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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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I have an Irish who is show quality and is one of the best hunting prospect my trainer has ever seen. Hawk's breeder breeds for both hunt and conformation.
I think that is very common in not only Irish Setter but many "Sporting" breeds of dogs as well as in horses. It is a great challenge to produce a product that not only has the extreme beauty and conformation to compete successfully in the show ring but the drive to work and compete in performance (ie. field) events. I have watched people within horse breeding striving for it for years.

I wish there were more people who were willing to do both with their dogs and we need to really commend those that do. My guess is there are more dogs out there than we know who would do well in the field if given the chance. I hope to be able to give my girl the opportunity to do both.

Jumping in with both feet here.

I grew up with lots of breeds over the years as my mother sought the breed that fulfilled her.  When we had the IS I fell in love and never wanted another breed.  At one time my Mom had three at one time and they were very different in personality and tractability but never did I think one of them was anything but bright.  As an adult I have owned three, two from different breeders and coasts in Canada and one from the UK.

 My first female was a rescue and had been a very ill puppy which might account for how quiet she was.  I do not know her background but I do know she ran circles in intelligence around my ex-husband's Basset   Our girl from England came to us from a show home at almost three years and again was very clever and I have a good example.  We had not had her long before she pulled one on my husband.  She thought she had established that my lap was HERS so was put out when Al lay on the couch with his head there.  She tolerated it briefly before asking him politely to move.  When he did not she returned to her chair and waited.  Suddenly she was up and to the back door-I need to go out, I need to go out with dramatic urgency.  Of course Al got up to let her out and as he entered the kitchen she did a U-turn, raced past him and claimed the lap.  He said the smug look she gave him was the real tell that she had come up with a solution to her issue.  To me a very big sign of intelligence.

Ruairi, who comes from a very successful line of show dogs, I would say, is the brightest of the lot and the first I took to Obedience Training. He started out as one of the oldest and naughtiest puppies in the class and graduated head of his class. 

I watched a Nova special on the intelligence of dogs and their connection to their humans. One of the tests was the dog's ability to understand words and shapes.  They demonstrated with an amazing dog who could even be shown a photo of a toy and then he would go and get it.  Well, I have not tried Ruairi with that but he certainly can go to his toy box and bring me the specific toy I have requested (and he has A LOT to choose from)..

I read a list citing intelligence of dogs and it had IS about half way through.  I think every breed has the full spectrum for intelligence as well as other aspects.  And each owner responds differently.  When Ruairi learned that over-turning his water bowl and making a racket brought me to re-fill it he learned to use it as a tool.  I found it a sign of how bright he is; another owner might think 'dumb dog turns his water bowl over even when there is still some water in it!'

The breeder who sold me Ruairi told me she had tried another breed or two and found them too slave-like for her taste.  I think that may say it best.

We have been told for years that Irish Setters were 'stupid' 'scatty' and some even say 'as thick as two short planks' myself I say 'they are Irish' inelegant happy and loving animals. 

The experiment with the dog and its toys went one step further than just asking the dog to go collect a toy from the pile...

They scattered the toys in a room...added a new toy....then asked the dog to go get the....(whatever it was, the new toy) and he used a process of elimination, and went and collected the toy he didn't recognize and from then on he knew the name of that new particular toy....

We have, as a species, been so arrogant as to think that we are the only intelligent animal on this planet...we are learning that we are not..there are many animals out there that have intelligence, not just us....and our dogs show how we are feeling too...they seem to have us really well trained...my puppy uses the trick of tipping over the water bowl (and its one of those bowls that they say can't be tipped over) and 'I really really must go out now' she knows that I will get up and do what she is asking...cleaver girl...but so so annoying when you are trying to do something else.

And I am not sure if it is written here but Dr Roger Mugford kept Irish Setters for many years...

I have had a few dogs over the years, but none have shown the intelligence of Bess, my IS. I've even had an ES who didn't come close.

I work at home, and Bess is downstairs behind a stair gate. I'd love her to be upstairs with me, but she gets too excited as she's not normally allowed upstairs. On trying ito let her come up one day, and getting fed up with her finding lost socks and emptying waste paper bins I said 'oh go find a toy!' To my surprise she trotted downstairs to her toy box and brought up a kong hippo. When she was bored with that, I told her to go get another - and she did! After 30 years off dog ownership I was taken aback.

She's also the first dog who's won my OH's heart in 25 years of marriage. She's worked out how to wrap him round her little claw!

Finlay does the same with his soft toys Trish, only we have named them all and if you ask him to fetch Tommy Turtel or Markey the monkey he knows which one is which, and he has alot of soft toys, so definatly not a daft breed (",)

That is TOTAL RUBBISH... I have had IS's for over fourty years (eight in all) and they have been beautiful intelligent companions...  Remember Dr Mug ford, you only get out what you put in!!!!!

Well Neil that certainly made everyone wake up!!

do yo think Roger knew he was making a slightly contentious statement?


I think out of all the Setters the I has always had that "tag" but as you would assume when you know each setter well they just like to keep their level of intelligence to themselves <g>

Have they ever seen a Red hunt run set steady to shot wing .Not the red just the silly people who have them and no I am not going down the Show /Hunting road .I know their a lots of Pets and Show Reds which are well trained dogs. As I said just silly owners who don't train their dogs.Terry

Your first sentence makes no sense to me....but then I am just a silly owner!

Howard, if you start a group called " silly owners" I must be your first member lol <:0) This is a clowns hat, no "D" on it. <:0)

I don't know you so I will just have to take your word for it but don't despair it would seem their are others to keep you company. Good luck to you all after all a trained dog is not  everything






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