Exclusively Setters

Home for Irish Setter Lovers Around the World

Hello everybody!
First of all thank you for this great site. As I see here is so many experienced breeders, so I would really like to hear your opinion about mixing american and english type in breeding. We must admit that there is different types of Irish setters (FT, American, English) and specially in England they really are worried about keeping the type at the same time for 7 years our special show judges were from England and american type setters usually get very high places (this year best bitch, dogs champion class winner etc). Our entry is about 80 Irish setters and most of them English type and not bad quality. So, at least here and already in Sweden and Finland I see people are mixing two different types and are more open to new things!

best regards,


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Quickly scanning all answers and reactions, just wondering: from start of dogsports until say sixties of last century, mixing UK/USA-lines was very succesfull in all aspects: field & show alike.

Since that time standards changed: not the FCI (Irish) and from that the UK-version, but the AKC-one. Most clear: height & weight. This standard divided the Irish setter world right at the time numbers bred were dropping dramatically and surviving founding families were discarded because of showtrends mainly.


In the USA: two divided camps, raging a war until now. Two divided genepools, hitting most hard in working (FDSB and AKC)-circles. Where-as both need refreshment....

In both showscenes and fieldscenes just a small genepool leading, heavily linebred (=inbred).

In Europe; a "no" to USA-lines in most cultures in showlines. Reasons: alleged crossing Afghans with no proof of that until now but for sure clear: extremely more weight & height. Fear for change of type.

Also a "no" to field USA. Reasons: a well documented crossing with English setters from Irish red and white setter lineage into red setters and high tails on point.

Fact: Irish setters are on their best in Norway (mixing of Irish/Scandinavian/USA-lines) combining field and show champions and having the only real "refreshment" of lines: old Scandinavian (leading UK/US is very related until the sixties).

Conclusion: change of standard, proposed by the ISCA and dictated by AKC is not in the interest of a healthy future for the breed.

Henk ten Klooster.
Which brings me to the question that has always been on my mind - why do the different clubs change the standard independently from the club of origin? Wouldn't you think that everyone would be following the ORIGINAL standard and suggestions of the club of origin? Does the each individual club re-evaluate the condition of the breed in its own country and modifies the standard to fit the current style or should they try to "reign in " the type to match as close it can be to the country of origin? WHY do we have FCI and AKC and UKC and other standards???? Shouldn't there be but ONE breed standard?
This is question is not unique to setters.. The Brittany and the Dalmatian come first to mind...
Maybe I am not wording it right, but I hope the meaning goes trough..
Ginger its intresting you bring up the PRA-scene. A huge lesson from the past for the future!

Yes, on both sides of cultures (UK/USA) lines vanished because of that. UK's best vanished mainly because of an American post war import, USA's best because of a pre war UK-import. And they vanished because of heavily line-breeding (=inbreeding). That should learn us a lot.

There was as far as I know traditionnally not much communication between both cultures. UK cultures don´t know about Big Red on average for example. Except for top-breeders who were in close contact. For example, Eldredge (Tirvelda) regularly visited the UK and Europe, anyway as a kennelboy I recall those topbreeders-meetings.

The guy who saved the show-version of our breed from extinction -the late W.J. Rasbridge from the UK- warned in 1980 that PRA was just a minor problem compared to what was diving up at that time. Because genetics were different like PRA - contrary to that spread over more genes- and not easy to get rid off. Like epilepsy for example - present in ALL LEADING showculture lines USA and UK.

That is why in more posts I've said why does our culture not learn from scientists? Why don't we have a knowledge-centre for facts? Like for example pictures and facts for 125 years what certainly was the case for oldtimer breeders. Why do nowadays breeders know nearly nothing of the past?

You get my opinion wrong on Finland, I said Norway. Anyway thats just around the corner. And just check out their website on pedigrees/ hugely intresting.

As for differing standards, no opinion just facts from here. Simply make a list of advantages-disadvantages. I see not one advantage from last, except maybe someone who says yes these dogs look spectacular.

Could be a spectacular fault in history..... The PRA scene shows you win a lot on short terms, and lose everything on the longer term....

Henk ten Klooster.
Ginger wrote: "You for instance, seem to have so much knowledge of the past, have you thought about writing a book?"

Writing provides my daily bread (reporter for dailies), but thats got nothing to do with setters. Working your setters is really a very time-consuming hobby, sometimes I share a few happy moments with local setterfolk in Flashes from Freshnoses. But got to stop this as well, takes too much spare-time!

What I would love to see is IRISH experts like the late John Nash (Moanruad) or Ray O'Dwyer writing a book. I did stimulate a Dutch expert to write a book (click "Youth on a river inspires Dog Points" on www.Iersesetter.com )

If there would be a project generated in Ireland to focus on working properties, I'd be happy to help. In my eyes this is what is missing - and as well stuff "around" Irish setters, so fantastic reported by old German author Hilde Schowyer in Erfahrungen mit Setter (Experiences with setters). So NOT a showbook, but one focussing on field, rescue, falconry, health-issues stuff like that.

Anyway, nice to read your comment Ginger.

Henk ten Klooster.
Henk I think we would all welcome a book like that. I try to get my hands on anything to do with Setters being from the show side or working side. I've learned a lot this way. I wish I could have met John Nash. When I was growing up there was a Moanruad dog about 10 km from us, one of first irish I met. He had a lovely temperament and as I recall he was medium sized dog with strong bones and lots of coat.
Alenka our parentclub the Irish Red Setter club has a jubilee now: 125 years. So why don't we ask them to take the initiative for such a book?

Theres two from that club on this list: Carmel and Trudy so they can transfer the message to the board of the club?

Reportedly there IS a manuscript already, written by legendary John Nash (Moanruad), said to be in Switzerland. Sad this breeder died out hunting when storms were raging big parts of Europe around 1990. A wealth of experience and knowledge! As far as I know Ray O'Dwyer was one of his "students".

In one of the last magazines of the Red Club France, there were a lot of facts provided by Ray O'Dwyer, president of that club heading something like "In the paradise of Irish setters". Very eye-opening!

Sad to note right in this year they are facing up huge problems because of a conflict around red grouse. So its not a paradise anymore.

That is a great idea. It would be terrific to read John Nash's book, a bit updated perhaps. Does his family stil keep Irish?

Alas as far as I know not.

Theres a heartbreaking tribute from his daugther in the IRSC mag after he died. He has become a legend... Many nowadays triallers cherish memories - Irish named after him, a kennelname here and so on. Clothing, boots and so on once owned by Nash is kinda holy material for quite a few.

Hopefully not a forgotten Irish setter hero in a few decades from now.
"a manuscript... said to be in Switzerland?" can you tell me more and I will go on a treasure hunt! As I said elsewhere, Switzerland is a small country...
...and I'd love to see the article by R. O'Dwyer for the Red Club - can anyone find me a copy?
Been away for a few days, so probably this will seem like repeating lots of what has been said. I'll try to be brief.
Piret asked our opinion on combining dogs of different type. I have personal exprience in that and like Pirets it is positive. I have owned dogs of different bloodlines and types. My first bitch was a combination of Hartray, Raycroft and Wendover with some local pre-war dogs whose pedigrees can not be traced. I used pure Wendover bloodlines on her. Got good looking dogs with moderate hunting ability, but some health problems as well. I dropped the line and tried with a bitch from Italy who was a mixture of Moanruad, Allsquare and Wendover. She grew way too big (67 cm and weighed close to 35 kg), produced healthy and good looking dogs (too big of course), with good working ability. She did not like the shows and neither did her children. I found the dogs too big, so we dropped that line as well.
We are now on our 3rd and hopefully final try as I like what I have at the moment. I've got a female line that I really like and went with it in different directions. As some of you know I am not big on inbreeding. I preffer linebreeding or occasional outcross. We have healthy dogs at the moment who are nice to look at, have good working ability and for me typicall Irish characters. They learn fast, but they are a handful. i would not have it any other way. We have a very "English" line (which incidently produces really good working dogs) and also a partially "American" line. Now that "American" part of my champion bitch seem to rub some people the wrong way, but there is a saying (hope translation will be OK) "There is always dust behind a good horse!"...
Personally I prefer the English type. My favorites in the breed are dogs like Reddins Ferdinand, Delsanto Romarna, Wendover Jeeves, Handy Hunt v. Huize Comtessa etc They are all to be found in our pedigrees. But I don't mind venturing elsewhere if I think it can bring me something good. Same as Piret I noticed that there were some health problems behind the English lines. Unfortunately in most European countries hips have to be considered when breeding while in England only a portion of breeders xray their stock. I also did not like the movement I saw in England (of course there are always exceptions). I think it is a combination of hips problems and lack of muscle (we tend to excercise our dogs much more on the continent). And characters are often too docile and not really what you want on the field or in the show ring.
My "Ami mutt" Pika came to me by chance. We lost our Italian bitch and I co-owned Pika's mother who just had puppies. So we got one who just by chance had an American father. She grew up into nice, healthy bitch with excellent working ability, a real handful as a youngster, and a great dog to show. Of course she has faults. All my dogs have faults, bet all your dogs have faults as well. When it was time to breed her I studied her pedigree in great detail and decided on a distant line-breeding to Westerhuy lines to a dog that could give me what she was lacking. I wanted more bone, better stops, darker colour and better front. As it seems now we've got all of that. Her litter of 10 is now 18 months. Several are training in the fields, 8 have been shown with success, 6 have been xrayed and are all A or B. Good mouths, eyes, lovely temperaments (did I already say that they are a handful???). We now think she deserves another litter and are working on getting everything in place for a mating in England. Keep your fingers crossed for us.
So in conclusion I think that mixing of types can improve dogs all over the world. Our gene-pools are rather small. Irish are not the most popular breed (which is really good) and many founding families have dissapeared. I think there is a need to bring in new blood, but it must be done very carefully as not to bring in more problems (I worry about HOD) and try to always have the standard in our minds. We are lucky to have genetic tests for some of the disseases and hopefully will have more soon.
As for the standard FCI did adopt the Irish standard, but they dropped the period to adjust. So we were faced with judges deciding for themselves what they will do with larger dogs. We had a judge about 2 months after the standard was adopted who threw all dogs in champion class out with very good or good for being too large. There are other judges who stil place large dogs and bitches. I've even been told about a year ago that my bitch was at about 3-5 cm too small (she is 61 cm, standard max is 62 cm). What would that judge say to my Zennith (58 cm)??? Neither approach is correct. Time is definitely needed to get the size withing the limits of the standard (I've seen several working type dogs who are small and lack bone - remind me of the Italian type English Setter, so I did not mean just that the show lines should get smaller). I think there is a lot of distrust between people. Lets hope it will get better. We should keep an open mind and above all let others do what they want.

Reads like an open book, I really appreciate that, Alenka.

On your favourites: why not start a topic on that. I enjoy reading why people favor some Irish setters! Like whats your top ten of Irish setters.

Henk ten Klooster.

OK I've come to this very, very late indeed, but if you want to see a true mix of the English & US bloodlines then look at Kerrsienna A Paige In History For Deaconara JW. She would be considered too small in the US but in the UK is not. She was created from English bloodlines that were exported to the US and then bred to US bloodlines. The end result is the granddaughter of one of the owner's dogs, Renemau Deacon Blue.




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