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Posts Tagged ‘golden Irish’

John Hutcheson of Ottawa, Ontario, sent me this photo of his golden Irish family. He raised four litters out of his Irish setter, featured on the right, and the golden retriever on the left. Golden was from UK lines.  In the middle is a golden Irish, which shows stronger Irish setter features than those of the golden retriever.

The golden retriever has light colored eyes, which isn’t that uncommon.  She reminds me of these dogs from an unknown painting:

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This "golden Irish" (golden/Irish setter cross) does resemble Breeze. Breeze was either a red wavy-coat or an old-type Irish setter.

This "golden Irish" (golden/Irish setter cross) does resemble Breeze. Breeze was either a red wavy-coat or an old-type Irish setter.

This painting is here. The date of the painting is 1843, which is far too early to be a Tweedmouth line of wavy-coat. My instincts say it’s not a golden retriever. The term “golden retriever” is actually rather new, dating to 1908, when the yellow and red colors were separated from the liver coloration as “Retrievers (Flat-coat, yellow or golden).

My instincts tell me that this dog is an old-type Irish setter, which had shorter ears and broader skull than the modern dog. It is from this dog that the golden inherited much of its characteristiscs.

But the dog really does look like a field-type golden. It even has the white feet and a white spot on the chest. These markings are common in field goldens.

However, it could be a red wavy-coat. The presence of the hare in the painting leads me to the possibility that it could be a retriever. Retrievers retrieve shot hares in Europe, but I cannot think of a good reason for using a setter for hare shooting.  European hares are beasts of the open lands, in fact, much more open territory than pheasants and patridges prefer. I saw my first European hare at Stonehenge, standing out in that large hayfield that lies just beyond the tourist site. It was in short grass, and you could see it very clearly. It  was not trying to hide.

It is well-known that setters were a major part of the wavy-coated retriever, and Irish setters, which were thought of as the most intelligent and biddable of the “index” breeds, were a common choice of setter to cross with the St. John’s wate dog to create wavies. Of course, everyone wanted a black retriever in those days, and any red or golden colored pups were usually drowned soon after birth.

But it’s possible that Breeze was a red wavy.  It is impossible that Nous was the only red wavy-coat ever bred, so I am open to that possibility. If Breeze is a retriever, the painting of him is a great historical record of the early existence of red retrievrs. There is contemporary light gold retriever in “The Shooting Party-Ranton Abbey” by Sir Francis Grant. This dog has some setter features, although I think it resembles a Tweed water spaniel/Tweed water dog of the lighter color. It could also have some scent hound  in it, but I really don’t know. Jeffrey Pepper  has some interesting analysis and even more pictures of od Irish setters. (I, howeer, disagree with him on the possibility of the bloodhound cross in the Tweedmouth strain, because all evidence is hearsay. And a bloodhound is the last thing I’d cross into working retriever strain. I think the big heavy dogs that were said to be bloodhound crosses were actually Zelstone’s progeny at Guisachan. The hair on those dogs is too long and thick to be from a bloodhound, but it’s just right to be from a dog with close St. John’s water dog ancestry. I think the bloodhound cross story is a carry over from the Russian circus dog story,  which used the bloodhound as the only outcross.)

It’s possible that someone kept a red retriever before the Tweedmouth strain was founded. It’s also possible that some of the early goldens in the registry were not descended from the Tweedmouth line but were red flat-coats that appeared when more Irish setters were crossed into the flat-coat to mitigate the real problems caused with the overuse of Zelstone in the line. It’s possible, but I’ve seen no evidence to suggest this.

If anyone knows anything about the dog depicted in “Breeze” by Sir Edwin Landseer, please contact me.  It has piqued my curiosity.

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