Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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
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THIS IS THE IRISH SETTER: A DISCUSSION OF SWIFT-MOVING, BIG LIVELY GAIT, AND A ROLLICKING PERSONALITY!
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.
IN EARLY WRITTEN STANDARD OF POINTS, MOVEMENT WAS NOT
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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. ”
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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!
THE IRISH SETTER An Active, Aristocratic Bird Dog!
BY KAROLYNNE MCATEER
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.
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THE IRISH SETTER: AN ACTIVE, ARISTOCRATIC BIRD DOG!
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.
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IRISH SETTER THE
1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs? 2. In popularity, our red-headed friends currently rank #77 out of all 192 AKC-recognized breeds. 3. We think everyone on earth is a fan, but does the average person in the street recognize him? -Is this good or bad when it comes to placing puppies? 4. Few of these dogs really “work” anymore. How has he adapted to civilian life? What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? 5. A big strong Sporting dog requires a special household to be a perfect fit. What about the breed makes him an ideal compan- ion? Drawbacks? 6. What special challenges do us breeders face in our current economic and social climate? 7. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness (or lack thereof)? 8. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? 9. What is your ultimate goal for the breed? 10. What is your favorite dog show memory? 11. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. LYDIAMILLER
I have put JR hunting titles on my dogs in the past. I don’t really think their hunting abilities matter inside the house. But in the yard. I watch them point birds and are always using their instincts when we go to the lake and their are ducks. They point them and you can see they natural ability come out in them. As far as the perfect household for an Irish Setter. I learned a lot through the years. This most recent litter I placed each dog in a great household. I had them temperament tested to see what dogs showed different attitudes and behaviors. And then I looked at each individual family and what they wanted. For instance one of my homes was interested in hunting with his Irish Setter and has done hunting in the past with them. So when I did the temperament test one dog in the report came back and it stated that this dog has excellent hunting abilities. So I placed that dog with that home. The first time owners I placed a more calm temperament puppy with them. Obviously things can change. But I had the tempera- ment test done by a person that wrote many articles and teaches it nationwide. The drawback to owning an Irish Setter and never having one previously is people don’t always understand that they want to be with you. They are not a breed that wants to be alone. They like to be with you and need lots of exercise. As far as our current economics go. I feel we are the same as any other breed. You need to know what you are getting into with any dog. The cost of food and vet care are very expensive. The climate has never affected my dogs. I have four seasons and they love all of them. I like to evaluate my show stock between 9 and 12 weeks old. I feel that is when we can see their strengths and weaknesses start to come out. But if course that can change also. When a new judge comes into our breed, it is important for them to evaluate the overall dog. Balance and structure and choose the dog that is closest to our written standard. Some judges will focus on one trait and not the overall structure of the dog. It’s the entire package of the dog that needs to be evaluated not just one trait. My ultimate goal for our breed is health. We need to do all the recommended health clearances by our parent club. And we need to do pedigree research on health issues and try and breed into lines that don’t have the same health issues as your line might have. There are no clear lines of health issues. So we must do our best to make sure we breed healthy sound dogs. My favorite dog show memory is when I finished my first home bred Champion in 2005. My very first litter I bred produced three Champions, a JR hunting title and two obedience titles. When I returned from Bogota Colombia , I wanted to get anoth- er Irish Setter puppy. I found a little female. I began training her in obedience, which lead me to meet many Irish Setter owners. Since I was new to showing in 1997 many people wanted to look at my bitch and pedigree. I had a vet appointment to have her spayed that week. Several people told me to cancel it. They told me she was show quality. I had many mentors. But one was so outstanding and if it was not for her help and guidance I would not be doing this today. She explained how to get my health clearances on my bitch. And she picked out what she thought was a good stud dog for me to breed to. That produced my first litter of 12 puppies. And two of them just got another puppy from me out of my current litter. I am forever grateful to her and to all my mentors. Most of them have passed away. I am forever grateful I found this breed.
My kennel name is Kilkenny’s and I live in Hel- lertown, Pennsylvania. Outside of dogs I enjoy going to Broadway shows, museums, and concerts. I am a retired Narcotics Agents who lived in Bogota, Colombia where I found a little puppy in a flea market and bought her. She turned out to be an Irish Setter. That was in 1995.
© Sharon K. Merkel
When I take my dogs to public places everyone stops me and comments how beautiful they are. And most people recognize that they are Irish setters and tell me about experiences they had with them in the past. Having just had a litter of 12 puppies, the last one leaving on October 12th. I can tell you I had people fill out a questionnaire and went through them carefully. People that had Irish Setters previ- ously I felt they knew the breed. The new people that never owned an Irish Setter before, I asked them to bring their families and spend time interacting with them. I would watch them and I could tell if they really would interact with the dogs they would be a good fit. I also had strict requirements when placing an Irish Setter. I required a fenced in yard. The dog not to be crated long hours. I would explain to the new owners that these dogs like to be with you and they like to play and interact with their owners. I turned down several potential homes because of the type of living situation. For example a community that would not allow an invisible fence or fenced in yard. The dog would have to be leashed walked. They need to be able to run in a yard. They require exercise.
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Irish Setter Q& A
“IRISH SETTERS ARE GREAT FAMILY DOGS WITH AN ACTIVE FAMILY WHO REALLY WANTS THEIR DOG TO BE A PART OF THEIR LIFE. THEY LOVE TO DO ANYTHING THE FAMILY WANTS TO DO, SAME QUALITY THAT MAKES THEM A BIDDABLE HUNTER IN THE FIELD.”
ANITA GAGE I live in Fortuna, California, a small town in northern Califor- nia, four hours away from the closest dog show. After 30 years, I retired as a high school English teacher. Since then I have been a member of the District’s Board of Trustees. My husband and I travel abroad extensively when we aren’t traveling to dog shows in country. I’m also an avid reader. Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? Many folks seeing them on the street will say that they haven’t seen an Irish Setter for years, or that they grew up with one, and “it was the best dog they ever had.” In the 70s the Irish setter was so popular. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? Many, many “confor- mation” Irish Setters are used successfully in the field. My husband and I don’t hunt, but our Irish Setters keep us active and in good health. They are all walked, biked and trained every day. Keeping the dogs active also makes them good house dogs. What special challenges do us breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate? I don’t think an Irish setter provides any special economic or social challenges from any other large purebred dog. They eat more than a small dog, need to be groomed and exer- cised. They are so beautiful, I haven’t heard any negative comments about them being purebred, which I think can be an issue in this “rescue dog” era. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Certainly puppies at eight to ten weeks old can be initially evalu- ated for show worthiness. At six months old I usually revaluate their attitudes as well as their physicality. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? The Irish setter is more than a beautiful dog with NOW lots of coat. Many new judges don’t keep in mind that the Irish setter is a field dog meant to hunt all day away from its han- dler. Their movement needs to abe extended and efficient in order for that to happen. Correct confirmation in the front, which is often lacking, needs to be there for correct movement. I would suggest new judges try to view a field event. Grooming, which is often way overdone should not be the first thing the judges notice or reward. What is my ultimate goal for the breed? My goal is to preserve the Irish setter and promote and support the health of the breed. My favorite dog show memory? Our breed unfortunately has become a handlers breed. But two years ago at the Southern Oregon Kennel Club, my special GCHG Firle Oak More Than Ready took BISOH and BIS with the most respected, successful handlers in the country also in the ring. Will it happen again, maybe not, but it happened once! ANNEMARIE KUBACZ Ramblin’ Red Irish Setters began when Randy and Anne Marie met at the Irish Setter Club of Long Island and married in 1975. The founder of Ramblin’ Acres Kennel, Randy retired from a successful career at United Airlines to create a place where pets could be boarded and get top notch care and personal attention. Anne Marie is a licensed veterinary technician and worked at The
Animal Medical Center in New York City from 1974 until she retired in June 2019 Peter graduated with double major at Monmouth University, and now runs Ramblin’ Acres Kennel, handles show dogs profes- sionally, is a member of PHA and the AKC Registered Handlers program, is an AKC Junior Showmanship judge and a board mem- ber of Take the Lead. Anne Marie, Randy and Peter recognize how important the Human Animal Bond is, and that every pet is a member of the family first and foremost. That is why the emphasis of our breeding program is based on sound temperaments and good health. Ramblin’ Red is the only Irish setter breeding program to pro- duce both a National Field Trial Winner and several National Spe- cialty winners. Form and function dictate what dogs are chosen to play a role in the Ramblin’ Red breeding program. Part of being a breeder is giving back to the sport. Being avail- able to help newcomers to Irish setters in particular, and to the sport of dogs in general, no matter where the owners got their dog, is important to each of us. Our favorite charities are the Irish Setter Club of America Foun- dation, Take the Lead and the AKC Canine Health Foundation. I live in Jackson, New Jersey. I recently retired after working at The Animal Medical Center in New York City for 45 years as a vet tech. Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? The most common comment we get is “oh an Irish Setter...I had one growing up.” How has the breed adapted to civilian life? Irish setters are great family dogs with an active family who really wants their dog to be a part of their life. They love to do anything the family wants to do, same quality that makes them a biddable hunter in the field. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? This is not a breed who does well isolated from the family. Having a big yard is great but don’t expect an Irish Setter to go out in the yard and entertain itself. It will be pawing at the door to come back inside with you. I do think a doggie door is a great option as it lets your dog go outside knowing they can always get back in to you. Some of my best homes have been apartment dwellers in NYC who are active and love having their dog with them outside. What special challenges do breeders face in our current econom- ic and social climate? I don’t feel our challenges are any different than any dog breeder: finding a home who wants a dog forever and has the dedication to provide them with exercise and social stimula- tion as well as the means to provide excellent veterinary care. Once the initial purchase price (or adoption fee) is paid, every dog has the same basic requirements. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I usually take a first look at about seven weeks, with a better idea at nine weeks and final decisions made at 12-14 weeks. The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? This is a sporting breed and the Irish Setters side pro- file standing and moving defines it as an Irish Setter. After assessing the dog for soundness down and back, there’s no need for more down and back assessment!
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Irish Setter Q& A
“They connect to their families on a very deep level and seem to feel everything that their owners feel. They get into their owners souls with a devotion and unconditional love that is unmatched.”
Anne Marie Kubacz continued
It is very disappointing to see judges make decisions on down and back of our breed. Moving them around from the side tells you much more about what makes an Irish Setter an Irish Setter. Also as our standard says “no part should call attention to itself ”. Balance is key on an Irish Setter. Don’t fault judge! Find the best dog not the best “part”. And finally Irish Setters shouldn’t “bounce” or have a spring- like stride when they move. Think of the phrase “clipping daisies” when you watch them move, along with looking for effortless reach and drive. My ultimate goal for the breed? To produce healthy pets with great temperament; any titles the dogs get in show, field, agility, obedience, rally, dock diving, scent work etc is the icing on the cake but being a great healthy companion is most important to us. My favorite dog show memory? While both my husband, Randy, and I have handled National Specialty and Best in Show winners, my favorite memory is watching our then 16 year old son, Peter, handle a Best of Breed winner at the Irish Setter Club of America National Specialty. A close second is watching Peter judge the Irish Setter Club of America National sweepstakes classes, the youngest person ever to be voted for that honor by ISCA members. We are so lucky to have a son who shares our passion. KIMBERLY LAMONTAGNE I live in Colorado. Outside of dogs, I work full time for IBM and my husband enjoys cooking, hiking and spending time with family. Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? I am 50/50 on this one. Many people ask what breed I have and many know it’s an Irish Setter. The two most common things people say is, “I had one growing up” and “You don’t see many of them any more”. I have never had trouble placing puppies as many of my puppy buyers are repeat. I don’t breed too often so I don’t have too many to worry about. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? I’m not sure what this means. What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? Good recall, sit and down. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? Friend- liness, loyalty and loving dogs. They are great for active people, usually good with children. Drawbacks? They need an active fam- ily and free run in additional to frequent leash walking. An Irish needs to have his “run”. Not meant for apartment living until they become seniors. What special challenges do breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate? People are looking for the latest thing, the latest gadget, latest phone, latest device, latest dog breed. The ever disappointing something-doodle. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? At ten weeks. Then review at 12 months. The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? It’s not about how much coat. It’s not about just a pretty head, although it should resemble the standard. Puppies are puppies and don’t hold anything against them, they will change.
My ultimate goal for the breed? To continue on as meant to be without morphing into something trendy. MARY MOULTON-BATEMAN I live in Wells, Maine. Outside of dogs, I’m a retired US Post- master, Sit on Board of Governors for York County Audubon, Sit on Board for ISCNE, Avid gardener, Avid Birder, Avid walker/hiker, love traveling. Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? I’d say about 75% of the people recognize our dogs as Irish Setters. The people that contact us are mostly prior Irish Setter owners or people who have a good knowledge of the breed. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? A Sporting dog requires a special household to be a perfect fit. I do not find this to be true of show bred Irish Setters. Our dogs love being house dogs, are not excessively driven to be in a hunting mode, they love being with their humans, lounging on the couches, going for walks, hikes, romping outside with kennelmates, going to obedience or handling classes. What about the breed makes him an ideal companion? Their total devotion to their humans. Drawbacks are they require brush- ing and grooming to keep their gorgeous coats and feathers free of mats. What special challenges do us breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate? No more challenges than any other pure- bred breed. If a person wants a well bred, healthy dog they will be willing to purchase from a reputable breeder who does the proper health testing. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Eight to 16 weeks. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Balance is key, front angle should match rear angles, movement should be fluid and free, toplines should be strong with no dips in spine and no roaches, hocks should be nice and straight when standing relaxed, hocking in when standing or moving is not acceptable nor are hocks that are too long, Irish should have a soft expression with nice dark eyes, they should have a nice front sternum, depth and width of chest, ribs should be well sprung and should reach the elbow, movement should be fluid. What is my ultimate goal for the breed? Producing health, cor- rect and balanced setters with wonderful temperaments. My favorite dog show memory? There have been so many. Just watching our dogs perform well and win in the rings gives us great pleasure. Irish Setters are wonderful family members. Show bred Setters have fabulous, sound, loving temperaments. They have exceptional bonds with their families and welcome everyone into their world. They connect to their families on a very deep level and seem to feel everything that their owners feel. They get into their owners souls with a devotion and unconditional love that is unmatched.
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t h i s i s t h e IRISH SETTER
BY SAM HOUSTON McDONALD
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
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This is the Irish Setter
BY SAM HOUSTON MCDONALD continued
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
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THE IRISH SETTER
functions. I am excitedly awaiting my assignment to judge dogs and intersex at the 2016 Irish Setter Club of America national specialty in San Diego in early June. I have judged the national before in Ft. Worth in 2003 and had a ball with all those beautiful red dogs!
My husband Norbert and I have lived in Leesburg, Virginia for over 30 years. I enjoy spending time with my dogs, of course and family, especially the grand- kids. I also enjoy reading and learning about other breeds. I got my first Irish Setter in 1963 and showed until 2003 when I started judging Irish Setters and progressed to having the Sporting Group and now moving onto Toys. PETER A. FROST
1. Describe the breed in three words. ND: Balanced, elegant and substantial. PF: Handsome, extraverted and fun to live with.
2. What are the “must have” traits in this breed? ND: I must have a firm slightly sloping topline, deep chest with moderate forechest, balance front and rear, all com- ing together in an elegant silhouette with efficient side gait and good temperament PF: Correct structure, good temperament and a good head 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? ND: For quite a while my concern was that the hindquarters were becoming exaggerated and the fronts did not match which was evident in their movement and exaggerated topline. PF: I think that there is a trend to breed for the extreme and we are seeing too many dogs that are heavily sculptured into a beautiful picture on the stack and then fall apart on the move. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in his breed are bet- ter now than when you first started judging? How has the breed changed? ND: I do think the dogs are better now than in the 70s. I find better balance today and a more elegant look. I am happy to say that the heads are going back to the classic long, lean, chiseled look with dark eyes and soft expressions. Heads are also showing better parallel planes of the skull, top of muzzle and underjaw. Although not a head breed, every breed has a distinct and different head. PF: I often hear people lamenting that the breed is not as good as it was years ago. I think that is because we remember the great dogs from the past and forget that there were others not so good. I believe that the top Irish of today are more glamorous than their predecessors but are equal to the top dogs of yesteryear. One thing that is important is that today’s breeders on the whole are much
I live in Melbourne, Australia and have recently retired after a career of teaching mathematics and classical stud- ies. Currently, I am acting as a volunteer for the St. Vincent De Paul Charity orga- nization. I grew up in family that always had a dog and started showing in 1972 after the purchase of my first Irish Setter. Since then I have owned both a Gordon and English Setter, but Irish have always
remained my true love. I began judging in the early 80s and am currently licensed for the Toy, Terrier, Gundog (Sporting), Hound, Herding (Working) and Utility (Working) groups. JUDITH ZAWIKOWSKI
My background in Irish Setters goes back to 1967 when I acquired my very first Irish. I bred my very first litter in 1970. I live in west-central Wisconsin and am currently semi-retired. I own a business quite near to me and dabble with that a bit. I was approved to judge Irish Setters by the AKC in 1997. I also judge All Breed Juniors. Since then,
I have added more breeds and am in the process of apply- ing for more. I have currently judged 23 Irish Setter special- ties across America and also many of the breeds at all-breed
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irish setter Q&A WITH NENA DEE, PETER A. FROST & JUDITH ZAWIKOWSKI
“IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER THE ESSENCE OF BEING AN ARISTOCRATIC AND ELEGANT HUNTING DOG THAT MOVES WITH AN EFFICIENT BIG TROT AND NOT JUST A GENERIC, RED DOG.”
more aware of the health issues and endeavor to breed healthy specimens. JZ: The Irish Setter breed has changed dramatically since I became involved in the breed. That doesn’t surprise me after being around for 48 years! I have bred and finished quite a few Champions under the KILLARY prefix in those long years, along with my dog-partner, Deb Peterson and feel that the breed has lost a few things that I would like to see breeders concentrate on. One of them, which I call the “drag of the breed,” is the front assembly. Cathedral fronts don’t belong on a dog that needs to be sturdy enough to be able to go all day in the field. The gay tail that has cropped up in the past five years or so has me totally in disbelief. Doesn’t off the back mean anything anymore? They are not Afghan Hounds! The deep, scissoring groom- ing jobs that are seen in the conformation ring are so over-exaggerated, it’s pathetic. Some may think I am old school on that subject, but you are not hiding flaws from me by going crazy with the scissors! The Irish Setter is a beautiful dog, has a great temperament and should be bred to the standard and groomed properly, to amplify all its wonderful traits. I am seeing really pretty heads, lovely condition and nice, dark eyes. The breeders are paying attention much more than years gone by. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstood about the breed. ND: It is important to consider the essence of being an aristocratic and elegant hunting dog that moves with an efficient big trot and not just a generic, red dog. The Irish Setter is the raciest of the four Setters. PF: A word that is often associated with Irish Setters is racy and something that I believe many new judges interpret as lacking substance. Another problem is the speed that many handlers run their dogs and new judges often think is correct. Also too often some can be swayed by glamour. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. ND: I believe we have the only standard that calls for a rollicking temperament! So, please don’t fault a happy,
misbehaving youngster. This is a playful, humorous and loving breed so please enjoy them. PF: Irish Setters are much more than stunning redheads seen in the show ring as a breed they excel in obedience and in the field as well as being an ideal family member. JZ: The Irish Setter today is a handsome, aristocratic dog—as our standard states. Credit must be given to the people in the breed who address genetic issues and those who do so much with Rescue. We all thank you. Though num- bers have declined in recent years, the breed has really advanced with addressing health issues and maintaining a place in the Sporting Group that is hard to ignore when that beautiful red dog goes flying by! 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? ND: Too embarrassing to tell! JZ: Two funny things that have happened to me while judg- ing. The first was a large German Shorthair entry. An older man stacked his dog for me. When he bent over, he had his hair combed in a comb-over, which became “unglued” and fell into his face! It was about 12” long and reminded me of a rodent being let loose off his head! I gave him a moment to re-construct his hair-do and proceeded with the exam. Ringside was hysterical! It was all I could do to keep from laughing; I just smiled and went on! The second thing was a pair of untrained panty hose that I was wearing while judging. By the time I got to judge the breed in Irish Setters, the panty hose were misbehaving badly—almost down to my knees. They restrained my movement to the point that I was shuffling in the ring to gain my balance—and my composure. The judge said, “You would like a picture?” I answered him with a smile and said, “Okay, can I go to the rest room first?” Ringside was laughing, as the steward knew what was happening and told everyone within earshot what I was facing, as a provisional judge, with an AKC Rep fol- lowing my every move. I got a good review on the judg- ing part, but decided panty hose aren’t for me. I’m glad judges are wearing nice slacks and pantsuits now!
320 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , D ECEMBER 2018
OfficialStandard for the IRISH SETTER COURTESY THE AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB
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.
trils 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, Bod y: Neck moderately long, strong but not thick, and slightly arched; free from throati- ness 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, muscu- lar and of moderate length. Forequarters: Shoulder blades
Size, Proportion, Substance: There is no disqualification as to size. The make and fit of all parts and their over- all balance in the animal are rated more important. 27 inches at the with- ers 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 with- ers to the ground, the Irish Setter is
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 suf- ficient 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. Hind quarters: 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
slightly longer than it is tall. Substance-All legs sturdy with plenty of bone. Structure in the male reflects masculinity without coarseness. Bitches appear femi- nine without being slight of bone. Head : Long and lean, its length at least double the width between the ears. Beauty of head is empha- sized 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, nei- ther 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;nos-
280 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , D ECEMBER 2017
third of the ears and the throat nearly to the breast- bone 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. OfficialStandard for the IRISH SETTER COURTESY THE AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB CONTINUED
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 penal- ized. Temperament: The Irish Setter has a rollicking per-
sonality. Shyness, hostility or timid- ity are uncharacteristic of the breed. An outgoing, stable temperament is the essence of the Irish Setter.
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
Approved Aug ust 14, 1990 Effective September 30, 1990
Photo courtesy ShowSight Magazine
Coming in March... IRELAND, ITS DOGS AND ITS SHOWS The first in our international series, by Allan Reznik EXCLUSIVELY IN SHOWSIGHT
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , D ECEMBER 2017 • 281
THOUGHTS ON THE IRISH SETTER
LORRAINE BISSO My mother took me to my first show in 1962 to watch Collie judging because I was reading the Terhune Sunny- bank 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 Tirvel- da Telstar, a Michaelson 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 Terrier Groups, Dachshunds, BIS and Junior Showmanship. I have judged from coast to coast and am honored to have judged the Irish Setter Club of Ameri- ca, the English Setter Association of America and the Gor- don Setter Club of America National Specialties as well as two Regional Futurity/Maturity competitions for the Wei- maraner 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 fam- ily has lived in the New Orleans area since the latter part of the 19th century. I have a strong interest in US and local his- tory, love to read and feel that no fall Saturday afternoon is complete without LSU football! MAUREEN A. DAY
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. NENA DEE My husband Norbert and I have lived in Leesburg, Virginia for over 30 years. I enjoy spending time with my dogs, of course and family, especially the grand- kids. I also enjoy reading and learning about other breeds. I got my first Irish Setter in 1963 and showed until 2003 when I started judging Irish Setters and progressed to having the Sporting Group and now moving onto Toys. PETER A. FROST
I live in Melbourne, Australia and have recently retired after a career of teaching mathematics and classical stud- ies. Currently, I am acting as a volunteer for the St. Vincent De Paul Charity orga- nization. I grew up in family that always had a dog and started showing in 1972 after the purchase of my first Irish Setter. Since then I have owned both a Gordon and English Setter, but Irish have always
remained my true love. I began judging in the early 80s and am currently licensed for the Toy, Terrier, Gundog (Sporting), Hound, Herding (Working) and Utility (Working) groups. 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. In addition to the United States, I have had the pleasure of judging Irish Setters in Canada, 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 Spring- er), 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. After many years of show- ing, I knew that I wanted to continue in dogs and judging several sweepstakes set me on that path of the sport. I find the
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