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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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Christine, this bitch is Australian bred, not US. and it is only the ear feathering that is long, not the ear itself.
she lives in hungary, so i know her quite well ;-)
I would be interested to know the pedigree.

In reference to "Australian Bred". This is a very broad statement for our Country as there are distinct differences in structure and coat in some of the Australian Bred lines/kennels. Can I say that the pedigrees need to be researched as certain lines have tried to stay true to the standard and others haven't. Some particular lines appear to have established extreme conformation and would certainly not look much like an IS from 50 years ago.

There are Australian bred dogs linking back to American imports and even though Australian Bred, would be a mix of Australian and American lines and the Australian lines may then link further back to previous American imports.

There are also UK type in Australia, Australian Bred though some have English imports and some have European imports.

There are then lines which are a mixture of Australian, American and English lines which are also Australian Bred.
Hello Laura,
Is this bitch from Pendoric lines. If so then she is mainly American.
Yes Christine, the FCI standard says hair on tips of ears short and fine.
But the AKC standard says Feathering long and silky on ears And The top third of the ears and the throat nearly to the breastbone are trimmed
I guess without trimming, quite a few European IRS would show the same amount of hair. That is critics you read in more views: too long, too thick (not fine in texture) and too much hair.
The dog on the picture left -Derrycarne Alcoholic- shows in my eyes the natural ear meant by the standard, guess it did not need trimming either. Thats what you still see in many working strains, no trimming needed either.
Yes thats on the rise in showrings & too much coat.

See coat dog left, not much on the chest. The Derrycarne Irish setter of the king of Belgium neither had much coat on the chest, is what the picture shows.

Nowadays in showrings, this type of coat is penalized because of "no showfringes". This is how a breed can change without a standard being changed. Next it needs inbreeding to keep this trendy fault in and thats how health is risked.
To quote from the Breed Standard reference coat....."On head, front of legs and tips of ears, short and fine, on all 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 hind legs long and fine. Fair amount of hair on belly, forming a nice fringe, which may extend on chest and throat. Feet well feathered between the toes. Tail to have fringe of moderately long hair decreasing in length as it approaches the point. All feathering to be as straight and flat as possible.
Faults: Any departure from the foregoing should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to it's degree and it's effect on the health and welfare of the dog, and on the dogs ability to perform it's traditional work...."

There is this overriding obsession with coat, to the exclusion of everything else and I will give you an example.........not the first time that this has occured......
This past weekend a continental friend was told by the judge that she considered her exhibit to have the best head, the best conformation and be the best and soundest mover in her class but she could not give her a 1st because there was wave in her coat! So in effect the judge was admitting that an exhibit could have a head like a bucket, shoulders half way up it's neck, tail carried like a sickle over it's back and be unsound but would win because it had a straight coat.........well the coat doesn't run around by itself, there is a dog under it.........judge the overall dog. Incidentally when did a coat "affect the health and welfare of the dog.
Also Henk......"fair amount of hair on belly forming a nice fring WHICH MAY EXTEND ON CHEST AND THOAT". That means HAIR ON CHEST.
I accept that waves and curles aren't to everyone's taste but it does say "as free from curl and wave AS POSSIBLE" so the standard is not absolutely unbending on this one.
I reiterate......judge the overall dog, fault judging only leaves you with mediocrity.
Henk, why don't you ever mention the Wendover dogs of Mr and Mrs James or the Hartsbournes of Eileen Walker or the Brackenfields of Sybil Lennox. They exerted a far greater influence on the breed post war than the Derrycarnes of Maureen Mckeever.
i would agree with you there is far to much emphasis put on coat these days ..construction type and soundness are my priorities in all breeds
best wish's Carol G
Hi Henk
Back when I first started showing setters in 1974 in Australia we mainly had dogs decended from UK lines. (Wendover Shandy of Casimia,Wonderful of Acres,Gaelge Moval Red Admiral and some dogs from the Hartsbourne kennels) To go back to get American lines we would have to go back to the Echo Kennel which were pre WW2.Even then we in Australia did not trim ears. Maybe some of the working dogs may have short feathering due to grass burrs and bindis being combed or brushed out. I believe some working dogs get brushed occasionally.In oz we do what looks best and use either standard because basiclly the standard can have a wide interpretation.
Cheers Rick
Hi Christine
Some of our recent English imports have lovely ear now that they have been let grow naturally.
Cheers Rick
This is an explanation of the choice for Derrycarnes as a kick off. I hope it will lead to quality discussion. Ofcourse any other pic is welcome to document a stance that the breed did or did not change in half a century.

The choice for Derrycarnes in this topic instead of Wendover or Hartsbourne to kick of this topic was made under more because she bred or owned keydogs for working AND show.

Plus: she died in 2005 so covers most op the fifty years period mentioned in which the breed has not changed according to more contributors in other topics.

Eileen Walker (Hartsbourne) and Jimmy James (Wendover) did indeed influence the SHOWbreed post war more than the Derrycarnes of Maureen Mc Keever. But both died sooner. Both entered her dogs in their breeding scheme. That is an extra argument for the choice for Derrycarnes: she had the okay of your well repected UK topbreeders. So that we can kick off with an example that is okay for all parties who chose to debate here.

As more recent setterfans may not know how big exactly the influence of Marueen Mc Keever was, just a few facts. The main tail male line of descent in European working IRS/IRWS traces back to Derrycarne Uisgebeata. One bitch figures prominently in all pedigrees of all cultures show and work worldwide.


As for the coat discussion. Eva quotes the standard, but interpretes wrong (in my eyes). The phrase MAY extend to chest and throat does not mean MUST extend.

This is a good example of how interpretations start living their own life. Recently a (working) dog with a report that did note a few qualiities now rare in showrings, was degraded because of this. He was a descendant of ....Derrycarnes!!!

Neither your Eileen Walker or Jimmy James would EVER think of degrading a dog because of lack of showfringes , on the contrary they would USE that dog if it were so good.
Henk, I accept your points on the Derrycarnes and it is a good point to start. Your roots are with the working dogs, mine are with the show dogs. Unfortunately I wasn't involved in the early post war years but the dogs that made the first impression for me (and only from photos because I never saw them) were ShCh Wendover Royalist (in dogs) and Ch Hartsbourne Popsy (in bitches), Neither seemed heavily coated but their coats had movement, their heads were gorgeous, their make and shape absolutely beautiful and above all they had quality. Royalist was whelped in 1967 and Popsy in 1948. Popsy held the bitch breed record for ccs until ShCh Glendronach Girl took it of her in 1985. She was also a great producer......5 show champions in 2 litters. Of course there were many others.....ShCh Wendover Gentleman, ShCh Cornevon Primrose etc etc, all beautiful and influential Irish.

As for the coat discussion.......with words like MAY, AS POSSIBLE, MODERATELY LONG it leaves the standard open to interpretation. Henk feels my interpretation is wrong, however by saying "MAY extend to chest and throat" it allows chest hair to exist......assuming of course that the dog HAS a chest, which the dog on the left of the Derrycarne picture doesn't. However, the dog on the right does, and has much more hair SO which one is correct, the Derrycarne on the left or the Derrycarne on the right. I suspect that the left hand dog resembles more closely the dogs that Henk favours which is why he has set it up as an example. Nevertheless when you have words that are ambiguous in the standard differing interpratation is inevitable. As I said before, everyone sees the standard in their own dog.

Neither Eileen Walker or Jimmy James would EVER discount a dog BECAUSE of coat texture either and most of their dogs had movement in their coats. There are many breeders now who put head, conformation and movement above coat but most importantly TYPE. Without that there is no Irish Setter, just a red dog.

Lets finish the discussion on coat and move on from curles and waves. Henk mentions Spaniel ears. I wish, at least it is a gundog. To me they more closely resemble the ears of an afghan. When you add a wealth of long, silky body coat, fringes almost down to the ground and a tail carried like a sickle over the back than an afghan is what you have. Unfortunately, there are more and more dogs on the continent, particularly American imports and dogs bred on from them which look like that.........comments please.




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