Saturday, February 2, 2008

Words of Wisdom from Ireland...

"The composition of the method and style of a setter at work as well as its conformation dictate the level of perfection that any particular individual may attain. They are integral parts of the same equation. In the unforgettable words attributed to Billy Phelan, a professional trainer from Co. Waterford in the 1940s and 1950s, 'Not every red dog is a setter!' A simple statement full of truth! If the dog is not a worker, he is not entitled to be called a setter. The aspiration adopted by the European Pointer Club in seeking dogs that are beau et bon has without doubt paid off, as almost every top-class worker is also good looking. Several other Irish setter clubs have made similar efforts and in these countries it is not uncommon to have dual champions. However, the English-speaking world has taken a separate road, with the result that show dogs are now a different type to the original working type. The greatest problem with this new type is that the dog lacks the conformation of a galloping dog that is clearly required of a setter. If this policy continues in the same manner, as it has over the past 50 years, it will end up furthering the separation of the breed into two types, and that would be a lamentable situation.
As things stand, the differences in colour, size, conformation, energy and mental attitudes is already enormous. There is no doubt that the working ability of almost all the show strains is beyond redemption. There are claims that they can still work, but those that I have seen are outside the level of performance that is acceptable for the breed and only serve to confirm in the minds of many that Irish setters are lesser beings in the gun dog world. I have to say that, when judging abroad I have seen more show type Irish setters presented at field-trials than from any other breed and perhaps the owners of these dogs would serve the breed better by leaving them at home. Irish setters are not numerically strong in comparison to the other classical pointing breeds, but if those presented at trials were of a high quality it would give them a better reputation and thus encourage greater support for the breed."
From "The Irish Red Setter, It's History, Character and Training" by Ray O'Dwyer, President of the Irish Red Setter Club, Ireland.

FTCh Sheantullagh Godswalk

Ray O'Dwyer, Owner/handler

This book is available from the National Red Setter Field Trial Club. For more information, check our website link at

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