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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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Cheryl wrote: "I'm not too sure that it is just so easy to make such a statement that the comments represent a change in interpretation."

All comes down to who teaches teachers .

Using only this book for training showjudges, might mean that its pics and drawings might look facts, not interpretations. This is what postings suggest and many UK (cultures) posters are from that period.

If you look at Figure 2 in Janice Roberts The Irish Setter (New York, 1978) and compare to drawing pp 19 in Irish Setters by Gilbert Leighton-Boyce (London 1973) it provides differences in a glimpse. Especially -but not only- angulation.

As for comments on Alcoholic and Shandon - since their time the standards of Ireland/FCI and UK were not changed on debated stuff. This means critics on both dogs mirror lack of education.
"All comes down to who teaches teachers . Using only this book for training showjudges, might mean that its pics and drawings might look facts, not interpretations. This is what postings suggest and many UK (cultures) posters are from that period."

I would be interested to know what reference books and materials are used to training show judges around the world. Do they use these types of books as references? What other resources?

"If you look at Figure 2 in Janice Roberts The Irish Setter (New York, 1978) and compare to drawing pp 19 in Irish Setters by Gilbert Leighton-Boyce (London 1973) it provides differences in a glimpse. Especially -but not only- angulation." Can you post the drawing on p19 of this book as I don't have it?

"comments on Alcoholic and Shandon - since their time the standards of Ireland/FCI and UK were not changed on debated stuff. This means critics on both dogs mirror lack of education."

I don't agree as the dogs that I posted "W. Gentleman" and "C. Prince Charming" both come from the same decade, so if people are critics of them, does that also mirror a lack of education? I was trying to point out that we are all looking at the same decade to see what has changed and we can bring to the discussion examples of dogs who exhibit strengths and weaknesses in their traits. No dog is perfect but a number of these dogs in discussion were awarded many wins. As I said, I think we can all pick out dogs from that era that represent our own point of view.

Should we be going back another decade and consider the impact of the PRA testing and removal of dogs from the gene pool? Did this impact the changes we are discussing? A number of dogs who exhibited the traits that you refer to, may not have been available to keep that type true without the associated health problems? So, dogs chosen exhibited more of the traits that others have referred to and then we see the changes established in history.?

Conflicting drawings of ideal Irish setters in books especially USA/UK raises the question Who is the real Mc Coy?

We had a popular tv game here entitled Wie van de Drie (which one of three). All presented themselves as say Mc Coy, only one really was. Quite often, the wrong one was chosen as real Mc Coy.

It is times of WC soccer and nearly summer, so probably most readers/contributors don't like to continue debate on details or curly elephants in diverse standards and interpretations and personal preferences.

So in my eyes it might be a good finish of this topic when we state in a few sentences who and why is the real Mc Coy and next turn to Summer and WC soccer, where rules are clear and nobody shouts it isnt a goal, because that guy has not enough fringes.

For me its quite clear my favorite Mc Coys are banned for whatever reason, documenting -as my favorites were within meanhwile nearly unchanged standards-, that it is certainly not rules what is at stake in this game, leaving the question: what was?
Henk, after 280 comments we have run full circle and no matter what anyone says, no matter how many counter arguments are put forward, you still insist on your interpretation of the standard being the correct one and your favourite examples being the real McCoys. You have skipped over Trudy's comment that "all the Derrycarnes I saw had some movement in their coat and feathering.................." and offering Derrycarne Courage as a dog with more feathering than any dog in the ring at the time. You have extracted sections from Colette's article which you say just prove your point. When, in fact Colette presents a very balanced argument for BOTH sides. You have discarded all the examples of 60s dogs that I along with others and now Cheryl have put forward and argued that my interpretation of the construction of the IS, especially in angulation, is incorrect and that critics of the dogs you favour "mirror lack of education". Very arrogant of you. Cheryl presents a good counter argument against that.
By the way, I never said that the working dogs were wavey as my experiences are with the show dogs, and there were many wavey coated dogs in the 60s and onwards.
I do take issue with you on angulation because you persist in disregarding the term"well bent" and even though there can be degrees of this and no one likes over angulation it still means "not straight".
Interesting to see the dog in the drawing on p 19 of Gilbert Leighton-Boyce's book showing forechest (or could that be chest fringes????)
You also expand Colette's point on snipey forefaces and say that they are going the other way. Well they might be in Europe but not in the UK. For that I blame the non-specialist judges who ignore, or probably aren't aware of the fine points of the IS which present it's unique type in favour of the big, hairy dogs that wizz round the ring. This is what will kill the breed.........and the same argument applies to the working dog if breeders concentrate on speed and agility and ignore type.
The dogs of the 60s are gone, diluted in the back of pedigrees and with the best will in the world, impossible to replicate. In reality, if breeders tried to maintain the old lines they would have to inbreed then where would the gene pool be, or the health of the dog? Your favourite McCoys, and mine too are not banned, they just cannot be reproduced any more.
Heartily agree with everything you've said here, Eva.
Well, I think this is a little “tongue in cheek” as surely Irish Setters are the “real McCoy” (unless there has been deliberate outcrossing done by breeders!). The diversion in type has occurred over time by breed selection and it seems clear that there were two types back in the 1960’s if we take into account the photos and the sketches of the points of an Irish Setter.
Cheryl, I don't think you can ever accuse Henk of being "tongue in cheek" on the subject of Irish Setters.

Yes you are right there was a difference of types back in the 1960's though I remember Rita Bryden Scotswood) saying that there was little difference between the early Hartsbournes and Wendovers. I believe the diferences became more apparent when the Hartsbournes and Brackenfields were joined together on Eileen Walker's death.
Point taken, but I presume the Real McCoy show actually had 3 who were so closely alike that it was hard to pick?

So, to use the same analogy, it means all Irish Setters look so much the same, that they are all the same type and you could quite easily pick the wrong one? This is curious to me as we are just discussing how much they have changed, so does that mean they haven't changed at all? Or have they all changed?
Thanks for posting this. Here is the one out of the Janice Roberts book. So with both sketches we see even back then that there were two types (or strains) emerging. Can we have comments on the differences of these two structures?

Good question Cheryl as for reference books&materials used for training show judges around the world. I'd like to see that one answered as wel.

Books here show especially in 70ties huge differences compared to other decades in breeds history. So a period of changes. If you want a lot in a glimpse, compare coverpictures on The New Irish Setter (Thompson), This Is the Irish Setter (Mc Donald Brearly), Irish Setters (Leighton-Boyce), The Irish Setter (Janice Roberts).

You disagree on my comment that critics on Alcoholic and Shandon mirror lack of education. Well thats where we agree to disagree. In my eyes an ideal life is permanent education.

As for your last questions, it is a very interesting topic apart. Ofcourse the testing period provided a giant genetic bottleneck. But all types present in the sixties had enough tested free numbers to survive.

I've scanned and sent the drawing in Leighton-Boyce's book on your request. A few more from books mentioned would enable readers to see more in a glimpse.
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. Nothing like the original Irish dog. Notice the large head.


American Red Setter - A side from the high Tail she looks like shes Irish.


Mix European- American






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