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Reading the Irish Setter breed standard which states:


On head, front of legs and tips of ears, short and fine; on all other parts of body and legs of moderate length, flat and as free as possible from curl or wave. Feathers on upper portion of ears long and silky; on back of fore- and hindlegs long and fine. Fair amount of hair on belly, forming a nice fringe which may extend on to chest and throat. Feet well feathered between toes. Tail to have fringe of moderately long hair decreasing in length as it approaches point. All feathering to be as straight and flat as possible".


it seems that a large proportion of the IS's have very wavy if not curly coats; not that I have anything against that but we seem to be getting away from the breed standard?  I understand that coat is only a small part of the important make up of these beautiful dogs and conformation is more important.

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Eva i agree with you wholeheartedly coat to me is the finishing touch but overall the construction and breed type will always win for me too many Irish i have seen with hard expressions to the melting soft face has gone to leave an 'angry bird' lol and what about the gay tails??? dont start me on that one! 

As I very much enjoy Gundog training ( after all, this is the 'fit for purpose' part of the Standard), I prefer my Setters with a flat coat. After a long day quatering the land in the rain you can see the difference. On a flat coat the rain rolls off like on bird feathers, leaving the skin dry underneath and the dog not bothered by the weather. When it comes to showing, I do not have to spend money on expensive coat preparation, the feathering dries flat by itself. I think it will always come down to the same thing.....should you breed to the Standard or should you change the wording of the Standard to match your breeding? Or even, should you judge to the way you think the Standard should be written, therefore influencing the rest of the Breeders? Personal preferences are alright as long as you do not alter the make up of a Breed for your own needs or your own tastes..........

Well said Catherine

Susan, your description 'Grizzly bear';; made me laugh, I know exactly what you mean I have seen many setters like that after being neutered. My Rueben was castrated last Autumn at age 5. Having fathered 19 pups and with two of his (entire) daughters in the house, it was time. I've been obsessive about his coat, plucking any fluffy bits that come through and he is not looking too bad yet....

I agree with you Susan,
every feature of breed is associated with a specific use and it is right, in my opinion, respect it.
We need not to be too drastic but I think that exaggerate the waves is not good for the breed....in field and in the show ring!

The Irish Setter is the most elegant gundog...with silky coat it will be sure more elegant for me.

I'm glad Lyndsey that you brought in the quote from the Breed Standard for the Irish Red Setter - it does state "flat and as free as possible from curl or wave".  Surely the breed standard is important in all it's parts, including coat - after all, imagine looking at an Old English Sheepdog or a Standard Poodle with the coat of an English Pointer, it would be totally incorrect, as would a very curly or wavy coat on a Setter.

"flat and as free as possible from curl or wave" does not disallow a certain amount of movement in the coat.   We all know what flat means and what curly means.  When breeding we should strive to adhere to the breed standard to the best of our abilities and this includes the body coat, feathering etc.  In judging, if I had to choose between an otherwise excellent specimen with a slightly wavy coat and an inferior dog, say with  poor movement, upright shoulders, lacking depth of chest etc. but with a flat coat, I would have to choose the better specimen with the slightly wavy coat. At the end of the day it comes down to the breed standard in all it's parts that make up the whole.


Well done Eva     my thoughts exactly;     

Well I must say I am really surprised by the mixed response to Lindsey Jones's discussion. 

I have learned that it is possible to show and win with a curly coated irish Setter with a white foot as long as the judge thinks it's the best in the line up!

Might as well tear up my copy of the breed standard then!

Blimey Val, it has taken three pages but I do believe you've finally got it!! Don't tear up your copy of the Breed Standard just yet. Read and digest, then you will realise that it IS possible to win with a wavy coated Irish Setter, white foot n' all, because none of that disqualifies. Be open minded and forgiving.. Far better and more satisfying to find virtues then look for faults........isn't that what judging this beautiful breed is all about?

Its obviously not worth reading seeing as nobody follows it!

Maybe it's time for the standard to be changed. 

How about splitting Irish Setters up into coat types like the Retrievers?  Then everyone would be satisfied.

As curly coated Irish Setters already exist it should not be too much of a problem to sort out.


Exactly Mel......flat or wavy

Nowhere in the breed standard does it say curly coats with ringlets are acceptable.



I cannot find this part in my breed standard from Ireland "flat or wavy"? We do have "All feathering straight and flat" Breed standard available on www.irishredsetterclub.com




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