordons got a first prize in an Open class trial. From next year, the dog also must have cleared hips on an official X-ray to get the champion title. These regulations are supported by SGSK, because they will enhance the possibility to preserve the Gordon setter as a healthy hunting dog.

Swedish Gordons are of medium size (height at shoulder for dogs: 60-65 cm; for bitches 58-63 cm) and they would preferably not be too heavily built. At present, there are four different male lines (the strongest can be tracked back to Dandie KCSB 1581) and five female lines (the most successful being the descendants from Kate IV KCSB 13510). Approximately 100 puppies are born each year. It is mandatory for the sire and the dam of a litter to have their hips X-rayed, otherwise the puppies will not be registered with the Swedish Kennel Club. During the last ten years 45% of the dogs had their hips X-rayed. The frequency of hip diplasia is about 10%.

Prominent Gordon setter breeders in Sweden today are Mr B.O. Jansson (Getryggen), Mr T. Larsson (Svitjod), Ms K. Edh (Zettertjärn), Mr and Mrs Schaffer (Gråsjövalen) and Mrs E. Posner-Storm (Åshöjden).

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