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" Could our setters suffer a genetic disaster"

I open this discussion from concern that if honesty and openness is not forthcoming, our beautiful Irish setters could once again be on the brink of genetic disaster in the near future, ( especially on problems where there are no genetic tests available).       

I love my setters, and I love yours too so don’t let this happen again, PLEASE.

                                                                                                                                                                          During the 1930`s, PRA began to appear in several prominent lines of Irish setters. As more and more, dogs became affected, PRA was widely debated over the next ten years. By 1940 it had been determined that PRA was indeed hereditary and would lead to partial and eventually total blindness.

By 1945 the problem had reached such proportions that The Kennel Club issued a ruling that no Irish setter could be registered or transferred without a signed statement declaring neither parents nor grandparents were actively affected with the disease, and that the dog in question had not produced a case of PRA.

Mr. Rasbridge, as secretary of the Irish setter Association, then devised a plan requiring test mating to identify carries and clear animals. Such a design was obviously not popular with the important breeders of that decade. As affected pups were identified, the breed was devastated with many champions, and other famous Irish setters retired after their test matings failed. In what may be the most energetic attempt to salvage any breed, conscientious Irish setter breeders  continued to test mate and clear their stock. The next ten years were spent rebuilding Irish setter lines and Kennels.Their efforts produced several influential dogs that carried the breed back from the brink of genetic disaster.


We are only a small number of setter lovers but we could make a difference if others follow, everthing has to start somewhere.

If we keep to the subject, we may learn so much more. Adding the source of any information posted will give more credibility to that post.

What do you think ?

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Silence speaks for itself

Why an anonymous source, Sue? This is not Watergate! :-)

Sue, okay!

I've scanned written documents and yes temperament was an issue throughout all of breeds history but at first glance incidental.

The first well documented case is in a book in 1895 of a Dutch writer, G.F. Krebs entitled Kynologische Herinneringen about the first Dutch champion Eary Ned. 

Many more are open and honest discussed in UK dogpress breedcolumns. With names and alas as well in all direct tail male UK lineage some as well.

There was a case in one leading Dutch daily, a kid being attacked, seventies. The editors were telephoned during a meeting of the Dutch committee ISCN and told that the club did everything to prevent further cases, so a direct approach. There were no more topics on this in media here whereas we now face year two of a media focus on epilepsy in IRS.

Open and honest is the way to go!

Sue, you are so right.  I showed one of the bitches affected with entropian up to about a year of age I think.  Many, many people were astonished when I stopped showing her, when I told them, I could hear the silence as it whistled past my ears.   My vet operated on her twice to correct the entropian and the second op was successful.  The bitch had done quite well in the show ring and one person even suggested the name of a vet who would "tidy"  up the scar tissue and then nobody would know!!!!  She was a lovely bitch and would have lovely puppies!!!!  The person was extremely rude when I angrily retorted that "tidying" her up wasn't the point was it?  The point was she had entropian and even if I had carried on showing her, she would never, ever have a litter.   My reason being that others would see that she was beautiful and would go to the breeder and book a puppy for their breeding programmes and thus it carries on and on and on.   The second puppy from the same breeder had the same condition, not so severe.  I don't think I showed her, or if I did it was for a short time.   It wasn't a repeat mating but they were, inevitably, similarly bred.  I certainly did not have a litter from her, the breeder was evasive with me thereafter, when she asked me how the puppy was coming along I told her about it, again the blank stare and the wind whistled past my ears. 

Again you are quite right to raise the issue of temperament.  Dopey, who was a simple little soul, had been accused by the owner of a champion dog that he had launched himself off the bench.   I was only a few feet away, standing by the ringside.  I heard the noise and rushed back, Dopey was quivering and cowering on the bench.  The owner of the champion dog was outraged that such a thing could happen.   I was really shocked, Dopey had never shown any aggression.   Others came over when the lady took her dog away, they had witnessed the event, seemingly her dog had caused the incident but because she was so angry they didn't want to get involved.   Seemingly she had been down another line of benches and the dog had been growling at others so she was taking a "short cut" to take him outside so that he could cool down.   The dog was used at stud but it was around the time I started to withdraw from showing because of personal reasons so I rarely saw him again.  I was told by friends that some of his issue were difficult to handle and that the dog had been retired.  How much of the latter is true and not just gossip I don't know.  There were certainly several bitches about whom I was wary, especially as some of them were benched near to me and I would not leave my dogs unattended, if they were entered.  One of my friends, who also showed and was benched in the same area, avoided being bitten when she bent forward to get her bitch off the bench.  The bitch in question attacked her, didn't bite but did grab a mouthful of hair.   She did complain but the owner was somewhat indifferent she put her show bag in front of the bitch and walked off.  I dread to think what would have happened if a child had passed by and reached out to the bitch.  The breeders main "market" were pet owners and she bred a lot of puppies - ghastly.  The bitches were not bred the same way as the dog above so it was definately in the breed.   Again because I no longer show or indeed have a setter by my side I can't justifiably comment on the current situation.   

Valid point about more dogs being kept in homes rather than kennels may have improved temperaments.  They stay within the "pack" all of the time and separation issues, which can result in aggressive anxiety, are eliminated.  Hadn't thought about it as you describe, learning so much from these blogs.

Good news isn't it about your research re Angela's puppy, and the careless attitude of the breeder is deplorable.

Hi Angela, mmm sorry, I do, in fact agree with you.  I sincerely hope that I have misunderstood Miss Jansen, afterall she is trying to communicate in a foreign tongue and I do admire her for that truly.  It may be in the translation but I do feel that some of her responses have been rather rude.    I would not disrespect someone in such a way and I do hope that Miss Jansen will be more positive in her responses in future.   I was trying to underline to her that Mr Klooster was working on her/our behalf to help the breed not fixate on a type within the breed, they are IRISH SETTERS, FULL STOP regardless of their function. 

Irish Setters have given me years of enjoyment and delight and it is horrifying to think that we may lose them because some people are offended that other people want to try and get others to face up to health issues within the breed.   The names of the diseases under discussion are not just words, they are painful, distressing, life threatening illness.  

I unwittingly bought two Irish setter puppies who had entropian, I had a litter with two puppies that had entropian and I would urge Jocelyn to review that she doesn't consider entropian to be life threatening.   If left untreated, their eyes ulcerate which could lead to blindness and must be agony.   Growing up in Australia, when we were down on the beach we used to throw sand at one another and boy did it hurt when it gone into one's eyes, we used to wash our eyes with sea water and boy did it hurt.   Much like entropian I would think.  There was a lab at the local hotel which had entropian.  I pointed it out to the owner, he didn't know what was wrong with the dog but it was Bllllll annoying because the labrubbed his face on anything/everything he could.  I suggested politely that he take him to the vet as soon as possible.  His retort was that he didn't have time.   I learned a few weeks later that that lab, at age 6, was destroyed.

The content within this blog is not intended to be rude, unkind or thoughtless.  Please let me know if you think otherwise, directly.

Good afternoon Mr Jansen,  if you would like to ask me a question please do so publicly, I do not wish to enter into private conversations.   If your question is related to the topics raised by Mr Klooster, Mrs Lancaster and Mrs Clarke and I have an appropriate answer I would be happy to communicate thus.  Other topics related to Irish Setters will be considered for comment.  Thank you for contacting me.

Georgina Spiers Sarll

I agree with you Jocelyn.

Hi Jocelyn, one could say the same of hip dysplasia and liken it to entropian.   But to inherit either is a travesty that could be prevented, don't you agree?   I am not inflating their seriousness because bloat and epilepsy are also agonising conditions to have to suffer.   You are 100% correct, we cannot legislate for uncaring and irresponsible owners.  But those poor puppies may not have been born suffering from the conditions if the breeders were able, without fear of litigation, to declare health problems in an honest, open way on a public, easily accessible data base.  The breeders would have been able to research pedigrees and ascertain the facts and attempt to avoid breeding affected pupppies.   Obviously, bearing in mind "the living creature" equation that despite one's best attempts a problem arises.    A puppy suffering from entropian or hip dysplasia sold to an uncaring and irresponsible person is not going to receive medical attention which is a painful thought and worse is if that poor little puppy is bought by a puppy farmer or back yard breeder think of the consequences to the breed and further suffering perpetrated into the future

I do hope you don't think that I am being abrupt but it's difficult to explain one's position without getting "lost" so hope you understand. 

Hi Sue, IF is the big word in your blog, the most important IF, however, is that the puppies wouldn't have been born IF the breeders had been aware of a potential problem and they could have tried to "breed" away from it.  A public database would help enormously in achieving those goals, and I think I did say somewhere that one always has to be aware of the "living creature" syndrome.  Even trying to avoid a problem, it arises or as Mel said inavoiding one she encountered another.  It wasn't her fault but living creatures do deviate hence illnesses in the first place.  Bit garbled, sorry, but hopefully you know what I mean!!

Anyone with an ounce of decency, and Mel is one of them, is going to support and do whatever she can do to help if one of her puppy's is ill, and she has proven this in her statement when she says that 2 purchasers bought further puppies from her despite encountering a health issue with her stock. 

I don't personally think prioritising one illness or the other is relevant, I envisage a data base that lists all conditions known at the time within the breed (it can be added to or reduced accordingly)

and as conditions become known they are recorded.   I may have misunderstood you but I always think prioritising means that funds are available and that research can only be done one at a time??  But I see the database as an overall view of health issues and genetic resources and Mel has sort of confirmed that to me, that one cannot become blinded by trying to eradicate one problem solely and then find there is different one, causing a dead end.  (I wish I could think of another phrase, I hate that one in view of the topic, sorry).

I seem to recall years ago, and it may been to do with the PRA issue, some one advising that if all stock suffering from that condition was to be eliminated from breeding programmes, the breed would die out quickly.  And I think was why the carriers, sufferers, etc were "graded" in an attempt to be able to carry the breed forward, which I can understand and with hindsight was "the thought of the day".  Genetics not being as topical as they are today and the huge progress/leaps since then are astonishing.  More recently IS have experienced a further development with this condition and breeders are acting on eradication with the information available in "todays thought of the day".  

Your blog and Mel's blogs have given me food for thought though, so thanks, never too old to learn so I'm not (nearly typed nut!!! too close for comfort).  Thanks again. 


Sorry just a short note away from the topic.Just wanted to say big thank you so much Sue for the info. on Abbies litter, would not have any ideal where to start on this. I would like to know if the bitch from that litter that had a litter herself  was the one the breeder kept. Back to topic <:0)

Of course Sue, I think Mel had already suggested that it be independant and I had agreed because it would remove any malicious or biased data being recorded.   You have made it clear in previous blogs that you consider every health insgnificant, I most certainly have not suggested otherwise.  I was trying to explain to you that if breeders can access a health database BEFORE THEY UNDERTAKE A MATING and breed away from potential problems  FUNDING WOULD NOT BE NEEDED FOR RESEARCH because illnesses would be elimated by COMMUNICATION ON A PUBLIC DATA BASE that had a proper, correct, accurate overview of the health of IS.  If each individual illnesses is dealt with in order of perceived priority it will take years and years to accomplish rather than have a collective overview.

And, sorry Angela, like your personal note that deviated from the topic, I would like to add that Sue It is so rude to address someone as and I quote "You, Georgina", terribly rude and unnecessary. 

I do have the feeling from you when responding to my blogs that you have only scanned the content, and somehow, for some reason, feel that you have to be contentious in your reply.   I don't understand why, would you let me know what it is about me that you dislike so much, meantime thank you for your information. 


Sue, I have said insignificant in my response to you when I meant to say significant, that was a typing error and I do sincerely apologise.  That was certainly not what I meant at all.  I understand fully that you are cross about that.  Even though I had read it through, I missed it.  It is the same when Mr Jansen mentioned "unwillingly" when I had actually, and meant, "unwittingly" when referring to the purchase of 2 puppies.  Puts a whole different meaning on what was meant, he wasn't being difficult it was just a genuine mistake as I have just made, so I do hope you accept my apologies.

No one would dispute that you have a whole hearted, deep concern for the health of IS otherwise you, like me, wouldn't be discussing the topic.

It was unnecessary to say "You, Georgina" because you were responding to Georgina.  To emphasise in the way you did is rude.  You don't know me you are quite right but it doesn't seem to stop you being rude, I really don't know what you are hoping to achieve, I really don't.




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