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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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These genes are found in EVERY dog

RSPO2 - responsible for furnishings such as dogs with beards, moustaches etc..

FGF5 -     long or short coat

KRT71 -  controls the extent of curl, NOT curl versus no curl


Now for splitting hairs!

The extent of curls depends on the proteins in the coat and this varies from breed to breed.

Curl versus no curls depends on the parents & previous generations hair-type genes

As I said before - straight (S) curly (C) wavy (Cs)


Note:  Bubbles & Concept might both carry (Cs) genes which would account for the mixture of coat types in the litter. 

Pups are NOT genetically identical ,some carry more genes from one parent than the other which is why pups in the same litter vary.

Coat colour is decided by other genes






True Camilla, Pups do receive 50% of their genes from each parent and yes it's the combination that makes the difference.

If in the 50% of genes inherited from one parent, a puppy receives 2 identical genes, these identical genes will be carry more weight in the outcome of the pup's development than a single copy gene.

The only way to get near to a true coat type would be to only breed from dogs who come from generations of reasonably straight coats then you would know which genes are likely to be passed onto the next generation.


May I respectfully point you to the statement you made a day ago when you said that (C) mated to (C) will produce curly coats.

Concept to Bubbles,ie (C) to (C) produced curly, wavy and straight coats.

Actually curly is (CC), wavy is (C) and straight is (S).  I read the same article.

We would be grateful for the knowledge of someone well versed in genetics rather than someone who has just read articles about it and is quoting text.


If thats what you read then we are NOT reading the same article!

The only way to become well versed on any subject is to read up on it and may I suggest that before you breed any more litters, you do the same!

Why oh why do you have to bring every discussion down to abuse?  Why oh why can you not just have a normal debate?

May I RESPECTFULLY suggest that you are in ABSOLUTELY NO position to tell me what I should do and let us leave it at that.

I understand your point of view Camilla and agree you cannot strive for one thing.

The fact is, if some breeders had looked at the whole picture and followed the standard rather than conveniently choosing to forget that the coat does contribute in making up the whole dog then these awful curly coats would not be around in such large numbers today.

Hello Wilko,

Cockers coats should be fairly flat and free from curls, a few waves are acceptable but the feathering should be flat, very similar to a Setters.

"Curly" means the hair grows in a circle (for use of a better word), the amount of curl is determined by the proteins in the coat which is why Curly Coated Retrievers who have very high levels of proteins (Keratin) in their coats are very curly.

"Wavy" is hair with a bend in it but does not grow around itself.

"Curl" in Setters is usually seen on the neck and along the back and sometimes extends into the feathering.



A good question, Cheryl - and a good point, too, about what is considered "proper show-ring grooming" as per the tastes of each country where Irish are shown.  Showing obviously has a real influence on the way dogs are bred, and coat plays a part in that.  This is evidenced by the different coat types seen in different parts of the world.


While I'm a bit terrified to launch myself into this topic, given the knives flying around lol, I'd like to talk a little about coat and showing, if that's okay?  Please understand I'm not talking about coat and breeding.  (And yes, do feel free to argue about breeding for the show ring and breeding for the breed - because I think that's a great and very relevant - and juicy - topic!!)


I remember when I got my first Irish, Fionn.  I was horrified when his coat started coming in - especially on his tail - because it actually curled up over the tail and was very wavy.  He also had the wave down his neck.  The only Irish I had ever seen here were dead straight, with masses of straight coat, and not a trace of curl or wave.  Being new to it all, I presumed that this was the result of genetics more than grooming, and I immediately began to question whether or not his coat was not to standard, since the standard plainly calls for the coat to be as free as possible from curl or wave.  I had no idea how I would present him for the show ring, because all I'd seen were perfectly presented dogs with dead straight coats and I had no idea how to produce that look.


(Now, of course, I love that he has a bit of wave, and frankly, I see a dead straight coat as the result of a straightening iron and a whole heap of grooming products that aren't meant to be in the coat anyway.  I'm talking show-ring "dead straight" here, not just a gentic, naturally flat coat...Fionn's coat is flat, silky and with correct texture, as it should be.  And I have seen plenty of dogs with dead straight coats in the ring look not nearly so dead straight in candid shots away from the ring.  Both UK and American types.)


As I read more, and researched more into the history of the breed, I began to realise that "as free as possible from curl or wave" does NOT mean, nor does the standard state that, "the coat should be dead straight."  It means exactly what it says.  I now take it as it reads - that the ideal coat should be in balance with the rest of the dog.  The Irish Setter, after all, is at its ideal a dog of pure balance and beauty, with no one feature standing out over another.  By this token, I guess one could take the stance that an excessively curly or wavy coat is not balanced, since the eye is drawn to it - the same as an upright shoulder, or bandy legs...  But then again, if the rest of the dog beneath a wavy coat (of correct texture and colour) is outstanding, more so than the others in the ring against which it is being judged, then the coat should not penalise the rest of the dog - and any judge who does so is fault-judging.  Or blinded by presentation...which let's face it, is easily done.  A well-presented dog is hard to look past in a line-up of otherwise excellent dogs.  And many use this to their advantage...and arguably perhaps they should, since dog shows have become beauty contests possibly even more than conformation contests...a topic for another debate, I'm sure!!  (To me, conformation IS beauty, and coat is the icing on the cake.)


However, having said that, presentation in the show ring is part and parcel of the occasion.  And what is expected in the show ring, in some countries, dictactes how the coat may be allowed to look!  And this of course influences what is subsequently bred by those who wish to win shows.  In some countries - definitely here in Australia - there is little chance that an all-breeds judge would even look at a dog with curl or wave in their coat.  The vast majority of our shows are all-breeds...we don't even have an Irish Setter breed club for the whole country...and the majority of group 3 judging is done by judges who are NOT gun dog specialists, and certainly not setter specialists.  Where I live, there is no specialty club at all, and Irish Setters are thrown in with TOY spaniels and other setters for our so-called specialty events.  Subsequently, we're not even getting specialist judges at our specialist shows.  This is no one's fault, but partly the result of distances across Australia, and partly due to the lack of popularity of Irish Setters as a breed here.  Maybe, if judges have some history with the breed, or if they have been around a long while and have a firm idea in mind of what a good Irish should look like, and maybe if they are not influenced by other factors, and maybe if they are looking at conformation and nothing else...then MAYBE, they will put up conformation over coat.  But in my albeit limited experience (showing now for 6 years), in a given all-breeds line-up, an all-breeds judge in this country will pick grooming over conformation.  I have attended breed lectures where I have heard people who are not Irish Setter specialists tell trainees that the Irish Setter is ALL about the coat.  And that's the message they walk away with...and subsequently take into the ring with them from the get-go.


In addition to that, the overwhelming majority of dogs shown here are of the American type, and presented in the American style.  This means that all-breeds judges are used to seeing dogs look a certain way, and this certainly influences their opinion of what an Irish should look like, coat included.  Thus, a dog with any amount of movement in the coat - when paired against a standard which has been largely unexplored by non-specialist trainees - means that good dogs are often dumped simply because of show ring presentation.  The fact that American dogs shown here have been bred under a different standard to the one they are then exhibited under only goes to show that judges are influenced by what they regularly see, and don't question it.  The American standard for coat is very similar to the UK/FCI...but it is presentation which differs, and which ultimately becomes "the standard" for judges in the ring.


Let's face it - if the wording of the standard can cause the amount of debate it does here, among dedicated Irish Setter specialists, then what chance do all-breeds trainees have to look beyond what appears to be plain English - that the coat should be as free as possible from curl or wave??  To most people, reading it for the first time and with no further exploration into the breed, this means, "the coat should be dead straight."


I think when looking at dogs in the show ring, we have to consider what "perfection" means to judges.  To some, it means a dog that is perfectly presented, with a dead straight coat (as per the standard as it is interpreted by that judge) and not a hair out of place.  To others, it means a dog which is well-made and neatly presented.  Perfect presentation differs in the eye of the beholder - both judge and exhibitor.


Getting back to Fionn.  As his coat grew, it straightened, and he now has a mostly straight coat with a little movement down his neck and in his tail.  He carries both UK and American lines, so I'm not sure what that means in terms of genetics and coat curl.  My lovely little girl, Aneira, so far has a dead straight coat and comes from pure UK/European lines.  Her father, Jingles, has lovely movement in his coat, and her mother, Garden Star's Light Yoghurt (Molly), has some movement, but is straighter than Jingles.  Time will tell as to how much wave Aneira carries in the future.  Either way, when showing her over here to all-breeds judges who are not even gun dog specialists, I will have to present both my dogs in the way they are expected to be seen.  I try not to go to extremes, but this also means that sometimes, I will get overlooked.  And that's really okay with me, because I know what I like and what I don't.  Sometimes, too much grooming only serves to highlight faults ;-)


Anyway, I've waffled on enough.  But I hope I've contributed something a little for you to sink your teeth into besides my neck *cheeky grin*




Thank you, thank you, thank you Wilko!!!   A burst of sanity in what has become a war of words...vive le Setter Irlandais!
l am still awaiting pictures of these   CURLY lrish Setters......

Hi Val

Do you have any pictures of these CURLY coated Irish


I think we need to ask owners'permission if we want to post  photos of dogs with wavy coats on this site....don't you think it would nice if they know their dogs'coat are being discussed before they see a photo in this discussion?

I would like to be told first if it were one of mine........




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