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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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So Carmel where in the scale of faults would you put a wavy coat?  Before an upright shoulder or a steep croup or light eyes or movement because in your last comment you implied that it was of paramount importance to the overall look of an IS?  No dog is perfect and judging is always a compromise but surely it is far more satisfying to place dogs in order of merit than it is to eliminate them fault by fault. 

I did not say the coat is of paramount importance to the overall look of an Irish Red Setter!! I said it was equally important to the overall look of the dog!  A very wavy or curly coat is not typical of the Irish Red Setter. This is not just my opinion, it is part of the breed standard!!

Yes Carmel, it is part of the Breed Standard but only ONE part.  It should be judged as such and not overtake everything else.   


I agree and am only replying to this discussion which was about ONE part of the breed standard: wavy coats!! ;o)


I don't think anyone has a problem with a wave through the coat but what about the extremely wavy to almost curly coats which I have seen at Championship level shows.

Judges should NOT have personal tastes and opinions when they are judging shows thats the whole point!

They should be following the breed standard , thats what it's there for. 


If your friend's dog was the best specimen in the class and did not win because she had a slight wave through her coat then that is completely wrong, on the otherhand, if your friend's dog was a near perfect specimen but had a curly coat then the dog has a fault and the judge was correct. 

If the other dog was inferior and only had a straight coat to recommend her by then she should not have won either!

Maybe that particular judge should take a long holiday!

Balance and symmetry are all very well and good but surely the WHOLE dog includes this breeds trademark...it's beautiful red coat!


Sue,  I can see where you are coming from and I know judges are going to have their own interpretation of the standard TO A POINT but sorry, a curly coated Irish is way off the mark and so far removed from the original Irish Setter coat type.

Nowhere in the breed standard does it say 'curly coats are acceptable' infact it makes a point of stating the opposite.

I don't believe any reasonable judge would or should overlook a Irish because it has a few waves in it's coat.......but.....curly coated setters?

Whatever next, maybe a a dog with wonderful conformation and a white paw?


I am aware of that point Mel.  What I am trying to get across is, say for instance you were judging a show and a dog which was almost perfect in every way except it had more white on it's paw than is allowed

Sorry my phone rang just when I was typing my reply!

I will start again!

Mel, If you were judging a show and a dog which was almost perfect in every way except it had more white on it's paw than is allowed, what would you do?

Award the dog first place even though it has a fault or adhere to the breed standard and give it to your second choice?

Should the same rules not apply to dogs with excessively wavy or curly coats after all it is a fault according to the KC?

Oh dear Val...you stumbled on that one!!  I thought you knew your Breed Standard but the white paw has caught you out!!! 

Allow me to me jog your memory:

Coat Colour.........Rich chestnut with no trace of black.  White on chest, throat, chin or toes, or small star on forehead or narrow streak or blaze on nose or face not to disqualify.

You are so busy finding fault you have lost the wood in the trees.  I wonder what you would be like as a judge?

A wavy coat is not a fault according to the KC but according to the Standard and where in that does it say waves to disqualify?  All it says is coat to be as free as possible from curl or wave!!????

Val I have enclosed paragraphs from WJ Rasbridge's article on the Breed Standard which was written in the early 1970's and published again in the 2010 ISAE Annual Review.  I urge you all to read it as Bill Rasbridge was, and still is, an absolute and acknowledged authority on the Breed.  He urged balance and symmetry above all else because he knew what would happen to the Irish Setter if breeders and judges concentrated on any one point over others.  You are, of course, entitled to your opinion but may I respectfully suggest that you reserve judgement on judging protocols until you have judged yourself. 

I gave you the example of my friend's experience with a particular judge because it illustrates perfectly the pit falls of an individual point becoming an obsession.  The coat is no less red or beautiful just because it has a wave in it, nor is it less red or beautiful if it hasn't.  Different judges interpret the Breed Standard in many ways.  Some believe the head is important, others place more store by movement.  That is a personal opinion.  It is so easy to criticise but so much harder to do.

I enclose, for your information, the scale of points set out by the Irish Setter Club in Dublin in 1886.  It is not used any more but just for your interest:

Head 10 points, Eyes 6 points, Ears 4 points, Neck 4 points, Body 20 points Hind Legs and Feet 10 points, Fore Legs and Feet 10 points, Tail 4 points, Coat and Feather 10 points, Colour 8 points, Size, Style and General Appearance 14 points.

The body, size style and general appearance carry the greatest number of points.  Coat and feather are ranked along with the head and the fore and hind legs and feet, then colour.  Strangely no mention of movement.  So we get back to proportion balance and symmetry after all.


Eva,  Like I have said before, I have NO problem with dogs having waves in their coats and of course balance and symmetry are very important but as a judge you must have noticed the amount of dogs being shown with coats that could hardly be described as just wavy.

Some infact have coats with so much curl that even the feathering hangs in what could almost be described as ringlets! 

I don't think even WJ Rasbridge would or could approve of that.

I am sure Bill Rasbridge would more than likely have had something to say about excessive wave.  He would certainly have commented on it but he would never have put an otherwise good dog down for it. My Concept has a wavy coat.  Rita Bryden wrote in her critique of him after she had given him BIS at the ISAE Centennary Ch. Show that in an ideal world he would have had a better coat, and that is very true.   

Catherine, you should always try to breed to the Standard.  You should always try to judge to the Standard.  However each dog has to be assessed on his merit and as a complete picture.  You cannot throw the baby out with the bath water by concentrating on any one particular aspect to the possible detriment of everything else.  Above all you shouldn't fault judge because after you have eliminated every good dog for some fault or other then all you are left is mediocrity.

Every one has personal preferences and you are absolutely right, they should not influence or alter the make up of the Breed.   Coat, whether wavy or straight would not affect my judgement of a dog for I have put up both.  But plain heads, upright shoulders or steep croups would certainly make me think hard.  There is also such a thing as quality.  It defines a good dog from a common dog and there are plenty of them about.





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