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Did the breed change or not since the sixties?

Did the Irish setter breed change in half a century or not? In a topic elsewhere there is a statement  the breed did not change in fifty years.


What is your opinion? Did the breed change yes or no, if yes in what aspects (conformation, health, character, working capacities)? Can you document your opinion? Same for no changes in your opinion, can you document that?


Here is a kick off with an article on the Derrycarne Irish red setters, bred by Maureen Mc Keever, published in 2003 in The Leitrim Guardian, written by Kevin Mc Manus. Her activities cover a large part of the period mentioned in the statement. She bred more key Irish setters in both show and working nowadays Irish setters. Would these still be able to win - show and/or work?


Because there was some interest in Derrycarne history, on request a story is added on a daughter of Derrycarne Harp - Ailean O'Cuchulain. Its entitled Devils Dearest, written as a tribute.  On request as well a story Hartsbourne Flame was added. She was a shower of hail and littersister to IRCH Derrycarne Martini

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Eyes are mirrors of a soul so a lot of words are spend on that part of an Irish setter. You ask to compare Derrycarne Harp and Apache des Sorcieres du Sancy . If you don't mind, I do it a little bit broader.

Mirrors of a soul should tell you in a glimpse what the FCI standard for IRS says on temperament/behaviour: Keen, intelligent, energetic, affectionate and loyal

This is exactly what I see in Harps eyes + head. As I enjoyed her lots and daughter Ailean (see for her temperament/behaviour attached file) - its just like the title Devils Dearest.

Okay back to your question - Harp/Apache. Biggest difference between both is ofcourse their gender - resp bitch/dog. In a glimpse I see who's the bitch and dog. I cannot find notes on that in the FCI/UK standard. So a main feature is not covered.

You call Apaches head overdone. I can't find this description in the FCI-standard, so some clarity here is appreciated. I admire Apache both for conformation and work, but am imprinted mainly by memories on his performances. Now analysing on your request his pictures, I don't see an aspect, conflicting with the FCI-standard.

What I do remember well, was in Harps times a kind of head that I saw a lot back in UK showrings later. It was her kennelmate Redfields Blandy, UK showjudges admired her! Her ears, eyes, head exactly portrayed -for me- what happened in later decades. So a trendsetter excuse the pun.

Where-as Harps head mirrored all aspects on temperament/behaviour, in Blandy's case it was affectionate and loyal. But keen and energetic - NO. If an IS is half a devil/half an angel, she was an angel only in looks!
Henk, apologies for not responding to the question of "overdone". Well the standard calls for "brows raised showing stop". There is a fine line to tread between a head being too shallow in stop and plain and becoming too deep as a Gordon Setter. For me "overdone" tends towards the latter. It is, of course, my opinion based on the photographs but those who have seen the dog would know better.
We have all experienced the half devil/half angel in our dogs, one minute sweet and melting, the next wicked and mischievious..........don't you just love em for it!!!!!!
Yes I understand what you mean by overdone. This is what I saw most clear in Harp/Blandy. Last one (female) was in my eyes houndy though praised for head in show. The owner explained me why - because of Bloodhound influence and exactly where it came from.

She was overdone in all aspects: length of ears, not thin leather but thick, set on too low (in many show winners nowadays), too long. But for sure a sweetheart!!! Alas no devil left.

Leighton-Boyce describes in his book the way of selecting for one like her in his mothers selection scheme, in temperament not conformation.
Laura Dunne ran her dogs in Field Trials. They were good, substantial typical Irish Setters with strong bone. They were definitely bigger than the "Field Trial" dogs, ie Moanruads etc.
I remember at one of our Irish Red Setter Club Championship Shows, Kay Bride had one of her dogs in the Field Trial Class.
He was a good example of the breed, of good type, size and conformation with good feathering.
The Judge, from the UK, refused to give him a first.
His reason? he did not "look like" a Field Trial dog. After all, he had owned on as a pet.
This was Pairk na Glos Guinness who had won at Field Trials in order to enter the class, but he had also won Green Stars in the Show ring.
When Kay was at Trials with Guinness, she was often asked if she had brought his saddle.
The implication being that he was a horse of a dog.
His pedigree was a mixture of Mullencluain,Ridgebourne,Hartray,Ballyrobyn,Walns and Irish working stock.
"he did not look like a FT dog"

Oh my "foot in mouth" disease?
Size is something most fascinating and as I hold the german archive for pointers and setters, there was a script in the sixties that male IS should not be taller than 60 cm (23,62 inches) and german breeders should not follow the new trend for bigger dogs in England, as this would be for show purpose and not dual.
At that time the standard didn't say anything about size.
I started to show IS in 1985 and apart from few oversized dogs, the rest seemed well balanced and nicely sized.
Nowadays we have a size in the standard...But I note more and more IS around, that my very dear friend would regard as "wooly mammoth".

Being a member of the german committe that takes part in the "breed permission test", we also measure the IS and many of them are 'oversized'. Different blood lines, but all pure showblood.
More than 70 cm (27,56 inches) is perhaps nice to look at for 'show tuned eyes'...but imagine an IS that is on the opposite side of the scala, i.e. being several inches too small instead too big ?
That would indicate a bitch below 50 cm (19,68 inches) and although I am quite familiar with trialers, I havn't seen that small IS. ;-)))
But it makes me wonder when I remember the bitches at Int. Show Nürnberg this year, most over the bitches had strong 65 cm (25,6 inches) including youngsters class - where will this trend go ?

@ Camilla - yep. Straight forhands, overangulated hindquarters, empty bodies...noticed that as well;-(((
Don't get angry, but then...who will decide who is the "real Mc coy"...the true IS ? Only native breeders from Ireland ?
How would you want to avoid the loss of breed characteristics ?
Or are there none of interest ?
If only working talent counts, then look at the american redsetter... some of them are truly aliens and though they are nicely on point and hunt like devils.

If you don't only go for hunting talent, then what next ?
Color is not important..Norway has long ago started a discussion why or why not mix all pointing dogs varieties and create a supergundog. When they crossed ES into native GS, the purists went mad and their opposites claimed old history mixes as legitimation for nowadays crosses.

setters are descendants from the big landspaniel...shall we accept that type of dog as well and call it Irish setter ?

About a standard for gundogs....at least on the continent this tradition came up much earlier than shows started. It was put into words by hunters, who bred dogs. They wanted to express their experience and so most of the body indexes of gundogs are quite similar. a 9 to 10 body, front and hind angulation well described. Details as characteristics for each breed were added, but main target was "form follows function". Without form, you would loose the breed.
It is interesting that in the UK, where there is no height standard you do not see the variation in size that you do in on the Continent. My ShCh Caskeys Concept is 26.5" at the withers and most males are about that size. His son, is smaller and, for me, more manageable to show/handle.
Christine, when you carry out your "breed permission tests" do you penalise size either way?
I don't believe that Irish Setters 70cm and over are nice to look at for any eyes and bitches over 65cm, including youngsters is a worrying direction to go down.
Eva, only few setters are measured on shows and I am little shocked, when I know there actual size and see them getting tickets from judges of all countries.
Championclass male 72 cm, bitches 68 cm...
And we do have english imports as well as their offsprings in second or third generation of that cailber.

We had a judges meeting in Germany two years ago and decided to penalise oversize in show ring. Still some judges refuse to measure their entries and believe they are within sizelimits.

In our breeding program we have not included size yet. And before we will add something like this, we will collect more facts and see where the journey goes.
Right now you have to have a hip result A or B, a field trial with at least "Good" for nose, search and pointing, a CLAD test or herediatery free and one show result with minimum "Very Good". With that you can take part in this breed permission test, which is rather more a detailed description of your dog by three judges than a "test". Stud dogs are already published, bitches to come.
Only herediatery defects like entropium, too many missing teeth, missing testicles or bad temperament would be a reason to fail this test.
Size is mentioned and also marked if the dog is big, very big or oversized.
I don't think we will ban these dogs from breeding, but maybe one day allow only matings of oversized dogs with bitches of medium size. Let's see.

Strangely Czech Republic has a long tradition of IS as pure hunting dogs, mostly versatile used. And long fashioned was a size of +70 cm in stud dogs. Nowadays they have cut them a bit shorter, following the size that is written in the standard.

Until now we have started to collect as many details of our breeding stock as possible. so the commit
I really love the idea of the breed permission test!! It would help cut down on the entropian and bad hip problems which still surface in litters from time to time!! And to have them have the instinct for hunting is also a great idea!!
All wonderful ideas for the purists but what about the Irish as a companion dog. There are more IS in pet homes living the life of Reiley than there are in the field or in the ring. Are we to deny those that love this breed for what it is and only produce hunting dogs?
May I ask whether field trialers kennel their pure workers or do they live as companions as do the majority of the modern show dogs. Field trialers don't work all year long, what do they do when they are not working. Do they go out every day for training?
Christine...."Colour is not important"?????!!!!!!!!! It is of ABSOLUTE importance. It is the essence of the breed, it is why we have the Irish RED Setter, it is what sets this dog apart from all others. The colour is a recessive gene, it cannot be reproduced unless you breed Setter to Setter.
"Without form you would lose the breed"?.....Without type you would lose the breed.
If you want a crossbred working gundog there is nothing to stop you but don't play around with this most beautiful of the gundogs.
Carmel.....even show dogs have an instinct for hunting. You just have to watch their excitement at the sight of pheasant rising or bunnies popping up in the field or deer springing from the bracken...........oh yes many a time have mine given the deer a good run for their money. Instinct is there, and in bucketfulls.....it just needs to be tapped.
I did not say show dogs dont have the hunting instinct!!?? I was saying that I think its a good idea to test for the hunting instinct!! All mine have a desire to hunt which is why I'm training Abbey at the moment for her field qualification!!
Her mother Rua regularly pointed snipe!!




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