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Irish Red Setter In Russia

The dearest dog of His Imperial Majesty of Czar Alexander II was the red setter Milord. Contemporaries wrote that this was the black setter, but as it was explained later this was red setter with black color on the tips of hair, which gave to dog black color with the red nuance.

The setter was presented to HM by one Polish landowner and evil tongues chuckled to themselves, that the setter was not of pure breeding. This fact not at all disturbed HM and He did not expect soul in His dog and he was never parted from dog not even for a second. Each townsman of St. Petersburg knew that tall stately man, who frequently walked with the dog along the lattice of Summer Garden. This dog was the most known in the Russian Empire.

To the body of this high ranking dog was allowed only one Irish Setter bitch that belonged to the personal doctor of the Czar and one puppy of this litter was brought up in Leo Tolstoy's estate.

The Irish setter was one of the most popular and most numerous pointing dogs in Russia and some authors devoted their compositions to them. Writer Prishvin describes fantastic occurrence in his short story, when an Irish setter found and brought the stolen diamonds belonged to the wife of the governor of city N to the police station.

I do not know is it possible to believe to such stories, but undoubtedly the Irish setter is one of the smartest hunting dogs and in Russia some red dogs have the natural Report or as we it call Announcement to this day. (Editors Note: In Sweden the Report is tested in their field trials in the forest hunting capercailles and black grouse where the dog finds the birds leaves them and report to their handler and re-finds the birds this time accompanied by the gun).
In Finland, as in the former country, which forms part of the Russian Empire, announcement is a must for obtaining the title of Field Trial Champion still.

The starting point of the history of pure bred Red Irish Setter in Russia is considered to be in 1875, when Oppengamer from St. Petersburg imported two dogs from Capitane Irvin, d.Charley and b.Nell. When Oppengamer imported two dogs from Ireland the bitch Nell was already in pup. It took so long to prepare to bring the dogs to Russia that Nell gave birth to the puppies in Ireland.

The famous Elcho (KCSB 5129) never was in Russia, but his grand-daughter Frisco (KCSB 10303) was.
Also this time there were number of very important dogs imported to Russia such as d.Fag of Hawkes, b.Whyde of Moore, Connemara by d.Count (KCSB 8275) son of Palmerston and brother of Garryowen. I have to mention Rock (KCSB 24620), Sam and Madge Sallivan of Shandon II.

Huge efforts by the big experts of the Irish Setters A.Peskov and his friend and kennel owner A.Pegov took in a dog called Glencar (KCSB19594) from Hawkes’s kennel. This was imported into Russia in 1891 and was the grandson of the legendary Palmerston. This dog rightfully is considered as the founder of the Russian line of Red Irish Setters. Hawkes describes this dog as an old type dog, but splendid modern exterior and outstanding working qualities. For 9 years Glencar gave nearly to 6 litters each year. According to A.Pegov 150 dogs were produced in his kennel.

One of the major bitches in the kennel was another dog also from the Hawkes’s kennel Kerry Kat (Shandon II x  Avoca). Avoca was the mother of Glencar and daughter of Ganymede.

At the end of 19th centuries there were a sufficient number of Red Setter kennels in Moscow and in Saint Petersburg , that belonged to well-known people, Moshnin, Khrenov, Count Sheremet'yev and Prince Shirinsky-Shikhmatov. The kennels were founded from the dogs imported from Ireland, England and France. For example the Khrustchev kennel d. Royal Sovereign and d. Paddy (KCSB 714/F), d.Dizard (Fingal x Mirta O'Callaghan) stood in Count Sheremet'yev’s kennel.


After the revolution of 1917 many Irish Setters were exported abroad, and part of them disappeared without leaving a trace. But already in 1921 there was the first Moscow show, where17 Irish Setters were presented, though more than half of them were of unknown origin. In 1923 through the efforts of Pegov , there were 50 red dogs presented at the same show. For the purpose of blood refreshment and restoration of the breed after the Revolution years 2 dogs were imported: Stylish Rori from Scotland and Colonel Piter from England.

In the same approximate time appears the dog Gip (Douglas, E.Klein X Butter-Fly, Volkov). He was the founder of the breed line of modern Moscow dogs. Before the war a lot of Gip’s descendants became FT Champions or FT Winners.

Since 1925, the 100 points system of estimation of dog working qualities was accepted in the USSR and it also introduced three gradations of hunting diplomas 1, 2 and to 3 degrees. In order to become FT Champion the dog must win stakes with 1st degree diploma and if scores with a diploma of 2 or 3 degrees, it is deemed a FT Winner.

In essence practiced FT tests, where working diplomas were appropriated, and field trial stakes were rarely conducted. Only wild feathered game is allowed. To obtain 1st degree diploma is extremely difficult, but some red dogs had four diplomas of the 1st degree and these were dogs, believe me, which on the merit would be estimated in any country, as these dogs were excellent hunters. My first red dog Ikar was double FTCh and had two 1st degree diplomas accordingly and he was the 17th Irish Setter to do so in St.Petersburg (Petrograd-Leningrad).

After the war Irish Setters suffered the same fate as after the Revolution and it was necessary to restore the breed again. In Moscow, which is the centre of breeding of the Irish Setter from the mid 30’s  E. Klein - student and the friend of A.Pegov lead the restoration of the breed. After the war, making line inbreeding to Gip, E. Klein bred dogs that started to work from the first year of age. These dogs were mostly lightly built.

At this time in the Soviet standards of Irish setter some innovations appeared, because some of the Irish Setters lost that nice stop on the head. This stop was formed actually only by raised brows. Head and general type of some setters became more similar to that of the borzoi hound dog. The borzoi hound dog type of IRS appeared in Russia because of some changes in Soviet standards of IRS from the original Irish standard. Some Russian red dogs look like borzoi dogs now!

The Irish setter in Russia became taller in the last 20-30 years many experts have noted, where the average sized dog is 66 cm. Seemed some influence of imported German show bred (dual) dogs had a huge impact. These dogs were German Flott, Ulya, from recent Brumley's Thelma who was a descendant of Charley von Royal bred by Moanruad and German dual dogs.
Field Trial dogs imported to Russia from Italy in the 1970's were the descendants of John Nash’s dogs and could obtain two diplomas of 3-d degree and produced only one litter. This was a very fast dog, but with a relatively short nose on birds. Long nose is worth most of all in Russia while obedience and the dogs ability to work on its own is also desirable. After this only speed, breed style etc.
In spite of the general decline of working Irish setters in Russia in recent years there are number of the Russian red dogs, that show good results in the field still: FTCh b.Osen’, A.Tchislov, FTW b,Zarya –Zaryanitsa, G.Il’in, FTCh b.Duna, V.Lementchuk and many others.

Dog Den, Y.Goreglyad finally became a FTW only several days ago with the 2-d degree diploma. He is an outstanding hunting dog of Moscow lines from Belorussia who scored the maximum points for style. 

This dog is not too fast compared with Irish FT measures. However he has a flying gallop with his head almost always highly raised and with a muzzle always parallel to the ground. He is smooth on the bird flushing and in addition to this he is good retriever.

Another surprise was that imported show bred dog Karmino Made Handsome, was able to win 2 places at Open Stakes on the grey partridge in Belorussia. He got 3 highest marks for style. But also a dual dog of a second generation d. Troy (Wendover line), won CACT title last year in St.Petersburg. There were always people in Russia who were not indifferent to the dual bred dogs. It must be the mysterious Russian soul, but now many hunters try to work with show bred dogs in the fields and also to hunt with them.

Russia is truly great country with excellent possibilities given to Russian hunters with pointing dogs. Hunting with pointing dogs opens 2 weeks earlier, then for other type of hunters. Hunting on feathered game begins from the middle of July until the middle of November, but with pointing dog it is possible to continue to hunt in winter till the end of February. Feathered game is of a wide variety, which you can imagine including black grouse and capercaillie. In the far North snow grouse are the most popular. In the central regions there are snipe, great snipe, woodcock, capercaillie, black grouse, grey partridge. In the south pheasant, common quail, woodcock etc are the most common.

But today we are faced with the emergency of importing the best FT dogs from Ireland, UK, Italy, France to raise the level of sporting dogs in order to compete with modern English Pointers and Gordon’s, whose quantity and quality grew in recent years greatly. Unfortunately our almost 10 years attempt to revitalize the breed were not thus far crowned with success. Sadly some kennel owners, especially in England simply do not reply to our requests. The Irish Red Setter Club help would be very useful in this case.

Gennadi Charcot, St.Petersburg, 2009

Editors Note: Some of the sentences have been changed through translation. Any mis-translations are accidental.