Exclusively Setters

Home for Irish Setter Lovers Around the World

I get the impression that some here think the perfect Irish setter is either kennel specific/country specific/inbred or outbred specific/beauty versus function specific/or just some nebulous specific.  If it is not out of an English pure kennel, then somehow it has  been contaminated.  If it has been bred to a US Irish setter - most of which go back to English kennels-   then somehow AKC has influenced and contaminated their line.  If it has too much or too little coat-straight or wavy, what to do or apologize for?  So what do most of you look for when breeding and how open is your mind to other kennels/other types/other countries and types when you consider breeding?  Are most here willing to go out of the box and take a chance or stay with what they think they know and continue on as they always have?      

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I'd like briefly to use this spot to discuss a few points about US Irish setters today. Given the size and population of the US, I know it won't surprise anyone that today there are well over 100 Irish setter kennels/breeders, each with its own interpretation/representation of the breed standard. In the 70's there were 3 major kennels and their offshoots-Thenderin, Draherin and Tirvelda Kennels (owners now deceased ). When you looked at an individual Irish you could usually tell which kennel line had produced the individual. The advent of a very successful outcross produced a prepotent sire ( Ch. Candia Indeed ) who could be bred to many different lines and produce multiple BIS and specialty winners. Those breedings that were successful produced another generation of winners, especially when line bred to Indeed, and so on and so on. Now what most people didn't take into consideration were Indeed's parents or his littermates. His mother was Ch. Candia Fatima from the Candia Kennel ( a nice bitch from a line that carried a very heavy yellow/orangish coat). Fatima's brother, here in Phoenix, was coarse, light coat and eye and very hard on the eye. I don't know what the other littermate's looked like-never heard about them. Although Indeed was the pick from that litter and more resembled Ch. Bayberry Kincaide, he still carried Fatima's gene pool. His initial breedings produced some spectacular specimens ( many BIS ) and entire litters made it to their Ch. He then became the dog to breed to-and yes, you probably would get at least one or two very nice specimens, but not always. Not everyone bred to him or his get, but enough so that a new look and temperament began to emerge and it won in the show ring and the ones that didn't went to pet homes. What was not openly considered was that Indeed and his successful get were more than they appeared-for they still carried some of those genes that produced Fatima's orange/yellow coarse brother and other siblings that went to pet homes. Inbreeding/line breeding carried out over a long period of time tends to produce a fairly consistent individual along with any genetic problems contained in that gene pool. Outbreeding supposedly sidesteps the genetic problems by providing a larger gene pool with a reduced chance of pairing and can potentially produce something spectacular/or not. I understand why those from UK lines would want to stick to their lines-it's safe and they pretty much know what result to expect generation after generation.
I would postulate that here in the US after the demise of the big 3 kennels we had some less well known kennels wanting to make a name for themselves as BIS winners and were willing to take a chance for that 1 or 2 out of a litter. We were also doing a lot of co-owning to increase the size of our breeding pools without directly taking on the responsibility of the dog. We also had other very responsible breeders who were not wowed by trends and continually produced very correct and breed true Irish setters-and still do.
So with that said and I seriously doubt US breeders sent their picks to Australia unless you guys pay a really big buck-I offer this as a possible explanation to your observations. We do have many beautiful and very correct Irish setters here in the US, but like you in Australia and New Zealand, they finish their CH but don't often take that BIS which some but not all breeders seek. The fact that our coats are flatter and yours might be curly is as easy to explain as straight and curly hair in humans,and I think we have all now discovered whatever gene combination that it takes to produce length of coat. The length of ear that we prefer is merely a matter of choice- not plucking and instead nurturing and promoting hair length-not ear length. Curly tails is anybody's guess-we all hate them, but some judges love them and bouncy movement is just that-an incorrectly built dog in any country-and we all have them.
My choices when breeding will definitely be based upon health and temperament and my interpretation of the US Irish Setter breed standard. I can breed back to Captiva as Jill Taylor has achieved a fairly consistent type, line breed along pedigree lines, or outcross taking into consideration what I know about my own bitch's lines and the lines of the stud I plan to use-looking not only at the stud but his siblings and parents, and what they have successfully produced and with what. I've already made my first breeding choice-just don't plan to do it soon as "Prophet" is more than a handful-it's like a new baby all over again-eekkkk!
Thanks so much for a really detailed, helpful reply, John! I appreciate your candour :)

Without putting you on the spot (and if you feel the question is too loaded, by all means decline to reply), do you feel that maybe the Australian breeders importing from the USA are looking for, or perhaps appear to have a preference for, the more extreme type than what is commonly seen in the US? Or do you think - as you said in your post - that perhaps the best representatives just aren't being exported? I guess I can understand wanting to keep your best for yourself, but I also think that, as a breeder, if I was sending a dog overseas, I would want it to be my absolute best. I would be horrified to think my lines were being judged as somehow inferior on an international level lol

I watch Westminster every year on the internet, and I have to say that this year, I thought the Irish Setters looked less extreme than they have previously. There were even a few dogs in the line-up that I quite liked. Do you think that there has been a push in recent years to "rein in" the extremes previously seen in the US type?

Looking forward again to your reply :)
I'm really not qualified to answer such a big question. I will say this. In the last 40 years US Irish setters have gone through a swing from being one of the most popular breeds to a much lower spot on the totem pole and most true lovers of Irish setters here are very happy not being so popular. They have gone from bigger and coarser to refined and now seem to be returning to a middle ground. When you question what was imported and why you'd have to ask your own breeders their reasoning. Possibly none of the imports would have made it to Westminster but could they be an asset to their particular breeding program? What have they or their line produced and with what? What do their siblings look like and what is behind them? What potential problems can be envisioned or discovered? What benefits? Only your own breeders can answer these questions, not me.

I recently stood next to one of the top Irish in this country and had several thoughts. He was definitely impressive and immaculately groomed, but a bit too coarse for me and zombi like. He was aged beyond his years and didn't look like he was having any fun-just taken out to perform, win, be put away and then on to the next show. I really felt sorry for him. I've seen this on more than one occasion with heavily campaigned dogs. Would I say they represent the majority of Irish setters in this country-NO, but they are the ones who take BIS's- the one's with the WOW factor. Would I ever allow one of my dogs to be put into that situation-NO-but I'd like to win a BIS. Are they the best examples of the breed-sometimes and sometimes not. They are the one's that our judging panels have awarded highest honors-again back to judges having an affect upon the look of a breed and its future. Are there more correct examples of the breed that complete their championships but never make it into the limelight-most definitely. We have some Hollywood breeder's who breed the flavor of the day, but we have many more serious breeders who, to the best of their ability, endeavor to breed to standard and have for decades. Like judging-it is an art and a science, and some have it and some don't. Do you know what it takes to get to the top-$50,000 (?) $100,000+(?) with advertising, handler's fees, flights to get to that special judge or show, 2 to 3 shows each and every week? So you in Australia and New Zealand never do get to see some of our best, and I'm sure the same holds true in reverse.
What has most impressed me in recent years is today's breeder's concern for the quality of life for the dogs that they are breeding. My two are recent additions and I had to answer a whole series of questions like- Would the Irish be a part of my family and in the home? What would be their exercise areas? What would they be fed? What arrangements did I have for them when I was away? Did I plan on breeding? Did I have a vet and plan on using him/her regularly? and so on......before any purchase was considered. And no, this didn't insult me. It made me think YEAH!!!!! I found someone who really cares about their puppy's welfare and future. We in the US have made progress!!!!!!!
Thank you, John. Reading your responses here have been very enlightening and extremely interesting.
Susan.......you beat me to it!
Finn, not only new owners learn loads from these discussions, old ones do as well!! As a UK exhibitor my knowledge of American dogs is limited to my own brief experience, so not much then. It has certainly re-awakened my interest and I have gone back to my books on the history of the IS in the US. There are gaps in everybodies education and these discussions provide just the gap fillers we need.
Hi John,
I have been following this discussion with great interest. It has been great to see though that concerned breeders all over the world are only interested in the welfare of their puppies. That should be the main interest of breeders everywhere. Especially when you consider 90% of your puppies will become pets.
I do think it is a blessing that the irish setter is less popular here in the US than say back in the 70s, when President Ford has an irish setter in the White House. Suddenly everyone had an interest in them and so of course the puppy mills jumped in to make a buck. Even the setters that were properly and thoughtfully bred with concern for their health and conformity to standard did not necessarity end up in an appropriate home. As all of us know, not every family is ready for the level of excercise and spunk that a setter brings ... and improper exercise and space is a recipe for disaster. So less popularity is best for everyone, I think, particularly the dogs themselves. We are now seeing the same explosion of interest in the Portuguese Water Spaniel since Beau arrived at the White House ... Americans can be a bit faddish, I'm afraid.
I think the push now is to go back toward the moderate dog. There are still the old time judges out there that will choose what they choose but the new up and coming judges are leaning towards a dog with moderate angles. I have a frieand that was asked to bring dog to the judges education and she brought all dual dogs or dog working toward the dual title or had master hunters and show championship. They let the judges pick what they like then had the handler talk about the dogs and what they have achieved. Yes there where show only dogs there also.
"An outcrossed dog-Ch Candia Indeed ( Ch Bayberry Kincaid x Ch Candia Fatima ) had a correct head, gobs of coat and an exuberant personality-all of which he readily passed on to his get. He was extensively used in the 70's and is still the top US stud and can be found in most current US pedigrees. It is from him and not some nebulous "Afgan" that US Irish setter coats descend. I was personally acquainted with " Indeed" and his owner WInnie Arland and he was most certainly not an Afgan. There were other lines here that carried coat-Webline and McCamon-but none passed it on to their progeny so pervasively and universally as Indeed."

Thanks John for posting the photo of Candia Indeed on your ES page. I would love to see a good photo of his head?

If he, as you said, was the stud dog that stamped his type on the US bred Irish Setter back in the 1970’s, I don't see the extreme in his structure. His structure, to me doesn't resemble some of the US dogs imported out to Australia in recent times or some of the extreme structured dogs (of US lineage) that are being campaigned here. In the photo, he certainly doesn't carry more coat than a lot of IS around the world today ( I note it was taken before he was 2). Do you have a phot of him at maturity? I agree with Melinda that you can’t judge coat texture by a photo. I think it would certainly be interesting to put him beside some of the current USA dogs to see how closely the breed is in type today to this influential stud dog of the 70’s to see how much the type has changed since then.

I am busy researching his pedigree, but have some gaps in the 5th generation back. Do you have his 7 generations by any chance?

I can give it to you, but it doesn't copy well here! Where are your gaps? John
Thanks John, I don't have the pedigree of a number of dogs in the 6th generation. Kinvarra Prefix: Michaelmas; Bootsie; Ensign; and also a dog in the 5th gen named Muckamooor's Marty McCuhl.

Any information would be great. cheers, Cheryl




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