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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?


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Henk, can you provide an English translation (paraphrased ok) of the video?

IMO, the breeders have to take responsibility, but it would help to understand more of what is being said.

Christina, the first paragraph of Susans reaction says it all in a nutshell. 

I don't underatnd much dutch! But if I understand correctly it sounds as if the breeder denied all responsibility and blamed the owner for causing the dog to become epileptic! Breeders are being held responsible for not telling potential puppy buysers of the health risks that may be in the breed lines.

I believe every country has different laws concerning sales guarantees. In Switzerland the seller of a dog is liable just as the seller of any other object. As from 2013 two years guarantee is the legal requirement which can not be waivered. Obviously with live animals this is going to be more difficult than when seeling a dishwasher or a car! But the breeder must take all precautions to avoid any future suffering - and by Swiss law that means breeding from healthy parents (health tests!) and not breeding two partners where a problem is LIKELY to occur in the progeny. From the time of sale the breeder is still liable for the pup for two years, even for problems not visible at the time of sale. It is not legal to make out a sales contract that limits liability. This is not the same in all countries I know.

What is upsetting in the media coverage is that they say pedigree dogs are by definition unhealthy. I fear this will cause more and more people to pay high prices for pups of unknown background simply thinking it will be healthier than the dog with a pedigree from a reputable breeder. Badly socialised pups, sales via internet platforms, puppy farming etc will lead to more problems of temperament and health! So it could be that such media coverage is short sighted...


Susan, short sighted is a problem, but I doubt if it is media responsible here. Alas it was a reputable breeder here and alas a kennel from which many other kennels in the Netherlands had their founding material and subsequently started inbreeding. Thats why makers of the documentary probably chose Bom onder fokbeleid? - A bomb under breedingpolicy?

That does sound bad.

But surely that kind of breeder - even if famous - can not be termed 'reputable'. Not by my definition at least. A reputable breeder is open, honest, advises puppy buyers and helps when problems occur. Breeding ethics should be more than just a slogan.

Thanks for translating the title, I had not understood it. Does fokbeleid mean 'supervision of breeders by the breed club'?

Yes Susan, it does not only sound bad, it is bad.

I've read with interest your definition of a reputable breeder. But scanning quite a few breedrules I did not find terms like open and honest. 

Your question: title and contents do not make 100% clear what is meant by fokbeleid (breedingpolicy). In my opinion, based on reading most relevant information, it is a bomb under inbreeding. This is mentioned as THE source of healthproblems in purebreds.

Health first is what the Dutch kennelclub now promotes, even if it leads to other exterior qualities. This is said to be supported by 92% of breeders. Alas so far this has in Irish setter circles not lead to a change of breeding policy (lower coi) or use of families free of epilepsy etc.

Yes, Wilko, I am an Irish Setter lover. That does not stop me from being anxious about the state of health of our breed. I am convinced the Irish Setter could be healthier if we tried harder.


This kind of thing could happen to every breeder. Sadly I have bred 4 dogs with epilepsy - I know what I am talking about. I feel cases like this must make us more conscious of our responsibilities toward the puppy buyer / customer and to the breed we love!


No names were mentioned in the original post, rightly so. A public forum is not the place to do so.

Well said Susan....and very glad you could make out the points Mr Jansen was trying to put across!

Hi Mr Jansen...don't cry....look to the future and not the past it may not be as bleak as you think :)

Susan as always, your reaction is motivating and inspiring to continue debate here. Do you have any solutions to make the Irish setter healthier "if we tried harder" . Personally, I was surprised about your and Carmel Murphy's latest choices in pups lineage. 

Hallo Wilko Jansen,

This topic deals with the question how to find a way out of misery for the image of the Irish setter since for the second year national media focus on epilepsy in the breed. Never in the history of the Irish setter before, the media focus has been so destructive for this great breed. You can blame media for that, you can also try to find solutions: a way out of this misery and show that to the public.

Ideas that came to my mind from my perspective were communicated with the secretary of the Irish Setter Club of the Netherlands by telephone. I understood next Wednesday there is a meeting delegates of the committee of the ISCN with the Dutch kennel club to talk about possible solutions. Hopefully some of the  ideas will be of help.

In your post you come up with a lot of personal stuff and names.This post is non-personal, it simply reports what happened in the media and asks on a forum of setter lovers the question: do you have ideas to come out of this misery? You do  provide names, this is your personal choice and responsibility. I prefer to play the ball instead of persons. That is also a better way to harvest some good ideas.

You describe your memory of me as “a very very young boy”. Since that time, a lot of time has passed, around forty years to be exact. This was, as I remember it, the time epilepsy dived up for the first time in alarming numbers in the breed. The advice of the late and ex-vet Wim van Gemert was: STOP breeding the lines and that is what he did with his own kennel. You were one of his former students who chose to continue.

I respect everyone who takes his own decisions, based on sound arguments. And I think that what we know now from scientists may put that debate stop and don’t stop in another context. What we also know now again from scientists that it is not healthy for a breed to throw away families only because they happen to be no longer amongst showwinners. And that we should prevent bottlenecks in a breed.

Life is too short, Wilko Jansen, to spend in lifelong controversy. Your reaction however when I was that very very young boy asking about epilepsy and you answering: no big problem, taught me a lot. Thanks. Those lessons were: don’t trust an authority on it’s word alone, check, double check and search answers for yourself in  reliable and knowledgeable sources. When you accept persons like that, who knows one day we might fight together for our breed and I’ll tell you what I’ve done meanwhile…

I hope we can continue this topic as it was meant: a brainstorm for what to do when the future of the Irish setter is at stake and how to react. Now it is the Netherlands, next it is somewhere else, see effects of Pedigree Dogs Exposed. That way we might pave pathways for a healthy future!

Wilko, the kennel name wasn't mentioned by the newspapers or the latest tv programs. You are the first one who mentioned it. In my opinion your reply is emotional and you are missing the point. In this specific case even the RvB (Dutch Kennelclub) respected the judge his decision.  Why would that be?

Back to the point. What can we do to make the breed more healthy?  I would like to see replies from (Dutch) breeders. There are plenty of breeders active on this site, why is it that they don't reply on topics like this?




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