Irish Setter Breed Magazine - Showsight

Irish Setter Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard for the Irish Setter 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. Head: 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. Forequarters: 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.

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Hindquarters: 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. Coat: 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. Color: 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. Gait: 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. Temperament: 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


By Karolynne McAteer

A breed’s standard is like its own personal piece of poetry; as with poet- ry interpretations will di ff er reader to reader, judge to judge. Th e fol- lowing is based on maintaining the essence of the breed, the absolute essentials that make an Irish Setter an Irish while still leaving considerable room for a judges’ personal preferences. NOTHING is more important than the standard, and adher- ing to the fact that these are sporting dogs, as such, they are athletes and while they may not be asked to quarter a fi eld for an

afternoon of shooting, they should indeed be built to do the job! I personally feel that a deviation from the standard is a fault, but a fault that inhibits the dog from complet- ing its intended purpose is a sin. As you take your initial look at your class, whether just checking them in, or making a fi rst walk down the line, the snapshot in your mind should be one of elegance and balance. Slightly longer than tall, rich red in color, gently sloping top line. Starting at the head, its structure is long and lean, with parallel planes, and an over- all proportion of equal lengths from tip


of nose to de fi ned stop, and from stop to occiput. Th e skull when viewed from the top is that of an oval. Depth of muzzle should be in proportion but deep enough to easily carry large upland game, lips are squared o ff but not pendulous. . Bites are to be scissor with level being acceptable. You will frequently see dropped teeth, which if in alignment are not to be, in my opinion, penalized. Eyes are oval with tight rims (remember, when hunting this would pre- vent seeds or grasses from getting into the eye); color ranging from dark to medium brown. Th e eye has a raised brow which enhances the overall expression of intelli- gence and softness. It is this construction of the head, and its melting expression that makes this setter an Irish Setter. Th e front assembly shows a moderate but evident forechest, with a scapula that is well laid back and with an upper arm that is equal in length, all contributing to good reach. Th e neck fi ts smoothly into good shoulders, and should be of a length appropriate to the breed’s purpose mean- ing long enough to reach the ground to pick up game without crouching. Bone on the Irish Setter is moderate, but neither

fi ne nor coarse. Remember, the Irish Set- ter’s origins are the bogs of Ireland where the ground is soft and neither a heavy dog, not a too fi ne animal would be appropri- ate for the terrain, so substance without heaviness is key. Feet are small, tight and well knuckled. As a judge moves along the side of the dog, the chest reaches to the elbow, and a judge’s hand will note that the length of our “slightly longer than tall” dog is in the rib cage and not in the loin. Th e top line is fi rm and gently sloping (not a ski slide!!) and the tail is a direct extension of that top line, neither tipping downward, nor overly upward. It is important to look at tails with a view to their set and their carriage as tails can rise with excitement (carriage), but we are talking structure at this time (set). Moving to the rear, the Irish Setter has good rear angles, matching the front angles which contributes to overall bal- ance both standing and moving. Evidence of a wide thigh and second thigh should be noted, with a well de fi ned bend of sti fl e and with the leg ending in a moderately short perpendicular hock. Again, feet are small, well knuckled and with hair left

between the toes. Examining the rear also includes checking for muscling. Step back for one more look, and the overall picture should be a pleasing silhouette of elegance and balance. Having examined the dog standing, it should be no surprise how it moves. We are a breed that moves as it stands, and correct movement on the Irish Set- ter is where all the pieces fl ow together, S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A UGUST 2014 • 287

with no one piece overpowering the other. A judge always checks the down and back for basic soundness, (please note a good dog can move widely in the rear to start, but converge to center after a few paces) but it is on the silhouette that you see the true components of this breed. Proud head carriage re fl ecting correct head planes, with heads that move slightly forward as speed increases and would de fi nitely move forward when carrying the weight of a bird, neck fi tting smoothly into well laid back shoulders, a fi rm slightly sloping top line ending in a level tail set. Th e reach and drive should re fl ect good ground cover, with the feet “clipping the grass” exhibit- ing no wasted motion or excess picking up of feet. Remember, a full day of hunt- ing would require e ffi cient movement to reduce fatigue. Over this dog lies a coat, rich red in color, with a silky quality and with a pleas- ingly long fringe on ears, belly, brisket and chest. All coat should be as free from curl or wave as possible. You will see small acceptable patches of white, most com- monly on the chest, throat or toes, and even on occasion a slight “snip of white” on the head… these are not to be penal- ized. Th e standard states that all trimming is done to preserve the natural appearance of the dog. We are currently seeing what could only be considered extreme groom- ing and sculpting but I am sure there are none among us who think that a moder- ate dog in tons of coat outweighs a good dog in modest coat! Coat can be grown by anyone; good headpieces and correct body type come from good breeding. Judging puppies: Our breed is not fast to develop, looseness on the move is to be expected (not to be confused with unsoundness), our heads will develop long past 2 years of age, with the chiseling that makes a setter head so special, not evident until maturity. You should expect to see decent planes, good eye shape and correct body proportions. Frequently the occiput can appear pronounced in a puppy head, but this disappears as the top skull fi lls in. Remember when examining an Irish pup, the best is yet to come. Breeders ask that as you approach a pup you not speak to it, just scratch its head to announce you are


“An outgoing, stable temperament is the essence of the Irish Setter...”

there and examine it. We always laugh- ingly say if you talk to a pup, you could end up wearing it! Remember, this breed’s standard calls for a rollicking personality and it is likely you will see it more than once during a day’s judging. Frequently when moving an Irish pup, it forgets its party manners, just be patient and say, “Go again please.” Personality: An outgoing, stable tem- perament is the essence of the Irish Setter, timidity shyness or hostility are unchar- acteristic of the breed and are not to be rewarded. Th ere is nothing like a National for total immersion. Entries are in very good numbers at our National, and we have a two-day Judges Ed. program with class- room experience, hands-on and ringside mentors for Best of Breed. Th is experience is where the written word comes alive. We have multiple specialties across the country, and can almost always arrange for ringside mentors. We have two fi eld

events: the National Hunting Test coupled with Th e National Walking Field Trial and the breed’s Fall National Field Trial. Come and join us and watch form and function work together. My book shelves are stu ff ed with books of breeds I judge, am researching or just want to know about. Two books come immediately to mind to help sort out the Irish Setter: Th e Essence of Setters: An In- Depth Study of the Four Setters by Marsha Hall Brown and Th e O ffi cial Book of the Irish Setter by Connie Vanacore. For further information on our breed, visit our website BIO Karolynne McAteer is a second gen- eration Irish Setter breeder and AKC sporting dog judge. She has bred her own Red Barn line since the 1970s and exhibits her dogs in both conformation and the field. She is the AKC Delegate for Irish Setters.


THIS IS THE IRISH SETTER A DISCUSSION OF SWIFT-MOVING, BIG LIVELY GAIT, AND A ROLLICKING PERSONALITY! BY SAM HOUSTON MCDONALD I n a review of the Official Standard , one can see in the opening remarks that the Irish Setter is described

as, “Afield, the Irish Setter is a swift- moving hunter; at home, a sweet natured, trainable companion.” In the section under Gait, movement is described by stating, “At the trot the gait is big, very lively, graceful and efficient.” Though the field and the show ring may be far from the same conditions, there are reasons why the two are related. And if we add a big dab of rollicking personality and cor- rect structure, the picture is complete. If truth be known, there is much uncertainty about the origin of the Irish Setter. It is supposed that through the use of spaniels, bred to other breeds, so came the setting spaniel of red and white. Broke to net, they crouched or “set” whenever they came upon game such as partridge.

Once guns were were introduced, the style of hunting changed, finding the dogs working in a more upright posi- tion. Some breeders took a fancy to those with more red than white. Sub- sequently, through selective breeding, there came the “whole reds.” By the early 1800s, we had our Irish Setter in type and function. Certainly, through the comparison of pictures and paintings over the years, we can see changes today. But the basics then are still the basics! In many publications from the middle to late 1800s, such as the Dogs of the British Islands by J. H. Walsh (1886), authors wrote descriptions about the build of the breed with its slightly longer than tall frame, suffi- cient bone, and a head allowing plenty of brain room. The chest is deep with well sprung ribs, allowing sufficient



lung space, that ribbing is carried back along the spinal cord to support the firm back. Forelegs are straight and sinewy, feet small and firm. Mr. Walsh, based on his own observations and those accounted by well-respect- ed breeders of the time, including Mr. Llewellin and Mr. Macdona, wrote that due to build and character, “the Irish Setter is fast and enduring” and he is an “invaluable aid to the gun.” They spoke to a “style of going” with free action, allowing the legs to move well under the dog, and yet, these swift-moving dogs with their heads well up were able to have “feelings for the scent.” But to be fair, in their complete observations they wrote of their Irish Setter puppies (and even broke dogs) having a different personality and courage than others, which required work to “keep him in a state of control.” And so, this author suggests that this was a first glimpse into that “rollicking personality.” In early written Standard of Points, movement was not included in the schedule, yet it was followed by an explanation of correct gait. Then, as now, at a trot the gait is big and lively, referring to the forelegs reaching well ahead as if to pull in the ground, with hindquarters driving smoothly and with great power. At an extended trot, the head reaches slightly forward, keeping the dog in balance. Feet stay close to the ground, appearing to clip the top of the grass. The head is held high, not back. There should be no hackney gait or any unnecessary lifting of the feet. The correct specimen always exhibits balance, whether standing or in motion. This is an animated (yes, rollicking) breed with its personality coming through in the ring or in the field—or in performance or companion events.


Through an understanding of an Irish Setter stand- ing and moving, I hope one takes away from this article the following: • The correct specimen is built to perform its intended functions. • Overall balance between parts is integral to the complete picture, whether standing or moving. • The breed is capable of running big in the field, covering a lot of ground, and in the show ring he exhibits ground-covering motion with his great forward reach and powerful rear drive. • The rollicking personality is apparent in this breed, and one (judges) should not be too critical when it is displayed in the show ring, especially when it comes to evaluating puppies. • Moving at a trot in the ring, and as speed increas- es, the Irish Setter may move at a fast speed, but should never be racing around the ring. The National Specialty will be held on June 14-19, 2021 in Fredrick, Maryland, at the Clarion Inn Fredrick Event Center. Judges Education will be held on Friday and Saturday, June 18-19. Contact Sam Houston McDonald at for more information. INCLUDED IN THE SCHEDULE, YET IT WAS FOLLOWED BY AN EXPLANATION OF CORRECT GAIT.... THE CORRECT SPECIMEN ALWAYS EXHIBITS BALANCE, WHETHER STANDING OR IN MOTION. ”


Formally known as Ch. Glynscott Firecracker Bright Star, “Spice” was WB at the national, and went on to several wins in the field.


THE IRISH SETTER An Active, Aristocratic Bird Dog!


T he opening line in the General Description of the Irish Setter Standard states that they are “an active, aristocratic bird dog!” With this as a reader’s first impression, I hope you will read on as we dive a bit into the aristocratic bird dog phrase and marry it with the dog that we see today, both in the field and in the show ring. By the early 1800s, the Irish Setter type had become well established by the English gentry who came over to Ireland with their Setters, and by Irish families who took pride in the purity of their own strain of Irish Setter. Many of the “royal” families of Ireland developed their own lines, which is, perhaps, what led to the phrase “aristocratic bird dog.” In the United States, the Irish Red Setter, as it was then known, was frequently seen at field trials as far back as 1875 when “Elcho” was imported to the US. Elcho’s success, and the success of his prog- eny, was almost equal on the bench and in the field. There are well-documented records of the success of the Irish at field events. However, somewhere, breeders ceased to focus on the field, and the breed’s work with the bird dropped dramati- cally. Many say that the Irish Setter’s active love of life—and his accepted rollick- ing personality—made him a better dog on the bench than in the field. Let’s fast forward to the Irish Setter you see today. He is, in essence, the same dog! His overall build represents that of a dog born on the soft or bog-like land of Ireland, where heaviness or coarseness would be detrimental to a full day’s work. His refinement is NOT to be confused with “fine.” The standard calls for “all legs sturdy and plenty of bone.” Whether out in the field or in a show ring, he is built for his purpose; a full day in the field. The dog in the ring today encompasses all the body traits for the purpose of this breed. Starting head-on, that eye has a tight rim to prevent pods, seeds, and grasses from getting into the eye. The beautiful, long neck is in balance with the height and length of the individual dog, so he does not need to crouch when retrieving his birds.



The length of body is in the rib cage to sup- ply support for the body (topline), and his tail is set as an extension of his body. It is important to note that in his heritage, the level tail was a part of his purpose. In the 1800s, a setter would go on point, frequently “crouch” slightly, which was referred to as a “set,” and then the handler/ owner would approach and throw a net over dog and bird. Clearly, a level tail was impor- tant. There is, however, a difference between set and carriage. (NOTE... I have seen many proper tail sets, when the dog is in repose, that have the ability, when on point, to display a very high tail!) I will briefly mention the coat. Finish- ing a dog in the show ring, and running him at field events, is a matter of good scheduling. Field/Hunt Test events have limited weekends in Spring and Fall. As such, people make the choice of what to do when. My handler always bemoaned, “What did you do to his coat?” It wasn’t beaten up, but clearly a lot of it was left out on the field and in the brush. Consequently, we competed in the ring in summer, and tried to accomplish our hunting/field event titles in Spring and Fall. The aristocratic bird dog really comes together both in the ring and in the field when he covers the ground, displaying all of his ele- gance with effortless reach and drive, nearly clipping the grass with no wasted motion or over-lifting of the limbs. These are the same attributes, whether in the field or in the ring. It is this elegance of movement that drew land- owners and the Irish aristocracy to favor the Irish Setter over other breeds. There has always been evidence that one line leans toward breeding for show and another line leans toward the field. The advent of the AKC Pointing Breeds Hunt Tests in 1986 was some- thing of a game changer for our bird dogs; get- ting them back into the fields. You did not need

“Fiona” is a Dual! Formally known as DC Mythodical Fiona of Dualuc, she earned an Award of Merit at our breed’s national.

horses or the rig to pull them; just a pair of jeans, some sturdy boots, and off you go. You could approach hunt tests at the Junior level and gauge your dog’s interest or instinct. Many judges remarked, “Boy, I haven’t seen an Irish in the field for years.” Well, here we are! Our ranks, and our success at both field trials and hunt tests, have grown significantly over the past three decades. Today, our active, aristocratic bird dog has 26 Dual Champions and 59 Master Hunters (of which 22 are also breed champions) with many more in Senior and Juniors. Out in the field, we boast of 324 Field Champions and Grand Field Champions, and 113 Amateur Field Champions or Grand Amateur Field Champions. This year, Irish Setter breeders and owners celebrate their Irish Setters in the field with four events: The National Hunt Test and Walking Field Trial in Ohio, October 2 and 3. This is followed by Booneville, Arkansas, October 30 - November 7, for three championships: the National Field Trial, the National Amateur Field Trial, and our National Gun Dog Championship (walking). Come and join us! It’s the best view of the active, aristocratic bird dog—and where the standard comes alive!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Karolynne McAteer, Red Barn Irish Setters

Karolynne was born into Irish Setters, and has never been without one at the foot of her bed. Today her dogs compete in Conformation and in the Field. Karolynne sits on the Board of the Irish Setter Club of America, and is the AKC Delegate to the breed. Additionally, Karolynne sits on the Board of the American Kennel Club and several of its entities. She is an AKC Judge of all sporting dogs, and the Sporting Group. Karolynne directs daytime streaming at the AKC National Championship and for Westminster Kennel Club. When not dealing with something that barks, she can be found conjuring up something good in the kitchen.


this is the IRISH SETTER


T he Irish Setter is an active, aristocratic bird dog, rich red in color and standing over two feet tall. With its flowing silky coat, long ears, soft expres- sion and regal presence, this dog turns heads wherever it goes. HISTORY The origin of the Irish Setter is not known, however, it is reasonable to believe that it evolved from a combination of land spaniels. These land spaniels were imported to Ireland from Spain when the Spaniards helped the Irish in their rebel- lion against the British. The breed, established as early as 1800 was not original- ly of solid color, but rather a combination of red and white. Through selective breeding, the color was derived and these “whole reds” became a breed unto themselves. Irish Setters were used to “set” game, hence the name “setters.” They were used to find upland game birds and crouched down close to their find so that the hunter could advance and throw a net over both dog and bird. When firearms were introduced, the setter took on a more upright stance, and the breed became proficient in retrieving their game. It is important to under- stand the original functions of this hunter as it relates to form and function. Today one may find this breed, with its rollicking person- ality and willingness to please, participating in many events including Field Trials, Hunting Tests, Obedience, Rally, Tracking, Agility, Conformation or just being that loving companion lying on the couch at home or fetching the ball. JUDGING THE BREED The Standard for any breed is its blueprint. For breed- ers, the standard is what they work towards in their breeding programs and for judges, the standard is the tool they use to evaluate each exhibit that comes into their ring. In the article, “Judging the Irish Setter” by breeder/judge Karolynne McA- teer, she writes, “NOTHING is more important than the


This is the Irish Setter


Balanced head and correct expression.

Correct balance of head and neck fitting into properly laid back shoulders with return of upper arm forming sufficient angle.

standard, and adhering to the fact that these are sporting dogs, they are athletes; and while they may not be asked to quarter a field for an after- noon of shooting, they should indeed be built to do the job!” If one is approved to judge the breed, it goes without saying that being knowledgeable about the standard is of utmost importance. As you examine the standard you will find several key words. Medium, moderate and balanced can be found throughout the written text. Though all three adjectives play an important role in describing the perfect dog, BALANCE is most important. It is not just about front and rear angulation but about each part and how these pieces all fit together. Each part of the head should be in balance with the other parts. The head should be in balance with the neck both in substance and length. The head and neck should be in balance with the body. The body being slightly longer than tall should end with a tail that is of correct shape and length. No single part should draw attention to itself. Each piece should fit smoothly into the adjoining part. This is a dog that should stand as it moves, with

Test, National Walking Field Trial and National Field Trial. There is nothing like the expe- rience of witnessing the Irish Setter at work to better under- stand the breed. Come and join us and watch form and function work together. IN REFERENCE TO THE IRISH SETTER As with any breed there are exhibits that are more cor- rect in structure than others. Breeders are always trying to maintain correctness or to cor- rect faults that have filtered into their breeding programs. When referencing the Irish Setter, one should make sure that they are using correct terminology for the breed and that it is in the standard. Therefore we ask that the use of comments like, “our breed is not straight in front like the Irish Setter,” or “our breed is not over angu- lated like the Irish Setter,” or “our breed does not have a ski slope topline like the Irish Set- ter,” be eliminated when refer- encing this breed in a dialogue or a comparison. Also the term “racy” does not appear in the standard and should not be used in reference to this breed. CONCLUSION This breed has inherent charms which attract people to the breed. With a rollicking personality and high energy, they enjoy exercise each day and you will find they are more than willing to entertain their own- ers and others. A willingness to please, Irish Setters are never too old to be playful both at home and in the ring.

a slightly sloping topline exhibiting ground cov- ering reach and drive with no wasted motion. And remember that when judging a class, “that one”, which is not like the others, could be the most correct specimen. NEW JUDGES For those planning to apply for this breed, all of the above applies to your learning the nuances of the breed. There are opportunities to become educated about the breed through seminars and workshops. This is a must in my book! There is a list of breeders/mentors on the AKC website under breed information or one can contact the Judges Education Coordinator to assist you in your endeavors. Whether it is ringside mentoring or making a kennel visit, the Parent Club coupled with local clubs, are here to help. To you “newbies” I wish to suggest you attend the National Specialty. We have a two day program which includes classroom experi- ence, hands on and ringside mentoring. There are local specialties throughout the country as well as field event including the National Hunt


The IrIsh seTTer From Then… unTIl now! By Karolynne McAteer

G oing back as far as records and stories allow, it is commonly thought that the Irish Setter today, started as a mix of European spaniel, most likely Spanish, some Irish Water Spaniel, and perhaps a Pointer. It is felt that the spaniel most likely arrived in Ireland via the Spanish Armada and that the inhabitants of Ireland added the Irish Water Spaniel and Pointer into the mix, producing a versatile hunting dog whose form would work well over the soft bog-like terrain of Ireland. Th e Irish Setter developed into a single breed in the early 1800s, and by somewhere around 1850 was seen regu-

larly in the families of Irish aristocracy who were busily developing their own lines. Th e breed was both solid red, and in the same whelping box, red and white. Over time the solid mahogany became preferred; solids red pups were kept and bred to other solid speci- mens. Th e red and white was not the dog of choice in these times and those in existence were sent to the kitchen or stables to work. With this culling for color, the Irish Red and White became almost extinct until their resurrec- tion in the mid 1950s. But the dark red Irish Setter thrived. In 1870, a dog came on the scene in Ireland that solidi fi ed the make and fi t of the breed. Th is dog was Ch. Palmer-

ston. While his exact date of birth is not known, we can track his ownership back to Cecil Moore, one of the founders of the Irish Setter Club in Dublin. Moore later sold Palmerston to J. M. Hilliard who proudly showed him in London in 1875. From here records are clear; show records prove Palmerston was a sensation in London, dark in color, with a small patch of white on his muzzle that later became known as the Palmerston snip. On occasion today we still see evidence of that snip, and some allowable white elsewhere, too. Palmerston was used at stud in Eng- land, and while his feet never touched U.S. shores, sons and daughters arrived in America at the homes of serious


breeders and hunters. One of the most in fl uential breedings was that of Rose, a Palmerston daughter imported by Dr. William Jarvis in 1877, bred to Elcho, an Irish import. Elcho became the fi rst American bench champion, with an impressive show career that included appearances in the ring at Chicago, St. Louis, New York and Boston. His mat- ing with Rose set the look in America for the Irish, in both the show ring and the fi eld. In 1878 the Irish Setter standard was accepted by the AKC, and the breed was on its way. Th e fi rst AKC registered Irish, was Admiral 534 and registrations grew in abundance as this beautiful breed took hold. Th e breed remained popular in the show ring, but was equally admired in the fi eld. Developed to retrieve upland game, the breed originally “set” (crouched) on the bird, and the hunter came and threw a net over both dog and game. Today, this versatile hunter is pop- ular in fi eld trial events and hunting tests and happily awaits the gun shot and to be sent for the retrieve. Fast forward to the mid 1970s. Th e Irish Setter consistently ranked in the top 5 most popular AKC breeds, spurred on by the movie Big Red and the pres- ence of the breed in the Nixon White House. Over 70,000 were registered in just a few years. Th e breed su ff ered in form and function, families who cov- eted their dog as a puppy, did not know how to handle the rollicking personality of the breed, nor deal with its need for exercise. People were one-time or back- yard breeders with little to no experi- ence of their own and new puppy own- ers had no one to rely on. Th e breed

“The IrIsh seTTer Is The ulTImaTe show dog, but their versatility and spirit make them happy to participate in any challenge.”

su ff ered greatly, and it took a good deal of work by serious breeders to bring the Irish back to its current status, that of a wonderfully rollicking, loyal family dog. Where we once ranked high up in pop- ularity we now are in about 74th place with registrations annually somewhere between 1,200 to 1,500. Th e Irish Setter is the ultimate show dog, but their versatility and spirit make them happy to participate in any chal- lenge. Th ey are commonly seen hold- ing the blue ribbon in obedience, agility and rally. Th ey are known to be splendid dock divers and can catch a frisbee with the best of them. Th ey are frequently the choice of junior handlers competing at the highest levels. Th e breed’s work in the fi eld has not su ff ered, as can be evidenced by an annual trip to Booneville, Arkansas for the national fi eld trial championship. Th e dual dog is re-emerging, and dur- ing the past 5 years through the work of a select group of breeders the breed has added many more duals to its ranks. In the hunting test venue, at last count 45+ Irish held Master Hunter titles.

Like everything in life, you can’t be all things to all people. Th e Irish Setter is not for everyone; he is slow to mature, both physically and mentally, and has a very high energy level. This combination can be a challenge to live with at times. At 2 years of age a light bulb goes on somewhere and he usually becomes the dog of your dreams. He requires regular exercise and there is the need for consistent though not dif- ficult grooming. When I receive puppy inquiries, my first question is always, “Have you owned an Irish before?” Those that have, go to the top of the list. Th rough the approximate 200 years of history, the Irish Setter has endured fads and fashion, over population and movie stardom. Gratefully the breed as we see it now is in excellent hands and the Irish Setter has returned to its origins, that of an athletic, aristocratic bird dog. Today, this breed is happy circling a group ring, on point in a fi eld or just “ fl opped down on the hearth.” What could be better than that?

“The Irish Setter is the ultimate show dog, but their versatility and spirit make them happy to participate in any challenge. They are commonly seen holdIng The blue rIbbon In obedIence, agIlITy and rally.”


IrIsh setter Club of AmerICA foundAtIon

By Anne Marie Kubacz, LVT ISCA Health Chair

I n 2000, recognizing the need to take care of their own, Irish Setter Club of America Foun- dation was established by its parent club, the Irish Setter Club of America (ISCA). Set up as a tax exempt public charity under IRS Code Section 501(c)(3) the Founda- tion was initially funded with a $50,000 contribution from ISCA Health Com- mittee funds and $40,000 from the Vir- ginia Hardin Trust. Th e Foundation con- tinues to grow today with donations from its membership. Th e Foundation Board of Directors consists of twelve Direc- tors; all are ISCA members, all require ISCA board approval and four are elected annually by the Foundation for three year terms. Th e Foundation also main- tains an Advisory Committee, selected by the ISCA Foundation Board to serve at its discretion. Health related projects are admin- istered through the parent club Health Committee with the consent of the ISCA Foundation Board. In much the same fashion, rescue and rehabilitation grants are administered through the Rescue Committee with the consent of the ISCA Foundation Board.

Our Purpose t 1SPNPUF UIF QVCMJDT LOPXMFEHF BOE appreciation of dogs in general and the Irish Setter in particular. t 4VQQPSU UIF TUVEZ PG BOE SFTFBSDI PO diseases and genetic anomalies which a ff ect the Irish Setter. t %FWFMPQBOENBLFBWBJMBCMFJOGPSNBUJPO about the proper care, health, breeding, development and training of Irish Setters. t 1SPWJEFGVOEJOHGPSSFTDVFBOESFIBCJMJ - tation of displaced Irish Setters. t 1SPWJEF DPMMFHF TDIPMBSTIJQT UP VOEFS - graduates and to veterinary students. Foundation fundraising has several e ff orts each year: a very popular annual calendar, an after-party following Veteran Sweepstakes at the National specialty with silent auction, and an annual ra ffl e drawn at the National. Understanding the impor- tance of this Foundation, club members are generous with year-end donations and many have left signi fi cant bequeaths in their Wills. Th e ISCA Foundation, in conjunction with the ISCA Health Committee, have been leaders in advancing research regard- ing common diseases of the Irish Setter. We have a strong partnership with the AKC Canine Health Foundation, most

recently becoming a Champion Spon- sor of the AKC CHF Bloat initiative. We also sponsor grants for research on HOD, osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, lympho- ma, the use of probiotics in treatment of Irritable Bowel Disease, and Incontinence. In 2012 the Foundation, in conjunction with OFA, conducted a health survey to determine what breed speci fi c health chal- lenges we need to focus on in the future. In keeping with its purpose to promote education and knowledge, the Foundation provides funds to sponsor the speakers at the annual National Health Seminar and Breeders Seminar. At every National the Foundation also provides a clinic where PVSCSFFEDBOCFUFTUFEGPS13"SDE 13" rcd4, thyroid disease. Free DNA collec- tions via blood samples are o ff ered and then stored in the OFA CHIC DNA database, and titre testing for distemper and parvovi- SVTJTPêFSFEWJB%S3PO4DIVMU[TMBC Th rough the leadership of Foundation president Connie Vanacore, the ISCA Foundation has been heralded for its vision in supporting so many aspects that bene fi t the Irish Setter. Other breeds may learn from this model and explore the possibility of creating a Foundation to the advantage their breed.

“The ISCA Foundation, in conjunction with the ISCA Health Committee, hAve been leAders In AdvAnCIng reseArCh regArdIng Common dIseAses of the IrIsh setter.”


The Dual IrIsh seTTer The essence of The breeD

By Jeannie Wagner


ind gently blow- ing the mahog- any coat, he is a majestic statue standing on point. His head

high his body ridged as he takes in the aroma cone of the game bird he has locat- ed. Th e Irish Setter on point is as stunning and beautiful as he is in the ring. Unfor- tunately he is often thought of as just a show dog that no longer has the ability to work as a true sporting dog. Th e fact is the Irish Setter is a versatile dog; he excels in the show ring but is equally comfortable working in Obedience, Rally, and Agility and also in the field. He is an outgoing friendly dog that loves people; however, he is devoted to his owner when it comes to working in the field he prefers his owner as his working partner. Starting in the late 50s and 60s there was a movement within the Irish Setter fancy to identify and bring back strong pointing genetics to make the Irish Set- ter competitive with other pointing breeds. Th is movement was successful and the Irish Setter today is competitive in all breed field competition; however it did cause a split in the breed as to show and field type. To be recognized by AKC as a Dual Champion, a dog must achieve the title of Champion of Record and Field Cham- pion. In the years between 1956 and 1981 Irish Setters were achieving Dual Cham- pionship titles on the average of one every couple of years, then larger gaps in time of 6 years, 8 years and 5 years between titles. Since 2008 we have had resurgence in Dual Champions. In 2008, four Irish Setter achieved the title of Dual Cham- pion and in April 2013 we crowned Dual Champion #23. Of note these talented dogs are not only Dual Champions but many have also achieved multiple titles.

DC/AFC Mythodical’s Runnymead Rip

DC/AFC Pompei’s Look Who’s Here SH RN

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Essence of the Breed—8-week-old puppy pointing a wing.

2010 National Hunt Test Gallery

What factors have influenced this increase in Dual Champions? In the late 70s the Irish Setter Club of America introduced the Versatility Certificate. Dogs earning the ISCA VC or VCX title had to demonstrate virtues in Conformation, Obedience and Field. Th is was a first step in promoting breeders and owners to identify inherited genetics for pointing ability. Th is program intro- duced many fanciers to field performance who would otherwise not have ventured into the field. During this same period of time, AKC picked up on the fact that many parent clubs were o ff ering field perfor- mance working certificates. Th e AKC Hunt Test was born. Hunt Tests provided entry level non- competitive competition that gave fanci- ers more opportunity to work with their dogs in the field, with the added plus of earning an AKC title. Junior Hunter is a

basic instinct test, Senior and Master Hunt Tests require more ability and training and demonstrate the abilities a hunter would want in a class gun dog. Th e Hunt Tests have been helpful identifying dogs with natural hunting instincts and pointing genetics. Th ere is no bigger thrill than seeing your dog on point for the first time. Once owners become familiar with the field perfor- mance and find out how much their Irish Setter enjoys the work they often move up into Field Trial competition. In 2001, a rotating ISCA National Hunt Test and Walking Field Trial was initiated. Th is event has been very instru- mental in bringing Irish Setter owners into the world of field performance and is responsible for sparking the interest for many of our current dual minded breed- ers and owners. Five of the last eight Dual Champions either started in Hunt Tests or also earned a Hunt Test Title.

During this same time period, the Irish Setter Club of America increased parent club support and recognition of those breeders and owners pursuing Dual Titles. Th ey did this by o ff ering more annual awards for dogs competing in combined Field, show and obedience events and by giving more recognition to dogs earning Dual Championships with annual awards, article in the Memo to Members and cover page advertising. In 2010, ISCA started the process to seek approval to o ff er an AKC Titled National Walking Gun Dog Champion- ship. Th is Walking Championship will rotate around the country and will give Irish Setters the opportunity to com- pete in di ff erent venues to earn not only a National Championship title but also points towards Field Championships. Identifying dogs with natural pointing genetics and hunting instincts is necessary to developing breeding programs that will

“The hunT TesTs have been helpful IDenTIfyIng Dogs wITh naTural hunTIng InsTIncTs anD poInTIng geneTIcs.”

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“ With continued support dedicated breeders and owners, The IrIsh seTTer Is anD wIll conTInue To be a beauTIful, arIsTocraTIc bIrD Dog.”

produce dogs with the potential of becom- ing Dual Champions and maintaining the essence of the breed. Proof of strong genet- ics titled dogs achieving National Field Championship, National Amateur Field Championslhip, Field Champions, Ama- teur Field Champions and Master Hunter. What is the essence of the breed— maintaining breed type and maintaining function—does it conform and does it perform. Breed essence can be judged by looking and the number of dogs earning Dual Champions plus Champion/Ama- teur Field Champions plus Champions/ Master Hunters to the number of dog registrations. Th ere is no one single fac- tor that determines it—breed popularity, show ability, inherent field ability and the collective interests of the breed support- ers. Between the years 2002-2007, Irish Setters earned 283 JH, 24 SH, 11 MH, 26 FC and 11 AFC. Since then we have seen an increase in dogs achieving perfor- mance titles including approximately 45 Master Hunters.

I have been involved with Irish Set- ters for 40 years and the last fifteen years I have seen an increase appreciation of the Dual champion Irish Setter, and as a result more Dual minded breeders dedi- cated to producing Dual Irish Setters. With continued support dedicated breed- ers and owners, the Irish Setter is and will continue to be a beautiful, aristocratic bird dog. BIO Jeannie Wagner has been involved with Irish Setters for 40 years, and has always believed the Irish Setter could do it all. Over the years, Karrycourt Irish Setters have earned titles in obedience, ISCA VC titles, Hunt Test Titles, Cham- pionships, Field Championships, Ama- teur Field Championship and her special girl, Dual Champion/AFC Karrycourt’s Rose O’Cidermill ROM. Th e Karrycourt bloodline has become foundation stock or has been incorporated into several other Dual-minded bloodlines.

Th e sport of dogs has always been a fam- ily a ff air and they are on their third gen- eration of dog enthusiasts. Like her chil- dren before them, Jeannie’s grandchildren are currently involved with the 4-H dog program, showing their dogs in obedience, showmanship and agility. Jeannie is retired from competition, but she continues to support the Irish Set- ter and the sport. She is currently an o ffi - cer in Irish Setter Club of Ohio, Associated Bird Dog Clubs of Ohio, Lorain County 4-H Dog Council and has served as an o ffi - cer in several other clubs. She has chaired many committees for ISCO and ISCA and other organizations. Jeannie has received Dog Writers of America awards for articles published in the “AKC Gazette” and “Memo to Mem- bers”. Her article on Field Trial Gallery Etiquette published in the “Gazette” was later adapted and included in the “AKC Field Trial Rules and Standards” guide- lines. She currently writes a performance column “High Tails” for the “Memo”.




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An IrIsh setter OVERVIEW

LORRAINE BISSO My mother took me to my first show in 1962 to watch Col- lie judging because I was reading the Terhune Sunnybank stories. The connection was immediate and I made my ring debut soon after with a Weimaraner. In 1964, friends of my parents offered me a lovely 10-month-old Irish sired by the BIS CH End O’Maine Pat Hand x a daughter of Ch Innisfail Color Scheme and Ch Hartsbourne Sallyann of Tirvelda. I was fortunate to have both Junior Showmanship and breed competition to learn about the breed and the sport. Sheelin finished easily and I met serious dog people early on who were passionate about purebred dogs and who helped me along the way. I was taught to look for, and to understand, the reasons for breed type. After college, I bought a daughter of Ch Rockherin Rebecca and Ch Tirvelda Telstar, a Michael- son son. Lark was ISCA Field Matron in 1986 in addition to her bench champion daughters. Exhibiting led to judging in 1996 and I am currently approved for the Sporting and Terri- er Groups, Dachshunds, BIS and Junior Showmanship. I have judged from coast to coast and am honored to have judged the Irish Setter Club of America, the English Setter Association of America and the Gordon Setter Club of America National Specialties as well as two Regional Futurity/Maturity compe- titions for the Weimaraner Club of America and numerous breed specialties. I am a Past President of the Irish Setter Club of America and for several years was the Judges Education Chair. My family has lived in the New Orleans area since the latter part of the 19th century. I have a strong interest in US and local history, love to read and feel that no fall Saturday afternoon is complete without LSU football! MAUREEN A. DAY

path of the sport. I find the task of learning new breeds very enjoyable and interesting. Each assignment sets the challenge to find the best dog in each class, and I actually look forward to that challenge. I judge the Sporting Group and have had the great honor and pleasure of judging in Japan, Holland, Australia and New Zealand. However, the greatest honor and highlight of my judging career was judging my breed at the Irish Setter Club of America’s National Specialty held in Michigan. I judged the record breaking Best of Breed class of 130 Irish Setters—a thrill to say the least. I am currently engaged in studying the Working Group. I work for one of the largest companies in the transportation industry and currently live 20 miles out- side of New York City on Long Island. SIDNEY MARX

I got my first Irish Setter, Scott’s Lady, in 1963. When she won a blue ribbon at her first match show, I was bitten by the “show bug.” I then quickly realized that she was not of real show quality, so I got my first show dog from Westwind Ken- nels, Westwind Scarlet. She produced my first home-bred Irish, Ch. Windscent Don Quixote. I also am proud to have owned

the group-winning Ch. Seaforth’s Echo of Dark Rex. Undoubt- edly, my biggest winning Irish Setter was BISS Ch. Bayberry Sonnet, a multiple specialty winner. During her time, she was one of the top Irish Setter bitches, and there were many qual- ity Irish then. Sonnet was to be my foundation brood bitch, but she had pyometra. At that time it was spay her or lose her, so Sonnet spent the rest of her days as my loved companion. As a professional handler, it was my honor to pilot many Irish Setters to their championships. However, after Sonnet, I went without owning an Irish Setter for a long time until a wonder- ful breeder and friend, Ginny Swanson, let “Streamer”, Ch. Tramore Just Showing Off, come into my life. He had a suc- cessful show career as a group winner and many Select wins at specialty shows. His progeny is now carrying on. When he travels with my wife and I to shows, he immediately estab- lishes his place of honor by spreading out on the motel bed, barely leaving enough room for us. In addition to the United States, I have had the pleasure of judging Irish Setters in Can- ada, Bermuda, China, Sweden and Australia. I have also been extremely honored to be one of the judges at an Irish Setter national specialty. At the present time I am semi-retired and live with my wife, Shelly, and our four dogs, Streamer, Gifford (Welsh Springer), Mason (Flat-Coated Retriever) and Frankie (Beagle) in Colorado Springs.

I have been involved in the competi- tive dog world since the early 1970s. I purchased my foundation bitch from the California Rendition Kennels. Through the years I’ve shown and bred many dogs with great success and enjoyed every moment. I’ve held every position in the Irish Setter Club of Long Island and in addition to that, I am currently

the Historian/Archivist for the Irish Setter Club of Amer- ica and involved in the Winter Garden Specialties held in Westchester, NY. After many years of showing, I knew that I wanted to con- tinue in dogs and judging several sweepstakes set me on that

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