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I am always surprised at the speed in which irish setter puppies grow! Do they grow faster or just different to other breeds? When puppy owners take their new puppy to play school (for puppies aged 8 - 16 weeks) they are sometimes told by the trainer that their puppy is growing too fast and they should change the nutrition. The legs seem to shoot up and 12 week old irish setter puppies tower above the rest of the class...
Another worrying comment from the trainer can be that the puppy could have HD due to the gangly movement and long hind legs that wont fit under the body...
This is not a one-off experience.
What is your experience when you compare growing setter puppies to other breeds?

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I've had similar experience with the trainers as you do. Same with some judges when pups were shown in puppy or baby class. Specially those Irish with good hind angulations are very "dangly" and take longer time to steady on the movement. I think it is smart to look at how they are growing and adjust the diet. There are some excellent foods for breeds that grow quickly that will provide more balanced nutrition for such pups.
Mine grow very fast and reach their adult size at around 7 months. After that they may grow 1 cm or so, but not much. That is kind of alarming as they seem to be much bigger each time you've been away for a weekend. They also add about 1 kg per week in weight. But there are some lines where they will grow even after 12 months old (our Zennith did). I can say that the retriever pups seem to grow up slower and more balanced, doberman pups also. Typicall IS growth is one week in lenght, one week in height, one week only hind legs seem to grow etc.
Hi Susan,
I didn't get any of those comments in the puppy play school but then my Gordon didn't grow that quickly. I'm not sure whether this is true for all Gordons or just mine who is on the small side anyway. Although he did also put on around 1kg/week he still kept growing in height until he was around 1,5! He did have gangly legs at some point too but it was a case of, as Alenka said, one week the legs grew and the next week his body got longer, etc. which probably added to the gangly apperance. I was told by the breeders to feed him the large breed puppy food up to 6 months and the stop with the high protein content to stop them "shooting up" and protect the hips.
I definitely agree that growth seems to go in bursts and starts... ears & tail grow one week, then legs grow and head looks too small, then body length increase... finally head catches up a bit... I'm just always surprised at the sheer leg growth!

Quite often in the puppy group ring at shows puppies of other breeds already look like perfect little smaller editions of the finished article - whilst our setters look disproportionate and leggy. They rarely have a chance in puppy groups against the other breeds... with rare exceptions:-)
My pups are on a puppy food for large breeds - these brands all claim they promote slow & steady growth. But if the genes shout GROW even the food wont change much I fear.
Yes, Frances, best not to look at them at all during certain growth phases... I find 4 - 7 months usually terrible!
Nicole, knowing a bit of Busby' background I'd assume he is not a big boy, so maybe you were lucky that he just grew along quietyl and steadily, with no ugly duckling stages....;-))
Yes, setters DO shoot up in hight.
But then I feel this is true even in small breeds like the french bulldog or the pug. Both of those breeds are small and compact but still will go through a "leggy" period. But then as the end-result is supposed to be small you dont notice it quite as much as you do in a bigger breed.
But in proportion I feel that the small breeds do have their "gangly" periods as well.
Its just nowhere near as noticable as it is with for instance setters who will reach the top of the chair one week and the table the next (almost).
I feel that for instance a male pug is not "ready" until he is about three years old. Just as setters tend to be.

As for food, I started breeding in the early 80's, when we added heaps of calcium and god-knows-what vitamines and frowned upon "ready-made" food for puppies.

I also went through the times when you just fed them "grown-up"-food and thought anything else would make them grow into Great Danes...

I now feed puppy-food for large breeds (Royal Canin) only and can honestly say that I have found no differance at all. I dont think they grow quicker or slower or have more/less problems of any kind with any type of food. I think genetics play a far greater part to growth than feeding does...unless you totally over- or underfeed a puppy of course.
'found no differance at all'

Ursula, you can't say that!!! You will ruin the dog food industry...
Ahhh...but you know me, Susan...:-)

Perhaps I should refraze that slightly:
I found no differance between all the brandnames I tested, the special puppy-food to start off or starting them off on grown-up food, or for that matter home-mixes with tons of stuff added.

Some foods are more liked by the puppies than others and their stool will be better, so I will go for that.
But there is no way I actually believe that one brand of dog-food will make a dog grow smaller/bigger than another brand.

Unless of course you starve the puppy or forcefeed it and have it turn in to a barrel...but that can be done with with any brands I suppose.
I also think genetics plays a bigger role than feeding, but people tend to want to feed their dog "the best food". That often means they feed food that has too much protein and that could cause problems.
What I also often find to be a problem when you see a thin puppy is that the pup is not given enough rest. They are fed well, but they don't get time to process the food properly. People tend to feel that they must give them as much excercise as possible. I guess they just want to tire them out so they'll be nice and quiet in the evening.
I would not put the fault of a thin puppy on the owner - I think a lot of Irish are bad eaters - some will ignore a bowl of food until almost starved and then only eat enough to keep running...
This also runs in families...
In future I will sell a cocker to go with each setter puppy:-)) Mine go through this experience also: if you don't eat it someone else will! But Erin for one has her phases when she could not care less...
The problem is more frequent in homes where there is only one puppy and no competition, smoetimes helped by owners trying too hard...
But so many teenage setters go through a skinny phase when they just spend more energy by running than what goes in.
Pika is one of those that was living on a handful of biscuits a day until after her litter. You could try anything (even a cocker) and she would not eat more than needed to stay alive. Our first experience like that, all others been eating well. Her mother was no problem - food just dissapeared when you put it in her bowl. And Pika's kids would eat anything, but as they are very active all went through a really really skinny phase. Now at 2,5 they are OK, but last summer..... And when I discussed things with the owners it always came to - not enough rest. Those who decided to listen and gave them extra rest during the day, quickly put on weight.
Family of thieves I guess. Pika will take anything even though she esually spits it out with disgust. And yes all those fussy eaters have to go on a diet around 5 years old.
Yes Alenka,
i certainly agree with you on the "best-food" bit.
The more the new owners pay, the happier they are.
And the more they pay, the more exclusive and (often) the more protein.
And then they will meet the other dog-owners in the park (with labradors etc) who will tell the new owners their puppy looks so THIN!

Then the problem starts.
Thats when they will try to turn their setterpuppy into a little barrel on legs. My puppies come from a long line of dustbins...:-) and will often oblige.
I normally dont need to sell a cocker to go with the setter (although I must say it sounds like a good side-line).

I do wonder if my feeding routine when the puppies are with me helps. I whistle each time I feed them from the age of 3-weeks. This is mainly so that I have a great recall for the new owners when they pick up their puppy.
(No cocker included, but a whistle.)
The whistle is then used by the new owners at feeding time (even when the dog stands at their feet waiting for his food). It is a signal of something great to come!!!!!




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