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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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It bothers me. The COIs of Irish Red and White Setters are higher than Irish Setters. According to the KC the breed average is 16.5%, but that is calculated using less than 10 generations. On 10 generations it is higher. We have had litters in recent years with COIs of 35, 36 and 37%. These are caused partly by close breeding (eg half sister to half brother) , partly by three decades of line breeding, and partly by the small number of founder dogs. I have tried to keep the COIs of my dogs down, and my earlier litters did have lower COIs , but it is becoming harder to keep the figure low, and I have had planned litters with a COI as high as 24%, when the choice has been between line breeding on my own dogs with reasonable certainty that they were free from major health risks, or using a less related stud dog with a greater risk of bringing in health problems. The lack of choice of stud dogs in our breed is a real problem. And now the KC has announced that IRWS and English Setters are two of the five most vulnerable breeds, and need a strategy for survival

The Irish Kennel Club's answer has been the outcross programme, now I look forward to a strategy for the IRWS in the UK

The average COI for IRWS in 2011 is 15.3% - calculated on Eileen Walkers' 10 generation pedigree collection information.  Out of the 11 litters bred only two are 'close' breeding - and not even they are in the first degree of inbreeding.

The IRWS is a Vulnerable Breed because less than 300 puppies are registered in a year - which is why English Setters are now vulnerable.  In 2011 IRWS registered 119 puppies and English Setters registered 234 puppies.

Interestingly the Effective Population Size for IRWS today is 28 - and being a breed coming from a small foundation, 50 is acceptable rather than 100 for bigger breed total populations.

I hear that the Effective Population Size for Irish Setters is less than 28 - due to the continual use of Popular Sires....


Hi Ann,

Please could you explain to us how the Effective Population Size is calculated and how they arrive at less than 28 for Irish Setters ? Thank you.

Hi Catherine,

I think the EPS is the quantity defined as here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effective_population_size ..

it can be computed by looking at the variation of the inbreeding coefficient over the years (not sure if this is the method that lead to the number 28 quoted by Ann, but it may be ..)



Thanks Silvia,  That's what Dr Sarah Blott (head of the team of geneticists that did the study) told me when I asked.

Hi Sylvia,
Thank you for the link. I am trying to digest it before I can make any more contributions to this conversation.


I asked about Irish Setters at Crufts because I had already been informed about the IRWS EPS of 28 prior to the article appearing in the Sunday Times the week before Crufts.  I was curious about the Irish Setter EPS and hear that their low Effective Population Size is influenced by the Popular Sire Syndrome - and this has been going on for years....

Anyone wishing to know the actual figure for Irish Setters should ask Dr Sarah Blott at the AHT.

We should all take care not to be swayed by mathematical models and theories - EPS and COI -, but use them as crumbs of information to have in our minds when looking at, not only our own breeding plans, but the general trend of our breed populations. This is something new to the 'dog world' - not to be discarded lightly - nor to set up an hysterica response!

Hello, I have my IS now and just found what her coefficient is and the KC wedsite told me its '9.4'

Is it better the lower it is?

Yes  ;o])))))))))))))))))))))


Good one Charlotte.  My red dog has 7.4, the red girl who has health issues is 11.9 and my Red and White girl is 25.7 I do hope she doesn't go on to develop problems.  She is very healthy now though.

We have had debates about COIs before I posted one myself that I got many responses too. Fran you might want to have a quick trawl through that. I think we must be very careful that we don't come to rely totally on COIs when breeding a litter or choosing a puppy. We can outcross and bring something into our lines that we don't want. I think it is a valuable tool and should be considered along with DNA testing and hip and eye scoring. Above all the best method is research. Check your lines and ask questions.
Fran, your girl with all the issues still has a COI that is below the mean score so if it has been calculated over 10 generations then she is not that heavilyvline bred. You did say that some of her siblings have similar issues. I am sure you have done your research on her problems. Have you discussed these with her breeder and has she/he been of any help?
There is no reason to expect your R&W to have any problems just because her COI is higher than your others. If there is nothing in the line then there is nothing to inherit.

Yes, I am aware that COI's are not the entire picture, but could be a valuable tool to be used along with health screening, as surely the COI is supposed to be a guide as to the odds of something being passed down if there is indeed  something which could be passed down?  However, Tallulah's problems aren't something which health checks are picking up on in the UK, as of yet and that's what concerns me.

Sadly, her breeder died just as these issues were becoming apparent, and I know she had one Tallulah's relatives tested and discovered there was a similar problem.  I know she would have treated this as a very serious issue had she been around today.

The thing that slightly concerns me with my red and white, is that I know there are also thyroid issues in her breed too, and of course, this isn't something which is picked up on in health screening.  I am just hoping that she too doesn't start developing a problem as she becomes older.  I am not aware that there are any such issues in her lines, so hopefully,  there is nothing which can increase the odds of her becoming unwell at a later date.  She is very fit now, and long may she remain so.  I think I would walk away from Setters should anything like this happen to her or my red boy.  Its too distressing,

I will look up your previous thread though Eva, thank you.




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