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Just out of interest, I have just been looking at the inbreeding coefficients of some of the litters currently available and have discovered that many of them are way over the breed average of 13.4  one litters coefficient is way over 25.

I am wondering if breeders are bothered that they are producing litters with these results? If not can somebody please explain to me, as a Setter pet owner why this is so?  If I was currently looking for a puppy, these kind of results would make me look elsewhere.

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Sent shivers down my spine when I read it too Margaret.

I would much prefer to live in your world where health, fitness and function are top of the list.

Susie, that is so refreshing to hear! Your dogs are beautiful as well :)

I regard COIs as a monitoring tool, no more no less. If we obsess over any one aspect of dog breeding we will do so to the detriment of others. I will add my voice to all those who care about the health and welfare of their dogs, who have researched know and can vouch for the potential soudness of their lines and who would prefer to keep it that way. A dog cannot inherit what isn't there. Why would anyone use an outcross just to bring down a COI. There have to be other considerations such as type (already mentioned) conformation, health, soundness etc. I am sure we all know lines which would give a low COI that we wouldn't touch with a bargepole. As in all things sense has to prevail.

I hope Margaret answers here, but one of the problems with Red and Whites is that the gene pool is very small, hence the possibility of outcrossing going on - if people find the right dog to outcross with of course. Surely a small gene pool will lead to problems eventually, even if many of the dogs with high COI's appear to be very healthy now, which my young red and white is. After all nature has diversity for a good reason.

Sorry to be slow replying to you , Fran, I was away yesterday picking up my new young dog who has come over from Ireland . Very low COI (lower than anything I can get in the UK), not closely related to my dogs, CLAD clear and both parents hip scored, good field trial pedigree,  . I know or at least have seen almost every dog in his four generation pedigree, so unlikely to get any nasty surprises when he is bred from - after he has been VWD tested, hip scored and eye tested . But it is becoming increasingly difficult to get low COIs from the UK gene pool, and I wouldnt entertain the idea of breeding from lines who are turning out generation after generation with COIs in the 24 - 37% range - however many show champions they have in the pedigree, or  whatever "type" they produce. My new young dog doesnt look like the IRWS who will make show champions, he is quite small and doesnt have the broad handsome head of the show dogs, but he has beautiful angulation, a deep chest and well sprung ribs, is very well muscled, moves freely, has a super friendly tail wagging temperament, looks me straight in the eye and has an alert intelligent expression . I doubt if his children will make  show dogs either, his grandchildren might do , and I suspect they will probably be healthier than dogs bred from ten generations of line bred show dogs bred for type with COIs over 30% . Will come back and tell you in ten years time :))


Margaret.... thanks  and I look forward to seeing the (hopefully) resulting offspring, and perhaps even owning one :-D 

I am always concerned when people talk about Breed type.....what are they referring to exactly? The dog they have at home and has won in the last few years or the original Irish Setter ? The ones we can look at on old prints of the 1900's ? I welcome the news that we still have breeders like Margaret who will put health and soundness and fit for function first in their breeding programs.. I hope others asked themselves a few questions about their breeding motives when they carry on with high COI . There are in fact lots of studies done about COI, and nowadays with so many of these posted on the Internet , they are available for all to read and study in detail. Genetics is a difficult topic to grasp and it will take many hours of reading to understand the essentials. In the view of what several have written here, I suppose I will now be jumped on for having such a strong view on the subject, but I urge you to read on the subject first before shooting back at me.

Good news, Margaret! I hope all turns out as hoped, still a long way to go with all the health tests that are required.

I must say I am very impressed by breeders who are taking he plunge and really trying to lower the inbreeding level for their chosen breed. In my experience the people from the IRWS, Pointers and Gordon Setters are prepared to look for outcrosses further afield. Surely health is of paramount importance and this should come before 'preferred type for the show ring'. Hopefully in time we can have it all... but at the moment we need to compromise for the sake of breed health.

I am suprised COI is considered to be a relatively 'new' tool. It may seem so to dog breeders but it certainly is not for breeders of other livestock. Nor is this a 'new' science as inbreeding depression is something that has been well researched. The scientist Sewall Green Wright (December 21, 1889 – March 3, 1988) is described as the discoverer of inbreeding coefficients, or COI. More about inbreeding and effective population size can be found on Wikipedia.

There is also an excellent article for breeders to be found here Population Genetics in Practice

Surprised to see in a quick visit here that a coi-topic was on top.


You can breed Irish red setters with a coi of nearly 0 within standards for work and conformation, all healthy and great companions. I did this around seven years ago, but some fanatics in IRS disliked the amount of white on them and their lineage due to some FDSB lineage.


My young Irish import could provide the same coi. Her litterbrother in the USA recently won a field trial the judge saying I've never seen such a young (11 months) setter working so perfect. And I consider him in conformation close to breeds superstar Menaifron Pat O'Moy.


So you can find your way out of inbreedingmisery and return to an original sporting setter. 

I think you could be right there, Henk. Time to turn the clock back and take a look at the original sporting setter to help define our breeding goals.

True, Mel, KC Mate Select is a new tool. It should help breeders and puppy buyers make their decisions IF they are prepared to use it.

Personal experience tends to bias us in one direction or the other without providing us with true insight due to lack of data. Scientific research with case numbers well into thousands is more likely to come up with truths. I must admit that I DO have a problem with a grasp in Genetics;-) I find it an extremely complex area with no simple truths. That is why I tend to rely on scientific data more than on anecdotal hearsay.


For many years I have been interested in genetics and inheritance of disease in different breeds. The Flatcoated Retriver comes to mind when speaking of cancer, as does the Bernese Mountain Dog. Both these breeds are known to be highly inbred and the increase in cancer (certain types of cancer, not all types) was said to be due to high level of inbreeding. Now it seems we are becoming more aware of cancer or for that matter autoimmune diseases in Irish Setters and still we are not willing to accept the fact that this could be due to (in)breeding policies. Inbreeding and the Popular Sire Syndrome have been accepted breeding strategies in our breed for the last century. The Popular Sire Syndrome has become more marked due to increased mobility and breeders travelling further afield to use the top stud dog.

Out of interest I looked up a few well known names of recent well known stud dogs in KC Mate Select and found the following numbers:

Sh Ch Kerryfair Night Fever sired 710 pups from 104 litters

Sh Ch Caspians Intrepid (double grandson of KNF) sired 623 pups from 80 litters

Sh Ch Konakakela Zagar by Romarne sired 375 pups from 48 litters

Sh Ch Caskeys Concept at Aoibheanne sired 282 pups from 39 litters

Sh Ch Starchelle Chicago Bear sired 208 pups from 24 litters

This shows that a relatively small number of stud dogs have sired a large number of litters which has lead to the problem of a very small Effective Population Size in Irish Setters (mentioned by Ann) when compared to the actual numbers of dogs.

Taking all this in account should help us realise we must change our way of thinking if we want to breed healthy dogs in the future.  

Would just like to correct ShCh Caskeys Concept at Aoibheanne's data as it is incorrect. He sired 31 UK litters and 4 Overseas litters to 33 bitches. Unfortunately every time another offspring applies for an ATC number the KC count it as another litter even though siblings already have ATC numbers. I have his record from the KC and it does not accord with the Mate Select website. I have already had words about the discrepency between the two KC websites. Concept has not been at stud since2009 because to my mind he has sired enough.




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