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AKC and the Irish Red and White Setters

Parent Club's Website Wording Misleading and Wrong


Irish Red and White Setter (IRW) owners and breeders whose dogs were recently cancelled from AKC’s FSS registry are challenging AKC parent club, IRWSA’s, website language that owners and breeders say is defamatory and misleading.


October 2006 | TheDogPress

Mark R. Atkins - with Updated information by Greg Williams, see below


In a section on the IRWSA’s website under an “Update” logo, the AKC parent club states that the cancelled dogs are “not Irish Red and White Setters.”


“Not so,” says IRW owner Greg Williams. “My dog and many others are registered with UKC as exactly that…as Irish Red and White Setters. Just because AKC or any club or registry does not accept our dogs doesn’t mean they are any less IRWs than any other’s dogs in the world. Registries and club’s influences extend only to their members and dogs; that’s it.” He also noted that the IRWSA president Kathy Pellerito publicly made the same false claim at an IRW conference in Ireland last month.


In a section within IRWSA’s official website called “Buyer Beware,” Williams and others also take issue with several of the statements made. According to Williams, some of the language misleads website visitors by stating that only IRWs with AKC/FSS papers ensures potential buyers they are getting “Pure” IRWs. It goes on to say that “any reputable breeder” should be able to furnish such papers. Williams believes those statements are extremely misleading.


“It is common knowledge among breeders and owners that there are no “pure” IRWs in the world today,” he said. “All of them come from various international breeding programs that outcrossed these dogs with Irish setters to restore the breed when it reached near extinction. Claiming total purity of IRWSA dogs shows complete disregard for the historical facts and intentionally misleads buyers and IRW enthusiasts. Not only that, to imply that if a breeder is not a member of AKC or does not have AKC papers, he or she is disreputable is completely unacceptable to us and the law,” Williams said.


The United Kennel Club is also mentioned in the IRWSA’s website warning. It states that, “Great caution should be taken when dogs/puppies are ONLY registered with the UKC or FDSB, they may not be Pure IRWS. UKC and FDSB register pure and ‘mixed’ IRWS.” It goes on to say that UKC and FDSB did not follow AKC recognition procedures, and the IRWSA doesn’t recognize UKC or FDSB as valid IRW registries. Yet, some IRWSA members have registered their IRWs with UKC. Apparently, they see no conflict of interest in competing with the AKC cancelled dogs.


Although IRWSA lists several champions among its so-called “pure” dogs, records indicate the number of show and field champions garnered by the dogs it helped to oust are far more. According to Williams, being unable to compete successfully is the main reason he thinks IRWSA convinced the AKC to cancel his and other dogs’ FSS status. Also of interest is what IRWSA will do in UKC competition if their dogs come up short against the cancelled dogs. Will they protest that those dogs are not IRWs? Williams doubts UKC would support that ploy.


Williams is glad his dogs and others have registered with UKC. He finds the organization very dog and people friendly.


“So we’re not with AKC; so what? Most of us with Jennings IRWs have no desire to be part of a registry we feel that has a history of ruining good field breeds. UKC is a 108-year-old U.S. registry with a reputation of good service to the dog public,” he stated. “It doesn’t have official parent organizations that allow personal issues and politics to control people’s dogs and breeding practices and to say or do whatever they want to, true or not.”


Simply put, Williams feels that the IRWSA and AKC are working “The Big Lie” concept by hoping they can convince unsuspecting potential IRW buyers that our dogs are not of the breed.


“It really doesn’t matter what they do or say. We will continue to consider our dogs full-fledged Irish Red and White Setters, compete with them as such, and sell puppies as that breed. If IRWSA and AKC are so positive of their claims, they should take us to court. But they won’t. They have no way of proving their misleading statements or claims; and they know it…not without calling into question IRWSA’s pedigrees and AKC’s Irish setter registry,” Williams said.


History shows that the IRWs bred under the Jennings program were outcrossed with AKC-registered Irish setters. IRWs from Ireland and Great Britain outcrossed with specifically picked Irish setters makes little difference to the owners of Jennings IRWs here in the U.S. Some of the very same Irish setters used in Europe are among the lineage of the U.S. IRWs. By canceling the FSS status of the Jennings IRWs, AKC has put itself in a position of potentially negating its entire Irish setter registry.


In some cases, some of the Irish setters selected for IRW restoration from Ireland and Great Britain were unregistered, so there are questions about their purity. In addition, unfounded claims of English setter mixes with the Jennings dogs are common in Europe as well. Recently however, some prominent British and Irish IRW breeders have made comments about English setter blood in their IRWs. Telltale signs may sometimes show up in the form of excess “ticking,” which can eliminate or penalize a show dog depending on which breed standard is applied. In addition, rare “black patches” attributable only to English setters have also been seen and noted. Black patches have not occurred in the Jennings U.S.-bred IRWs.


According to Williams, he and others have complained to AKC about the misleading statements on the site, but Mari-Beth O’Neill of AKC’s Special Services wrote and replied that AKC does not have any control of parent club websites or their content. Regardless, an attorney has sent IRWSA a letter requiring that the language be stricken or changed within IRWSA’s website. So far, IRWSA officials have ignored the warning and have not responded.


“That’s one choice IRWSA can make, but there will come a time when IRWSA will have to either change its website language or risk further legal action,” said Williams. “IRWSA has to prove its statements are true. Relying on any registry or kennel club that arbitrarily chooses to not accept our dogs does not exonerate it from making false claims or denigrating dogs and breeders,”


Williams said that he and other IRW owners are in the process of developing a website to promote the Snowfire IRWs and dispel misleading information. It will include a history of the dogs originally bred by Jennings, a list of champions in the dual role of show and field, links to current breeders, the benefits of registering with UKC and competing in its events, and other related topics.


Updated Information:

Shortly after the articles above ran in “TheDogPress,” the IRWSA changed much of the misleading and false information discrediting other Irish Red and White Setters (IRWs), many of which are currently registered with UKC.


IRWSA’s website language still claims that “purebred” IRWs must have a three-generation pedigree recognized by AKC/FSS and a so-called “IRWSA Breeder/Member’s Certificate of Authenticity.” Neither the statement about AKC/FSS nor the club certification provides any total verification of an actual IRW. IRWs not registered with AKC and those registered with UKC are also comparable IRWs. The authenticity certificate is simply an individual club document recognized only by IRWSA.


We are pleased to see that the IRWSA has taken responsibility for the misleading language in its website. We also hope that buyers interested in IRWs now have a clearer picture of this breed and those who own, breed, and support it.  Greg Williams


Introduction and History:

AKC & The Irish Red and White Setters, An Old Breed Whose History and Future is in Jeopardy

AKC Disregards Policies in Controversial Recognition Procedure of Irish Red and White Setters

AKC and the IRWSA Parent Club's website language - owners and breeders say is defamatory and misleading

Another Viewpoint regarding the Irish Red and White Setters by Chris James

Well written documentary on a new AKC breed whose long history is in jeopardy.  For those who have followed this situation with AKC, here is amazing background.  Impartially presented, it comes across as solid fact on a breed that should not be diluted nor changed on the whim of current AKC policy or people.




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