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Hi all,

we read with sadness the news that the English setter is facing extinction (234 new puppies registered in the kennel club last year).. Does anybody knows what is the situation for IS and Gordon setters (i.e. how many puppies are typically registered in the KC in these years)?

I am just wondering for personal curiosity, since we dont see many of these wonderful dogs around.. :(

best, silvia

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Hi Silvia

You can find the registration statistics here: http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/download/675/quartstatsgundog.pdf

Here a few breeds, first number is registrations in 2010 / second in 2011:

Gordon Setters 306 / 245

Irish R&W 83 / 119

English Setters 349 / 234

Irish Setters 1126 / 869

Pointers 678 / 751

interesting when you compare these figures to the following gundog breeds:

German Shorthaired Pointer 1410 / 1424

Hungarian Vizsla 1498 / 1588

Weimaraner 1969 / 1581


Thanks Susan, this is very interesting indeed.. I havent seen the gordon and the R&W entering the list of vulnerable species in the KC (maybe I missed them or sadly they are going to be listed soon?)..

Gordons and IRWS are both listed as vulnerable breeds. The IRWS registrations in the UK are worrying,at least to me,  down to less than half of what they were in the late 1990s. In the wild, species with numbers as low as this  are generally thought to be in serious trouble. Our COIs are rising, and unless somebody imports a new dog, there is nowhere else to go to find something different to breed from. 83 /119 new puppies is not sufficient to maintain diversity in the gene pool. Even more worrying is that most people in the breed dont appear to be worried and cant see any problems, and although the Irish Kennel Club has approved an outcross programme (using working red Irish Setters), and the KC has no objections as outcrossing in small breeds is in line with their current policies, the breed club in the UK is opposed to outcrossing

Some corrections are needed here:


The COIs of English-bred IRWS are NOT rising, in fact they are reducing as breeders now have access to information via the KC schemes - Mate Select and EBV.  There has been concern for some years about the prevalence of using the 'winning dog' and breeders now question the number of times certain lines occur in pedigrees. Although there are two breeders who 'line breed' - and raise the breed average COI, the importation of three Irish-bred IRWS and the use of a stud living in Ireland has lowered their litters' COIs to below 6.7%.  This could work too in reverse for Irish breeders who have 'concern for the long term effects of a small gene pool'


The IRWSCGB is NOT opposed to cross-breeding - as those who actually attended the 2009 International Conference know. In fact the UK Breed Club, the UK Irish Setter Breed Clubs and the KC are in consultation to work out how outcrossing can be done for the benefit of the WHOLE of both breeds and not just for one aspect.


The speed with which the UK KC registrations for all four setter breed could be published here is useful.  Is there any way that the Irish Kennel Club publish registrations in Ireland so that it is possible to get an overall view of the breeding in Ireland?  There is hardly any information published regarding health issues that cause such concern as to necessitate outcrossing to another breed.  Or if there is, please let me know where it can be found.



The reason why UK setter registration is falling?

a) Fashion - people seem to want 'exotic' breeds these days not to mention 'designer dogs' (advertised as not having any diseases!!)

b) People wanting sporting dogs seem to be going for the smaller breeds - Spaniels and HPRs

c) Lifestyle - those who can afford to buy and keep setters have so many other interests that they don't have the time needed for them... only the truly dedicated have.



This is something of a U turn! It seems only a few months ago the breed club in the UK were writing to the IKC objecting to the outcross programme for IRWS in the FCI countries. Is this official that the IRWSCGB , the Irish Setter Setter Breed Clubs and the KC are in consultation about outcrossing? Has this been approved by all the breed clubs involved? Are breed club members aware of this?

Margaret, you are so out of touch with UK IRWS!

The first statement of the IKC about crossing Irish IRWS to French working Irish Setters was full of anomalies that caused objections not just from the UK but from the rest of the worldwide IRWS.

It was revised by the IKC and that revision opened outcrossing to anyone who could cite, "to reduce COIs", "to expand the gene pool", "to avoid future disease".

If the IKC can pursue outcrossing IRWS to another breed, so can any KC.

Of course the IRWSCGB and the Joint Irish Setter Clubs work with the KC to ensure that the best information and four-generation backcross practice is known to everyone and that the future well-being of BOTH breeds is safeguarded.

I'm sure the other Irish Setter and IRWS breeds across the world will want to have a strategy in place and be prepared when crossbreds enter their systems.


Ann, your explanation of why UK setter registrations are down would make sense IF it was not for the increase in the large gundog breeds I listed in my earlier post:

GSP 1410 / 1424 - up

Vizsla 1498 / 1588 - up

Weimaraner 1969 / down to a high 1581

The GSP and Weimaraner are NOT considered small nor easy to handle breeds on the continent. Quite the opposite: no-one wanting a family pet would normally go for a GSP, a GWP or a Weimaraner. I jus don't understand why the native UK/Irish setters are loosing out to these continental hunting dogs...


Simple, Susan.  The HPR breeds are 'new' and different and on the whole not considered large dogs - more medium sized.

And they are multi-purpose and do not range as far as Setters so do not need as much land.

Also given that there has been a continued mantra from 'working' people that "Irish Setters can't work" for more than 40 years and that 'working' people in general have not taken to IRWS for working/FT purposes, the only place for the majority of the population to see these breeds - including English and Gordon - is in the show ring.  There they are admired for their beauty but acknowledged as too big and too lively for today's lifestyle.

Of course we know this isn't true ;o]))

Ann, I have read your above 4 paragraphs in amazement. I will concede that i do agree with your first paragraph! Although i have regularly heard that some GSPs and a lot of Weimaraners can be very hard to deal with as young animals!!

Yes they are multi purpose and do not range as far as the setters and pointers are expected to . They will require as much land as any other dog to find game .In fact it may take them longer to find it as they will have to work more beats.

Your third paragraph is quite amazing as far as i am concerned. I have trialled Irish setters since 1974 so not quite 40 years with a break during the 2000s and i have never heard any working person say that Irish setters can’t work .I would be most interested to hear who your sources of information came from.

Secondly My Mothers working Irish red and white setters won a lot of admirers of Field triallers you would be very surprised about.Both Die hard English setter enthusiast and even a staunch Gordon setter enthusiast.as well as others. The problem comes when new people come into Field trials and win a certificate of merit and then think that their animals are as good as trialling dogs who get actual awards .Most people who trial their dogs appreciate a good working animal whatever its breed .Big but here: to get to that level it requires considerable EFFORT,TIME,MONEY andDEDICATION.

People interested in the working side are unlikely to attend a show to see what excites them in a field. They will be impressed seeing the dog in action. Over the years in England i cannot think of any serious contender who was going to put the red and white setter on the map which was a shame as they had such a lot of natural ability although they tended to be wilful! Sadly the Kennel club refused permission for my Mother to breed from her last red and white as she would have been 8years old and unfortunately had'nt had a litter due to being run at trials during the summer months. Otherwise My Mother might still be trialling Red and Whites?

Interesting post with some points to think about

I think the red and white is on the FT map at the moment

Colin Organ is running Dalriach Neige. I think she is the only one though


Hi Colette

When I had my first Irish Setter in 1971, I enquired about working training only to be soundly rebuffed... and being 'new and inexperienced' I believed the scathing remarks.  Perhaps I was unfortunate in the people I asked.  I was surprised that some of the Irish Setters I bred actually could and did work!

Of course I know of your Mother's FT successes, how she trained her dogs in a London park, I was disappointed too that she did not breed on with her working dogs.

My first IRWS, bought in 1980, was not interested, however her children were! Unfortunately the next 15 years were filled with great family difficulties and tragedy so that I was unable to pursue the working side...... Until the last10 years that is, when I have expended TIME, EFFORT and DEDICATION in the setting up of a working scheme for IRWS on Midland fields and moorland - and to include other setter breeds too.

Too late probably to rescue English Setters from their decline, but if there is little demand for setters it is no wonder that people are not breeding them and no wonder that the versatile HPS are so popular.


There is a demand for English Setters, just not enough pups being born to satisfy that demand. Breeders are breeding but either having small litters or the bitches are missing.

Those of us who love the breed will never give up on them, we just need to look at the COI and encourage breeders to go out to other lines rather than just sticking with the same dogs.





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