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In the effort to produce healthy dogs, we accept a regime of testing and selection on health issues and acknowledge that breeding closely related dogs concentrates their genes - the bad along with the good.

To get to the pitch where the COI indicates a high percentage of inbreeding and a threat to the future of the breed, outcrossing or crossbreeding with another breed or breeds is a remedy that is recommended.

How much will this alter 'Type' and does it matter anyway?

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Torie, we are going round in circles. Please let me reiterate. Breeders do not all flock to popular sires (your point). I gave you my boy as an example and there are many more. "Popular Sires" are not accountable for every litter (please look in your Breed Record Supplement). There are around 1100 IS puppies registered every year and the pedigrees are right across the board not just the result of one dog. There are many dogs being used that are not ShChs. 
Just your last point ref records showing hundreds of litters sired by a handful of dogs. Susan Stone posted data on the COI debate. Of the "Popular Sires" only Night Fever sired over 100 litters but his litters were small and he only had just over 700 progeny. All this was over a number of years and there were other dogs being used at the same time. My own dog only sired 31 UK litters. I would hardly call that hundreds.

Mel...I would not want to persecute any stud dog owner or breeder such as yourself.

I am only stating the facts which some refuse to acknowledge as the truth.

Personally, I think numbers speak for themselves and having looked up how many litters a few well known SH.Ch. stud dogs have sired speaks volumes.

I counted 1,782 puppies (236 litters) sired by only 3 well known stud dogs, that must tell you something surely!


Torie, can you please tell me who these three stud dogs were.

Torie.......still waiting for a response to my query ref the 3 prominent stud dogs. As Sue says, the information is a matter of public record so there should be no problem telling us who they are.  It would, of course, confirm the statistics you have quoted.  Without this the data has no meaning....... 

In the early days of IRWS complaints were made by judges - not 'IRWS breed specialists' (there weren't any) that there was so much difference in 'type' that no two dogs in a class looked the same.

This was good!!! (although few were able to see it), because it demonstrated a degree of diversity and this diversity is what has preserved the genetic health of the breed.

However this is compromised year on year by the use of popular sires and the rigid sticking to the 'type' preferred by the 'big' breeders and their followers.  Inbreeding has always been discouraged' but individuals justify their decisions for various reasons.  The exposure of breed COIs and Effective Population Size to the breed has reinforced advice and breeding decisions ARE being made with these in mind, BUT,it is hard though to convince a breeder that a particular mating could be advantageous when they dislike the kennel type proposed.  Long and gentle work is needed..... and the concept of 'kennel type' will have to be sacrificed and addressed NOW - before health issues become imperative.

Breeding just to reduce COIs is not the answer - COIs are only part of the equation.  What is needed is a 'meeting of minds' by the whole breed community and a concerted effort to work together - putting aside personal opinions of others.  And that, dear friends, is a bigger problem than solving the National Debt!!!

Margaret, whereas I agree with you in being glad to see some variation in type in the show ring I would prefer to see a litter to be more uniform in type and conformation.  The fact that few total litters are perfect clones of either parent does indeed show evidence of genetic heterogeneity but why would that equate with good health?  If I have a litter which has all manner of different types, shapes and sizes, where there is no uniformity of conformation then I feel I have not done my homework properly and not picked the right dog for my bitch.  If the sire (whether he be much used or not) is a beautiful dog of good type and make then what is wrong with wanting something in his image and likeness?

As the owner of a popular sire I have as much responsibility to my beloved breed as any breeder who used him and I would have been disappointed if he did not pass on at least some of his stirling virtues or complemented the bitches he was mated to.  Health considerations and suitability of pedigree played a big part and I turned down more bitches than I accepted.  Sorry ladies but this constant laying of all problems at the door of the popular sire/show champion is seriously starting to get my goat. It is a cop out.  There are just as many non popular sires/non show champions producing mediocre dogs of dubious health.  Yes......if the same dog (and it doesn't necessarily need to be a show champion) is used to distraction then it greatly reduces the gene pool and breeders find themselves with nowhere to go.  This is short sighted.  But the assumption that a show champion by definition alone will be unhealthy and produce unhealthy offspring has  about as much foundation in proof as introducing Afghans or Bloodhounds as an outcross and the Bloodhound rumour arose because at one time we were getting dogs with 'houndy' heads, loose eyes and pendulous flews....it is comfortable to find a reason for everything, no matter whether it has it's base in fact or assumption.  Beware of assumption because there is only a short leap before it is passed on as fact.

Fifty years ago pedigree dogs were valued by how many champions/show champions there were in their pedigree - the more the better - and on both sides! - even better!

The breeding theory then was "breeding the best to the best to get even better" and in the scheme of things (in the UK) to become a Ch/ShCh takes a long time and the opinion of independent judges to agree that a dog was the best.  Who then would not want their puppies to be just like him?

The advance of science and technology points out the genetic dangers of this and owners' personal experiences causes questions to be asked about the inheritance of the 'bad' along with the 'good'.

Thank goodness some breeders today are thinking more about 'the genes' - a little stirring, but a stirring no less.

Speaking generally, an owner has one good bitch to breed from but a 'wealth' of stud dogs  to choose from:

a) choose the big winner and get pedigrees covered in red (ch) names

b) use the nearest dog of the breed 

c) being enamoured of the bitch, use a near relation to reproduce her qualities

d) afraid of inbreeding, use any old dog because it is not related

e) use an inferior dog because it has all the health clearances and few faults

f) use a superior dog even if it does not have all the health clearances and has few faults

I'm sure there are many other permutations....


g) toss the lot in the bin and go to another breed.

I guess all these options are considered and rightly so.  What is obvious is that dog breeding is a serious business and is in the hands of the bitch owner - the breeder. It boils down to:

COIs give the percentage of inbreeding (relatedness)..... inbreeding doubles up on inherited elements which includes disease...... inbreeding preserves type.......


should the breeder go for health alone, or type (that which distinguishes breed from breed)alone?  A healthy dog that looks nothing like the breed? or an excellent breed type that has health issues?

I think logic would choose to sacrifice type - Breed and Kennel type.


All is not lost however - it needs a good measure of understanding and forebearance from the whole breed community because, by judicious and intelligent future breedings, type can be restored - but first get rid of the health issues - and this should be the priority of the whole breed.  This is easier to achieve in a small breed like IRWS than in a huge breed like Irish Setters I know, but it just needs a core of influential breeders to set a trend for the rest..... and a lot of bravery!! ;o])))

Anne this is all going on and contrary to what many might think we, as breeders of IS, spend a lot of time looking at prospective sires, pouring over pedigrees, discussing health issues. As Mel said, as long as we are honest with each other we can move forward. None of us want to compromise on any aspect, including health, but I for one would sooner give up than compromise on type and conformation either.

You forgot one thing in your list Ann. Is the bitch good enough to breed from in the first place? Everyone is quite happy to blame the dog if it goes wrong. You don't often hear anyone blaming the bitch.

Excellent point Val. Every pup has a father and a mother. Stud dog owners also need to do their homework before they let their dog loose on a bitch....and should never be afraid to decline if they have any concerns. It is always the poor sire who is left holding the baby. You have to protect your dog.

You are all right, of course.  The onus is on the bitch owner.... is the bitch good enough to be bred from? and how many owners can see that she isn't!Most bitches produce only two or three litters in their lifetime whereas studs can produce many - which is why breeders are able to research the ins and outs of male lines more easily than stud owners can the female lines. In the scheme of things,  the 'attraction' of buyers is focussed on the sire, his prowess and his title, whereas this seems to matter less where the dam is concerned.

That's a topsy turvey world.

I confess my first Irish setter litter whelped in 1973 followed all the no-nos we understand today.  My foundation bitch, Shelindair Carnation (Wendover Cavalier x Wendover Gaelge-Garelle) was mated to Sh Ch Moyna Mr O'Hara - simply because I was told (and believed) "a litter will be good for her."  Moyna Mr O'Hara lived 20 miles away (and was a show champion!)  The litter was an outcross of sorts, however the puppies and their descendants were typical, those shown did their share of winning, most owners kept in touch,  and their subsequent generations were healthy - no Bloat, PRA, Epilepsy, MO, CHD,etc etc - only went to the vet for vaccination (Distemper, Hardpad, Leptospirosis) had no supplements, lived well into their teens (except C. Sorrel) - - pure luck!

How different it is today with all the health issues - knowing about them colours the way we breed and the decisions we make about breeding partners.  While the bitch-owner is beavering away weighing up the consequences of using which stud, the stud owner also has to study the consequences of allowing him to be used, because as sure as sure any 'bad' outcomes will be thrust upon him.  So commendations to those stud owners who decline a stud fee in the interests of the breed.

It is heartening to find many? here who try to maintain type while promoting health - the happy medium - but disheartening to know that there is a majority of breeders out there who are in total ignorance or total denial that this is an important issue today and that decisions (type v health) need to be made if breeds are to survive as we see them.




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