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KC backs outcrossing for English Setters and IRWS



So the KC and the AHT have recognised that the English Setter and the IRWS are two of the five most vulnerable breeds, with effective breeding populations which are so low that they are at risk of extinction. Strategies to be put to breed clubs will include outcrossing, importing new dogs and less breeding from popular sires

The Irish Kennel Club have recognised this already and accepted an outcross programme for IRWS last year, which the IRWSCGB objected to. Two articles criticising the IKC  outcross were published in a recent club newletter. So how are the breed club going to respond to this KC statement, based on research at the AHT?

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And I have no antagonism towards the IRWSCGB, never have had, only have problems with individual people who cant or wont face reality, and who turn any discussion about dog related issues into an opportunity to be personally offensive

Margaret, I don't recall having read the article written by Bill Rasbridge...memory is not what it used to be!.  Do you have a copy that you could post on this discussion.  I would be very interested.

I will try and find it for you, Eva, could take me a while to locate it though!

Thanks Margaret, am looking forward to reading it.

Ah, English buyers of the 80s were truly bamboozled then, believing that that the breed was almost extinct as we were told? And that the pedigrees of the founder IRWS accepted into the Pedigree Collection are myths?  Oh dear!

No. I don't remember Bill Rasbridge's article in 1983, listing IRWS dogs and lines available.   I do remember Breeders travelling to Ireland a lot during the 80s - perhaps using Mr Rasbridges list? In the first 10 years 18 different studs from Ireland were used and 29 different Irish bitches.

The one thing I remember, however was Mr Rasbridge's opposition to IRWS coming into the country at all  because they would "pollute the Irish Setters here" 

 A list of available dogs would have been pounced upon with delight if it had been known about.  We need some help here Irish Setter folk, if you know of this article, I would love to see it.

An Effective Population Size?  What does it mean?

I checked with the AHT:

"The Effected Population Size is estimated from the rate of inbreeding observed.  It is not an actual set of dogs but a virtual number.  You can think of it as the number of genomes contributing to the current breed, those genomes distributed through the population.

If a population has an effective size below 100, then it is expected that the effects of inbreeding will start to be seen - fertility problems, impaired immunity etc resulting in Inbreeding Depression.

For IRWS a 'revived' breed, an EPS of 50 is acceptable.

Perhaps it is worth pointing out that the EPS in IRWS could change with a change in breeding practices - less line-breeding would result in a decrease in inbreeding and increase the EPS"

A quick survey of the breed from the year 2000, shows line-breeding from two domminant kennels that radiate throughout the current breed population.  Will they change their practices? It's doubtful, but the damage has already been done 

Although the IRWS lifespan is around 11 - 15 years, the litter size around 9 - 14 and the fact that no new life-threatening hereditary conditions have been reported to the club or vetinarians, and the survey into Inbreeding Depression produced no evidence, the breed club pursues alternative strategies.

I hope the publication of the UK IRWS EPS does not cause 'shock horror' - perhaps other IRWS countries would publish theirs?



Ann... Hi.  I'm not really wanting to get in the middle of anything.... but ermmm when did the club have a turn around with regards to it's objections to the Irish outcross.  As in the summer it was quite definite in it's objections to the programme in it's current form.  The president of the club was not a "tad wary" but was more outraged and trying her hardest to lobby for all members to register their objections with the uk kennel club.

The IRWSCGB wrote to the Irish Kennel Club late 2011 saying the club objected to  outcrossing , nothing ambiguous about it. And the club president was urging members to object to the IKC outcross

So curious that according to Ann , the club has been consulting with the UK red  Irish Setter Clubs and the KC over outcrossing for the last year, so this started even before the IKC outcross was approved? The figures on effective breeding populations have been available from the AHT only for a couple of months, and the KC statement on the five most vulnerable breeds, based on these figures, and outlining strategies including outcrossing, was put out only last week

Ann now says the IRWSCGB isnt opposed to outcrossing. Something doesnt add up here.

So where does the IRWSCGB stand? And if consultations on outcrossing started a year ago, what did the club members know about it, did the president know about it , and what was the reason for it?

Of course , if the GB club is now accepting that they need to do something about the dwindling gene pool, this is definitely progress and to be welcomed

I'm afraid you are wrong here, Margaret.  I have a copy of the letter written to the IKC in front of me now. The letter does NOT object to outcrossing, it asks for clarification on points that could affect UK IRWS and ends with the genuine hope that we can work together in the interests of the breed.

There has never been any suggestion that the IKC cannot do what they like with their dogs but it is also important that UK IRWS owners should know what was happening in Ireland and express their views to the KC.  The lack of communication between Ireland and the IRWS world has caused a lot of confusion.

There was certainly a worry that the whole IRWS breed was not made aware of the problems forseen for the breed, that it was a done deal with France, that there were anomilies in the health requirements and the fact that countries with reciprocation with Ireland would have to accept the crossbreds.

I think you have forgotten, Margaret that I have been concerned about the close breeding  for many years - even before you came in - I urged people to consider Kestrel of Cherryfield when you bought him as an outcross and have spoken out about outcrossing within the breed frequently.  Outcrossing to another breed has only arisen recently - perhaps since people have had access to COIs.  But outcrossing to another breed is a step to be taken carefully - not only to get the best genetic advice, but a thorough understanding by all parties. 

By far the most difficult problem is getting the breed community to accept the outcross which is why a very clear logical step by step programme has to be agreed with the KC - and sold to the breed.  You have no idea how long this takes! and what opposition there is to it!

!By far the most difficult problem is getting the breed community to accept the outcross which is why a very clear logical step by step programme has to be agreed with the KC - and sold to the breed.  You have no idea how long this takes! and what opposition there is to it!"


So are you saying that what you are now doing/saying (which seems to have changed)  doesnt have the backing of the club membership?

And why is there such strong opposition? Because of the president's campaign to get people to object to the Irish outcross, because of articles in the breed newsletter and on the club website saying the breed doesnt need an outcross and objecting to the IKC  outcross ? Which threatens  the purity of the breed, and advising anybody importing from Ireland to carefully check provenance and pedigree to ensure purity? Suggesting breeders might find themselves with solid red puppies turning up in future litters (a genetic impossibility if you breed from two particolour parents)? No wonder club members are going to be hard to convince if you have now changed your views on outcrossing

The way the IKC went about the outcross was to hold public meetings  which anybody in Ireland with an interest in the breed, owners, breeders, show and FT judges, could attend and discuss the proposal . That way they got a mandate to go ahead - at the last meeting, I believe there were 47 people there, of whom two objected to the outcross and the rest supported it

Anyway, bickering about the IKC outcross isnt productive. I'm much more interested in knowing how the IRWSCGB and the English Setter club are reacting to the KC statement

Heavens Margaret, what are you talking about?

"Suggesting that breeders might find themselves with solid red puppies turning up in future litters (a genetic impossibility if you breed from two particoloured parents)"

No one I know of thinks or suggests that  But you will get solid red puppies if you breed a solid red dog to a particoloured dog.  The IKC recognises this in their Programme.

The trouble can occur where red x red & white  produces red puppies, mismarked red puppies and hopefully R/W puppies in the same litter and registers the R/W as IRWS and the red pups as Irish Setters and sells them as such to unsuspecting buyers.

And before you and Terry have a dicky fit, I am NOT talking of Ireland here.

You think having the backing of the breed club means all the members fall meekly into line?  You are sorely mistaken and completely out of touch with the membership.

I suggest you do indeed wait to find out how the IRWSCGB and the English Setters react to the KC statement before jumping to your own conclusions.

I'm sorry Ann, but please answer my question, because I am a fully paid up member (not that that should matter), I went to the club shows and I was personally lobbied to raise objections as was everyone else there that day.  If you have a letter stating the IRWSCGB's position to the IKC  which you can share then please do, or get someone who can speak for the club to comment on this discussion.  I only love the breed.  I believe very strongly that we should be trying to save this breed from the clutches of non existency and so was rather put out when something like an outcross was firmly rebuffed by the club.  I was told on the day that this current outcross was merely being done so that one irish gentleman (I don't know his name) could increase his working IRWS stock and so should not happen.  Although all the reading i have done on the subject would seem to suggest that it's a bit better thought out than that.




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