Irish Setter Breed Magazine - Showsight

required to be successful in the field such as bone, nose, feet and athleticism. JZ: The top five traits I look for when judging an Irish Setter are: 1) Type, 2) Balance, 3) Fronts, 4) Movement and 5) Condition. 2. How has the breed changed since you became involved with it? Do you see any trends you think are moving the breed in the wrong direction? Any traits becoming exaggerated? LB: Pictures from the 60s show Irish Setters with lovely, long, chiseled headpieces, good shoulders, bone and small feet. Dogs also often had less coat than today, a more rounded croup as the tail was described as set on “rather low” and varying body proportions. The stan- dard was revised in 1960 and the essential description of the “active, aristocratic bird dog” was added. This standard is the first mention of the topline: “Topline... from withers to tail slopes slightly downward without a sharp drop at the croup.” The rear is described as “well angulated at stifle and hock.” The silhouette began to change as upright shoul- ders, over angulated rears, sickle hocks, high tails, short rib cages and long loins were seen more and more as toplines became exaggerated, often resulting in a carica- ture of this lovely breed. The standard calls for a shoul- der blade and upper arm of “approximate” equal length and “joined at a sufficient angle to bring the elbows line with the withers”. There is a moderate forechest that extends beyond the point of shoulder when spanned. While the standard does call for a SLIGHT slope to the topline, these exag- gerated toplines are too prevalent today as are high tails. Tails, in keeping with the history and purpsoe of the breed, should be an extension of the topline, “car- ried straight or curving slightly upward, nearly level with the back”. Before guns, a net was thrown over the bird and the “setting” dog. The net could seriously dam- age a high tail. Without modern medicine, you could injure or lose the dog putting food on your table! MD: There are better croups, tailsets and the improved bend of stifle that adds to the proper rear angulation. However, the front with a correct layback of shoulder and proper return of upper arm are still a challenge— as they are in most breeds. As for exaggerated traits, the current grooming or stylizing of the coat by sculpturing the outline of the dog is really overdone but I don’t find it distracting. This stylizing and conditioning of the coat has truly become an art form.

SM: I think the breed has become more elegant and fancy, but often this has been at the cost of balance and sound- ness. When the breed—any breed—exaggerates any single trait, we lose the essence of the breed. I think exaggerated trimming as well as breeding to the “big winner”—whether that dog fits with the bitch and pedigree—has often resulted in type that is no longer in balance (often seen in an over-angulated rear that ruins the desired balanced movement). On the other hand, I do see some beautiful Irish headpieces as I travel from show to show. I have also seen a few breeders (thankfully, only a few) who give little thought to hereditary health issues when planning a breeding. There are a very few that keep their heads firmly buried in the sand like an ostrich. DM: Exaggerated rear angle; low tail sets, high tail carriage; lack of depth. KM: In the five decades that I’ve been observing the breed, I’ve seen many changes—both good and bad. The great sire, Ch. Candia Indeed, came along when the breed tended to lack bone and substance, poor shoulders and bad rears. This dog bred to most of the best bitches at the time and improved on these problems. Then there was a period when they got too big and too heavy boned. The biggest problem is keeping them moderate in size and angulation. Some dogs appear to be more of a caricature of an Irish Setter rather than one that can do the job they were meant to do. R&PR: Today there are far fewer top notch breeders and dogs than there were in the 70s, but we still have very good breeders and very good dogs out there. Like most breeders of Sporting dogs, Irish breeders struggle with maintaining fronts, i.e., neck into shoulder, layback, length of upper arm, forefronts and such. It’s a difficult package to get and to keep. 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 5 years or so has me totally in disbelief. Doesn’t “off the back”

Left to right: Ch Michael Bryan Duke of sussex; c. 1961. Ch Candia Indeed; handled by LJ Myers at the Irish setter Club of Colorado. Ch Meadowlark’s Anticipation; handled by elliot Weiss under Judge ted eldredge (tirvelda Kennels), c. 1984. Ch Pin Oak Vicksburg; owned by n. Godbey, c. 1994. Ch Jewelset’s Up Up n Away, awarded by Maureen Day at the 2006 Irish setter national. (Photos courtesy of Maureen Day)

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