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I get the impression that some here think the perfect Irish setter is either kennel specific/country specific/inbred or outbred specific/beauty versus function specific/or just some nebulous specific.  If it is not out of an English pure kennel, then somehow it has  been contaminated.  If it has been bred to a US Irish setter - most of which go back to English kennels-   then somehow AKC has influenced and contaminated their line.  If it has too much or too little coat-straight or wavy, what to do or apologize for?  So what do most of you look for when breeding and how open is your mind to other kennels/other types/other countries and types when you consider breeding?  Are most here willing to go out of the box and take a chance or stay with what they think they know and continue on as they always have?      

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Great potential for a very good Forum here John...............please start us off with what you look for in an Irish Setter, Red and R&W. You could extend it to the Gordon and English.
If you have a spare day you might like to plough through Henk de Klooster's Discussion "Did the Breed change or not since the Sixties" (684 comments!!!!!!). There was much debate on the Breed Standard and how many times it had updated/modified from the original by the US, Australia, The UK and of course Europe (FCI). Looking forward to a good debate.
I am surprised no one has responded yet so may I respectively start.
I think health should be the prime consideration before you embark on any breeding programme.
Please don't breed from bitches who have digestive problems, have had bloat/torsion, have been operated on to correct defects and equally steer clear of stud dogs for the same reasons. Please try and breed from hipscored dogs (not compulsory in the UK).
There is so much we don't know about inheritance of many problems and of course where we do we employ DNA tests to clear our stock. However, we need to be sensible and rational. If we eliminated each dog because of a problem that occured back in it's pedigree then we would be eliminating practically every dog that was ever born. Consequently breeding is a risk assessment and when managed carefully can set you on the road to a long and satisfying career in dogs. But breeding from healthy parents is paramount.
Then you start on the hoary and emotive subject of small versus tall, flat coat versus wavey coat etc etc.............oh joy!!!!!
I agree Eva!! Breed only from healthy, bitches and dogs. And dont ignore problems that have been surgically corrected(like entropian!) as it only hides the problem but doesn't eliminate it!!!!!! And hopefully you will get lovely healthy pups(of whichever type you prefer!);o))
Hi John, thanks for posting this discussion.

Firstly, we would all like to have the “perfect irish setter”, but there is no such dog!! I know we can be very kennel blind and love our dogs that much that we may think they are perfect, but we would be fooling ourselves.

I completely agree with Eva in respect of the health of the lines. This is paramount and has to be the first consideration. Health risks exist in all types of IS, whether it is UK, USA or working lines, so that doesn’t make it any easier to choose one type over another.

I have to say that I love lots of UK type dogs from all over the UK, Europe, NZ and Australia. I have also liked a couple of USA dogs, but mostly do not prefer the USA type. My first Irish were from the old Australian lines (going back to the UK type), so for me, they were my first love and I love their heads so much that a lot of the USA lines heads do not impress me. I’m a bit of a “head” person… if the head isn’t good, then it is very hard for me to love the overall dog!!

From my experience here in Australia, we had some very different traits emerge in Australia after the importation of the USA lines back in the 1970’s. This changed some lines extensively and the traits that I believe were most affected were the head, gait, front and rear structure and coat. What caused these extreme changes in the breed? That is a question that many people would like solid answers for. Was it just that the combination of the USA lines with the Australian lines brought together some genetic changes? I doubt it as I have seen some very extreme dogs that have been imported into Australia from USA since then! Was it the line/in breeding of particular lines concentrated on specific traits to the detriment of many others? Most probably, but these changes seemed to be so swiftly engrained into breeding programs.

If you can tell us what changed the look of the USA Irish Setter so dramatically in the 1970’s, that would be a great conversation for us all too. Why do they have such long lean heads, longer ear leather, different gait (high hackney gait). Is the different gait purely an effect of having a dog with a straighter shoulder and an over angulated rear? Why have breeders compounded this structure in breeding programs when it is not correct?

Before, anyone “bites” me, I have owned Australian bred lines both from UK lines and combination pedigree with some USA lines in them. I have to say, that the most difficult traits in my dogs who had the combination lines were the loss of head – mainly lacking in parallel planes and also the cottony knotty coat that is very difficult to breed out. I was fortunate that the dogs I owned, apart from their lack in parallel planes did have a more squarer head with good head length and width, as many USA lined dogs here in Australia lack strength in their heads and particularly the males have very long lean heads which I don't see as very masculine. For those reasons, I would not want to breed my UK type dogs with a USA line unless I could be guaranteed that the UK type heads and coat texture were dominant traits and wouldn’t throw back to those traits that I would not wish to breed on in my program.
No biting here Cheryl. We did loose the heads we had from our English lines mainly through Wendover Shandy Of Casimia,Wonderful Of Acres,Gaelge Moval Red Admiral and Hartsbourne Brutus. But even back then there were some awful heads and there was a division as to what was correct. The first US imports were the Robalee's and Energiser they were still not very heavy coated dogs. My boy has all of thee behind him but he no more coat than my Quig back in the 70/80's.Their heads even though different were both pleasing but I do slightly prefer my present boy. Yes I believe that a crossing of type can produce some excellent dogs you just have to be patient and have a goal,keeping in mind the standard.
As to the cottony coat it is a ploy by some exhibitors to hide faults. It is just dead hair and you see it in all types around the hocks and top of head and can be brushed out.We see some wavy coats especially when wet weather strikes but Im yet to see a cotton coat.
Straight shoulders and over angulation cause a strange hackneyed type gait are some of the traits we may have inherited and need breeding out but many of our judges see that as drive in the front.
'We did loose the heads we had from our English lines mainly through Wendover Shandy Of Casimia, Wonderful Of Acres, Gaelge Moval Red Admiral and Hartsbourne Brutus. But even back then there were some awful heads and there was a division as to what was correct."
I agree and I think a lot of breeding kennels in Australia went through a period where they were losing heads – losing parallel planes; losing width and depth of muzzle. These traits are so hard to get back once lost. We did see some big heavy heads from some lines and the other extreme as well ie: the longer leaner head (too long, too lean, too snipey).

"The first US imports were the Robalee's and Energiser they were still not very heavy coated dogs."
Perhaps their coats in comparison to today’s Australian IS were not heavily coated, but the comments from that era by some of the breeders was that the US imports carried much more coat and glamour than the Aussie lines back then.

"Yes I believe that a crossing of type can produce some excellent dogs you just have to be patient and have a goal, keeping in mind the standard."
It appears that there are breeders here with predominantly USA lines blending some UK lines back into their breeding program and I believe some of the dogs I have seen recently who are a combination of UK and USA lines have improved in structure and heads. Who knows maybe in another 20 years, the two types may be closer aligned again if breeders do keep the breed standard in mind and breed to that goal and not the “biggest winning IS in Aus”.

"As to the cottony coat it is a ploy by some exhibitors to hide faults. It is just dead hair and you see it in all types around the hocks and top of head and can be brushed out. We see some wavy coats especially when wet weather strikes but I’m yet to see a cotton coat." By cottony knotty coat, I am talking about the feathering, not the body coat. I would like to think that it was just dead coat, but if it is, how do they keep it all so long and well groomed, if it was dead, it would brush out with the amount of grooming that some of these dogs get???

Not trying to be "Closed Minded" but I am yet to hear a good argument for crossing types and losing head and structure. As breeding is all about improving the breed, then that's what we should all be doing. Some people have their ideals, but the need to be competitive in the showring, sees them walk away from their ideals and allow themselves to own and breed less than what being a custodian of the breed should always do first and foremost... breed as close as possible to the breed standard!
Hi Cheryl,
I just posted a personal picture that I took of Ch. Candia Indeed at under 2 years of age. He is the answer to your questions above. John
Okay, just found the photos. Interestingly, this dog looks less like the US type than the UK type. The coat texture looks more like the UK type.

I have no doubt misunderstood, but are you saying this dog is responsible for the "modern" US type? Sorry if I have missed your point!
Hi again-my work day is done. No-I wasn't saying that Indeed was solely responsible for the modern US type, but he certainly did make an important impact. In 1970 bench US Irish were pretty well defined by 3 major kennels-Thenderin of Joyce Neilsen, Draherin of Lucy Jane Myers and Tirvelda (Hartsbourne origin)of Ted Eldridge and the breed here was coming to grips with PRA. Indeed was an outcross of Tirvelda with Draherin and he was test bred clear of PRA. He possessed a beautiful head, gobs of curly coat with cowlicks, a hard topline, a powerful rear, and an attitude to win in the ring-all of which he passed on to most of his get who were winning from the puppy classes.. He was however upright in the front and shallow chested-faults with us today. He was seldom shown after finishing his championship as his get far exceeded him in quality. His very first Spring litter with a then unknown bitch produced I believe 10-11 champions 3 of whom were BIS winners and many others were Gp1 winners. A repeat of that breeding "Courtwood Summer litter" was equally successful. Bitches from all over the US were sent to him and today it is hard to find a pedigree where he is not well represented. Your own Eireannmada, Pendoric and Martinridge kennels incorporated him into their lines long ago- the English and Europeans did not.
He was not solely responsible by a long shot, but he did set the standard to beat in the US show ring and his get blended well with 2 of the 3 major US kennels and he was not an "Afgan". In looking back at my 1970 US Irish Setter Pictorial it is hard to find a bitch that carried coat or had bend of stifle-his bitch line often carried their male equivalent. He set a standard that required other breeders to re-evaluate their breeding programs and compete. This is the way it happened-for good and bad. That was my point. John
Hi John

Thanks for your reply :) I see what you mean, now. I thought you were saying that he was responsible for the (dare I use the word lol) "Afghan" type seen in some US Setters, and I just couldn't see that in that dog at all!

Can I ask - given the extreme type often seen in the US (curly tails, "roman" noses, level, short bodies, profuse cottony coat, very long rears, and bouncy movement...all my own observations, of course!) where do you think these traits have come from, and why has there been such a push for breeders to breed to this type? Do you feel it meets the US standard?

Looking forward to your reply!
First of all let me copy for you the US (AKC) Irish setter standard and I would appreciate a copy of the UK, Irish and European Irish setter standard so that I can better understand their similarities or differences.

Irish Setter Breed Standard
Sporting Group

General Appearance
The Irish Setter is an active, aristocratic bird dog, rich red in color, substantial yet elegant in build. Standing over two feet tall at the shoulder, the dog has a straight, fine, glossy coat, longer on ears, chest, tail and back of legs. Afield, the Irish Setter is a swift-moving hunter; at home, a sweet natured, trainable companion.

At their best, the lines of the Irish Setter so satisfy in overall balance that artists have termed it the most beautiful of all dogs. The correct specimen always exhibits balance, whether standing or in motion. Each part of the dog flows and fits smoothly into its neighboring parts without calling attention to itself.

Size, Proportion, Substance
There is no disqualification as to size. The make and fit of all parts and their overall balance in the animal are rated more important. 27 inches at the withers and a show weight of about 70 pounds is considered ideal for the dog; the bitch 25 inches, 60 pounds. Variance beyond an inch up or down is to be discouraged. Proportion --Measuring from the breastbone to rear of thigh and from the top of the withers to the ground, the Irish Setter is slightly longer than it is tall. Substance--All legs sturdy with plenty of bone. Structure in the male reflects masculinity without coarseness. Bitches appear feminine without being slight of bone.

Long and lean, its length at least double the width between the ears. Beauty of head is emphasized by delicate chiseling along the muzzle, around and below the eyes, and along the cheeks. Expression soft, yet alert. Eyes somewhat almond shaped, of medium size, placed rather well apart, neither deep set nor bulging. Color, dark to medium brown. Ears set well back and low, not above level of eye. Leather thin, hanging in a neat fold close to the head, and nearly long enough to reach the nose. The skull is oval when viewed from above or front; very slightly domed when viewed in profile. The brow is raised, showing a distinct stop midway between the tip of the nose and the well-defined occiput (rear point of skull). Thus the nearly level line from occiput to brow is set a little above, and parallel to, the straight and equal line from eye to nose. Muzzle moderately deep, jaws of nearly equal length, the underline of the jaws being almost parallel with the top line of the muzzle. Nose black or chocolate; nostrils wide. Upper lips fairly square but not pendulous. The teeth meet in a scissors bite in which the upper incisors fit closely over the lower, or they may meet evenly.

Neck, Topline, Body
Neck moderately long, strong but not thick, and slightly arched; free from throatiness and fitting smoothly into the shoulders. Topline of body from withers to tail should be firm and incline slightly downward without sharp drop at the croup. The tail is set on nearly level with the croup as a natural extension of the topline, strong at root, tapering to a fine point, nearly long enough to reach the hock. Carriage straight or curving slightly upward, nearly level with the back. Body sufficiently long to permit a straight and free stride. Chest deep, reaching approximately to the elbows with moderate forechest, extending beyond the point where the shoulder joins the upper arm. Chest is of moderate width so that it does not interfere with forward motion and extends rearwards to well sprung ribs. Loins firm, muscular and of moderate length.

Shoulder blades long, wide, sloping well back, fairly close together at the withers. Upper arm and shoulder blades are approximately the same length, and are joined at sufficient angle to bring the elbows rearward along the brisket in line with the top of the withers. The elbows moving freely, incline neither in nor out. Forelegs straight and sinewy. Strong, nearly straight pastern. Feet rather small, very firm, toes arched and close.

Hindquarters should be wide and powerful with broad, well developed thighs. Hind legs long and muscular from hip to hock; short and perpendicular from hock to ground; well angulated at stifle and hock joints, which, like the elbows, incline neither in nor out. Feet as in front. Angulation of the forequarters and hindquarters should be balanced.

Short and fine on head and forelegs. On all other parts of moderate length and flat. Feathering long and silky on ears; on back of forelegs and thighs long and fine, with a pleasing fringe of hair on belly and brisket extending onto the chest. Fringe on tail moderately long and tapering. All coat and feathering as straight and free as possible from curl or wave. The Irish Setter is trimmed for the show ring to emphasize the lean head and clean neck. The top third of the ears and the throat nearly to the breastbone are trimmed. Excess feathering is removed to show the natural outline of the foot. All trimming is done to preserve the natural appearance of the dog.

Mahogany or rich chestnut red with no black. A small amount of white on chest, throat or toes, or a narrow centered streak on skull is not to be penalized.

At the trot the gait is big, very lively, graceful and efficient. At an extended trot the head reaches slightly forward, keeping the dog in balance. The forelegs reach well ahead as if to pull in the ground without giving the appearance of a hackney gait. The hindquarters drive smoothly and with great power. Seen from front or rear, the forelegs, as well as the hind legs below the hock joint, move perpendicularly to the ground, with some tendency towards a single track as speed increases. Structural characteristics which interfere with a straight, true stride are to be penalized.

The Irish Setter has a rollicking personality. Shyness, hostility or timidity are uncharacteristic of the breed. An outgoing, stable temperament is the essence of the Irish Setter.

Approved August 14, 1990
Effective September 30, 1990
I am aware that these US Irish were imported into Australia and I'm sure there are others. The one's that I am familiar with do not fit your described perception of US Irish and they were imported by Australians, not Americans, as their preference. They in no way reflect the totality of Irish setters in America or American preference.. I would compare it to me meeting 5 Australians or 5 Englishmen or 5 Europeans and making broad statements about their entire populations based on such a small sampling. In saying that I will agree with you on several points. The majority of US Irish setter heads need improvement. Uk heads definitely have better parallel planes and squareness and I personally admire UK fronts-but that opinion is based upon my small knowledge and exposure. Again, based upon my small exposure, I don't like straight stifles and steep croups ( and overstacking them only seems to amplify the feature ) and I prefer the better angulated stifle and level tail set. As for ears I bet they are similar in length in all countries-we just choose not to strip and instead foster and promote and exhibit. I have seen good and bad expressions on both sides, so no comment. There was an earlier comment about health and I think we should all pay attention to it and test, divulge, and share information. I don't know if temperaments have been brought up, but I recently chose a puppy primarily based upon this-really important to me. I am not biased towards US Irish as I purchased Tarah from Captiva Kennels and my puppy is from an Avon Farms bitch and Shelomithe. I was in line for one of those 3 beautiful puppies of Jingles but the pregnancy wasn't confirmed and I had the opportunity to purchase Prophet before it could be-and he's a gem. I guess what I am saying is that ES is giving me the opportunity to expand my knowledge and perception of Irish setters around the globe and some I like and some I don't, and many of the former generalizations that I had and were passed around 40 years ago are being modified---and that is called growth. So thank you ES and the people here who are willing to share and please- tend to your own house first. John
Bangor Tarralain Wild Daisy (Imp USA)
Captiva Brynbar Look To The Future (Imp USA)
Cairncross Concierge With Tullane (Imp USA)
Cairncross Flirting With Tullane (Imp USA)
Devlin Marco Polo At Eireannmada (Imp USA)
Herihunda’s Image Of Windrose (Imp USA)
Marlyn Feature Attraction (Imp USA)
Marlyn On The Rise (Imp USA)
Meadowlarks Elysian (Imp USA)
Meadowlarks Energizer (Imp USA)
Regalaire Shes Got Rhythm (Imp USA)
Roan Inish Molly Finn (Imp USA)
Roan Inish On My Own (Imp USA)
Robalee Goldspinner (Imp USA)
Robalee Kandu (Imp USA)
Robalee Velvet (Imp USA)
Robalee Yank (Imp USA)
Santa Fe Autumn Kerry (Imp USA)
Santa Fe Stormy Days (Imp USA)
Saxonys Evening Tide (Imp USA)
Seregon Second Coming (Imp USA)
Thenderin All American Boy (Imp USA)
Thenderin Applauze (Imp USA)
Thenderin Spirit Of Killanin (Imp USA) (via New Zealand)
Tirvelda Evening Primrose (Imp USA)
Tralees Tramp Of Coolaney (Imp USA)
Windrose Diamonds Last Forever (Imp USA)
Windrose Impressive (Imp USA)
Windrose Secret Image (Imp USA)




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