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Media highlight Irish setter as a sick animal

The image of the Irish setter got another big blow in Dutch media this week because a breeder was fined to pay 6000 euro for selling and subsequently denying primary epilepsy in a dog. Nearly all media, from national television to dailies and social media focused on this. Last year it was only television, now the impact is way broader. What do you think, is there a way to get out of this misery? And how?

http://www.eenvandaag.nl/binnenland/42311/bom_onder_fokbeleid_

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Absolutely, Georgina!

You will remember when we were showing Irish setters 40+ years ago, we hardly ever had to take them to the vet!  Except for vaccination, we never darkened the surgery doors!

I feel I must add a bit here about the IRWS database.  It consists mainly of recording every litter born in the UK since 1979 and some overseas litters too.  The litters are recorded chronologically and include sire, dam, date of birth, names of males, names of females, where they are exported to, the results of health tests - CLAD, vWD, Eye tests, Hip Scores and the COI of the litter.  All these facts are in the public domain, published quarterly by the Kennel Club Limited in the Breed Records Supplement.

The only confidential table is 'Special Conditions' which contains reports volunteered by owners or breeders - a collection of the cases of different conditions, causes of death and treatments, if any.

If the incidence of a particular disease reaches a noticable number, an investigation by the health committee takes place, with the knowledge of the owners of the dogs involved and the conclusions reported to the breed via the Newsletter where owners/breeders respond with their own investigations and a strategy for coping with the disease is established eg. CLAd and vWD.

Anyone can ask about a certain dog or the prevalence of a particular condition; it is discussed and enquirers are referred to the owner for the information, if needed.... the confidentiality is that a dog's name is not bandied about as fuel for rumour and finger-pointing.  IRWS owners generally, are not 'precious' about their dogs' health, talk about it regularly - because the mantra was established 30 years ago that, "to produce a mistake (ie disease etc) is unmeant and accidental, but to repeat the mistake is a crime against the breed."  In the atmosphere of the breed, there is much more stigma hiding a condition than owning up to one and there is terrific support for the efforts to be taken in combatting it.  And in a breed population as small as ours, most everyone knows everyone else.

Don't get me wrong, this attitude stems from the shaky beginnings of the breed in the UK that knit owners/breeders together, where breeding 'healthy IRWS' was the aim, not 'breeding show dogs' or 'breeding working dogs'.  Things are different today and I fear people are much less altruistic - but the principle still holds at the moment.

 

Thank goodness Ann that you have such a grasp of IRWS and overall health.  Me thinks you will be roped in to assist Henk when he gathers his team together to get the data base off the ground.  Your presentation of the facts is clear and concise, your knowledge sound and your  intentions 100%.   I'm going to call you the "Terrific Three Team" aka TTT because a unity of your experience and knowledge would be such a sound base from which to launch future planning, this being over the 4 types of IS and IRW, invaluable.

I'm going out now to play in the snow, childish - yea I know but the dogs are so funny it's irresistable.  My rescued dalmation, Totty, has a wicked sense of humour.  Yesterday when Jemima (PRT) and Phoebe (cocker) had their heads down a huge tuft of grass, mousing, Tots crept up behind them and gave a loud bark.   She then trotted off and glanced back I'm sure with a smirk on her face.  J&P were astonished, their little faces covered in soil, hilarious.  I nearly had a "tena" moment I laughed so much.

Anyway, keep safe. 

Ann, thanks for another post full of quality information. Your attention please for this post especially where Ann states ``the mantra was established 30 years ago that, "to produce a mistake (ie disease etc) is unmeant and accidental, but to repeat the mistake is a crime against the breed."

Ann asked ``You say that Crossbreeding Irish Setters x IRWS is in full swing now in many countries.  Can you tell me, please, if it is all under the auspices of the Irish Kennel Club's Outcross Programme?``

Yes, in full swing. Alas, people participating seem not active on this forum anymore,

I am not active in it. Answers on questions are on http://ikc.ie/international-outcross-programme-irish-red-and-white-.... It ends with ``This is an important opportunity to address the problems of a restricted gene pool and secure the future of the Irish Red & White Setter.``

As for practical knowledge, the latest crossbred litter born Christmas 2012 in the Netherlands. Sire is IRS Buccaneer NHSB 2806067 his sire Pallas Green Graton Lad his dam Drumrue Kerry IKC X37213. See Michelle Websters pedigree site.

You will probably know the dam, an IRWS SpecialGift for Shadow (Sandy), a picture of her is on http://www.iersesetter.com/site67/index.php?option=com_content&...

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Hi Sue Humphrey, 40 years of being involved with Irish and the experience of buying, unwittingly, "sick" puppies from established breeders, asking for advice from established breeders on breeding programmes and producing "sick" puppies and hearing the "gossip" around the benches.   Nobody brave enough to challenge whether it was idle gossip or factual.    AND THE VERY REASON WHY HENK STARTED THIS PARTICULAR BLOG.  Remember Sam????  I do not wish to enter into arguments.  I stopped showing because it all became too competitive, money driven and I personally felt that there would be a time when law suits would ensue - please read my previous blogs.  The bitches from whom I had litters, because I wanted to have a puppy to show, not to swell my bank account, were similarly bred to 100s of other setters being shown at that time.  I, apparently, was the only one who had the misfortune to breed a litter of puppies suffering from hd and entropian - poppycock.  What I was experiencing during that time many others were too but they chose to ignore the problems and fear that they would offend "the establishment" and therefore lessen their opportunity to further their own self interest within the breed.

My recent experience when buying a setter puppy was shameful.  I did not proceed with the purchase.  I wanted the puppy purely as a pet, the litter was gorgeous and in reality any of the puppies would have suited my needs.  However, there was one puppy that I took a particular liking to and he was identified by the colour of his collar.  The breeder had explained that someone wanted to show and this particular puppy was in the running.  I happily accpeted this and understood totally.   However, after the weekend had passed, I rang the breeder prepared to accept my second choice and was delighted when the breeder told me that the puppy I wanted was available, that my second choice had been chosen by the show home.  I was thrilled, arranged with my friend to go with me to collect my puppy AND THEN I READ A BLOG ON ES BY THE PURCHASER OF THEIR PUPPY FROM THIS LITTER TELLING THE BREEDER THAT THEY MAY USE THE COLOUR OF THE COLLAR AS THE PET NAME FOR THEIR PUPPY.  I contacted the breeder because there was clearly a question.  I was told by the breeder that the collars had been swapped by mistake and blah blah blah.  Honesty is always the best policy.  As previously stated I would have been perfectly happy with second choice but was so disgusted by the breeders tactics I withdrew from the purchase.  I went off and purchased a lovely little working cocker from a lady who had had a litter, privately.   I wondered thereafter, as did my friends, whether the show purchaser actually got the puppy she really wanted or did the breeder try and mislead them too.  Do I have offiicial data - no I don't in answer to your question, hostility is absolutely pointless and will kill off this debate and consequently attempts at finding a system to facilitate resolution, beneficial to all parties.  I'll say it again, honesty and openess without fear of litigation, genuine points of view and considered intelligent contributions are what is needed.   Please accept my reply as friendly, it can be so easy to misunderstand the written word when one doesn't know the writer personally.  I am a "bear of little brain" and have never prenteded that I have knowledge on a more intelligent level as Susan Stone, Ann Millington and Henk possess but I do have an undying love for all dogs in general in the same way as you do Sue.

Mmm, agree BHA and so did we in our day but because we trusted those who offered the information  were ultimately devasted about the outcome.  Not sure where the working v show has been indicated.  They are all, in fact one breed, they have just diversified.  One for beauty, one for ability.  Both types actually have beauty and ability just in a different way.  As previously explained to Sue, the law of averages has shown that show lines appear to have more health issues WHY? because the working fraternity have not bred in such numbers and therefore the likelihood of inbreeding to a particular line and problems arising is likely to be less contrary to show lines.  Also they are breeding for ability, regardless of whether the dog is heavy in head, weak feet, high tail, poor coat etc etc, so the mixture of parentage is going to be greater.  I assume that in the main, actually like show setters, some have better ability in the field and show more natural attributes.  Things that are going to make a dog or horse breakdown such as bad feet whilst working, will be addressed naturally because they can't do their job no matter how good are their noses.  Please do not bring in this old hat THEY ARE IRISH SETTERS ONE AND ALL.  WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS, ONE AND ALL!

You have repeated what I have already written Sue re ratios of show/wkg.  Law of averages means if there are 100 dogs show setters bred then there is a chance of say 5 having a problem.  If only 20 dogs wkg setters are bred then there is a chance that only 1 will have a problem.  Therefore there is a 5 to 1 ratio.  It was the same in the 60/70s when the Mini was deemed to be a dangerous car to drive.  The reason was it was because it was involved in so many accidents.  The truth was was that it was not dangerous, because there were probably 10 minis to every other saloon being driven at the time.

The law of averages raises it's head again because inevitably there were more of them on the road then they were more likely to be involved in accidents.   Hence show/work.   I'm not quoting literally, it is just a way of trying to explain what I am saying.  Therefore, more show setters bred, results in more health problems apparently but factually, proportionately that may not be the case.   But until the open, honest, transparent health data base is established we will never know.   Hopefully this clarifies what I had already written and what you have repeated.

 

 

I don't understand your post.....we are just starting to put ideas forward....but you are most welcomed to bow out if it is too boring for you! :-)

Hi Sue, Yes, simple, the breed clubs.  They are non profit organisations, so excess funds after reasonable expenses have been settled should be used to this purpose.  No question.  They are formed to serve the breed not the members, and if it means that one less championship show has to be funded a year to facilitate the health and well being of the breed then so be it.  At the end of the day Sue, no Irish Setters, equals no shows so funds spent in favour of health issues is far better than beauty parades. 

The breeder was deceiptful she misled a purchaser/s.  If that hadn't been her intent then she would have simply told me the "chosen one" had been picked and I would have bought the second.  It was very telling that once she realised that I had seen the blog she set her site to private.  When I spoke to her she was very, very uncomfortable with her explanation.  I may look like a cabbage but truly I am not one.  But this is irrelevant to Henk's message which is solving health issues within the breed.   I used the incident as an analgy to encourage breeders to be honest because they will caught out in the end, how ever clever they think they are and for however long the deceipt is perpetrated.  Sam's breeder is testamount to that fact.

If the health of IS has improved over the last 35/40 years why is there such activity about health issues on this site?   As an idealist I would love that to be so but because I haven't shown for 12 years I am no longer on the "shop floor" and don't honestly know that this truly is the case, healthier setters then BRAVO.

What I am saying is that there must have been a lot of people, breeding lots of puppies, when the breed was at it's "hottest" several BIS at Crufts being the main downfall.   Of those hundreds of puppies bred, many, many of them must have been affected/carriers by goodness knows what.  I did try and explain that when I showed,  there were smaller pockets of breeders and the gene pool had more of a chance of recovering if something was identified, and these breeders I believe were the true guardians of the breed. They were breeding occassionally for stock to run on and were selling in the main to the pet market.  They got to know their purchasers before point of sale and therefore went out of their way to only sell sound healthy puppies.  I imagine that if there had been a problem they would do their utmost to solve it.  I certainly did when I had a dreadful litter that contained 2 hds and 2 entropians.   The people who are striving for big winners, become successful, are in the main selling their puppies  to like minded people and they are going to get careless eventually.  The reason being that they are breeding from everything they have, taking picks of litters from stud services and because they become overwhelmed will off load their puppies without thorough investigation.    Those of us who have litters of puppies know how stressful, exhausting, emotional it is to rear the litter successfully, we only do it occassionally and therefore can be selective about homing.  When in a position of breeding several litters a year with possible p.o.l added to equation, mounting costs, and a desire to get back into the ring as quickly as possible so as not to miss any accolades, it is easy to see why they may offload carelessly.  Again I am not definately saying all breeders do it and I do not wish to be rude.  When you produced your figures of puppy registrations I did raise the question of how many of the 890ish puppies registered were similarly bred.  I also stated that totalling the number of puppies registered was alarming in itself and that the figures displayed were only a few of the gundog breeds and none of the other groups. The totals must be enormous.  Did you manage to find out the stats, it would be really interesting to know.   When a kennel becomes overly succesfull people who want to emulate that success will buy/use those bloodlines and then there is inevitably a catastrophic affect on a breed.  The gene pool whizzes down dramatically.

Obviously medical confirmation of health conditions has to be included, and a public access database will work if everyone is h.o. etc etc. 

It would be best for protection of type if IS can independantly regain their strength without oustide influence

but I think that there are people out there trying to be proactive rather than reactive if the breed becomes seriously endangered.    It may well be that they have to start backwards before proceeding, i.e. asking anyone like us who had litters with problems to supply those pedigrees, see if there are links/patterns and building the pyramid from there.  In my heart, though, honestly, I think there will have to be a rebirth of the breed eventually.  Maybe not now immediately, but sooner than we think.  And thank god we have Henk, Ann and Susan and you and everyone else who is seriously, devotedly interested in the breed to enable it to carry on and be honest and strong.

Susan, the class sizes of today are extremely low, when we showed there were upwards of 30 PER CLASS, if you have catalogues from 70s/80s it is an unrefutable fact.  There were many, many puppies bred.  In those days, not all of the puppies were registered.  Breeders would decide what they were keeping, register those, and the rest of the litter would be sold unregistered to pet owners.   You seem to be easily insulted... I am most definately not saying winning show people offload their puppies.  I am saying that breeders who have more than one litter every year will become careless.    You are good with info so I had assumed that you would have the details of how the 890 plus puppies were bred hence my asking you because it would be fascinating.  Yes I could do it, you are quite correct. PLEASE READ WHAT I'VE WRITTEN, YOU SEEM TO JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS and consequently misunderstood.  I didn't say they were more honest, to the contrary I was saying that they abused their position as long established breeders who knew there was a problem but palmed off stock that was unhealthy.   Denying to themselves that they should have alerted purchasers that there was a potential problem.   They didn't lie, they just didn't inform, quite different.  Exactly in the way as Sam's breeder and again I will say it, the reason Henk started this blog.

Georgina,
I have not been in Irish 40 years but only 30 years and I realise now reading your reply that I must have been rather lucky when buying my puppies, although not all plain sailing, when I had the pick of the males ( as my boy was the sire of that litter) the breeder realising I had made my first choice on a puppy with the Palmerston white blaze, chose to put white Tippex on the head of all the other males to try to make me change my mind! This puppy was my number 6 Irish setter so I was not that naive anymore! But , yes you are wright some breeders are less than honest when it comes to disclosing health problems in their litter. So perhaps, this is why Sue thinks the state of health has improved? I , like you, think the lack of transparency is a big problem. Perhaps we should make more difficult for breeders to register their litters? Perhaps there should be more questions on the health of both parents before the litter is registered ?

Too right Catherine.  I remember you when you were starting out and came to the Rescue Show in Derby with your husband.  I think your bloodline interest was Brackenfield/Hartsbourne and you have had some lovely stock  but I've been out of the ring so don't know how you progressed.   I'd forgotten the word, transparency, must remember it because Catherine it says exactly what I mean.    I am positive that Sue H is much more able to outline the state of the breed factually, today and thus I respect her view, it is very valid, probably more so than mine.   Definately agree the kennel club should have more involvement in the control of registration, they will increase their charges for all of their services, if they go down this road though because they will not want to lose this income stream.   They too were originally established for the welfare of dogs,not be an old boys club for the "great and the good".  They shouldn't be a profit making organisation, and again excess funds after costs, should be spent dealing with dog welfare and education.

G

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