Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Llewellin Setters: Their Own Breed?

Syndicate

Syndicate content
Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!

Gun Dogs Recent Posts

Categories

Recent Comments

Archives

Gun Dogs
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

March 25, 2013
Llewellin Setters: Their Own Breed? - 4

A comment on my last post – “The best breeds for every game animal” – caught my attention. It was made by OL user valgards, and he stated:

Ok, two problems. First, you obviously buy into the AKC line that a Llewellin Setter is the same as an English. It's not. It is a breed all its own, and the best quail dog alive....

I’m all for pride of ownership, and the age-old debate as to which dog is the best hunter (however you’d like to couch it), but to separate lines within a breed seems like a bit of a stretch.

Anyone that has even spent a cursory amount of time around setters, or even read into their history a smidge, will have heard of the Llewellin line. It’s as famous as any line of dogs in history in any breed. The history of the Llewellin line is written in setter lore, literally, by many; two examples of which can be found here and here. These are long, detailed histories that give a great account of the rise of field trials, the bane of all field dogs – the show ring, and how the Llewellin line came to dominate field setters for both hunters and early trial competitors. It’s a perfect example of selective breeding for a specific purpose – that being natural ability and success in the field.

The two articles above can be summed up in this Wikipedia entry: Mr. Edward Laverack (1800–1877), and Mr. R. Purcell Llewellin (1840–1925). Llewellin's strain was based on Laverack's best dogs, which were then outcrossed with the bloodlines of his dogs Duke, Rhoebe and later Duke's littermate, Kate. It was Kate bred with Laverack's best hunting males that produced Llewellin's ideals Fd.Ch.Ch. Armstrong's Dash II and later Fd.Ch.Ch Dashing Bondhu. They were the foundation of Mr. Llewellin's personal strain known as "Dashing Bondhu". William Humphrey (1882–1963) inherited them from Mr. Llewellin in 1925 and continued them pure until his death in 1963 and produced 41 field champions in 38 years.

Despite Laverack and Llewellin’s well-documented and stringent selective breeding practices, I have to disagree with OL user valgards – the Llewellin is an English setter and not a breed all its own. It’s a very distinguished and accomplished line of English setters, but a strict program does not make a separate breed.

First, Laverack started with English setters. Llewellin continued the line with his own English setters. The line is English setters from start to finish, even if their breeding is tightly regulated (the very definition of selective breeding and developing a line of dogs). To be genetically different from English setters, another breed of dog would have had to been introduced, and in such a quantity and repetition to change the dog at both the genotype (genetic) and phenotype (physically observed) levels.

Now, an argument could be made that the Llewellin line is indeed a separate breed because of the inclusion of dog from around the 1860s that wasn’t an English setter: “Llewellin’s breakthrough occurred when he purchased two dogs, Dan and Dick, while attending a field trial at Shrewbury in 1871. Dan and Dick were sons of a dog named Duke, owned by Barclay Field, and a bitch named Rhoebe (Rhoebe’s dam was half Gordon and half South Esk, a now extinct breed), owned by Thomas Statter; both of these dogs were out of northern England stock noted for outstanding field work. Llewellin bred Dan and Dick to his Laverack females, and a new era in bird dog history was begun.”

It’s a legitimate argument, but I’d still say one dog, introduced once into the breed wouldn’t make such an impact as to make the dog genetically different from other English setters after 140-plus years of breeding to English setters. Nor would that single dog have such an influence on future generations as to set it exponentially apart from other lines within the breed.

The second issue with claiming that the Llewellin line is its own breed, is the fact that the written histories say that the line was so successful in field trials that nearly all lines of field English setters have Llewellin in them. Which, if true, and I wouldn’t doubt it to one degree or another, it only furthers the argument that the Llewellin is a line and not genetically different than the rest of the breed.

While the AKC adopts this logic, the American Field Sporting Dog Association does not. They run their own registry and in their field dog stud book, and those dogs directly descended from the Llewellin lines (and kept pure) supposedly have their own designation – yet are still considered English setters as far as I can tell (which only affirms that they’re a line within the greater English setter breed as a whole).

Perhaps OL user valgards was being hyperbolic and having some fun, to which I applaud his humor and pride of ownership, but without a doubt many out there probably do believe Llewellins are a separate breed than English setters.

I don’t buy it. But what say you, Gun Doggers?

 

 

Photo: Minnesota Setters

Comments (4)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Scott Berg wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

The logic that all Lewellins are English Setters but not all English Setters are Llewellins is a product of the action you question here, not a form of logic for supporting it. All Tekoa Mountain Sunrise (line) bred dogs are Esetters but not all Setters are TMS dogs. The same can be said for every other line.

The pertinent question is not whether the Llewellin is a separate breed. The question is why would you isolate a line and take away the option to breed to the other 95% of the breed? Would Wehle have recommended this practice? Of course not, his books document the tremendous impact certain out crosses had on his program.

My brother and I have been breeding Setters since I was 14 (37 years ago). Therefore, I would like to see breeding decisions based on using the best of the breed, not nostalgia. Llewellins were the dominant line of Setters in field trial competition. Unfortunately, that was a hundred years ago and it has been 70+ years since Llewellin won a Championship, including grouse Championships where setters dominate.

Tradition is wonderful right up to the point where it erodes the very thing that created the tradition.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Lynn wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Hey guys, glad you enjoyed the piece.

schmakenzie -- I usually read the comments. Sometimes I respond inline like this, and sometimes I use them to jump off to points raised. There's another one coming out of the "best breeds" piece. Thanks for your input and for reading!

HuskerBucksandBirds -- I completely agree. Llewellins are English setters, but not all English setters are Llewellins...the definition of a line within a breed.

The DNA thing has piqued my interest however, so I might call the AFDSA and ask about the DNA testing...specifically, what are they testing??? What are they comparing it to??? Interesting, at any rate. Thank you for reading and commenting, too!

B

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from HuskerBucksandBirds wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

It is quite simple. All Llewellin Setters are English Setters but not all English Setters are Llewellin Setters.

And in terms of the American Field Dog Sporting Association not recognizing Llewellins as being a separate breed they certainly do recognize the lineage. You can register a litter or your stud in the Field Dog Stud book as a Llewellin but in order to do that you now have to submit DNA. This requirements was implemented 7 or 8 years ago. The Llewellin is I believe the only strain where this is a requirement. For all other breeds, when registering a litter from Champions or runner ups, DNA testing is also required. My understanding is this requirement for Llewellins was implemented at the request of breeders who wanted to protect the lineage.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Very interesting article. Well written. I really appreciate that you have taken the time to read the comments and actually respond, by doing this I believe your blogs/articles will become much more popular and supported. I agree with the blog. I own a breed that will someday become its own and that is the brittany (akc registered) or the french brittany (ukc registered). AKC does not ackknowledge the differences between an american brittany and a french brittany. I believe one day they will. There are way too many differences and most involved understand them.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Very interesting article. Well written. I really appreciate that you have taken the time to read the comments and actually respond, by doing this I believe your blogs/articles will become much more popular and supported. I agree with the blog. I own a breed that will someday become its own and that is the brittany (akc registered) or the french brittany (ukc registered). AKC does not ackknowledge the differences between an american brittany and a french brittany. I believe one day they will. There are way too many differences and most involved understand them.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from HuskerBucksandBirds wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

It is quite simple. All Llewellin Setters are English Setters but not all English Setters are Llewellin Setters.

And in terms of the American Field Dog Sporting Association not recognizing Llewellins as being a separate breed they certainly do recognize the lineage. You can register a litter or your stud in the Field Dog Stud book as a Llewellin but in order to do that you now have to submit DNA. This requirements was implemented 7 or 8 years ago. The Llewellin is I believe the only strain where this is a requirement. For all other breeds, when registering a litter from Champions or runner ups, DNA testing is also required. My understanding is this requirement for Llewellins was implemented at the request of breeders who wanted to protect the lineage.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Lynn wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Hey guys, glad you enjoyed the piece.

schmakenzie -- I usually read the comments. Sometimes I respond inline like this, and sometimes I use them to jump off to points raised. There's another one coming out of the "best breeds" piece. Thanks for your input and for reading!

HuskerBucksandBirds -- I completely agree. Llewellins are English setters, but not all English setters are Llewellins...the definition of a line within a breed.

The DNA thing has piqued my interest however, so I might call the AFDSA and ask about the DNA testing...specifically, what are they testing??? What are they comparing it to??? Interesting, at any rate. Thank you for reading and commenting, too!

B

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Berg wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

The logic that all Lewellins are English Setters but not all English Setters are Llewellins is a product of the action you question here, not a form of logic for supporting it. All Tekoa Mountain Sunrise (line) bred dogs are Esetters but not all Setters are TMS dogs. The same can be said for every other line.

The pertinent question is not whether the Llewellin is a separate breed. The question is why would you isolate a line and take away the option to breed to the other 95% of the breed? Would Wehle have recommended this practice? Of course not, his books document the tremendous impact certain out crosses had on his program.

My brother and I have been breeding Setters since I was 14 (37 years ago). Therefore, I would like to see breeding decisions based on using the best of the breed, not nostalgia. Llewellins were the dominant line of Setters in field trial competition. Unfortunately, that was a hundred years ago and it has been 70+ years since Llewellin won a Championship, including grouse Championships where setters dominate.

Tradition is wonderful right up to the point where it erodes the very thing that created the tradition.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

bmxbiz