Exclusively Setters

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Does greater inbreeding always mean poorer health?

According to the Pedigree Dogs Exposed Blog... it doesn't - and I tend to agree!!


A lot of work has been done recently on recording in the breed database, the COIs of the entire UK-bred IRWS of 30 yearsl - over 10 generations together with some Irish-bred and other overseas-bred IRWS too. So there is a wealth of information to work with.

As the database is arranged chronologically, litter by litter - with the litter COI and those of its parents, together with health test results of all, it can be seen that the COI bears little relation to the hereditary conditions we have already dealt with and to isolated health problems.

As far as can be seen the distribution of COIs has been constant over the 3 decades with the vast majority being in the 11% - 29% region - too high, for sure and breeders are advised to select mates to bring the inbreeding % down. Howeverone judicious mating can bring even a high COI down to single figures but at what cost to the breed's specific qualities - temperament, type and performance - and health? 

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Thank you for this. Very interesting.  I have now had 3 Setters with AI conditions. The latest being my dear Tallulah.

Thanks for the link, Michaela! Hope you enjoyed your day - we did! An excursion to the Swiss mountains with three setters:-)

Now back to the serious issues in life...

The article is very interesting and I would hope all breeders go to the effort of reading the text. I have spoken of MHC before and would like to just copy & paste this statement from your article:

"The practice of inbreeding to improve breed traits has inadvertently led to a reduction of MHC diversity within the various breeds. When added to genetic bottlenecks due to wars, loss of popularity and other drastic population-reducing events, combined with the extensive use of popular sires, MHC diversity may be lowered to critical levels."

Now that is really what we are talking about. We are not speaking of individual simple problems with a high heredity like those caused by a recessive gene as PRA (rcd1 & 4) or CLAD. It is those rather undefined and difficult to quantify type of problems like autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders, longevity, reproduction problems, various types of cancer, skin problems, you name it... the list can go on on on.

The way I understand it, we are putting our dogs at risk when the COI of the breed rises and many matings (see mate select programme or the better versions available) will give you a higher COI for the resulting pups than in a brother to sister mating - even though you think you are mating unrelated animals!

Here again we must define COI and I personally prefer to have a COI calculated over 10 generations as that is where we really get to see where we stand.


As breeders we say we are only selecting for the best... So how many breeders are selecting for example for longevity?

Thank you for the link, Michaela. I have downloaded the article and printed it. It does make very interesting reading. I urge other breeders to have a look at it too, as I too believe in trying to lower the COI in the Irish Setters is the way forward.

Does greater inbreeding always mean poorer health?...........I think the answer is pretty obvious when you look at the state of the pedigree dog world.

Perhaps some one found it was still relevant


On ES, discussions are there to be reopened as often as necessary by new members who wish to take part . They can only be closed by the person who started them originally. As Rhonda said, this topic seems to be of relevance again at the moment. Why not let others have their say, even if this is not of interest to you ?

I find it quite useful to go back to the earlier material , by bringing up an older topic for new discussion, rather than starting a new topic , and having difficulty finding the previous discussion, or having forgotten about it

I agree Margaret. New members bring a fresh outlook to all discussions. Keep am all running.....


Relax Let people contribute where they may. People are adding to the post and it has not been closed by Ann.

Mel.   Why start a new post on a very similar topic if the older discussion is still there and can be added to.

I for one like flipping through the pages of older discussions, some make for very interesting reading.

I agree, it would be a shame to start another discussion on the same theme if we already had one running even if this was a few months ago.

I personally am interested to see how we've spoken about one subject and aired our views in the past... and at a later date realise we may have changed our views.

Actually, I wonder, Ann, would you post the same question today? I feel the proof is overwhelming...


In this instance, I think we can cope and will not get too confused! Others seem to have a need for older discussions to be reopened.....so why not see what they would like to say about the above subject ?




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