Firelight Bird Dogs

Firelight Bird Dogs

Monday, October 5, 2020

Size Matters


The old timers said that if you have to bend down to pet a gun dog's head then it is a Spaniel.  A Setter's head is where your hand rests when hanging down at your side.  If you have to raise your hand to pet the head then it's a Dane.


Believe it or not, the size of a bird dog is one of the topics that can turn a discussion ugly.  To that, and to the endless volleys of "best breed" arguments, I say that is why there are chocolate and vanilla and lots of flavors in between:  pick what you like and don't worry about other people.   It's enough for me to just focus on my own dogs as far as size and base my breeding goals on personal taste, what experience has taught me works, and what the avid hunters who buy my pups say that they are seeking. But make no mistake - size does matter.  

 Let’s define “size” in a gun dog.  We usually hear just the weight of the dog for size comparisons, but I believe that height is also important. Why? Because together they give you a more accurate picture of how the dog is built.   That build determines so much about gait, stamina, and durability.

 As example, I have three dogs who are each 22" at the withers yet their weights are 50, 54 and 63 lbs. The 50 and 54 lb dogs are females and although the same height, the one weighing 50 lbs has the shorter coupled, more compact body that I prefer.   That compact, short coupled body is more ergonomic because the topline remains level and tight during movement and therefore is more efficient with no body roll or extra motion that wastes energy. This translates into more bottom to hunt faster and longer without fatigue and quicker recovery for day after day of hard hunting.

 The 63 lb dog is a nice short coupled male with good bone and masculine musculature that adds up to the higher weight than the females of the same height. But I have another male who at 65 lbs is only 2 lbs more yet is a full 2" taller with a longer and leaner build.  Again, the weight alone does not accurately portray dogs. 

 Hunters shopping for a Setter are often understandably puzzled when they see Setters listed as ranging from 35 lbs to 80 lbs.   My females are running 48 to 54 lbs. and are 21 – 22” tall at the withers.  My target for males is 60 lbs, but I see a little more range with most of mine weighing 55 – 65 lbs and 22 – 24” at the withers.  In a sense, in my Firelights, I am looking for the “middle dog” in the size range of modern Setters:  a dog with enough size that there is no doubt that it is a Setter but moderate enough in size to be animated, attractive, and athletic on the move while maintaining excellent stamina and healthy durability for a lifetime. 

Female,21" 48 lbs. Hunted til 13, lived to almost 16. 


   Male,22" 63 lb. Powerful and compact. 

Cheers and Happy Hunting all,

Lynn Dee

No comments:

Post a Comment