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Looking Around With Lee – A Discussion about Irish Setters

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194 – July, 2017

By Lee Canalizo



1. Do you think we are changing the make and shape of the Irish Setter?

Yes, somewhat – some males are becoming too stocky and coarse. They lose the elegance when they have too much bone, weight and substance. When dogs like this gait, they don’t have the very lively, graceful and efficient movement the standard calls for and “structural characteristics which interfere with a straight, true stride are to be penalized”. Balance is all-important in this breed, standing or moving. Bitches have not changed in make and shape as much as the males, but occasionally they can be too big even though they are balanced.

It has never been easy to have both elegance and substance, so you have to do some compromising. You do want both.

2. What do you see in the breed today that you did not see in the breed 40 years ago?

In the breed today I see heads built incorrectly. Many are not long and lean with the beautiful parallel planes and delicate chis- eling along the muzzle, around the eyes and along the cheeks that make the head so beautiful. Ear leather is often too thick and I don’t remember that being a problem forty years ago. Toplines are dif- ferent. Today they are too sloping mostly due to straight front as- semblies and rears that are too exaggerated. They are sometimes not firm due to too long a loin which should be moderate in length. Sickle hocks have become more prevalent today. This condition spoils the gait especially when viewed from the rear, so it should be recognized and eliminated. It is getting less frequent in my rings, thankfully, so I am beginning to think that it has been addressed by caring breeders, which is a plus. We want that strong and effi- cient drive in the rear in every dog.

3. What did you see in the breed 40 years ago that you do not see today?

Forty years ago I think we had better overall balance and size and the quality was higher than what we see shown everywhere today. That is why the winning Irish Setters today do so well – they stand out as correct and balanced and their temperaments are out- going and wonderful. This is a beautiful breed with a unique tem- perament that is expected to be seen in the show ring. I feel that the breed is lacking the styles of the breed that we used to see on a regular basis in different parts of the country forty years ago. Then, of course, there were larger kennels and there was more line-breed- ing practiced. When I visited other breeders’ kennels then it was not unusual to be able to see dozens of dogs from puppies to adults and see the same style of dog in them all. Today, I don’t think ken- nels are recognized easily because of more outcrossing. I very much doubt that this situation will change. The numbers of entries at both Specialties and all breed shows are dwindling which is a shame but a fact we all have to face. The really serious breeders are fewer than they used to be.

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194 – July, 2017

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