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Painful reading... and the breeding of dogs

I am personally very upset that the excellent forum posts on PRA rcd4 are being misused for disrespectful arguments.

We all have a right to our own opinion and may discuss those opinions freely. We may also show respect for the other person even if we do not agree with them.

There is no need to resort to intentionally hurting anyone. To my mind, personal verbal attacks reflect worst on he/she who  utters them.


Now I dare voice my own opinion on the matter of breeding:

To my mind non-breeders, i.e. pet owners have every right to make their opinions known without being accused of ignorance. Dedicated dog owner's opinions and knowledge must be respected. Some have more knowledge about animal welfare & genetics than many of our better known breeders.

Pet owners have every right to ask for breeding practices to change and for breeders to focus on longevity and healthy animals rather than breed for the preferred type in the show ring.

In my opinion breeders must bow to the fact that breeding methods are outdated and that linebreeding actually is inbreeding and will do more harm than good. After 100+ years of the use of these breeding practices it is time to move with science. We have come to a standstil and there is no longer the need to 'fix' so-called positive traits to maintain the breed. We must move forward and concentrate on maintaining genetic diversity whilst using the health tests available - for the welfare of the breed we love.


I say this knowing how hard it is going to be for breeders to foucs their breeding on higher goals than the show ring. I grew up with loving the UK show bred Irish Setter. I also have difficulty changing my ideals! But after 35 years in the breed I have also had the privilege of seeing our setters in many different fields and have come to realize that there is not just 'the one true type'. The breed has so much more to offer than simply being a beautiful dog.

Breeding for genetic diversity and health rather than for looks & type is going to be the challenge of the future.


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Susan, thank you for writing the above!

I have read the other Forums about PRA (rcd4) and have been really sad by the way the webside is now hijacked and taken away from the very good and constructive conversations  we used to have....

I totally agree with what you have written, especially about line breeding and inbreeding as something of the past. We must look forward to the future with a view of reducing the very high COI in most Irish Setters if we want the Breed to be healthy and to reduce any possible future gene mutation.

You know I agree, Catherine. Just one small point: Genetic mutations are actually part of all life. Genetic mutations will and do occur and can not be avoided. However by lowering the COI we can reduce the probability for an unwanted mutation becoming a widespread problem within a breed's population.

At the same time a breeder's awareness for a possible new problems must be increased so as to help prevent health issues from becoming 'breed problems'.

Susan, You put it better than me about gene mutation. This is exactly what I wanted to say. To reduce the incidence of a mutation becoming a widespread problem. Obviously we cannot control gene mutation itself.

Also it is important to try to educate Breeders of what risks are associated with a high COI.

Camilla, I agree it should be possible... but only if we think in multiple generations with an aim in the future rather than wanting to combine all in the next generation. It is not possible to improve ALL aspects in just one step, and I fear that is where the problem lies. Any breeder opting for a complete outcross (looking at 10 generations that is) will have to look a long way ahead. I fear hardly any breeders are willing to loose out on the next generation and come out with a dog that does not suit the preferred type.

A discussion on 'type' wouldl be a new Forum post altogether;-)


I agree, I'm all for full support of people testing and for those with not such happy results. At the same time, we are in the fortunate situation of having a DNA test for this simpe recessive mendelian trait - and how are we going about with epilepsy, bloat and hip scoring? How many breeders are continuing to breed with non scored stock and stock well above the breed mean? I do not consider PRA rcd4 the worst problem the breed has to deal with...

Don't worry Camilla;-) I don't intend to get carried away on things that have been said many times in different discussions.


As to loosing type when mixing lines and your reference to Finland... it brought to mind a very interesting outcross I read about recently. How many generations do you think are needed after a single outcross to a completely different breed before you end up with the breed you started off with? See this article about the Pinscher: here - I was very astounded and impressed!


As to your example with a deterioration of hip score values, well obviously you can not hope for improvement if you breed with the inferior. Two dogs carrying the same deleterious gene (or in the case of HD multiple genes) will almost certainly end up with affected offspring - I think that should be obvious to all.

me too...;-))
Thank you Susan. Very well put.
Thank you Susan...like Fran says....very well put!

you can get your original breed back in 2 generations plus a new breed too! This was my experience some years ago:-

My working Pointer Freddie must have mated my Field trial ch irishsetter.How do i know this ? Well Freddie was my only male that wasnt an Irish Setter.All the puppies were Black short coated animals.The puppies of this cross in Ireland are known as droppers although here people refer to them as pointsetters.(I have had several litters which i should clarify were  mistakes where either an Irish has been mated by one of my pointers and equally one of my pointer bitches. has been got at by one of my Irish setters.In every instance all the puppies were Black short coated animals.Some had large white bibs and white on their feet and some had white blazes down their faces,which Misty herself had ,having strong connections to INT FT CH Patricia of Killone.Mistys own father was called Ballinasloe Blaze with good reason.!! Sometimes you can see a reddish hue on their coats in the sunlight..F1 generation.


Well from this litter between Freddie and Misty i kept 2 of the males purely because i liked them.There is so much more joy in having a litter when you can just choose a puppy for its appearance and personality without constantly accessing the pups looking for faults to meet show requirements!!

Some years later ,i was looking at my Willow (Porschet Andiamo) it occurred to me that she was larger than she should be and yes she was in whelp.I had no idea who the daddy was? What options were there?.

1) If the pups were all red then one of my Irish setter males was the sire.


2) If the pups were all black then one of my Pointers was the Sire.


3) If one of my F1 Pointer cross Irish setters (all black short coated )was the sire. The unknown?????


Well out of 8 puppies i had  this is what was born (F2 generation)

1 Black long haired Flat coated retriever

4 Black short coated pointsetters

2 Tan/solid orange short coated.Not sure how to describe the colour (Hungarian Visla colour)

1 Irish setter all red  

The prescence of the Irish setter was quite heart breaking for me as i hadn't managed to get any Irish setters from Misty who was very precious to me and here i had her Grand daughter who i could not do anything with Re Trials.Her new owner told me how fast and lively she was!!!!


So the outcome told me that one of my two F1 crosses Jasper or Spritzer was the Dad!!

I was told later by top Pointer breed specialist Cecily Robertshaw that if you wanted to breed pure black pointers then either an Irish setter or a wiemeraner would have to be used as their coat colours were recessive.


It would have been interesting to see if the F2 produced Irish would have bred true, but alas i will never know as i sold her not to be bred from.!!

Nice story...pity you didn't keep the little bitch though!
I had the most beautiful georgous black glossy bitch which ranks as one one of the most beautiful puppies ever which i seriously wished i had kept.Naturally i would have loved to have kept the Irish setter girl .The story does have a Happy ending for me .I applied to the Kennel club to get special dispensation to have a litter just after Misty turned 8  This was granted, possibly due to her having had a previous litter (the cross bred litter) and luckily Misty got a successful mating with the Swedish import Oestraby's Athos.  Misty produced 6 puppies( 2 male and 4 females) of which i kept 2 females and 1 male and ran them all at field trials.two other bitches also ran at trials and the remaining male was used for grouse shooting and i had a run with him and gypsy on grouse in Scotland some years later.They are behind my present field trial Irish setter Porschet Gone with the Wind.
It is nice you were able to have a litter from Misty...happy ending indeed!




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