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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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As always, very well written, Susan!

Crumbs,  cool down.  The comments in this blog are generated because we all love our breed, Irish Setters.   I don't get any feeling from HTK that his comments are meant to be antagonistic, SS has given a considered and helpful reply.  The media want to sell and scanadalise but they do have a responsibility to inform the general public.  If the breeder in question has been fined 6k euros presumably it was because the case against him was proven and presumably the conclusion was drawn by a professional body who had the authority to undertake such.   If the breeder has been unfairly fined then he will be able to overturn the fine and gain recompense for character assassination and damage to his reputation as an honest breeder of pedigree dogs.

I showed Irish for 40 years and loved it, it was so innocent and pleasurable during that time.  However, towards the end, and the reason why I stopped totally, was because of the overly competitive, greedy, careless, ignorant people who came into the breed.   The number of puppies being bred today seems to me to be reckless.  To sell puppies at high prices the new "ignorant" breeders are using the same bloodlines and consequently we arrive at the dreadful state of pedigree dogs today.  Because there are fewer people showing and breeding inevitably there is going to be a huge reduction in genetic pools.  The circle begins because the people who churn out the puppies are the only ones who can afford to show because they have huge sums of disposable incomes because of THE PUPPIES THEY HAVE BRED.   I only had a litter if I wanted to run a puppy on for showing.  The rest of the litter were carefully placed and I had the pleasure of seeing the puppies grow up and keeping in touch with their owners until the end of the dogs' lives.    Thereby leading us to the problem that has been reported on.   I think it is a salatory lesson to anyone breeding puppies today, only do it if you are interested in the wellbeing of the puppies not THE MONEY YOU WILL BE BANKING AT THE END OF THE DAY.  Huge sums are generated, 10 puppies at a £1k per puppy/£10k per litter, 2 litters a year and so the pyramid of greed is established.  I haven't personally researched the kennel club litter registration numbers per breeder per year but it would probably make interesting reading.  It seems to me that the bodies who should control excessive breeding "hide away instead of taking action by dismissing the breeder from membership or banning them registering excessive numbers of litters.  This would control over breeding in all breeds if the authories who are allegedly established to protect the health and well being of dogs in general, hideaway because they don't want to interrupt their income streams from people registering puppies.   They must be able to monitor breeding patterns, there must be computer programmes that would highlight a regular breeder and they must be able to apply a restriction.   But then what do I know, I just love my dogs, as I believe you do too.   Happy New Year.

Georgina.....I don't think anyone said Henk's comments were antagonistic. Susan is a highly respected breeder and member of ES who often makes sensible contributions to discussions........so what do you mean by "crumbs...cool down"?

Mr Jansen seemed to be very upset by Henk's, generally.  I think if you re-read his blog he is upset, as he admitted in his later blog.  Hence my comment about cool down.  All of us who love setters are unhappy with the current state of the breed and I absolutely agree with Susan and state thus "she gave a calm and considered" reply.

I'm not sure why you thought I suggested otherwise.    

Sometimes when we don't know people personally it is easy to misunderstand what has been written and the content therein so apologies if I upset you.  We are communicating because of our love and concern for our setters, nothing else,

I was not being literal, I was trying to make the point that people who are driven by money will  breed endlessley regardless of the puppies welfare and needless to say reckless about the health of the breed they are endangering by behaving thus.  They will make money whether they charge £500 or £1k per puppy because they will cut corners left, right and centre, they want money not that they love dogs.  Dogs are the tool to achieve huge sums of money which, incidentally, is probably tax free!  

Very interesting and informative reading though I have to say.  It would be fascinating to know how many of those 869 puppies are similarly bred and registered by whom.  In fact, totalling all of the puppies of all of the breeds in your list is alarming in itself.    There are some wonderful breeders of IS throughout the World who have been involved with the breed for decades and I have no doubt that they have our breed's interest as paramount.  It is the small, ignorant group, who can irrevocably damage a breed, their intent is to get in and out after making huge sums of money.

The only way to resolve these horrible welfare/health issues is to legislate by whom and how is going to be difficult and problematic.   Until everyone lays their cards on the table and admits to having bred or bought a sick puppy and it is publicly know how it is bred and everybody begins to see a pattern and try and avoid making the same mistake without the threat of litigation, the breed is going to continue in it's decline.   These are only my humble opinions, not meant to be inflammatory, accusative, agressive, they are my observations over a 40 year plus as an IS owner.

In the meantime enjoy your setters and have a happy new year.

Sue, because of time I answered a few posts quick it's at the bottom of the topic. Now one for this. You are right, there is alas not yet a clear pattern of inheritance of primary epilepsy. But the judge said more or less you can expect Irish setters to suffer from epilepsy.

A quick translation of a part of the verdict tells: "The magistrate is considering this matter as following. In the opinion of the magistrate it is within the Netherlands for several years a fact of common knowledge that among purebred dogs such as Irish setters, many hereditary disorders exist. Literature and research shows that the current health status of purebred dogs is of great concern."

So according to the judge you should tell all buyers all possible defects. Thats a long list!

Shockingly, you are right.   Such a sad state for pedigree dogs in general. 

So true Susan. So true.  My 5 unhealthy dogs over the years have had good breeders who have been highly concerned (including one who was so devastated that she pulled out of IS purely because of the health issues which she had worked hard to avoid) through to one who couldn't give a dam and merrily continued breeding. A good breeder will always have the best interest of the dog at heart. I am still in contact with the lady who pulled out of IS and she has my greatest respect. I am at the same point too. I doubt I will ever have another Irish - not a red anyway.

Sue, I will try. This is not actually a 'new law for dog breeders' it is a new guarantee on all items sold/purchased. Switzerland is not a member of the EU but as from Jan 1st 2013 we are following this EU law. The buyer of any kind of goods is entitled to a guarantee of 2 years from the time of purchase. This law also covers the sale of live animals. Referring to breeders it will mean that if a breeder sells a pup that is not healthy a) at the time of purchase and b) developes a certain disease within 2 years of sale the breeder will be liable providing that by all reasonable knowledge the condition was present at the time of sale though not obvious. genetic diseases often develop within 1-2 years in a dogs' life.

Normal gurantee would simply cover the price of purchase. I do not know how our courts would decide when it comes to veterinary fees that far exceed the original cost of a pup. I am told that in Germany the courts have ruled that if one of the parents has C hips and the pup develops HD then the breeder is clearly liable. Some problems develop with adulthood and have a genetic background. How this will be proven in a court of law I don't know, but I would assume by asking the opinion of veterinary/scientific  experts as is usually the case. It will then be assessed whether or not the breeder knew at the time of the mating that there was a high probability that the pups were likely to develop an illness. Take HD. The genetic component of HD is widely accepted as fact. If a breeder refuses to xray his dogs and a pup develop HD then the breeder will be held responsible. The same goes for lines known to have diesases like ellbow problems or as in this case epilepsy.


I think in the past it has been a case of each breeder individually deciding how to act when a problem occurs. Now we are going to be forced by law. Personally I think that is a good thing. The breeder who is helpful,  supportive and honest toward puppy buyers will rarely be confronted with a lawsuit. Those that are non-supportiv and deny all responsibility can now be made to accept their responsibility.


As breeders we must be aware that a buyer may be fully within his/ her rights when demanding a refund for a pup that is not healthy.


Sue, you ask in a different post about show vs working. I make no difference between the two when it comes to lowering the COI. My impression is that the effects of inbreeding could be showing up differently in either line. For example the working litters are usually smaller in size than the show litters. HD is known to be present in both. Wheras bloat I am told is more prevalent in show lines. I have no figures. Epilepsy is definitely present in show lines and numbers seem to be on the increase.

In total numbers more show litters are registered in the UK than working litters. So purely numerically any health problems in the show lines will affect more dogs and their owners.





Your informative post is highly appreciated, Susan, it underlines that the Dutch case is European.  

You can read the verdict on


It is in Dutch, translating by google provides reasonable reading in English at least. 

I would have thought that if one is a member of a breed club and that breed club is confronting health issues by testing and publishing the results nationally/internationally then ignorance claimed by the member who breeds a litter could make them responsible for inherited health issues that may occur in any puppies they have bred.

A dog/puppy having an accident and developing a problem, ie epilepsy/limp/heart or whatever, would be very, very unfortunate but I would have thought unreasonable to blame the breeder and expect recompense.  However, as in my case, I purchased an 8 week old IS who had entropian.  It was when I took her for her innoculations and asked the vet why her eyes were weeping he told me it was entropian.  I was devastated - I had bought her because of her bloodline and start my own "dynasty".  I contacted the breeder, apparently my puppy was the first ever, must be from the sire etc etc.  I was offered pick of the breeders next litter, NOT AT A REDUCED PRICE I have to add, I did and guess what - entropian.  The breeder just couldn't understand it..............  Both had their eyes operated on and friends of mine wanted them and they lived long and happy lives.    I would think that instances like this would be exactly what Switzerland are considering and so should we be.   As previously stated until we can all be honest and direct about diseases within the breed, without fear of litigation, then the breed will decline further.

Anybody providing/producing/selling for proft MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE for the goods/livestock for a reasonable period of time - it is only fair to the purchaser. Retail outlets have to conform.  But the purchaser also has a responsibility to protect/safeguard/care and not cause a problem and then expect unreasonable recompense.  Only my view, of course. 

Hopefully the lack of water provided for the puppy was to prevent him from choking because I would think that there is a high risk of such a thing happening.  If that wasn't the case then I am as alarmed as you are about it. 

Thanks Henk for posting this, unfortunately couldn't understand a lot, but the poor Irish fitting was so terrible to watch, so much food for thoughts, thanks.




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