At the moment we have two English setters, the Jack Russell cross, the border collie, and the wire-haired terrier mix.
Before I got into setters, my characterization of dog coat colors sounded like this: "There's a dog with white fur and black spots!" Seriously.
It was accurate, but certainly not a language anyone at the American Kennel Club would understand.
English setters set my sails in the right direction when it comes to discussing dog fur.
The Low Down
English setters are usually born white. Their "ticking" (or spots) do not really become prominent until they mature, although as puppies you will start to see the ticking darken and increase around 4 months of age. Eye patches seem to come in sooner, and some puppies show evidence of eye patches very early on.
Edward Laverack, the breed's founder, loved to hunt in the village of Belton. So the ticking soon became known as "belton." Ticking can be heavy or light. If there is more ticking than white, the dog is called "roan."
The possible coat colors are BLUE, ORANGE, LEMON, or CHESTNUT BELTON.
When TWO colors combine with white, the dog is labeled a "Tricolor." There will be flecks of liver or lemon or orange showing up in the predominantly blue ticking.
To be named belton, the dog must not have any eye patches. If they do, they are simple called "blue," or "orange," or whatever the predominant color is in the coat.
The difference between an orange belton and a lemon belton (or orange or lemon if eye patches are present) depends on the color of the nose and eyes. A lighter nose (with more pink) and lighter eyes are hallmarks of the lemon belton.
Variations on a Theme
I am really partial to blue setters. I actually love a coat with so much ticking, that it mottles together to make the dog seem even darker (known as roan).
I have always wanted to own a therapy dog. When our puppy, Talley, came along, I did not have my sights set on "therapy" as a goal for her. But I did have a plan to go through the levels of obedience training, as Talley is deaf and has been since birth.
With puppy classes, basic obedience, intermediate obedience and socialization under our belts, we went on to pass the Canine Good Citizen test with flying colors (see what I did there?).
I then applied to have Talley tested as a therapy dog with Pleasure of Your Company Therapy Dogs in my region. She did not disappoint. Talley passed her test, and continues to show the calmness and friendliness so inherent in her breed.
We have gone on quite a number of therapy visits now (to nursing homes, assisted living centers, kids programs, safety dog programs, etc.) and Talley shows her love for adventure and people at every event.
Talley is a true Blue Belton setter.
It's a small circle this week, but nevertheless, a circle. I am part of a weekly blogging group of professional pet photographers located all over the planet. To see what others have blogged about in this week's topic (Blue), start here with Angela and Bella of Big White Dog Photography in Spokane, Washington, who are back to hiking the hills of the Inland Northwest.
Then find the link at the end of each blog to click on to the next photographer, until you find yourself back here, and have completed the circle.
Have a great weekend! Enjoy!
Note: All photos in this blog were captured by me...Elaine Tweedy...except for the cartoon dog (thank you Deposit Photos Stock).