Welcome to Irish Setter Health

Irish Setter Health is for everyone who cares about Irish Setters, or Red Setters as they are often known.  Hopefully some of your questions will be answered whether you are thinking of buying a puppy or if you are already an owner.  The aim of the site is to share knowledge and experience in a responsible way to increase understanding of the breed, particularly its health and welfare.  Although it is not a veterinary or scientific site we hope to provide you with information and help.  However, this should never replace veterinary advice and if you are worried about your pet’s health then please contact your vet. 

Irish Setter Health is run by the South of England Irish Setter Club in conjunction with its site www.SEISC.co.uk.  This site complements the club website and our prime focus is on caring for your setter, puppies and health issues.  We would like to thank both Professor Ed Hall, Chairman of the Breed Health Committee, and Dr Jeff Sampson, who was The Kennel Club's Geneticist for many years, who have been consulted on our health articles. We will continue to add more articles and information and would be pleased if you would let us have any information you feel would be appropriate. Please continue to help us make this a site for all Irish Setter owners.

Nero Head

Spotlight on...



The UK Joint Irish Setter Breed Clubs’ Health Committee has been supporting Professor Hannes Lohi’s research into epilepsy since 2013 when buccal swabs were first sent to Helsinki to help ongoing research. To date, about 150 swabs have been supplied to the owners of epileptics, close family members and healthy dogs over 7 years old. Although we don’t know they have all been sent to Finland we do know that DNA from UK dogs has been used in the research. In addition we are supporting the archiving of DNA at AHT. 

If you have an epileptic Irish Setter, or a close family member, please ask for swab kits. It will only cost you the price of stamps to Helsinki and to AHT in UK. We only ask that you do send off the swabs.  Email: megwebb1ataol [dot] com

The Dutch Irish Setter Club is also participating in the Finnish Research: http://www.iersesetterclub.nl and The Irish setter Club of America is supporting research in USA: https://www.irishsetterclub.org/current_research.html

The AHT launched the Give a Dog a Genome project in 2016 and DNA from two epileptic Irish Setters has been submitted. http://www.aht.org.uk/gdg





The Kennel Club’s Health Team would like to make you aware that following consultation with the Dog Health Group, the Kennel Club has confirmed that from 1st August 2018, any DNA health test result submitted for inclusion on its database must have at least two forms of identification on the result certificate.   

It will be mandatory to include the dog’s microchip or tattoo number along with either the dog’s registered name or registered number. Any test results that do not carry these identifying features will not be accepted.

This brings the recording of DNA test results in line with those health tests carried out by the British Veterinary Association.



A big thank you

to those owners who have sent Buccal Swabs to the Helsinki Epilepsy Research Project:

Another step forward has been taken in the study of canine epilepsy.

In June 2015 Hannes Lohi’s team at Helsinki University published a research paper in which the team concluded that their genetic data implicated ADAM23 as a common risk gene for idiopathic epilepsy in four unrelated dog breeds and that further replication studies in additional breeds would be ongoing.


The results of the next phase of their research have recently been published in which they studied the association of the ADAM23 gene with idiopathic or primarily genetic epilepsy in eight dog breeds.  This research supports their first conclusion and the results support the role of ADAM23 in several dog breeds as a common risk gene for epilepsy with low penetrance but they believe other, as yet unknown, factors may contribute to the disease risk.

The haplotype frequencies in Pyrenean Shepherds, Miniature Pinschers and Irish Setters showed a similar trend as in the other studied breeds, although the associations were not statistically significant


During the last four years around 40 DNA samples from UK Irish Setters which have been diagnosed with epilepsy have been sent to Professor Hannes Lohi’s Canine Genetics research group at the University of Helsinki. Samples from some 80 close family members of these dogs and some 40 older dogs which have not had seizures have also been sent

We would like to thank those owners who have submitted DNA samples as Irish Setters were one of the 8 breeds studied with 22 cases and 46 controls and we know that DNA samples from UK were used.

For the full abstract go to:


If you would like to send DNA samples see our original page.


Give A Dog A Genome

Give a Dog A Genome is a recent initiative launched by the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT to create the UK's largest canine genome bank to help generations of dogs. This genome bank will improve dog health by radically increasing understanding of the canine genome. The aim is to sequence the entire genomes (all 2.4 billion letters of DNA) of 50 different dog breeds by the end of 2016. The AHT has been appealing to dog breed communities to donate £1000 towards this project and is matching each donation with funding provided by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust. In return, the breed will represent one of the 50 genomes sequenced and will help to make a significant contribution to the future of canine genetics research.

We are delighted that The Irish Red Setter Rescue Charitable Trust (IRSRCT) has funded this for our breed and have confirmation that we have been included in the 50 breeds. Sequencing the Irish Setter genome will aid future research into inherited disease.  We look forward to hearing how the research progresses.

As at October 2017 suitable DNA had now been identified and sent to a commercial lab for sequencing.

Further information can be found on the AHT website:  www.aht.org.uk/gdg


We are pleased to announce that the IRSRCT has funded a second epileptic dog.  

The DNA from the first dog has been sequenced and the analysis is underway.

The DNA from the second dogs is currently being quality assessed before being sent for sequencing.

Further Update 30 April 2018

A DNA sample from the second dog has now been sent to a commercial laboratory for sequencing.



Joint Irish Setter Breed Clubs Health Committee

We have recently been informed of an Irish Setter in mainland Europe which has been confirmed as being PRA RCD-1 affected.  Of course, since 2011 all Irish Setters  registered in UK must be either tested clear or hereditarily clear, but this is not the case in other countries.

Our advice is that if you are importing an Irish Setter (or semen) into the UK, that you check its RCD 1 status. 

Professor EJ Hall

Chairman, Joint  Irish Setter Breed Clubs Health Committee

September 2014


Hannes Lohi and his team at Helsinki University are

carrying out research  into epilepsy in Irish  Setters.


See our article to find out if you can help.


The AHT are investigating mystery New Forest Dog Deaths and are appealing to owners who walk in the Fordingbridge area of The New Forest



Please look at our article on Saying Goodbye.

Maybe you can help the breed. 


Collecting information on Irish Setters with MO

Please look at the article on megaoesophagus and see if you can help.