IRWS Breed Standard
For a commentary on how the present breed standard has developed, scroll to the bottom of the FCI breed standard
FCI STANDARD No 350 FOR THE IRISH RED AND WHITE SETTER
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE ORIGINAL VALID BREED STANDARD
BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY
SIZE AND WEIGHT
NB : Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum
A COMMENTARY ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE BREED STANDARD
By Terry O'Leary
Before discussing the future of the Standard one must have an understanding of its past and how it has changed and evolved to its present format. In the early 1940s, an attempt was made to revive the breed and it was from this that the Irish Red &White Setter Society was formed in 1944.
Objectives of the Irish Red & White Setter Society
Their aims being to encourage the working qualities of the breed in every possible way, to promote the breeding of them upon sound working principles, to ensure that when classified at shows they be judged from a working standpoint.
Points of the Irish Red & White Setter
The Irish Red & White Setter should be bred primarily for the Field, and the points set out hereunder must be interpreted chiefly from this point of view. Those points are merely guides to what the Society considers to be the qualifications of a good working dog or bitch, and all Judges at Bench Shows, whether members of the Society or not, must be encouraged to judge the exhibits chiefly from the working standpoint.
The Irish Red & White Setter should be strongly built, well balanced and proportioned, with a body designed for long strenuous work and a certain degree of speed.
The head should be broad in proportion to the body, with a good stop; eyes hazel or dark brown. The head should be set on a muscular neck which slopes gradually into oblique shoulders.
The body should be well "over the heart" deep in its girth, with well arched ribs. The back and quarters should be very muscular and powerful, set on legs which convey the impression of speed. The bone should be strong and well built up with muscle and sinew. The hocks should be sufficiently let down to meet the requirements of endurance but not dropped to the extent found in dogs bred exclusively for speed.
The coat should be fine in texture, with good feathering. A slight wave is permissible, but it should not be curly. The colour should be white and red, and both colours should show the maximum of life and bloom.
He should display a kind friendly attitude, behind which should be discernible determination, courage and the high spirit and intelligent expression only to be found in a well-bred animal.
Although the Society did not flourish due to a number of factors, this document could be seen as the beginning of a Breed Standard. After much lobbying by Mrs Cuddy for the revival of the breed and as she was the only living member left of the Irish & White Setter Society,in the latter half of 1976 the Irish Red Setter Club was approached by the Irish Kennel Club to see if it would be willing to supervise and advise on the restoration of the Irish Red & White Setter.
At this stage the Irish Red Setter Club wrote an Interim Standard for the Irish Red & White Setter. Just as a historical point of interest, in an interview with Pia Hjertquist in the early 80s, John Nash admitted that he had written the entire Interim Breed Standard. Rather than the points for the Red & White Setter this is the format we would all recognise for a Breed Standard.
Interim Breed Standard 1979
General A dog of great strength and power, without lumber - athletic
Appearance: rather racy.
Colour: The dog must be parti-coloured, i.e. the base colour should be white with solid red patches. Mottling or fleckingbut not roaning is permitted around the face and feet and up to the
foreleg as far as the elbow and up the hind leg as far as the
Eyes: Should be round, with a slight prominence, and show no haw.
Ears: Should be set level with the eyes, and well back, lying close to
Mouth: The jaws should be of equal or nearly equal length and the bite
to be "scissors bite".
Neck: Should be moderately long, very muscular but not too thick,
slightly arched, free from all tendency to throatiness.
Forequarters: The shoulders should be well laid back. Elbows free, turning
neither in nor out.
Body: The body should be strong and muscular, with a deep chest and
well sprung ribs. The back and quarters to be very muscular
and powerful. The bone should be strong, and well built up
with muscle and sinew.
Should be wide and powerful. The hind legs from hip to hock should be long and muscular: from hock to heel short and strong. The stifle and hock joints well bent, and not inclined either in or out.
Legs & Feet: Legs should show strong oval bone, be well muscled and sinewy,
Pastern Should be slightly sloping into round, close-knit feet, with plenty of feathering between the toes.
Coat: The coat should be finely textured with good feathering. A slight wave is permissible, but it should not be curly.
Tail: Should be strong at the root, tapering to a fine point, with no appearance of ropiness, and ideally not reaching below the hock. The tail should be well feathered and carried level with the back or below.
In 1980 on the recommendation of the Irish Red Setter Club, the Irish Kennel Club withdrew Green Star Championship points from Irish Red & White Setters. This decision was taken without consulting exhibitors or owners of Irish Red & White Setters. We had been waiting for Mrs Cuddy to revive the Irish Red & White Setter Society. As this did not happen and we thought it was vitally important to have a input on all future decisions regarding Irish Red & White Setters , an informal meeting was held at a dog show in the RDS. The people who attended were Laura Dunne, Sean Walsh, Alan and Ann Gormley and myself. As their was a Irish Red & White Society a decision was taken to form\\ a new club. I proposed that the name of the club be the Irish Red & White Setter Field and Show Society. In time we held an AGM, drew up our constitution and I think it can be said that this club has been the most influential force behind the revival of the Irish Red & White Setter. It was only in 2001 that the club decided to rename itself the Irish Red & White Setter Club. We may have changed our name but we will carry on the proud traditions that have moulded this club over the last 25 years.
The Irish Red & White Setter Field and Show Society was formed in 1981. In 1982 the Irish Red Setter Club, after a dispute with the Irish Kennel Club, felt it could no longer contribute to the revival of the Irish Red & White Setter and withdrew from the project. In the 1983 Irish Red Setter Club book Mr Nash stated “We must report that your committee had no other option but sever their responsibility of monitoring the revival of the red and white setters. This was based on the presumption that any such dog before submitting applications for registration would pass two of a panel of judges drawn up for the purpose, because of a reciprocal arrangement with the British Kennel Club whereby the Irish Kennel Club accept all registrations. This has led to Irish Red & White Setters from Britain being registered in Ireland without being passed by the panel as all Irish dogs are. It was felt by the committee that had the will been there the Irish Kennel Club could have overcome this situation by a special agreement, and when they were unwilling to exercise or negotiate that prerogative we had no other option but withdraw. Much time, energy and money was spent, voluntarily by our committee in their efforts to put this breed on a proper footing” The Irish Red & White Setter Club acknowledge the role of the Irish Red Setter Club in the revival of the Irish Red & White Setter.
In 1983 the Irish Red & White Setter Field and Show Society was approached by Mr Tom Creamer of the Irish Kennel Club who was then overseeing the printing of a book 'The Native Dogs of Ireland, Their Origin - Development- Standards'. As the existing Breed Standard was only an Interim Standard the Society was asked to finalise the Breed Standard.
The Society held several meetings to discuss the finalisation of the Breed Standard and the final draft was shown to Mrs Cuddy 'Knockalla' and Dermot Mooney 'Winnowing' for their input, as both had given most of their adult life to the breeding and preservation of the Irish Red & White Setter.
The main additions to the finalised Breed Standard were:-
• The preamble to the breed standard taken from the Irish Red & White Setter Society breed points in 1944.
• A height standard; As it was felt that the lack of a height standard in the Irish Red Setter Standard had led to the divergence of type between show and working setters.
• Colour; An inclusion of 'flecking but not roaning permitted around face and feet and up to foreleg as far as the elbow and up to the hind leg as far as the hock; flecking and mottling on any other part of the body is most objectionable and is to be heavily penalised'. After much discussion with Mrs Cuddy and Deremot Mooney this was included as it was felt that there was an ongoing problem which could further escalate if the Society did not take immediate action. This was endorsed by all members of the committee. This committee included three members from England Mary Knox, Isabelle Sommerfield and Leslie Conway. The committee was probably unique in as much as it was an inclusive representation of the breed both in Ireland and abroad. These three women were later to become founder members of the Breed Club in Britain indeed Mary Knox was its first secretary. Having had these three women on the committee and having decided on the breed standard, in hindsight it seems a pity that Britain did not consult this club and adopt the standard of the country of origin. We could then have had one standard for the whole of Europe.
In 1998 changes occurred to the Breed Standard when Mr Tom Creamer in his position as President of the Irish Kennel Club, inquired if there were any further changes to be made to the Breed Standard. Our Breed Standard had been in the FCI format since 1989. The Club used this opportunity to reinforce parts of the Standard it felt was being ignored and to change parts that it felt were being misinterpreted. The most important of these being:-
• In relation to roaning and flecking where it specifies the dog is to be heavily penalised; The Club felt that this was being ignored and the consequences could be seen in the dogs showing up in Britain, America, Canada and Europe. It decided that 21 years was a sufficient period of time to get this fault under control and so decided to make this an eliminating fault.
The Club decided to remove the word 'powerful' from the general appearance. Although this word was mentioned in the points for an Irish Red & White Setter set up by the Society in 1944 it was in the context that 'the back and quarters should be very muscular and powerful'. In the Interim Standard of 1979 in the section entitled general appearance it described the dog 'a dog of great strength and power athletic rather than racy'. This was the first introduction of the word 'power' into the general appearance. In the finalisation of the Breed Standard in 1984, the word power was changed to powerful this has led to confusion on the general appearance of the dog. It was never meant to be in the context of the overall dog and as such it was felt that the inclusion of the word 'powerful' in the description of the general appearance has led to the development of a much heavier dog than envisaged by the Breed Society of 1944 and by the present Club. As a founder member of the Club and as a member of the committee who drew up the finalised Breed Standard, I have no difficulty in admitting we were wrong in inserting the word powerful into the general appearance. This should not be about ego or pride this is about admitting a mistake and doing right by the breed.
It was brought to the attention of the club that the section of the Breed Standard which made roaning and flecking an eliminating fault caused particular problems to people from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In these countries dogs who are eliminated may be removed from the breeding register. The club gave an undertaking to hold a meeting with members from FCI countries to see if we could find a satisfactory solution to this problem. A meeting was held in the offices of the Irish Kennel Club on 18th September 2004. The meeting was chaired by the President of the Irish Kennel Club, Mr Sean Delmar. It was attended by the members of the Irish Red & White Setter Club, Mr Terry O’Leary Chairman IRWSC, Mr Dave Byrne FT Sec., and Mr Edward Flannelly Vice-Chairman,; Mr Dirk Vervane (Belgium), Mrs Fiorella Mathis (Italy), Mr & Mrs Zumsande (Germany), Mr & Mrs Peltonen (Finland). A submission was read out on behalf of the Scandinavian Irish Red & White Setter Association. This submission was written by Pia Hjertquist (Sweden).
After a very full discussion in which all present took part, a proposal from the breed club to amend the standard was considered. It was felt by all that this proposal would remove the problems as identified and after some minor adjustments the breed club delegation agreed to take it back to an EGM of the club for ratification.
Base colour white with solid red patches ( clear islands of red colour ), both colours should show the maximum of life and bloom, flecking but not roaning permitted around the face and feet and up to the foreleg as far as the elbow and up the hindleg as far as the hock. Visible and excessive roaning, flecking and mottling on any other part of the body is most objectionable and prohibits the dog from being graded higher than Very Good.
This proposal was presented and accepted at an EGM of the Irish Red & White Setter Club. It was also presented to the General Purpose Committee of the IKC. It was then presented to An Ard Comhairle, the ruling body of the IKC and accepted by both.
The document was then presented to the FCI. The General Committee of the FCI understood the problem we had with the interpretation of the Irish Red & White Setter standard on col,our. They suggested that the following wording would best suit our requirements by explaining that this type of missmarking is objectionable and that where it is very obvious and pronounced is a disqualifying fault. They felt that using the term ‘Dogs who are ********* should be disqualified’ could result in some judges over-reacting.
After much discussion we came up with a proposal that was acceptable to the FCI, the IKC and the IRWSC.
Base colour white with solid red patches ( clear islands of red colour ), both colours should show maximum of life and bloom; flecking, but not roaning permitted around the face and feet and up the foreleg as far as the elbow and up the hindleg as far as the hock; roaning, flecking and mottling on any other part of the body is objectionable.
Although flecking but not roaning is permitted around the feet and up the forelegs as far as the elbow and up the hindlegs as far as the hock; Visible and Excessive roaning, flecking or mottling on any other part of the body is an eliminating fault.
This is a major concession by the breed club for allowing the removal of the words ‘most objectionable and is to be heavily penalized’ from the colour section of the breed standard and by stating that ‘roaning, flecking and mottling on any other part of the body is now just objectionable’. We feel that this will allow judges discriminate between what is objectionable and what is an eliminating fault.
Eye shape. As there had been no mention of eye shape in the 1944 Points of the IRWS drawn up by the Irish Red & White Setter Society, this was first introduced in the Interim Breed Standard 1979, a document drawn up by the Irish Red Setter Club. If you look at IRWS Eye shape there are two distinctive ends to the eye and at either end of the eye they join. This shape cannot be described as round or circular .There has been much discussion between members regarding the shape of the eye. It was the opinion of all the members of the breed club that no-one had ever seen a IRWS with a round eye. This did not reflect the eye shape of the IRWS. The FCI requested the Club to use precise language and terminology as the standard will be translated into other languages It was therefore decided to change the eye shape to oval which would better describe the shape of an IRWS’s eye.
Showing and the Standard.
Concerns have been raised in the Club on the matter of presentation of dogs at Shows. Some of them are being shaved and stripped like show Irish Setters. It is envisaged that there will be a section in the Breed Standard dealing with the presentation of dogs at Shows.
Proposed addition to the Breed Standard for 2006:
1) Coat / Hair
Addition to the rule will be:
“Feet may be trimmed and stray hairs neatened, but neither the natural appearance of the coat nor the outline of the dog should be altered by trimming’.
Addition to faults:
Trimming that detracts from the natural appearance of the dog is to be penalised.
Terry O’Leary, Chairperson IRWSC 2005.
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