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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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You are right Cheryl, movement does not seem to be included in the Scale of Points but the standard states
" Gait: Free flowing, driving movement with true action when moved from front or rear and in profile, showing perfect co-ordination."
So your guess is as good as mine.........
I do know that there are exhibitors in Australia who have UK type dogs and present them the 'traditional' way. Please tell me how do the types compete against each other or do you have to choose the judges you enter under.
Well, that sometimes seems like a bit of a lottery. If we don't know the judge, we enter and take their opinion on the day. Judges from some States seem to prefer the UK type and from other States seem to prefer the USA type. Interestingly, recently our UK type dogs have been winning consistently under a number of different judges from different States of Australia. Obviously if we have been under a certain judge and they have not liked the UK type, we have no interest in giving them an entry in the future. I think sometimes that judges who primarily judge in states where there is a consolidation of one type are not exposed to the other type and I presume there are judges who prefer one type over another regardless of their exposure to the breed types and the standard. This has been raised before, but I think the judges training program is lacking and does not always allow for the judges to have their hands on the different types of IS either which may compound the problem. Also some more senior judges seem to be very impressed with the quality of the UK type dogs here in Aus so perhaps they remember the days when the breed didn't have the variation in type that we now see here and the loss of heads and structure.
Interesting to see that the tail only carries 4 points(so not considered very important)Whereas the coat and feathering carries 10 points (more important) Sickle tail is not a fault as the standard does not mention the shape of tail only how it is carried!! I see very many sickle tails carried well below the level of the back!
I would just like to add my piece about curly coats etc. I have seen the American line dogs have their coats groomed to extreme, hair straiteners being used etc etc and then the same dog when it has not been shown for a while have a WAVY and CURLY coat. In Europe there is not the emphasis on coat coat coat the dogs are presented well but do not have the additional grooming that some American line dogs do. In some way this is MIDLEADING the judges as may of these dogs also have a thin whispy texture to their coats but as long as the coat is straight the judges are happy to put them up as winners. I do not feel it is right to do this and put coat over conformation, howver some judges are also willing to put, light eyes, hard expressions, light coat colours, appalling back movement and straight fronts over good conformation infact I have seen judges place Irish as winners that are so far from the standard it is a shame for the breed. I have a combination of both in my kennels, so Michelle please do not feel I am having a dig at you but the coats on one of my guys is more appealing from the rest and he is from Sweden. Do I feel the Irish Setter has changed YES and sadly not for the better. They are being bred for glamour, GLAMOUR over health, temperament and most sadly all the beautiful breed characteristics such as that beautiful head shape, melting expression and deep rich colour. Now I also have Gordons and the Australian lines are beautiful being a combination of UK and American lines it has worked well and still kept all the nice breed points, the English Setter too has some very nice dogs indeed that are a combination of the two types again keeping some lovely breed points. So where is it going wrong with the Irish?????????????????????????????.
I think the discussion on coat has been exhausted. I have to say that I prefer the straighter coat than the wavy and I definitely don't like the cottony textured coat either!! I guess if owners love grooming their dog to minimise the knotting and/or straighten the waviness!! I think that as we have been talking about a cosmetic fault, it's not as detrimental to the breed as the other aspects of the breed which seems to have changed. As Joanne says "sadly not for the better".

I am more interested in why and how the structure of the Irish Setter has changed and what breeders are doing about it. The heads in the 1980's were absolutely terrible - snipey, too long and narrow skulls, head profiles very unparallel, however, I believe there has been some improvements in some lines in more recent years.

As has already been said in this forum, look at the whole dog, then I have to ask:

What is being done by breeders of today to improve the heads further, improve the lack of shoulder angulation and minimise the overexaggerated hind leg angulation? The gait on some Irish is appalling with a high stepping hackney action and the unsoundness of some dogs is a tragedy to watch. (Some appear to have 4 legs going in all directions!!!) It is so disappointing to see some dogs being campaigned who clearly do not exhibit the structural qualities of the Irish Setter!!

So, yes, I believe we all should look at the whole dog,....What are we doing to improve the whole dog???
Camilla, I do agree that we can't compare all dogs equally. especially here in Australia as we have great variation in type:

1. American type - American imports with a mix of Australian and American lines;
2. UK type - Australian lines with English and European imports;
3. Mixed UK/American type - Australian, English and American lines;

UK and Europe has the masses of UK type dogs, so I look forward to following the discussion on the changes that you all have seen in the IS over the last 50 years in your part of the world.

Some of the changes in the structure of IS in Australia have been so dramatic that sometimes a novice could think they were looking at different breeds and not just different types!!

I can only hope all Australian Breeders understand the responsibility that we all take on as caretakers of the of the breed for the future and it's not just about winning at dog shows!!!
Finn raises a topic question, whether r&w can be entered. Okay for me, r&w just like ALL cultures within IS (show only US and UK, dual, field trial, all round working) were influenced by dogs bred and/or owned by Maureen Mc Keever. Official division in breeds (=standards accepted) is within topics timeline. Another one - division over UK/USA. Both have differing standards but no division over breeds. Changes were within topics timeline. So in my eyes – all in. Your opinion?
Interesting that people see UK type and US type, Australian types, European lines etc. What happened to Irish type? Is it extinct?
I know nothing about show Irish Setters, but when over in Ireland at shows many of the Irish Setters being shown over there now seem to have more and more UK breeding behind them and are becoming indistinguishable from the UK dogs.
Is anybody in Ireland still breeding to preserve the older Irish lines? There were older lines of dogs who were more the Derrycrne type that could still work but did well in the show ring, like Parc na Glos and Mullencluain. Is there anything of that kind of breeding still being shown?
Who were the last show reds in Ireland who also ran in field trials and qualified in the field?
I know Trudy did qualifiers with some of her earlier Ardbraccans

I was interested to hear that the Irish Show and Field Gundog Society have recently started running a training group for people who want to get their setters and pointers through a qualifier

I know Trudy used to
Iknow trudy used to

I have started that training with Abbey to work towards her qualifier in the field and Trudy is working with one of her bitches also. Marc is our trainer!
Good luck, and I really hope you both succeed. Maybe if more people get interested it will encourage them to look back at the older distinctly Irish lines that could do both

Sill asking the question however, who is still breeding that kind of dog in Ireland, rather than importing English bloodlines?
Although I'm not an Irish Setter person, it is interesting to know. If we ever did another outcross with IRWS, we might need to track down some of those old Irish lines . I know there are still some of that type being bred and worked in France, but what about Ireland? Where are they?
Or has even Ireland divided into small light coloured Moanruad type dogs and show dogs with a lot of UK breeding behind them?
This isnt a loaded or political question, just a genuine inquiry from somebody who is dead ignorant about show reds :))
Most show dogs in Ireland are very much from UK lines.There are very few setters in the ring at the moment!! There are people breeding setters with a mixture of working and show lines but rarely seen in the ring! My ex husband has a tall, dark setter bitch from such a mix(some Ardbraccan, Derrycarne,) and she has good hunting instincts! She is just a pet though but they do exist;o)




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