Ireland Designates “Heritage Status” for Native Dog Breeds
Sean Delmar, president of the Irish Kennel Club and Kerry Blue Terrier breeder, has just achieved the holy grail of “heritage status” for the nine native Irish breeds.
JULY 16, 2019
I am pleased to announce that the 9 Irish Breeds have been granted National Heritage status by the Minister.
This is a wonderful step in the future protection and development of our amazing Irish Breeds and comes after many years of representations by those committed to Irish Breeds.
On behalf of The Irish Kennel Club I would like to specifically acknowledge the commitment of the following who put there heart and soul into making this a reality. Cathy Delmar, Eddie Burke, Vincent Flannelly.
Sean Delmar, President
“I thought there was a chance these breeds could go out of existence,” Delmar said. “I thought the Government should take some responsibility. We wanted to convince them these dog breeds are part of the patchwork quilt of the Irish people.”
This exciting success required a lot of initiatives over 10 years, Delmar noted. The small group of folks involved did demonstrations, paraded dogs at schools, had dogs on “chat shows” on TV.
“We built up a portfolio so we had something to show the government, not just an idea,” Delmar said. “We created a heritage weekend revolving around dogs. Even hawking with setters in the midland bogs. People learned a lot about Irish breeds. The general populace is now more aware.”
The Irish Kennel Club was only the national body that made the application. So much enthusiasm and work done was from a handful of devoted fanciers, Delmar said.
“Dogs developed because of working ability originally,” Delmar observed. “Ireland has the Irish Wolfhound and Kerry Beagle, Red setter, Red and white setter and Water spaniel. In the terrier group we have Kerry Blue, Irish, Glen of Imaal, Soft Coated Wheaten.”
Purebred dogs are history and art
Wolfhounds are one of the ancient symbols of Ireland along with the shamrock and harp. Kerry beagle are a hunting pack unique to Ireland. During the potato famine in Ireland, ships carrying refugees to the US, took Kerry beagles with them. Delmar expects these dogs could be found behind coonhounds in the US.
Romantic figures in Irish history hunted on horseback with hawks and setters, using nets before guns were invented.
Delmar’s telling of the rich tapestry of Irish history, includes Grace O’Malley — one of the earliest known female pirates, born around 1530 in Ireland and growing up to lead a 20-ship fleet. Her contribution to the development of the Irish Water Spaniel was the connection to her incursions on the Iberian Peninsula.
“We just undersell everything we do,” Delmar said. “We don’t spend enough time telling people that what you get with pedigree dogs is predictable qualities, predictable characteristics. Don’t get that in crossbreds. Can be great dogs. They might have one or two of the qualities. But it’s a lucky get. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates.”
Will Alexander on Grooming, Handling and Heroes
Canadian dog handling legend, Will Alexander, shares his memories, his handling tips and grooming tools that have brought him significant success in the last 25 years.
“My heroes were people like George Alston,” Alexander said. “He basically taught me to trim Irish Setters over the phone.”
“I always wanted to be a handler, but before embarking on a handling career I worked for Garry MacDonald in Canada, and for Bobby Stebbins in the States,” Alexander said.
Carving the picture
Grooming is not a recipe, Alexander noted. Every dog is different. Famous for his meticulous grooming of setters particularly, Alexander describes a process to “build a shell around the dog” when trimming the back coat. He works with a stripping knife, his fingers, a grooming stone and, the most important piece, a bristle brush to bring up the oils in the coat.
Attention to detail
“I hate it when I hear “Oh, they won because they are so and so… well, they didn’t just grow up and they were so and so… they had to work hard to become so and so,” Alexander said. “It’s hard work. For every 15 minutes of fame there are 23 hrs 45 minutes working on your dog. It’s not age, it’s mileage.”
Tips of the trade
- Think in slow motion. In real time you’re doing exactly the right speed.
“When Miss P won the group at the Garden, George Alston called and yelled at me that I had gone too fast on the down and back. It was terrifying!”
- Attention to detail.
“I like to sit and watch the ring, pretend I’m in there already, making my mistakes in my head so I don’t make them in the ring.”
- “Old fashioned” isn’t bad
“I have a mind’s eye picture of the dogs. So much of type is in how they move, how they carry themselves,” Alexander said. “We need to be preserving the breeds not ‘improving’ them.”
Dream Best in Show Lineup
- English Springer Spaniel Ch. Salilyn’s Condor
- Borzoi Ch. Kishniga’s Desert Song
- Doberman Pinscher Ch. Brunswig’s Cryptonite
- Wire Fox Terrer ch galsul excellence
- Pekingese Ch. Wendessa Crown Prince
- Standard Poodle Ch. Rimskittle Ruffian
- German Shepherd Dog Ch Altana’s Mystique
BIS to Robert the Springer
For more information, videos, the book and more, visit http://www.doghandlingtips.com/