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In the effort to produce healthy dogs, we accept a regime of testing and selection on health issues and acknowledge that breeding closely related dogs concentrates their genes - the bad along with the good.

To get to the pitch where the COI indicates a high percentage of inbreeding and a threat to the future of the breed, outcrossing or crossbreeding with another breed or breeds is a remedy that is recommended.

How much will this alter 'Type' and does it matter anyway?

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I guess Ann was asking the original question more with the problems of the small IRWS gene pool in mind, however the discussion has been more about Irish Setters. Even though both are setter breeds , the effects  of inbreeding and popular sires are not necessarily exactly the same.

Mel, I agree with you on this. Sometimes one would like to use a less related dog to breed from, but if one suspects the owner/breeder is not being entirely open about possible problems, and doesnt have much of a history on testing, one could be taking risks. In a small breed like IRWS, it can be a choice between taking a risk or using a more closely related dog where one knows there are fewer risks

Can't find a 'reply' space... this should come after Margaret's last comments on Monday and Wednesday.........

Monday's post:

Actually I was not only thinking of IRWS problems.  Irish Setters have a similar problem - close breeding - with slightly different causes and remedy.

Irish Setters (Popular Sire & EPS of 20) can outcross within the breed with plenty of combinations to choose from - maybe lose type but this can be retrieved.

IRWS (Small population, restricted choice, EPS of 28 & bottlenecking) can outcross within the breed or resort to outcrossing to another breed.

Yesterday's post:

I think Margaret's suspicion of IRWS breeders is because she is isolated up in Scotland and is not able to see and mingle with the population in England, where the vast majority of UK IRWS are.  Seeing others' dogs on an almost weekly basis at shows Championship and Open, visiting litters, taking part in breed interests all contribute to a wider knowledge of the breed than relying on test results and second hand opinions.  Even the chat that goes along with this mingling is informative - although you don't have to believe or agree with everything said ;o])) The experience of years, however educates a person to sort the wheat from the chaff!

You could say all breeding decisions are a risk and every breeder does their best to reduce the risk and preserve what they believe to be the best of their 'lines'.

In this small breed where there is a system of reporting genetic health problems, in confidence, breeders pool information and so take out some of the risk.... but it can only work by constant contact between breeders - and not those just seeking a candidate for their next mating.



I've sat back and waited to see if any other IRWS owners/breeders would get some discussion going, Disappointing that once again nobody wants to discuss the topic. I think the problem is that for the last two decades, if anybody has even suggested the IRWS gene pool is so small that it needs to be enlarged for the future health of the breed, there have been immediate reassurances that

1. The gene pool is adequate and it is possible to find healthy dogs to breed from, who are not closely related

2. The breed is very healthy , has few problems, that the few problems are all under control, testing is the answer to everything. CLAD and VWD have been eliminated in the UK (if not in other countries)

3 . All our breeders are open and honest, share problems with each other, and report them to Ann's health and genetics data base

4. UK breeders have worked hard to "improve " the breed and wouldnt want to lose the "type" they have now. ie the dogs no longer  look  much like the original working bred dogs in Ireland when the breed was revived in the 1970s, so the last thing they want is to go back to working reds for an outcross

I have to say that in the earlier years when I started to breed, I was as convinced  as anybody else in the breed that this was the case. This was the strong message put out by Ann more than anybody else, and it was a comfortable belief to live with. Only in Ireland were there doubts about the longer term viability of the gene pool without further outcrossing, legal or illegal. And one abortive , poorly informed and badly planned attempt in the US to widen the gene pool which ended with 200 red and white dogs being refused registration by the AKC. And a couple of non conforming people  in the Netherlands :)) The trouble is, now that geneticists and the KC are becoming aware that the breed IS  heading for trouble , breeders find it easier and more comfortable to continue to bury their heads in the sand and repeat the same reassuring mantras that everything is just fine. Easier to  keep one's head down and mouth shut, if any problems do show up  and look the other way, And avoid any discussion.. And marginalise the few people in the breed who are worried, they are just a few eccentrics who are out of touch! Paradoxically  the people who are worried are the ones who work hard to keep in touch with other IRWS breeders around the world, and keep their ears and eyes open for any health and genetic problems that are occurring. And they are also the ones who try to keep up with research in the field of canine genetics- not easy as this field becomes more and more complex and advances faster and faster.

I dont know what the answer is. We have gone through a decade or more of heated arguments for and against outcrossing , where both sides get more and more entrenched , and there is no rational discussion and too much personal abuse at times. Where next? Could the breed  disappear in the UK if changes in breeding practices dont happen?  Are we really going to have the KC and the geneticists at the AHT imposing changes on the breed, as they are already doing with the 15 high profile breeds (for different reasons)? Wouldnt it be better to pre-empt this and have breed clubs who work out their own strategy for a healthy future for the breed and take a lead in ensuring that isnt just empty words, but actually happens?

I can see that Ann is moving cautiously in this direction, and at least starting to ask some relevant questions , which is great, and I'm sure she has people like Sarah Blott at the AHT right behind her. But she needs to have more breeders  and the breed club right behind her. Please, lets have some open discussion,

Ann, its a myth of your making that I am "isolated" and "out of touch" because I live in Scotland , and rarely come south for a show nowadays, although I suspect I probably still go to more shows than you do. Reality is that there is a growing community of IRWS owners in Scotland who keep in touch with each other informally, not through breed clubs or through shows , but face to face , and through the internet, phone  and shared interests. Furthermore I keep in touch on a daily basis with other breeders of IRWS and people with an interest in genetics and working setters all over the world who share similar interests and related dogs, mostly through the internet, often on the phone, and sometimes face to face. Paradoxically, NOT going to a lot of British dog shows, helps to keep me free of a lot of the brainwashing about desirable type that goes on at the ringside. And above all, I actually breed real IRWS - unlike you - which does keep one's feet on the ground where reality is concerned . You didnt answer Mel's question about when you last bred a litter - well the answer is that, according to the breed database, you bred/registered  a grand total of just ten IRWS puppies  in the 1980s , with the last litter in 1987

<VBG>  You got me there, Margaret - Although it was 17 IRWS (time of the two tier registration system) plus 6 Irish Setter and 4 Westie litters 1970s - 1990s.

I chose not to continue breeding IRWS because of family problems, but have kept up my interest and concern for my setter breeds for 42 years - deliberately not breeding IRWS, I have an overview of the breed - I am not campaigning my own dogs, promoting my own breeding, I am in no one's camp; I go to as many shows as I can - not difficult living in the Midlands and run two Gundog Group shows each year, I also judge IRWS, giving CCs since the early 1990s and have judged IRWS in Europe and Canada as well.


You are wrong in your statement that I have recenly come round to the idea of

Sorry, I looked back for the exact quote and got cut off, here's the rest  I am not 'caustiously moving in the direction...' I have been going on about the dangers of inbreeding for 30+ years as those who have been in the breed from the beginning will tell you.

I can't see the relevance of how few litters I have bred in this context. Is this relevant? 

Margaret has bred 20 litters to date in 13 years, producing 180 puppies from 10 bitches - 3 that were bought in and 7 of her own breeding and only 2 sires, used once each, that are not of her own breeding.  That's a lot of puppies and their descendants, in a breed where on average, less than 10 litters and 100 puppies a year are produced by UK IRWS breeders, and has overloaded the breed with one closely bred line.

The most frequent question asked of me (in my role as Genetic Sub-Committee Sec/Breed Health Coordinator) is "Where can I go for a stud that is not Dalriach based.  I need more diversity?"

Margaret, you have written so much biased, misinformed, personal opinion in your last posts that I haven't the time or inclination to tackle each one.  I suggest you communicate open-minded and face to face with English IRWS breeders and have hands on live IRWS  bred by other people rather than relying on what people want to tell you on the phone or internet.  The difficulty is that you have not done yourself any good by your rather patronising and insulting comments regarding UK IRWS......

Finn. Didn't you know?

All IRWS owners are most frequently asked that question! - yes, even those few without Dalriach ;o]))))))))))

Do you frequently get asked to use him at stud? 

"Margaret has bred 20 litters to date in 13 years, producing 180 puppies from 10 bitches - 3 that were bought in and 7 of her own breeding and only 2 sires, used once each, that are not of her own breeding"


If you must resort to personal slanging stuff, Ann, at least get your facts right!

I have used FOUR  sires (not two), who were not bred by me - Clehurst Zazu, Ardbraccan Gaelic Legend, Kestrel of Cherryfield, and Tullamore Troubador, and have just imported  another  new dog, Cherryfield Viscount ( who will be used for breeding subject to health testing and getting him registered in the UK)

I have bred from FIVE  bitches (not three) that were not bred by me, Rushfield Ruffle, Ardbraccan Firecrest, Ardbraccan Glenfiddich, Pepperstown Polly and Whitenova Iona, and imported one more Granaghburn bitch who hasnt been bred from. And will probably be importing another  bitch next year, if all goes according to plan

And I'm not responsible for the breeding choices of other breeders who , having bought one dog from me  or having used Archie as a stud (just four other UK breeders) , have bred on from those dogs, If they go on breeding from them two or even three generations down the line, you will have to ask them why, not try to pin their breeding choices on to me. As for finding anything different, well there are other breeders who have had  nothing  of mine in their breeding - Shannonlee (the most prolific line of IRWS), Corranroo, Vanders, Casa Felice, Viewland, Coolfin, Lowdon and others


Just leaving for a dog show and to meet up with some other IRWS owners :))

Dear Margaret, The number of litters bred by me is raised by you....several times - among other personal slanging stuff..

I did not say ' bred by you' I said 'of your breeding' ie Iona  & Troubador and Zazu was  owned by you, producing your first IRWS litter in 1999.

As for the others with none of your breeding, why not look there for the unrelated stud you have such difficulty in finding?  They are health tested to the hilt with generations of data available.

Incidentally, Shannonlee brought the IRWS into the country in 1979 - their prolific breeding (41 litters) spans 30 years and their raison d'etre' was similar to yours.  They caused the same problem - 'where to go for unrelated breeding? ' 

Irish Setter folk, this is the scourge of a small breed, at any one time one kennel dominates the breed, belittling the other kennels - until scepticism clicks in and avoidance begins.'

Dalriach and Shannonlee are not responsible for other breeders' choices, but the volume of their progeny in the population at any one time restricts that choice - until finally, breeders see the problem.... and hopefully see the remedy.

Eva...I think it's best not to use individual dogs and breeders names on a forum.  Suffice to say that it is very easy find out how many litters have been sired by any stud dog using the KC website.  I just typed in three very well known dogs and 'hey presto' up comes all the info. 

'Unfounded allegations - disclose the information' words used more suited to a court than a dog website don't you think?

The information is free for everyone to look at on the KC website, I have disclosed where I got the information...so I think this case can be dropped, don't you?




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