It seems that nobody wish to start a discussion here, and I see some well known breeders who I’m sure have a lot to say about Irish setter.
Let’s start like this… question for all off course: Which dogs do you think left the greatest impact in modern history on the breed in general (or in your country) and why?
This is not really such an easy question as it would first appear to be... thinking of the british show scene quite a few names come to mind, but at the same time I feel a certain unease. Why? Re show quality the breed may have benefited from a few individuals, but at the same time this has been to the detriment of the breed as a whole. Due to the fact that few, and often similarly bred animals have been used as popular stud dogs, the genetic diversity of the breed has become more and more reduced. Too high a homogenity in any one breed can lead to inherited problems becoming more apparent. Bloat and epilepsy come to mind - serious problems in our breed. I hear NL has ideas for reducing the inbreeding coefficient in Irish - maybe someone can tell us more?
I apologize for not giving names of dogs as you had hoped...
In a nutshell yes scientists active in the Dutch Kennel Club wanted breeding programmes aimed at reducing the inbreeding percentage, stating this was the reason for the many defects in purebreeds. Both members of the committee trying this plus scientists are gone now.... There was a lot of opposition from breedclubs.
Still in some places the discussion continues. Like in last monthly clubmagzine of the ISCN called Ierse Setter Klanken (Irish Setter Sounds) an article on the inbreeding percentage, more or less a repeat of arguments by those scientists. Probably as a result of epilepsy now being on the rise again in IS here.
The late UK breed expert W.J. Rasbridge already wrote that the Irish setter had degenerated from its original standard... He also warned against loss of the founding families and is the only one I know of writing a good article on those families. Most nowadays breeders have no knowledge of this.
The inbreeding percentage in Irish setters is much higher than estimated because people do not -like they did in the days of Rasbridge- make pedigrees 20-30 generations. Already in the fifies litters were born with around 40% of the breeding coming from just one combination: Rheola Bryn x Rheola Mallie. You could only see that by making extended pedigrees. But that costs a lot of time. It must be an intresting venture to make these for the current show champions....
Ofcourse the expensive PRA-testing scheme after WWII narrowed UK breeds founding families further into just a few keydogs.
The greatest Irish setters in my mind from UK-scenes were duals. Thats logical because hunter/trialler or not - a test on mental and physical properties is not in a showselection-only scheme.
The showselection-only scheme hit because of the Show Champion title. In the days of the full champions like Hartsbourne Brackenfield Bronze and Wendover Beggar, there was still quite a few lines behind them. Postwar Hartsbourne for example was based upon the Irish bred shower of hail Hartsbourne Flame, the American Hartsbourne Senor of Shadowood and a few pure UK. Wendover had a lot of crossing behind it founding dogs.
Possibilities for a better future: 1) International cooperation to collect, combine, share and publish expertise; 2) Stopping a system of showselection-only breeding; 3) Upgrade exhange of information in setter-cultures by shared media (the biggest problems were mostly too late, not or bad communicated in last decades); 4) undo the dominance of the American Kennel Club and recognizing also the Field Dog Stud Book (some good lines to share!!!).
Good to read here people are thinking aloud.... It used to be more a hide and seek game and silence or censor those who know.
you make some very good points. I also have the utmost respect for Rasbridge's work. Unfortunately as you say many lines were lost, but I think today there is more chance for variety as the World is becoming much "smaller" due to easier transport, possibilities of AI, storing the sperm of important studs, internet etc
I enjoyed reading your reply and found it very interesting. I'm not familiar with the US side of irish setter breeding, but certainly agree that it would be a shame to lose valuable old lines due to political restrictions imposed by certain parties.
The new 'small world' is possibly not all for the good - admittedly, it enables interesting new breeding aspects. But possibly the danger of the 'popular sire syndrome' spreading over more countries than one is also present? So far, the risk of inbreeding to one supposedly prepotent sire was limited to just one country or area. Now, with AI, these dogs are suddenly available all over the world... Personally I would welcome a limitation to stud use of any one dog.
I found it very interesting to hear of the working lines in Germany, NL, Norway, Sweden and the US through this list. After reading about the Sulhamstead Irish in the book about Florence Nagle (Mission Accomplished, by Ferelith Somerfield) I found it sad, that these lines seemed lost to the british setter scene. It looks however as if they are still present elsewhere! Even in her day, Florence Nagle deplored the state of the british show scene - although to my mind, looking back at the old photographs, the split was in no way as large as it is today...
Another book I treasure but admittedly must read it again, is Setters - Irish, English and Gordon - by Ingle Bepler & C.W. Ryan. It shows how much the Rheolas were used for breeding & inbreeding to improve show qualities. As you say, these dogs are behind all the (show?) pedigrees today.
It would be interesting to have a DNA profile done of various different lines of Irish Setters to find out how closely related they really are... This was done in Switzerland for the Bernese Mountain Dog, a breed originating from a very small area. They were found to be extremely inbred and as a consequence an outcross programme was started with a Newfoundland dog.
I suppose we could go on for ages about the pro's and contra's... which makes it all the more fascinating!
Hey intresting Susan to read you find it "sad" that Sulhamstad lines "seemed disappeared" in the Bitish scene. Well heres some good news for you!
They are not totally disappeared. There is quite some blood behind most Moanruads and from that Sheantullagh present in UK field trial stock. And Marjorie Jarosz (Joanma) who died beginning this year had some behind her duals. Also UK red and whites carry Sulhamstead blood.
But yes UK showscene seems to have discarded those like many other families. Apart from florence Nagels autobiography "Mission Accomplished" lots of interviews like "Sixty years of endeavour, triumph, failure and strife..." in Dog World February 13, 1976 explains why. "Its much easier to breed an outstanding show dog than its equivalent as a worker", she states.
You write "it looks as if they are still present elsewhere". Well again the good news...it is even very prominent! Her AmFCH Sulhamstead Norse d'Or (high tailed on point!) is behind most nowadays AKC field and dual Irish plus the FDSB only field Irish.
Even the foundation bitch of red setters, Askews Carolina Lady with whom NedLeGrande started his restoration programma of field Irish in the fifties, was partwise from her lines postwar. So Norse entering meant doubling up on Sulhamsteads. If you read "The Modern Red Setter" you will see American history was biased on Norse and that fact.
A big part of this blood cannot be used in FCI-countries because there is a ban on FDSB registered Irish by the AKC dividing two related field setters in two islands.
In 2001 during the celebration of fifty years National Red Setter Field Trial Club, I saw a few outstanding working AND looking descendants of Norse like the late NRSFTC president Jack Carters Mike Mulcaire. A pup came later to the Netherland, but it took nearly two years to get her registered...Due to behind the back oppostion of showscenes. It was won but lost as well, because that pup was according to the Dutch kennel club the first and the last... See for backgrounds www.Iersesetter.com click Lekker in de nesten/English version.
Being together with Bengt and Maria Sandin (Sweden) plus Gerard Mirck (NL) one of the first four Europeans to visit the Bird Dog Museum in Tennessee, its good to be able to report many of the Irish setters entered into the Bird Dog Hall of Fame are...descendants of Sulhamstead Irish setters! And theres great artwork from Christie Young (my guide for the NRSTFC-trials) under more on the legendary Clancy O'Ryan. He was a direct descendant of Norse who by the way came from old Scandianvian lines back to early Sulhamsteads.
The Scandinavian scene has many descendants of Sulhamstead-lines in the backregions of extended pedigrees. Christiane has made an intensive study of them. The Danish club for IS even bought one of her dogs! Istn't that unique. Probably most nowadays winners on fields and show carry quite some lines to early Sulhamsteads.
Anyway, like Alenka said: internet can generate a lot like sharing knowledge. But with Susan I'm very pessimistisc about chances of improvement.
Todays win or politics have been for most breeders more important than the survival of a breed over a long term.
I find very intersting what you are writing about your experience in USA. The museum sounds fascinating. A must to see one day (hopefully).
Well it is really up to the breeders and their wisdom if they are going to use the dogs available in other countries. Unfortunately many people are just not as interested in researching the breed or don't trust anything "new" to them. Unless they are somehow forced, they will stick to what works for them and try to go in as little trouble as possible.
I does seem to me that today perhaps more "show" people are interested in working with their dogs than lets say 15 or 20 years ago. At least in our part of Europe.
In Slovenia Irish are not split into working and show dogs. ALL of them must have at least Junior FT test to go into breeding (our policy since 1988). We have lots of support from our Club - they provide training grounds, trainers etc. Most dogs go further and pass the "Einzelsuche" or "Paarsuche". But it is really up to the breeder if he/she is able to motivate the owners to do something with their dogs (here I mean novice owners). In the beginning our dogs were awful, now the judges say they compete equally with other pointing breeds, often are better. Also the characters have improved. I am not saying our dogs are FT champions, but with a good trainer and handler, who knows....
Susan certainly has a good point. I don't believe in close inbreeding (father-daughter, brother-sister etc). Our Kennel Club has already limited such breedings. It can be good if the breeder of many years experience who really really knows what he/she is inbreeding to, has personal knowledge of the animals - their characters, their health etc. But the fact is that we just don't have ALL the relevant info about certain dogs in the pedigree. We are venturing into the unknown I would say about 90% of time. There may be a dog in the pedigree many generations back that carried a gene we don't even know is there and could do loads of harm. Of course you will double on the good points, but at the same time you double on the bad points as well. I think in cases when you want to fix a good point a line-breeding although it takes longer, would be preferred. But outcrossing has also produced many many great dogs, often top producers.
Me myself never favored close breedings. The question is how close. Right now I have a dog out of a halvsister-halvbrother combination, line-bred on beautiful Aniara and I am really happy with her! But I have to admit that I could never imagine this some years ago. Anyway, it seems that Danka only has the very good things from the relatives. Good health, perfect hips, very nice (my opinion), brains and marvellous temperament (though she was a very very very naughty and tough puppy and sometimes I was really upset). Hope to see all this in her children some day, maybe next year? :)
Well idea was a sort of presentation of dogs which contributed to the breed, which had proved to be good reproducers and so on. But never mind, this is also a good discussion.
It is a fact that people tend to use successful show dogs more often than others in hope of a quicker progress and that is how we got the popular sire syndrome. But is it really everything that black?
If so, how come that we all admire so much to the great show winners in the UK, although usually the most famous ones are from more or less intense linebreeding. In fact it is not easy at all to find outcrosses amongst them.
Don’t get me wrong I would never dare to use inbreeding on my dogs, but must ask myself after so many years of linebreeding in the breed do we really have a chance of avoiding unwanted genes?
Would love to hear your opinions
I would say Candia Indeed aka Long John.... he is in everyones pedigree and of course is the top producer of champions still in this country with Quailfield's Mak'N'Business as second who I believe will surpass his record very soon.
I bred to Qualifield's frozen sperm with my BISS Ch Dancin'Brown Eyed Girl two years ago and got some nice pups with good structure and great temperment. Many others recently have also done this with wonderful results.
As far as why they have made such and inpact,well obviously the genetic makeup clicked with a multiple variety of pedigrees. I dont think anyone can answer why a dog becomes such a great stud to so many differnt pedigrees..One is perseverence by the stud owner for sure.
I have to say that now I am of the opinion to not breed to a dead dog.. I think you cannot move forward in the gene pool if you do this. I think it is important for us to evolve with what we have ,not saturate with the old.
It has its purpse if one lives far away or overseas with a dog that wants to breed with a bitch,or for a pedigree that my disapear.
I think that we have to be careful of this saturation.
Well Dusan, I know you'd like names... so here goes. Of course from the british lines I must obviously mention Sh. Ch. Kerryfair Night Fever, a dog who had an enormous impact on the breed. He sired many british show champions. Luckily he himself was not closely inbred but resulted from a lucky combination of well known lines. I believe this may have been the reason why he produced so well from so many different bitches.
He was a good looking dog of medium size with a lovely dark coat. I believe in his time he may have been considered to be rather strongly angulated in hind quarters?
Today it is practically impossible to find a britsh bred irish without multiple lines to Night Fever or his father, Sowerhill Sahib, via Clonageera Genesis. Many breeders used Night Fever and when it came to continuing the breeding it often happened that people would double, triple or quadruple lines to Night Fever... from those combinations we then come to another top winner, Sh. Ch. Caspians Intrepid - undisputably a wonderful dog. Here it started all over again - the pupular sire syndrome... and suddenly as a breeder you have to ask yourself, where to go next...
I'm not saying these dogs themselves were carriers of defects, but due to the genetic basis of the breed becoming more and more homogenous, the more complex health problems (not simple recessive traits as with Mendel) will become more apparent. I'm thinking of cancer in Flatcoats and Bernese Mountain Dog, some forms of epilepsy, bloat in irish setters and possibly also M.O.
I think using a semen of a dog long deceased should only be done if the lines behind have since been lost. If he has many descendants it really does not seem to make much sense to me - I agree with Giorgianne.
I have a different view point of breeding to a dead dog. I think it can bring back some things that are lost. I know some breeders like to breed their bitches back to a Grandfather and in some cases it would not be possible without frozen.
Especially if a person is trying to build up their line, they might like to fortify their gene pool with a known stud dog. There were a lot of greats that I wish had frozen available as I'd be knocking on that kennel door for sure.
Just my humble opinion of course...........Loma and Red Friends