Epilepsy means repeated seizures due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain and is caused by an abnormality in the brain itself. However a fitting dog is not always an epileptic dog. Fitting or seizures can be caused by a variety of disorders (including poisons, metabolic disorders and brain tumours), with epilepsy being only one of them. Epilepsy is recognised as an inherited condition (idiopathic epilepsy) in some breeds, and typically signs start between 6 months and 3 years of age.


When dog puppies are born their testicles have not descended into the scrotum.  Usually by the time they are 8 weeks the testicles can be clearly felt by a vet or an experienced breeder but may take a few more weeks to descend fully.  However, occasionally, one or both do not descend but are retained inside the body; this is cryptorchidism.

Cryptorchidism is believed to be inherited, and affected dogs cannot be shown.

Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD)

Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD) is an inherited immunodeficiency condition which affects the white blood cells ability to fight infection.  Affected puppies show infections from a very early age, often with umbilical (navel) infections from birth with other recurring infections of skin, mouth and sores that do not heal.  There may be tonsillitis, pneumonia as well as joint and bone problems. These infections usually respond well to antibiotics but, as soon as they are stopped, the infections return.



PRA Blindness

One of the health problems people associate with Irish Setters is PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) which is a term for several different forms of hereditary conditions which lead to blindness and which is found in many breeds of dogs.  This was a major problem for the breed in the 1940’s and 1950’s and was the greatest threat to the breed.  This eye condition leads to gradually worsening vision and eventual total blindness in both eyes.  The condition is hereditary and is carried by a simple autosomal recessive gene.