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Irish Setters

Aliases: Red Setter

Irish Setter For Sale

Irish Setter Breed Controversies

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Tags: Irish Setter, AKC Conformation

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There is some controversy to this day surrounding what exactly constitutes a "true" Irish Setter and what does not. Most of this controversy stems from a schism that occurred in the early 20th century between those who valued the Irish Setter for her show qualities and those who valued her for her long-standing field tradition and working qualities.

To begin, the registry of dogs by breed standards began in the United States in 1874 with the publication of a book known as the Field Dog Stud Book. It was considered to be the authority on the lineage of various breeds of dog as well as the standards that should dictate the appearance of a proper specimen of the breed. At that time, the Irish Setter was not usually a solid red dog. Instead, the Field Dog Stud Book defined the breed as having a bony, angular frame and a less silky coat than the well known English Setter. In addition, the proper color for an Irish Setter was said to be a combination of deep red with white markings. Certainly these are the same standards that are recognized today.

Despite what was indicated as proper at the time, the solid red variety of Irish Setter with a longer, more flowing coat proved to be more popular in the show ring and won many championships with the smaller red and white variety winning only a few. As such, breeders began to focus their efforts on producing largely red litters.

Around the 1940s, various sporting groups became concerned that the traditional, smaller breed of Irish Setter was vanishing in favor of the show stock, and they began their own counter-efforts to increase the number of work stock Irish Setters. The result is that the breed almost came to be regarded as two separate breeds: the solid red version bred for showing in competition, and the more traditionally colored smaller version that was more often bred for field work.

The main controversy arose from the fact that up until 1975, the American Kennel Club still acknowledged the Field Dog Stud Book as an authority and a dog that met the standards of the book was qualified for registration in the AKC regardless of what the AKC's own standards said. In a move that many claim was instigated by show dog enthusiasts who were upset at the increasing number of work stock registrants in the organization, the AKC dissolved their link with the Field Dog Stud Book with the result being that it became much harder for owners of work stock "Red Setters" to register their animals.

The controversy continues to this day and a consensus has yet to be reached. Ultimately, however, it must be acknowledged that all specimens of Irish Setter have their attributes that are unmatched by other breeds.

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Irish Setter Breed Controversies
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