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.
230 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2021
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