The kennel of 'Upperwood' was established in 1968 by Rene and Dawn Goutorbe and has remained a family run kennel ever since. Ironically, it was Rene (a Frenchman) that introduced Dawn to her first English Setter whilst on honeymoon in France. Not long after their first two children were born they decided to purchase their first 'English', her name was 'Withinlee Wallflower' and she was to be the foundation bitch for every show bred Upperwood English Setter and still remains so. A couple of years later Rene was invited to go and watch a field trial on the Snake Pass in Derbyshire where he came across the working bred English setters. These dogs were much more like what he remembered from growing up in France and he decided very quickly that although he thought the show bred dogs were very beautiful, they were never going to make the grade as a working dog. Very soon Bringwood Curlew arrived and she became the foundation bitch for every working English Setter with the Upperwood prefix.
Dawn and Rene had a huge amount of success with their dogs. However in 1988 Rene sadly passed away. Many people assumed that this would be the end of the Upperwood Kennel, but this wasn't to be as Janine (Dawn and Rene's eldest child) decided to help Dawn. Between them they agreed on the breeding of litters and Janine used the great working setters to very good effect and built up a thriving shooting agency with shooting over Setters & Pointers as the main attraction.
In 1996, Janine aged only 36 years old tragically passed away after suffering from a brain haemorrhage. Once again the future of the kennels was in doubt. Dom Goutorbe (Dawn & Rene's youngest child) was just 16 years old and was about to leave school with ambitions to become a gamekeeper. He decided to put these plans on hold for 12 months to help Dawn but the 12 months passed within the blink of an eye, and Dom still to this day remains at the Upperwood Kennel.
Dawn has now taken a back seat in the running of the kennel but still remains a very interested and instrumental part of the dogs. The day to day running and decision making is now made by Dom Goutorbe. Dom plans all the litters and trains and competes the dogs at field trials and his wife Rebecca of The Redhara Setters (www.redharasetters.com) prepares and competes with the dogs in the show ring.
Since the kennel was established, there have been almost 50 English Setters in the UK alone to gain the title of Champion in both dog shows and field trials. This is without even mentioning a huge number of dogs overseas who have gained their titles in their respective countries.
Dawn Goutorbe is one of the most well known people around the English Setter show ring. She is one of the most experienced breed championship show judges and has judged the breed at Crufts. Few, if any judges have judged the English Setter Association Championship show more times than her.
Dom Goutorbe, despite his age is also very experienced. He is the only person within English Setters that is approved by the Kennel Club to judge at senior level at both Setter & Pointer field trials and championship shows. He is also very proud to be the President of the English Setter Club.
In the United Kingdom there are no mandatory health checks expected from English Setter breeders before breeding from their dogs, unlike a number of different countries. However the vast majority of breeders of the show type English Setter do at least hip score. The working bred English Setters are still lagging behind in this but it is pleasing to see that more and more working dogs are being hip scored.
Every English Setter living at the Upperwood Kennels will be hip scored prior to breeding and only dogs with acceptable hip scores will be bred from. We may have to occasionally use working dogs at stud which have not been scored but this will only be done after considerable thought, but we would not use any show bred male without that dog being scored first.
According to the UK Kennel Club English Setters do not suffer from any inherited genetic disorders. This is not strictly true as they could potentially carry both Neuoronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (NCL), and also PRA rcd4 (or night blindness) which is more commonly found in Irish setters but potentially can be found in all four of the setter breeds.
Of the four setter breeds it is only English Setters where it is not mandatory to check for the PRA gene in breeding stock. As far as we are aware no English Setters in the UK suffer from PRA and long may that continue, but we can not be sure the gene isn't present without checking the DNA of our dogs. In order to increase the gene pool of the English Setters in the UK we at 'Upperwood' have taken the decision to import new bloodlines from other countries. Worryingly a French study into PRA rcd4 in English Setters was carried out which found that potentially 10% of English Setters world wide could be carrying the gene. We can only research ancestry so much and without doubt we have been delighted with the dogs we have imported so far. However there is always the potential of bringing in a new problem that was not in breeding lines prior to importing. For this reason we took the decision to test not only all the new bloodlines for the PRA rcd4 gene but have also tested several dogs of UK bloodlines (10 dogs in total). Most of the dogs tested were of the working bloodlines but we also tested 3 show dogs. We are delighted to say that all the dogs results came back 'CLEAR' of the gene. This is great news as every working bred puppy bred at Upperwood Kennels where both parents are resident at the kennel will be genetically clear of the gene and no working bred puppy can ever be effected by PRA rcd4. As we also tested 3 show stud dogs and the results were again CLEAR it is unlikely that the gene is present in our show lines either.
Neuoronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis is a very rare but horrible neurological genetic disorder which affects the dogs nervous system and dogs affected with the disorder often die at a young age. As with PRA we have happily not heard of any English Setter within the UK having the condition. However we have tested all our working bred imports as well as some of our resident breeding lines and all the results returned as 'CLEAR' thus ensuring we are not bringing in any genetic disorders into our kennel whilst increasing genetic diversity which is so desperately needed for the future of English Setters in the United Kingdom.