Exclusively Setters

Home for Irish Setter Lovers Around the World

     I want to start a discussion that encompasses a more complete understanding of where Irish Setters ( Bench/Field ) are today - worldwide.  I ask ahead of time that this discussion be kept non-denominational and unalligned to any preconceived national/kennel  biases.  It is posted  to teach and  enlighten, not to divide and separate.  Please respect these parameters!
      So let me start with Feet!  How important do you think they are to the whole picture of an Irish Setter?  Let me hear your routine foot care, your parameters for evaluating healthy feet  and what you view as great feet, plus  any  problems that you have encountered  with feet  and the solutions that you found, etc. 
     Once this facet is exhausted,  I will post the next anatomical consideration for discussion.  I openly admit that I have much to learn about the most elemental aspects of an Irish Setter-so I am asking all of you to share so that we can all be educated for the overall benefit of our beloved Irish Setter-OK?   

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I'm assuming that the discrepancy between trimming the hair on bench setters feet and not on those of field setters can be explained by the quantity of hair present. Bench setters generally have a greater quantity/denser hair all over their body and especially on their feet. If they were left unattended and subjected to the environment (moisture, grass, dirt, snow, burs, etc.) they would quickly mat and become a major foot problem. I don't run my dogs in the desert but I assume from what Margaret said that her dogs do not possess the volume of hair between their toes that my dogs grow weekly. If that true, then that explains her response. As for the nail trimming I would agree with her if the dog is worked regularly over a fairly rough terrain, but for "us city dwellers" with grassy yards that doesn't happen often enough to keep the nails under control, so we trim and file as needed----some more than others.
In IRWS I dont notice much difference between the show and working dogs where hair on the feet is concerned, although there is one working line, Rushfields, who have the hairiest feet in the breed. One is told NOT to trim the hair between the toes and pads on working IRWS because the hair is there for a purpose, to protect the feet
If the hair on the top of the feet gets very long, I sometimes trim it for neatness.
Any dogs that I show get their feet trimmed, but only because that is convention in the show ring
I've never owned a red Irish Setter, but, yes, I can see the show dogs have more hair all over :))
The AKC breed standard for the IRWS actually specifies that the feet are not to be trimmed between the toes, although trimming around the outside of the feet is allowed
As for problems with feet, the ONLY problems I have ever had with IRWS is an occasional cut on a pad or an infected nail bed, which does need to be treated quickly, to avoid infection. I routinely put any dog with a cut on the foot or a nail bed infection on an antibiotic for five days, and wash their feet with Hibiscrub daily until healed.
The best thing for healthy feet is exercise and plenty of it, from the time they are puppies. And not breeding from dogs who have weak feet and pasterns
When out with the setters, I avoid areas with gorse bushes, as there are often a lot of dry gorse spikes on the ground under the bushes, no problem with working springers who have thicker skin on their feet, more of a risk with setters and pointers, who have softer skin on the pads
Some very old (pre 1900) dog books advocate soaking the feet of working gundogs in salt water to harden the pads before the shooting season, I dont know anybody who does this in modern times
"As for the nail trimming I would agree with her if the dog is worked regularly over a fairly rough terrain, but for "us city dwellers" with grassy yards that doesn't happen often enough to keep the nails under control, so we trim and file as needed----some more than others."

Whether a setter lives in town or country, it needs adequate exercise. If an urban owner cant give a dog adequate exercise, then I would ask them to think about whether they should own setters
Personally I rarely sell a puppy to anybody living in an urban environment, unless they can convince me that they have somewhere where their dog can run freely and safely off lead EVERY day.
One of mine lives in very urban Milan,but close to a large park and her owner spends his weekends walking and climbing in the hills of Northern Italy, thats OK with me, and I bet he doesnt have to trim her nails!
I am a suburbanite Margaret and my dog get a minimum of 90 minutes off leash free running a day.
Here in the US, we have many people who live in smaller homes/condo who have access to many places to still exercise their dogs. I have a fenced yard but it isn't big enough for my dog to run around like he needs to do. And I agree that if you only plan on leaving a dog inside and taking it for an occasional walk around the neighborhood, the irish setter isn't the right breed for you. Destructive behavior is seen most often in dogs that don't get proper exercise and in our breed it really needs to be off leash more than on leash when young.
Oh I never addressed nails. We trim them weekly and also use a dremel. My dog isn't on concrete enough.
My last setter had very little hair on him he was part field but he still grew quite a bit of hair on his feet that required trimming up.
My dogs do both, field and show, I have them in a show cut wheather they are in the field or in the show ring they just get kept up more when showing. But the feet are always tended to, we trim the hair so the burrs do not get stuck in the hair. Nail need to be trimmed for safty. All my dogs have very nice feet some larger then others but tight feet. I do not understand why some have to have there nails trimmed and others do not, but for safty my vet had told me once that many ACL injuries are caused by nails being too long. When the dog turns fast the nail catch in the carpet or grass and the ACL gets injured. Do not know if this is true but it is easy enough to prevent so we keep nail short.
I rarely trimmed my setters nails until Spartan hit the age where he did less... about 8. Weimaraner nails, in comparison, require constant attention!!
IMO i hate seeing flat, wide feet. I don't own the breed nor consider myself an expert but i do like to see a nice clean foot on any setter...
OK you guys-we barely touched on feet and the discussion ended, so I'll move on to the Hock. In a sense, the hock is where movement begins. The hock is the foundation of movement for any particular dog. Understanding and assessing the hock is fundamental in understanding and assessing a dog’s movement. In a vertical line of dominos, the hock would be the lead domino. The hock, just like the domino, is what sets all other components in motion. Because of this relationship, the efficiency of the lower thigh, upper thigh, back, shoulder blade, and upper arm all depend on the hock. For breeders, understanding the function and importance of the hock is essential in producing structurally sound dogs. So let's talk about what we know or don't understand about our dog's hocks (problems, breeding concerns, etc.)
For anyone wanting to seriously participate in this discussion, I would suggest first reading "Understanding the hock" before proceeding. It contains some basic information, familiar to some and ignored by way to many ( breeder and judge included ) , essential to any intelligent discussion concerning correct structure, angulation, and movement. http://darkstarrrotts.com/hock.htm
No, I don't have any personal videos of my dogs, but if you are truly interested, I would highly recommend Rachel Page Elliot's Dogsteps, Canine Cineradiography, and Dogsteps:A New Look- all in DVD.

The most complete information on canine gait and movement! Includes anatomical diagrams and film clips of still and moving x-rays which provide a look at bone and joint motion inside the dog. Illustrations throughout the DVD emphasize the importance of sound structure and shows how serious deviations may affect efficiency and endurance. Suggested in combination with New Dogsteps book for even better understanding, and highly recommended for every serious fancier and certainly every breeder.




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