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On discussing the intelligence of dogs on the bbc this morning (9th August) Dr Roger Mugford when pressed on which breed was the thickest, replied the Irish Setter was mentioned, is this right? what do other Irish Setter owners think.

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Yes, some successful obedience dogs are very stupid. They are simply very well trained by competent trainers to carry out commands, and often they are dogs with little natural instinct or drive, which actually makes them easier to train for mindless obedience. These dogs often like food and will do anything to earn a treat.
But that doesnt mean ALL successful obedience dogs are stupid. At the higher levels of obedien ce , for things like scent work, it helps to have a more intelligent dog

There are also some pretty stupid show bred dogs who can be trained to do the more basic working/hunting tests. Using obedience training methods , they can be trained to quarter ground mechanically ie they look like they are hunting for birds even if they have no hunting instinct. And they can be trained to sight point when they happen to see a bird a few feet in front of them when mechanically quartering. That doesnt make them a good working/hunting dog, they are simply well trained obedient dogs
1. At heal
2. Sit
3. Lay down
4. Stay (in whatever position)
5. Stand (from distance with handsignal)
6. Lay-down (distance with handsignals)
7. Sit down (distance wioth handsignals)
8. Run in a straight line forward until given new directions
9. Stop at distance
10. Turn right at distance (handsignal)
11. Turn left at distance (handsignal)
12. Recall
13. Recall and stand
14. Recall and lay down
15. Retrieve
16. Let go of retrieving object
17. Search for specific item
18. Jump
19 Jump and sit directly afterwards
20. Jump and retrieve

I may have forgotten some...but the above are for obedience.
In my daily life we have a few more:

21. Recall without having to sit straight at left hand side
22. Out on the lead, come back in to left side but not in exact position.
23. Go away from table (but go where ever you please)
24. Go and lay down (in special place)
25. Stop barking
26. Walk on path only
27. Get out of field
28. Free...rush about as much as you want
29. Wistle = emidiate recall!

I know I may have forgotten a few...but this may give you an idea...and no, I dont hunt and my dogs are not from hunting stock!

And no Gennadi, I would never call myself a dogs "mama" I am a human and my dogs are dogs...But I am amazed that you would call yourself "mama"...you look rather masculine too me ...but perhaps the photo is deceiving? :-)
I have had only one dog, so I cant say how inteligent or not) are irish. Maybe in 20 years time. ;)) but
Gennadi, I have a question for you.
I have 3 years old IRS which I bought not for hunting, but as a companion. We dont hunt, she nor I have any interest in hunting.
My boyfriend is a hunter for 20 years and at the moment he owns a German Short-haired Pointing Dog who is 4 years old. He uses him only for hunting and the dog is very good at it. He is also very obidient - he will do what he is asked to do.

My irish and I do agility and tricks. Maybe that seems nonsense to you, but we like it. I use cliker for teaching new things (food also helps ;)) She quickly learns new stuff. I tried to teach boyfriends dog to do any trick (even the easiest ones like "give a paw" - every dog knows how to do that), but he just looks at me and does nothing. The same goes for everything else. He never shows in any way (for example barking) if he wants to eat, drink, to be peted etc. The most he can do is sitting by a person and looking at that person. Now it is up to that person to figure out what the dog wants. My irish girl on the other hand is very vocal - she tells (and also) shows me everything. I can tell if she wants to go for a walk, if she wants to play, if there is no water in the bowl etc, etc.

So we have two dogs: one is stricly hunting, but learning any new thing (that has nothing to do with hunting) is almost imposible. And there is Irish who does not hunt but learns new things quikly.

So which of the two dogs is stupid? Irish? German short haired? Both? Somehow I think I know the anwser. :-)) I shall repeat after the others: you can not judge a dog only by its ability to hunt. Some dogs have that instinct, some dont.

And another thing: you say you use 40 different commands when hunting with your dog. Why?? If dog is inteligent enough and has good hunting instinct, it doesnt need more than 4 or max 6 commands. I have been in the field with hunters and their dogs. The dogs know exactly what to do - they dont need 40 commands.
Perhaps I havent been specifc enough: the dog does not give a paw to his owner as well. As if he doest know how to or what is asked of him. Or any other thing except obidience commands for that matter. He doesn't know the most simple things other dogs learn before you know it.

As for retrieving ducks from the water: sell your fairy tales to someone else, not me. My boyfriends dog retrievs ducks from the water as soon as the gun shot, he doesn't need any command. He seeks (if needed) and brings the duck to his owner and waits for the command to drop it. That is 1 command. That dog retrived at the age of 6 months and not being trained to retrive at all. He just has it in him.

I belive that you need many more commands when the dog doesn't have any hunting instinct and you have to learn him all. Im my opinion inteligence is when the dog does thing his own way, if he thinks that way is better. If not, than it is just a robot not thinking with his own head, but just obeying orders. That way you really must have thousant commands for just one simple task. I always thought dog and a hunter are partners, trusting each other, but not with you. You don't trust your dog, it seems to me like you don't want a dog, but a robot.
Gennadi wrote "BTW, the most stupid among red's is show bred IRWS, that I saw personally, some of them really crazy and thick as a brick."

And I could tell you that the most intelligent dogs I have ever owned are two working bred IRWS, Pepperstown Polly and Rushfield Ruffle, both daughters of the same dog Rushfield Rascal., who was also highly intelligent

But that tells you nothing about the average intelligence of the breed, only that the Rushfield line of IRWS threw up some highly intelligent dogs.
Probably not accidental that their breeder John Kerr preferred intelligent working dogs to stupid ones :))
Lauwers Wilhelm wrote
"Huntingabilities don't have anything to do with intelligence, just a matter of instinct. Would more say obeing orders is even a lack of intelligence, not being capable to think by your own"

I wouldnt agree with that at all. A good working setter needs to be intelligent as well as trained. You may be able to train a stupid dog to be obedient and to quarter ground mechanically, but you will get much better bird finding and handling from an intelligent dog
I wouldn't say mine are Intelligent or Stupid and they don't need to be either. Intelligent, stupid, dumb, blonde, whatever. I love mine just the way they are. Don't want to hunt or go hunting with them (not that I'm against it and wouldn't mind going to watch one day) but one thing is for sure they stay with me until the day they meet their maker, I would never dream of sending one back to it's breeder. For me they are for life.
Like children, they are with you for life, however stupid or intelligent.
On the other hand, if one is running a business, where one has to be successful to keep going, one wouldnt keep paying an employee who is too stupid to do the job properly
I think before this conversation deteriorates any further some people might be well advised to read about the concept of intelligence in dogs. There are some very good books about it and one I have already mentioned earlier on.....there are different forms of intelligence and instinctive intelligence is only one of them!
Hey Everyone
Interesting discussion - let's keep it respectful!

We just heard about the survey in Australia earlier this week. Interestingly enough, Irish Setters weren't mentioned at all in the news story over here!!

The most stupid according to the survey - Afghan Hounds, Boxers and Beagles with Border Collies and German Shepherd dogs being the most intelligent with intelligence assessed of 2 year old child.

I personally, don't hunt with my Irish as I am too far away from any area that I can do any competition. I have always competed in obedience and my dogs have achieved great scores and won top awards against other breeds - ie: Border Collies, German Shepherds, etc. I also show my dogs too! Irish Setters are very intelligent and sometimes people don't understand that when our dogs are naughty it is because their minds are not stimulated enough and this causes their naughty behaviour.

This has also been researched with very intelligent children. They need to have more mental stimulation than less intelligent children otherwise they get bored and become naughty just like the behaviours we sometimes see in Irish!!! Unfortunately, it is most often the owners who create their "stupid" dogs because they don't understand and/or provide the right environment for the breed.
You just said it all...
somebody once said: the dog is a mirror reflection of its owner...




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