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After being in this beautiful breed for over 35 years and being lucky enough to see & Judge them around the world, my question to put to the members is.......
We all have our different interpretations of the breed standard & what we like to see BUT.... isn't it better to have a Specialty judge with some standing, experience, exposure in the breed rather than a novice that cannot offer the serious breeder/exhibitor some insight or feedback as to the direction that they are going.

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Personally, I think we need them all: the specialists, the allrounders, the beginner judges - for it is not always the long standing experienced breeder/judge who does the best job.
The eye gets accustomed to what it sees, so depending on the type you are used to, that is often what you will consider correct. I admire those judges who will admit that the winning dog was 'not their type' but had to win due to it's superiority - that is how it should be. Maybe in Britain or the USA the judges are so spoiled for choice that they can pick 'their type' from all the superior dogs, OK, that would make sense. I'd envy any judge for that kind of entry...
This being an international site it is interesting to see how many different types of Irish Setters are to be found around the world - and every one of us is convinced we own the 'correct' type! *gg* Not only the dogs but also the the standards are different, be it FCI, KC or AKC - and a written standard is always open to a certain amount of interpretation.
A few remarks on movement here makes me react.

The late Uk breed expert W.J. Rasbridge wrote in "Irish setters in my youth" in "Ierse Setter Club 1915-1980" (quick translation from Dutch): "Movement cannot be compared with what it was. At this point the degeneration, I think, is the result of the fact that lack of knowledge about the Irish setter as a working dog has led to a wrong meaning of what good movement in this breed means."

As for the question of Anne-Marie Hearn: from that you can draw the conclusion that many specialty judges "with some standing" are themselves responsible for degeneration of movement.

Rasbridge also mentions a lot of other "degenerations" from the standard like wrong topline, long necks and spaniel-like ears.

What is your opinion?

Henk ten Klooster.
In 1885 a number of Irish -Setter owners several of whom were lawers, formed a club called the Irish Red Setter Club.Dublin.They favoured the self- red rather than the red & white, & drew up,in 1886 an authoritative description with a scale of points for judging. It is as follows: ("IRISH SETTERS by GILBERT LEIGHTON-BOYCE )
Head : Should be long & lean. The skull oval (from ear to ear), having plenty of brain room, & with a well defined occipital protuberance. Brows RAISED ,showing stop. The muzzle moderately deep & fairly square at end. From the stop to the point of the nose should be LONG, the nostrils wide, & the jaws of nearly equal length, flews not to be pendulous. Nose dark mahogany or dark walnut, & the eyes (which ought not to be too large) rich hazel or brown. The ears to be of moderate size,fine in texture,set on low,well back, & hanging in a neat fold close to the head.Neck. Should be Moderately LONG, very MUSCULAR,but too thick, slightly arched,free from all tendency to throatiness.
Body, should be long,shoulders fine at the points,deep & sloping well back. The chest as deep as possible, rather narrow in front. The ribs well sprung, leaving plenty of lung room. Loins muscular & slightly arched. the hindquarters WIDE & POWERFUL. The rest goes on in the accepted fashion re the tail,legs & feet ,coat & feathering. The standard as devised in Dublin about 1930 differed by the insertion at the beginning of "style. Must be racy,full of quality,& kindly in expression" In head, after long & lean there was added".... & not coarse at the ears. After "nose... dark walnut was altered to "black... for eyes "rich hazel or brown was altered to dark hazel or dark brown. Body was no longer given as "should be long' but instead " should be proportionate" In tail, after moderate length there was inserted "proportionate to the size of the body ".
As to Gait, no mention but it was added in the American standard of 1960 where it is stated :
At the trot the gait is big, very lively, graceful & efficient. The head is held high. The hind-quarters drive smoothly & with GREAT POWER. The forelegs reach well ahead as if to pull in the ground, without giving the appearance of a hackney gait. The dog runs as he stands: straight. Seen fron the front or rear, the forelegs, as well as the hindlegs below the hock joint, move perpendicularly to the ground, with some tendency towards a single track as speed increases. BUT a crossing or weaving of the legs, front or back is objectionable.

NOW tell me..... has the breed standard changed over the past 185 + + years ??

Looking back through very old books on the breed ,I am of the opinion that the standard has NOT changed hardly at all, the movement has only changed according to the type of dog (interpretation of the breed type) that is being exhibited.... too short in body... hackney gait , pacing, & side winding to avoid a clash of feet & limbs. As a result they tire quickly. Too long in body.... usually as a result of an open/long loin & back, you will get an animal that breaks down early & cannot last in the field.
The Judge, be they All rounder or Specialist is at fault for awarding high placements to these dogs, maybe their predilection for various breed features blinds them to the basic overall dog. Hence my original question ?? Are we not better to have a Specialist judge who is EXPERIENCED rather than a novice??
Anne-Marie Hearn
I only got my first Irish in 1981, so can only rely on photos which don't usually give you a fair assesment (dogs being stacked up to look their best) and certainly can not comment on movement (wish there were videos, but alas). But I recall reading comment Mrs Nagle made when judging Irish in her later years that "most of them could hardly trot over concrete let alone do their days work" - hope I remember it correctly. She definitely would know what she was talking about. On another occasion I recall reading Mrs Nagle exhibiting one of her FT champions and the reporter commented that "he now learned what a dog with true IS movement can show even in a small ring".
As for ears - yes, we are seeing way too many "spaniel" ears today with very thick leather. People try to repair that by overtrimming, even shaving - looks yucky. Toplines vary from too sloping to "retriever like". You can see that well on the move (again stacking often is misleading). I was taught that the topline should stay stil on the move so that "not even a drop of water would be spilled from a glass standing on dogs back". Way too many dogs today wiggle their topline (sorry if it is a bad expression) - probably lack of muscle and wrong proportions (too short in ribcage and too long in loin makes a weak topline).
I don't think that in most European lines (there are always exceptions) necks are too long. Judging I see way too many dogs with rather short, stocky neck which makes the front all wrong and head carriage too low in the fields.

Anne-Marie, according to breed-expert W.J. Rasbridge movement has "degenerated". He also says why: because of lack of knowledge of showjudges about the Irish setter as a working dog.

You react with providing a standard as published in Gilbert Leighton-Boyces book. You do not provide the youngest version of the standard made by the Irish Red Setter Club on gait movement: "Free flowing, driving movement; head held high. Forelegs reaching well ahead but carried low. Hindquarters drive smoothly with great power".

When the first standard was made in Ireland in 1886, four years after launching the club (1882), there was probably no need to describe movement/gait into detail because.....every showjudge had knowledge about the Irish setter as a working dog.

Rasbridge analyses changes in the breed in his time since he first entered in a show (1930) until 1980. In his first years, a majority of judges had experiences as active hunters and half of them came from Ireland. In 1979 UK shows only a few of the judges had working experiences and not one came from Ireland.

Alenka quotes Florence Nagle (Sulhamstead) on movement. That makes two UK breed-experts arrive at the same conclusion.

The Irish parentclub launched in 1998 the Official description of the working style. The brief historical summary for the breed states: "The Standard and Working Style together describes the physical form and working ability of the Breed."

So I repeat my point that what you call "informed decisions" are in fact often decisions based on lack of knowledge so not-informed. Any showjudge not knowing the working style is not able to describe the physical form of an entry no matter what "experience and exposure in the breed" specialty judges say they have.

Henk ten Klooster
Aha a friend of Rasbridge. Is there a list of friends available to check this?:-) Because with some friends you do not need enemies...

As for the text, in my eyes you succeeded in not getting the essence of what you translated yourself from English into Dutch. I suggest to launch the English version on this site so that everyone can judge for themselves.

The author clearly documents the change in showjudges backgrounds....

When he started in Irish setters, there were 21 cc shows in the UK, judged by two ladies and sixteen males, half of them from Ireland. Ten of those sixteen were hunters (pp 8).

In 1979, 34 cc shows judged by 31 ladies and sixteen males. Only a few of those had experience with the Irish setter as a working dog (pp 8).

In his conclusion he states the DEGENERATION (capitals mine) of movement is a result of lack of knowledge about the Irish setter as a working dog.

Read you own translation again - a man is never too old to learn even from his own products!
You are saying what Rasbridge meant to say….Well a fact is, he did NOT say it.

That YOU assure me that show judges in 1979 in the UK also knew how an Irish setter was working is YOUR word, NOT of Rasbridge. What he did say, was that the movement DEGENERATED (capitals mine).

Now, let’s say you are right about those show judges. Than explain, how come that according to Rasbridge movement degenerated ? Quite a lot of matings are and were done on the basis of show results…..

As usual, I did not rely on just one source, another one was Florence Nagle . In that case in publications a ruined breed was used.

Last but not least: you are saying I am rude. Will I translate your Dutch words here???

Again: launch the English translation as a topic, it contains more eye-openers. For example on loss of bloodlines and genetic threats for the breed. So that everyone can make its own Informed decisions….
The point made here about showjudges being responsible for degeneration of movement is further documented. For your interest:

My view of the root of the trouble is that Irish Setters are practically entirely judged today by people who have never seen a Setter work, and haven’t the remotest idea of the value of the spring of ribs, legs, feet and hindquarters in a gundog. The breed has been turned into a tall, narrow animal with a long elongated head with a long elongated body or, in other words, what I call a steamroller dog. Naturally, a dog built on normal working lines has not much chance of success on the bench.” (Mission Accomplished, The Life and Times of Florence Nagle, pp 166).

…”I suppose one can hardly blame the judges, because very few of them have ever put foot on a moor, so they do not know what is required. If the judging could be put back in the hands of shooting men and women and practical allrounders, the Irish Setter could remain a gundog as well as a showdog. “… (same book, pp 167)

…”The English speaking world has taken a separate road, with the result that show dogs are now a different type to the original working type. The greatest problem with this new type is that the dog lacks the conformation of a galloping dog that is clearly required of a setter… (The Irish Red Setter, Raymond O’Dwyer, Dublin 2007 – pp 161)

That makes three sources experts on all terrains saying in essence the same:

William J. Rasbridge (show-UK)
Florence Nagle (dual-UK)
Raymond O’Dwyer (work-Eire)

An interview with Nagle dived up as well for about same timelines as the Rasbridge-article, in case people are intrested I can scan it.
Yes there is lots of historical evidence that you can.

If you for example see what descendants of Hartsbourne Flame (Irish bred) did in a few generations topping show, work (allround and specialist) even obedience and typewise diverting quick you're right.

Same for Sulhamsteads partwise based on showstock and a founding father of nowadays top working Irish Irish setter, Derrycarne Red Admiral of Rye.

Point is if you try such a scheme (again), you need informed decisions. And these are often lacking these times for reasons provided above.

A pity because work as a gundog is much more than only hunting, its the very soul of the breed and would help a lot for a future on a more healthy basis.

Well who knows there are more heading for this ideal, that would help make the money and time scene spread. Tell us more on Red Star.
Anne-Marie has started an interesting discussion in relation to judges that has evolved into discussions on the differences in the working and show Irish. I would like to add another perspective that I would be interested in views on.
What about the difference in breed type between the Irish shown in the UK and Europe vs the breed type in the USA and now predominently the breed type in Australia and New Zealand? The two types are so significantly different that some of the older breeders (ie been breeding/exhibiting for 40+ years) in the UK suggested that the USA type should be reclassified as the American Irish Setter! Of course this variation in type has been developed by breeders focussing on specific characteristics but then endorsed by Judges that put that type up.
Division into English Irish setter, American Irish setter and Irish setter would be stupid in the light of an alarming decrease of bloodlines. Quite a few in first both cultures still adhere to a traditional Irish setter and are not yet "caricatures of their forebearers " (quote The Irish Red Setter, Raymond O'Dwyer, Dublin 2007). A new congress on this subject like the one held in Dublin mid nineties might help supply education material. Attention for our shared history and "saints" as well.
It seems that the breeder judges are doing some of the worst jobs judging. I don't respect most of their judging and will not recommend most of them for our specialty club any more.
I have observed they put up handlers, people they know or what they have seen in the breed magazines. Either many don't know or care about structure and movement.




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