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" Could our setters suffer a genetic disaster"

I open this discussion from concern that if honesty and openness is not forthcoming, our beautiful Irish setters could once again be on the brink of genetic disaster in the near future, ( especially on problems where there are no genetic tests available).       

I love my setters, and I love yours too so don’t let this happen again, PLEASE.

                                                                                                                                                                          During the 1930`s, PRA began to appear in several prominent lines of Irish setters. As more and more, dogs became affected, PRA was widely debated over the next ten years. By 1940 it had been determined that PRA was indeed hereditary and would lead to partial and eventually total blindness.

By 1945 the problem had reached such proportions that The Kennel Club issued a ruling that no Irish setter could be registered or transferred without a signed statement declaring neither parents nor grandparents were actively affected with the disease, and that the dog in question had not produced a case of PRA.

Mr. Rasbridge, as secretary of the Irish setter Association, then devised a plan requiring test mating to identify carries and clear animals. Such a design was obviously not popular with the important breeders of that decade. As affected pups were identified, the breed was devastated with many champions, and other famous Irish setters retired after their test matings failed. In what may be the most energetic attempt to salvage any breed, conscientious Irish setter breeders  continued to test mate and clear their stock. The next ten years were spent rebuilding Irish setter lines and Kennels.Their efforts produced several influential dogs that carried the breed back from the brink of genetic disaster.


We are only a small number of setter lovers but we could make a difference if others follow, everthing has to start somewhere.

If we keep to the subject, we may learn so much more. Adding the source of any information posted will give more credibility to that post.

What do you think ?

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Hi Henk, you know what?  Don't reply to these blogs they are too negative from Miss Jansen.  She does not read your words, she doesn't understand you she just wants to score points over you and try and belittle you.  You do not deserve this abuse.  Please ignore them.  I did try to explain that when you use show or work it is only as a description/adjective.   It is not derrogatory.  It is like saying someone is blond haired, smartly dressed, or whatever.  You want ALL BLOODLINES IN IRISH SETTERS TO BE PROECTED and until Miss Jansen understands this she will continue her onslaught.

I do hope you don't mind my saying this but if I have misunderstood her tone accept my apologies.

Georgina, I know you feel concerned about the health of our Irish, but please keep to the subject.Henk is big anough to stick up for himself, and decide who he will reply to. Thank you

As you can read Anne, the UK survey makes a division between between breeding bitches and studdog/non-breeding pet. There is no division in families and/or activities.

You can find in the first topic a list for IRWS in the UK and personal observations about bloat and epilepsy in the group you mention, in more descriptions incidental. No surveys. So if people want to use those families to lower chances for that, a survey first is the way to go.

Just to point out Professor Hall's warning about the survey results

'we can not simply extrapolate to say that ~10 % of all setters are affected with bloat; it must be pointed out that the reported incidence of any condition may be biased by breeders/owners of afflicted dogs being more inclined to complete the survey.'

Thats where we agree Jocelyn where you state about the percentage in the health survey: " if it is true then the breed truly is in trouble!"

You find that hard to believe. That includes me, because I read in our clubmagazine ISCN that there were only a few cases of epilepsy in last survey, but all media were full of it in a week here.

A quick googling on other health surveys to get a broader view and prevent  sources blindness learned that the situation for our breed in the USA is alas not much better in many aspects http://www.irishsetterclub.org/PDF/Health%20Survey%20Results.pdf

Next I searched for reactions on the UK survey and this came up while googling: http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.nl/2012/11/kennel-club-does-som... If you scroll down, you find this comment: "See for example a recent health survey of Irish Setters, which was better done than many surveys, but still produced a figure for the prevalence of epilepsy which was probably something like a third of the figure that knowledgeable people in the breed will admit privately!"

If someone feels the tone of this post is not okay please e-mail me privately and not only the listowner. If someone feels the tone in all media in the Netherlands was not okay, let THEM know, don't blame me please. Thanks for your attention!.


Thank you Angela for reopening this topic and keeping it in the public domain.  It is very, very important.


The answer to getting a wider spread of returns to surveys is, in the report of the conclusions to the Breed at large, is to publish a list of the affixes responding and thanking them for their help.  Those who don't or won't contribute are thus identified and I'm afraid people draw their own conclusions.

Don't forget that surveys include 'nil returns' - if 25% of the survey are affected with, say, Bloat, then 75% of the survey are not. Before any research can be started, the extent of the problem must be known and anecdotes are insufficient.

I know many nations are not happy with health test results being published, but here in the UK, we have got used to it and it is not a problem - in fact it is a great help!

Ann wrote: I know many nations are not happy with health test results being published, but here in the UK, we have got used to it and it is not a problem - in fact it is a great help!

On the basis of analysing a few cases Ann, I think it is not nations, but some breeders.I am searching a reliable written source now to document the statement that before the mid seventies epilepsy and bloat (now breeds major problems) were incidental.

For this, observations of members active before and after this period could provide more light. Do you or do you not agree with conclusions of L.C. James in quotes above? And on the basis of what?

I think the quotations from LC James and Bill Rasbridge were relevant to the time..  However, today, not only are there vastly more Irish Setters, but the gathering, and distribution of information and the facilities to use this information is much more sophisticated.

Anyone in the world, with access to a computer can visit the UK KC Website and get health information - and population information for all the breeds (200+) recognised - this is not so for many other countries. I do know of breeders in other countries who are unwilling to have their health test results published, fearing 'finger-pointing' and witch-hunting'.  But here, we have no option, we have become accustomed to it as everyone is in the same boat; - the information certainly puts health issues in perspective where they can be dealt with.

Its great that the UK KC publishes results, but  some dog's results are missing!! I can only speak about one of my bitches Clannrua Comeragh (Cara) whos PRArcd4 and BVA HD scores have been omitted from the Mate Select site! Just wonder if others are missing too? 

Just checked Mate Select again and see Cara is listed twice, once without results and once with correct results;o)))

Unfortunately Mate Select and all such things on computers are subject to human failings and insufficient data.  The one saving grace is that anyone expecting to see their dog's info, would swiftly inform the KC that the information was incorrect and it would be corrected.  I think there is a statement to this effect.


Wilko Jansen asked and Henk do you or do you not agree with conclusions of L.C. James in quotes above. and on the basis of what?

The first cases of epilepsy I heard in the Netherlands were those of the late vet Wim van Gemert (Van Wolmerum).He was open and honest about that and stopped breeding and adviced everyone to do so with this lineage.

The first Irish setter I owned, Rex, at four years of age (1959), only went to the vet for inoculations, my next IRS Astrid was happy & healthy as well. This is personal experience, Judging on only personal experience and contacts I'd say on your question: yes. 

BUT as stated before here, you need many more of those and written stuff for the conclusion that epilepsy was indeed incidental so comparable to facts provided for UK IRWS and (based on observations, no scientifical data) Irish working families in IRS, closely related to IRWS.

Mr L.C. James states he never experienced epilepsy in forty years in his kennel  (Wendover). Still, as you know, but most readers don't and therefore I mention it, Van Wolmerum was predominantly based on Wendover Doetse and Wendover Eelkes, although his foundation bitch Anne was from highly inbred old Dutch lineage.

As you continued these lines (where Van Gemert advised to stop), you might be able to tell us more about this as it is the first very well documented "island" (?) for epilepsy and written about  by W.J. Rasbridge and L.C. James in Our Dogs. Why didnt't you and the friends you advised stop?

I do not share your conclusion and nowadays we also have some new incidental problems. The  health surveys of USA and UK clearly document that. 




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