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I have been asked about Popular Sire Syndrome, so here's my understanding.
(just speaking about dogs)
Each dog inherits its genes from its parents - two copies from each. The genes give the dog its distinctive qualities, bodily function, temperament, appearance, performane etc. Out of the thousands and thousands of genes that make up the dog, some are dominant and some recessive. The dominant ones show up immediately while the recessive one only show up when they meet up with another recessive at the same place in the dogs' DNA.

The Popular Sire is a Big Winner, he is much admired by everyone as being as near perfect as you can get (Judges have said so!!). He has a string of titles, everyone wants to use him and most of his puppies display his good qualities and become big winners too. Everyone who is someone has the Popular Sire in their puppies' pedigrees - it looks good! Everyone is happy!
BUT one generation on, where do breeders go? The dogs are half siblings - never mind.... my big winner and yours will produce even more big winners with Popular Sire on both sides of the pedigree!! Can't go wrong, can it?

Yes it can! All dogs carry detrimental genes - some serious, some not so much. If detrimental genes become obvious, we avoid them, but many are recessive and do not show, so we don't know they are there until they meet up - one from the sire and one from the dam - each parent being a carrier.

The Popular Sire passes on his good genes AND his bad genes. He does it very quickly, spreading them into perhaps all, or most, of the 'lines' of a breed. This is made possible by the ease of transport and through competition and publicity etc, these days. Hey! We all know about Popular Sire! We even import his sperm if we can't get our bitches to him!!

In former times the Big Winner moved in relatively small areas and was used over a longer period of time - time to evaluate his progeny and he himself!

The sire is not responsible for the whole puppy, its dam has an equal input and, rather than jumping on the bandwagon to get that name in the pedigree, breeders should take a much more care in choosing a stud that fits in with their brood bitch.

So what should we do?
1) Study carefully why a dog is a Big Winner
2) Study the Breed Standard, including function, and decide which points in your bitch (which is, of course IS the Best!) need strengthening.
3) Be aware that in reducing the number of individuals in a puppy's pedigree (in/close-breeding) you reduce the diversity of the gene pool.
4)The chance of producing something bad increases with every generation on, but that bad thing, when it shows up, will already be a problem and be widespread!
5) Not least - by concentrating on Popular Sire, many quality potentional studs are ignored - Quality dogs who have much to offer - specially a necessary contribution to the diversity of the gene pool.

It is not so difficult to find an Irish Setter stud given the great number of Irish Setters there are around the world - consider the plight of IRWS! Good studs are like gold dust! However, in the analysis of the breeding in 2006, out of the 18 litters bred in the UK, 2 dogs had sired 2 litters, 1 dog had sired 3 litters and 15 litters all had a different sire. In IRWS we are very conscious of the gene pool and breed diversity!

How do you see the Irish Setter gene pool and its breed diversity?


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Nice post! Thanks for it!
Just one comment: unfortunately it happens more and more often that the Big Winner is not always a worthy one...
.... And that's another big problem!! ;o))) Loud voices can bamboozle the best of us!!
Ann, I don't understand that, " Loud voices can bamboozle the best of us" Are you saying that some stud dog owners can talk a person in to using their stud dog by the bragging of their stud dog?

There is a certain lady I know of who "pimps" her dog shamelessly. She is in the face of all bitch owners pushing that their bitch should be bred to "Mr. Stud". Its embarrassing to see her do it.

The big winner is the big winner for a reason, but here in the States, they are usually backed by "money" and a high powered handler is on them and the dog flys everywhere and shows every weekend . Its easy to make a top winning dog if you got the money, no matter if he's the best dog in the ring or not.

Politics is the name of the game and the best dog does not always win. But being the big winner usually means everyone wants to breed to him. Whether its a good match or not.

JMHO, Loma and Red Friends, USA
It doesn't have to be a stud dog owner sweet-talking and bragging people into using their dog. It is more often a 'following the crowd' thing. You see more and more people using the dog and winning with his puppies, be it in the ring or the field and that becomes the reason for using him with a snowball effect. Other more important aspects of breeding get ignored and this contributes
seriously to the 'ruination' of a breed.

they are usually backed by "money" and a high powered handler is on them and the dog flys everywhere and shows every weekend . Its easy to make a top winning dog if you got the money, no matter if he's the best dog in the ring or not.
Bravo Loma, I have the same opinion...Lot's of money is spinning around nowadays....It seems to me that for a MULTI CH all you need is lot of money and to be persistant, and to have a lot of nervs...nothing else....Good dog? Maybe,but if you have a well known handler, if you know some people and you are in their circles, you don't even need him:)
I always chose sire for my bitch very carefully,and sofar,he was never top winning dog. Titles,judges and show temperament won't make my puppies look good. I chose both times an english male,one of them wasn't even well known,but gave a lot of beautiful puppies,and he himself is the best irish setter male I've seen in live. And he hasn't got a lot of titles,he sits at home. Other less good dogs win all possible things.But that won't make me mate my females with them. As far as I'm concerned,they can be CH of Universe:)
Boy, you hit the nail on the proverbial head here in the U.S. Loma. big money means bigger wins, and more commercial advertising. For those who aren't at a lot of shows and only see the advertisements about all the so called Ch. offspring out of Mr. Super Stud (not knowing that he's used on more bitches than we knwo about). No one advertises how many of the top stud dog's offspring actually accomplish anything either. In the past,. a stud owner would put a sentence in their advertisement, x number of champions sired out of x number of puppies whelped by x number of bitches. Years ago, we had a Setter Magazine for all setter breeds with photos, pedigrees, etc. where you had a less expensive means of advertising a litter, stud dog or favorite win. It was the size of the Reader's Digest and was published by Heflin Publishers, owned and edited by Gerry and Shirlee Roberts. It's a shame we no longer have that venue, it also included health clearances, especially PRA test mating results for the Irish Setters in the U.S. and Canada. Of course, this was before shipping frozen or fresh chilled semen was available too, fresh semen could be usd for AI's but that was all, the rest were natural breedings.

We also have people breeding to popular sires only because some of their offspring are finishing their Ch. titles by the time they are 12 months of age. Bad thing is, by the time they actually mature into adults, they no longer are show quality and we never see them again! Winning is the name of the game and fulfilling some person's ego.
Good to read function in this topic as well... No matter if you like or dislike hunting or field trials, it does provide in a glimpse a lot of tests not provided for in a show only scheme.

As for pss, in our times people want information quick and prefer it visual. So maybe its an idea to provide for 20 or 30 generations pedigrees colored in on keydogs. That way you can see immediately what you normally can't see: just how much inbreeding is done. Plus provide a inbreeding-coefficient on that basis. Should be possible with some computer-techniques. As a boy this taught me a lot. Old breeders did make time to do that, there are still a few of those handmade here.

As for IRS/IRWS I'd say undo the separation. It was one breed with many color varieties and by separating all other breeds have beaten us. Makes more sires to chose from..... And shower of hails already in French park setters not to become extinct forever.
The Irish Red Setter and the Irish Red & White Setter were and are separate breeds decided by the Irish people - it is not our place to undo their decision.
I think, if I'm not mistaken, that Shower of Hail is a mutation of the colour gene in Irish Red Setters - not a separate 'breed' that could become extinct. It is a rare effect, but breeding SoH to SoH should produce more....

Ann shower of hails a mutation? Than theres lots of mutation in red setters! Already the French Park setters of the family De Freyne (French) had them, breeders of the first nearly all red setters as far as known. Anyway interested to learn more...

As for breeds.....they were of course invented when standards were made. What I found hugely interesting was the breeding programme of working red setters x working Irish red and white setters as done in Ireland.

Undo the decision of Irish people. Hmmmm. In the new book Hond Staat (Dog Points) the separation is heavily criticised.

It certainly is and was remarkable that they did of course decide once the red setter with some white was THE Irish setter. And it took for about a century to recognise the (elder) red and white setter. What will be in over a century? Will the varieties need eachother again concluding its All in the family?
You bring up some points here, Henk.
Shower of Hail - a mutation? The French Park Setters did indeed have Shower of Hail amongst their progeny and this manifestation of 'small white spots scattered sparsely and irregularly all over the body coat' appeared now and then, even today, although it is rare. As far as I can see - you may have further information on this - the dog underneath the coat is an Irish Setter and the base colour of the coat is red. Producing this effect, even in small and perhaps isolated numbers, suggests a mutation in the colour gene - probably 'fixed' by the French Park breeding in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

I also found the crossbreeding programme of working IRWS with working Irish Red Setters very interesting. For those who are not familiar with it a brief summary is this:
In 1988 the Irish Red & White Setter Field and Show Society in Ireland, decided to impriove the working ability of their IRWS by introducing new blood from proven working Irish Red Setters. They would do this over three years 1988 - 1990 with 9 matings and the progeny, carefully evaluated and culled by a panel of breed experts, bred back to existing IRWS and then the resulting 4th generation could be registered in Ireland as pure IRWS.
There has been no official report of the success (or failure) of this programme, but it is generally accepted that only Jim Sheridan actually completed the programme in one of his Craigrua IRWS..

Undo the decision of the Irish people? The FCI promotes/defends the Country of Origin of breeds If Ireland decides that there are two breed of indigenous setters in Ireland, who are we or the Hond Staat to ctricise them? We (UK) have been carefuly trying to carry on what the Irish people intended in 1980 - and that was two distinct breeds that are not only different in colour but also in conformation and temperament. I would say working style - but I think - and you may disagree - that working style is more governed by terrain and prey than to be catagorised entirely by 'breed'.

'Will the families need each other again....'? I don't know - but certainly the Genome Project Evaluating the Breed Diversity and Gene Pool of the IRWS will give us substantial and definitive information upon which to base our future. We hope to have this study within the next year.

BTW, we too have the restriction of 3 litter per bitch, do not encourage repeat matings and caution stud dog owners to limit his use. - however this is voluntary and can only be implemented by peer pressure, public opinion and, not least, by education.

Ann thanks for your information I am interested in the Genome Project Evaluating the Breed Diversity and Gene Pool of the IRWS so keep us updated here thanks in advance.

For other debate, maybe a new topic here when the time comes? It might become too "deep" for average readers.

As for this topic: my opinion still is a likely succesfull way to undo effects of pss, pfs and pbs plus broadening founding families might be a new programme with working Irish red setters.

In my eyes the IRWS is a likely prey as next victim of vanity, especially when people from pioneering days are gone....Just like the Irish red setter, when people like Florence Nagle were gone...
Heavens!! I agree with you again, Henk!!! ;o))
'Victim of vanity' - yes a big worry. However, I really think the show craze is slowing down here - I know because I am the secretary of a GundogClub that puts on 2 Open shows a year (no champions) It is noticable that entries are dropping in all breeds while exhibitors only go to Ch Chs. More and more people want to 'do something else with their dogs'.

Now I know you are sceptical Henk, but we (IRWS) are putting a lot of effort into encouraging and facilitating owners to work their dogs - maybe just at home by themselves, but also to get them into Field Trialling. You have no idea what a mammoth task this is - but we really are putting a lot of work into it.
Bringing this discussion round to its beginning and perhaps its end? if owners are looking for something more than winning rosettes and prize cards, the chances of their being swept away by titles and 'fashion' diminish and with it the threat of PSS.




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