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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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Thanks all contributors for joining this topic. Summer & soccer and a trip to Hungary makes it difficult to continue contributing for me. So I'd like to close it end of this week.

The number of contributions shows there is huge interest in the topic. It could win in quality when cultures not or nearly not present here (a few main centers of the working world) would have joined just like during the world congress in Dublin on divergence of type in Irish setters, held in 1995.
In each case some snowed under history of Derrycarne Irish setters is shining again.

It was interesting to read in a post from Terry O'Leary that the Irish red and white setter has in one litter a Show champion GB and an Irish field trial champion. It looks red and whites are now where this topics timelines start (sixties) for Irish (red) setters.

Who won, who lost since the sixties? Would the Derrycarnes still be able to influence all cultures in Irish setters? Judging from postings I'd say no. Devils Dearest is dead and gone. That means for me the breed has lost...
" interesting to read in a post from Terry O'Leary that the Irish red and white setter has in one litter a Show champion and an Irish field trial champion. It looks red and whites are now where this topics timelines start (sixties) for Irish (red) setters."

What Terry forgot to say is this litter also includes another bitch who is both an Irish Sh Ch AND an Int FTCH. And this bitch has produced offspring who include a dual Int Ch, another who is being both shown and field trialled in France, some others who are being shown , and the only IRWS currently running in UK field trials. Her grandson who is an Irish Sh Ch also won a field trial in Ireland last year, the first Irish Sh Ch to win a trial in 26 years
So yes, it is still possible with IRWS,the big problem is that there are so few people who really want to do both, so the show dogs and the FT dogs drift further apart
God you two.... you're like the knell of doom!!!! You speak as though all is absolutely lost, but it is not. If the IS whether Red or Red and White were only to used as a hunting dog then he would have a very limited following among only those that are able to find the time, the facilities and of course, the birds whose numbers, you readily admit, are diminishing. Do you want the breed to die because it cannot work? The fact that the IS is also a successful show dog and companion dog means that it can be appreciated and worshipped by many more. Be happy that you are still able to work your dogs and be happy for us that we can own and enjoy this lovely breed too. The Devil Dog lives on and always will.
More dies. Note the preface of our best book on setters and pointers, written by captain G.J. Verweij: "Their beauty is the beauty of a dog, fit for its function" He wrote in a time when there was nearly no red setter in fields here. This knowledge is vanishing.
"Do you want the breed to die because it cannot work? "

If the IRWS became purely a show dog, I would have no interest in continuing to breed or own them. I would go back to working springers, my first love
But the working IRWS is very much alive and well in Ireland, in fact looking at current registrations I would guess that there are more new litters in Ireland than in the UK, and the Irish litters are all working bred. The main problem with the litters bred in Ireland is that they are from a pretty narrow gene pool

But so are the show bred dogs in the UK. Really the two groups need each other, but if breeders are interested in only showing or only working, there is an inevitable drift apart , The show people wont use the working dogs because the type is different, the working people wont use the show dogs because they have lost working ability.
And that is bad for the genetic health of the breed

I try to breed dogs who are acceptable to both sides,but if few people in the UK actually want to own dogs who can be shown but still work to a high standard, then what is the point of trying? I'm happy to export dogs to countries like Norway and Germany where there are people who want both, thats mainly what keeps me going
Out of my last litter from Ir Sh Ch Dalriach Auchindoun x Ital and Int FTCH , Ir Sh Ch Pepperstown Polly,health tested for everything, I got not a single inquiry from the UK, two went to the US, two to Norway, two to Germany, all to people who really wanted a genuine dual dog. They are one of the best litters I have ever had, I kept two more
What is your dog's name? What is his breeding?
That reminds me of quite a few Sulhamsteads being descendants of showstock. She stopped breeding IS in 1964 and her dogs went to many cultures like Denmark, Ireland (Moanruads-still eminent line in IRS/IRWS) and USA, but play no role of importance anymore in UK lineage. I always wondered why the Irish setter association of England still came up with pictures of her dogs for the divergence debate in 1995 in Dublin.
Henk I find it quite amusing that all these famous blood lines which are supposed to be extinct in England:- Sulhampsteads,Derrycarnes,Menaifrons Mullencluins are still here in the background of the Mrs Tuite,s Rua Irish setters and my Porschet Irish setters.Maybe they play no role of importance in UK linage but that is your loss.I can look out into the garden and see my show dogs pointing wood pidgeons! In 1970 my Mother imported an Irish bred bitch Beggars Bairn Grand daughter of Irish Ch Mullencluin Missioner with many lines to Derrycarnes and lines to Red Sun Roland of the Rand.Mrs McKeiver was very proud that her background lines featured behind the Crufts best in show winner Ch Astleys Portia of Rua. Progeny of Beggars Bairn is behind all our working Irish setters as well through the association of Carol of Dunroon who brought in the Sulhampsteads and Menafrons and later a further link was made to Irish ch Bagatelle Argot when Ruas Affluent Shannon was mated to Maid of the river.It is a sad fact of life that people do not realize the importance or value of bloodlines until it is too late.My Mother and I still have these lines!

Our working blood lines have integrated field trial animals which were of a nice make and shape with many good breed qualities over a period of nearly 40 years to get what we now have which is nice looking working dogs.

In answer to has the breed changed in the last 50 years well i think so in both the show and working side. There is not the depth of type of dogs with the outline and basic shape that i associate with the typical irish setter show dogs.There is a large tendancy at the moment to get more short coupled curvacous animals in the show ring.

At field trials some Irish have become so small,and a large number of working Irish setters have become yellowy in coat colour.(Maybe this is from progeny of a particular bloodline). However a few years ago i went to a field trial in the Dublin mountains and was pleasantly surprised by how nice most of the dogs were!

I have never in 36 years of field trials (with some breaks in between) ever seen a working Irish with a wavy coat.The working Irish and Irish red and whites seem to have adequate coats and fringes.

In Mrs Nagles's day at the spring trials on Partridge and Pheasants dogs would be required to be methodical in their ground work.and would not range too far ie the beats were much smaller than the beats allowed in todays trials.Alf Manners the handler for Lord Ranks pointers commented once to my Mother about how thorough her Suriats Sweet Syllabub of rua was in her ground treatment and advised My Mother not to lose that.A slower and tighter quartering dog was more likely to find the Partridge in the furrows of the ploughed up field. Nowadays most of the trial dogs come back from the early spring trials in Scotland on grouse and run in the same manner without adapting their style of work,consequently they may be far to far away from the handler when they point and thus the game rises without the dog getting to work it out.

I have witnessed slower larger animals particularly Irish red and whites being penalised when the first prize was with held and they were awarded a 2nd.
I remember a Ch stake on grouse some years ago where it was very windy,again in those circumstances a slower dog would have the advantage. One could even argue that the dog who can adapt to the weather conditions deserves to win, yet there is still the demand for speed and that usually equates to a smaller lithesome athlete.Not some lumbering beast!

Some years ago there were a lot of very snipey headed Irish setter in both spheres but this seems to have improved enormously.
Hi Henk,
I just came across this message board. I have been an owner of an American Red Setter out of FT lines. Unfortunately she just passed away. I never trialed with her but we hiked about 4 times a week. What I have read about the original Irish Setter is that it they had an incredible nose and were extremely fast dogs. In the Irish moores grouse and snipe were less prevalent then in Scotland and England. They needed a dog that was able to withstand very bad weather conditions and run all day. They needed to beable to run the moores at great speeds with wide ranges. The red dog had more stamina then the other three setters. The dog was much smaller then the bench dog, had much less of a coat and had much shorter ears. The gate was much racier then the dog today. The Irish were quite poor at the time and were not able to spend as much money on their dogs as the English. The lack of money detered them from advancing the breed. Most pointers and setters have been crossed at some point. The reason the IS and the IRWS have been so controversal is due to the show people. They changed the breed so much that it became an unfunctional dog. All breeds need to be functional. No dog should be represented as a sporting dog unless it can do the job. When the setters and pointers first arrived in the US the red setter was a great hunter. The pointer was not allowed in the trials. The pointer field emthusists crossed the pointer with field trial English Setters. Again it was under the table. Because it was not as obvious as the setters they were all considered AKC. All the setters have been crossed at some point. The IS in Europe were gorgeous. The majority had white on them The show people didn't think they were pretty enough so they created the bench dog. The dogs head was immediately changed. But the brain size stayed the same. When a head is enlarged the way the IS's was their intelligience automatically gets effected. The long ears and coats were absolutely not realistic in the field. Due to thier size they were unable to keep up with the pointers and llewellin setters. Sadly to say the setter was just about off the field. As in my opinion there is nothing more beautiful then seeing any of the setters working. An Irish woman I ran into on the street told me an Irish running in the moores is just magical. A group of IRS enthsiasts refused to let the breed go. Through careful breeding they created the AFBRS. Of all the dogs in the show ring I feel the setters are the only dogs that don't look like hunting dogs. Even the Vizsla that will be the next dog off the circuit looks functional. Who ever said that the bench people don't want their dogs mixed with IRS's is not properly informed. I know as a fact that bench breeders are adding field lines to their breeding. They want to beable to compete in the events. They want to bring the speed and hunting instinct back. I follow field trials the bench dogs maybe win one out of every 500 trials. In my eyes the bench setter folks should be proud to see their dogs trialing with some of the best english and pointers. All breeds have a show and filed dogs. It really is not fair. If you ask a hunter to breed his dog with show dog they absolutely don't wan't it. They feel they spent years trying to gain respect on the field. Only puppy mills do it. Look at the German shorthairs you will notice all the big field trialers have a large amount of white on them. The GS is a great hunter and very versatile but it was not bred for speed. It was crossed with the AFBP in the 70's. All of these dogs are AKC. I will include some pictures of various dogs. This will help people see the difference in the setters over the years. For me it is good for others it is not. I feel a dog is healthy and gets less of everything when it is left to what it was bred to do. I don't mean to insult anyone but it is just reality.

Original Irish Setter- Aside from the low tail it looks very much like an American red setter.


Bench Red Setter. Looks like a totally different dog. Does not look like a hunting breed.


American Red Setter - Aside from the high Tail look like the original.


European American

Hi All
Wow! I have just had a look at the Derrycarne attachments that is at the start of this topic. To my suprise their heads are not to dissimilar to a lot of our Aussie dogs. I reckon that they are closer in head type to our dogs than the American imports that are now here and have previosly come. So in all probability we got our beaut heads from Irish/UK bloodlines. Coats have greatly improved because of better hygene,diet,vetinary care and the world is also a more wealthy place were most of us have higher living standards than those in the sixties.
Cheers Everyone
Blimey Ricky.....the 60s weren't the dark ages you know. We had pretty good living standards then, plus hygene plus electricity and running water.......apologies, am being facetious!!!!!!!
Gennadi....."I would prefer the whole breed dead, then to see no red dogs in the field"......well I would assume that as long as there are birds there will be bird dogs so, hopefully, the breed will live forever.
On a serious side, Margaret, you pose the classic dilemma of wanting to show a dual purpose IRWS and in that you are successful. This is an enviable position to be in. But you are right, the show people don't want to use the pure working dogs if all they are going to do is show. The field trialers won't use the show dogs because they feel that not only have they lost their working ability they don't like their size, their weight but especially their coat which they think excessive. Each could potentially give much to the other, widen the gene pool as a start. When even show dogs who successfully run a qualifier are looked down on by the working fraternity you wonder, frankly, whether there is any point. If there is to be a coming together then attitudes would need to change on both sides........somehow I cannot see that happening.




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