Crufts and the beautiful Irish Setter


Crufts – The greatest dog event in the world

Jude and I are avidly watching Crufts, ‘the greatest dog event in the world.’ However The Kennel Club’s annual show also has its fair share of controversy.

In our first blog we outline how Bob fell in love with an Irish Setter as a young child back in the 1960’s. We welcomed our first beautiful red head, Patrick to into our family in 2008. Ziggy followed less than 6 months later.

Both boys were bred by Sandra and Kerry Chorley in Nottingham and we fell in love with them instantly. We didn’t give the impressive breeding lineage of our ‘show setters’ much thought. Our only focus, to raise 2 happy family dogs.

We often giggle that Sandra said our perfect young puppy Patrick’s legs were too short for the breed standard. Now we joke that Jude’s legs are probably too long 🙂 Showing our Irish Setters barely crossed our mind.

Shockingly, in 2008 the BBC axed their longstanding Crufts coverage after one of their own documentaries Pedigree Dogs Exposed. Exposing painful health and welfare issues within many pure breeds, it was one hell of an eye opener. Long legs, short legs… a Crufts show life wasn’t for us.

Patrick’s Crufts debut

By the mid 2010’s my dog grooming career was well established and my interest in breed standards and conformation had grown. I proudly passed my Higher Diploma Gun Dog grooming module with Patrick as my model in 2017.

Irish setter graduation

Then in 2018 Patrick made his Crufts debut. As a member of The Groomers Spotlight I was invited to give a FURminator demo and as you can see, Patrick took it all in his stride 🙂 I was so proud of him and in my element to be with him amongst so many amazing dogs.

Irish setter at Crufts
Irish setter at Crufts
Irish setter at Crufts

Whilst The Kennel Club have worked hard to put the 2008 scandal behind them, there are still many breed health and welfare concerns yet to address. Plus continued allegations of wrongdoing, such as the tragic and suspicious death of Irish Setter Crufts contender Jagger in 2015.

As a bystander it comes across as rather an elite club, where inbred (excuse the pun) traditions are hard to break. Crufts is legendary and it was a great experience to ‘show’, albeit for a brief combing demo with my short legged Patrick…lol. However, after some of the unlicensed, unscrupulous and illegal breeding that occurred through lockdown, I fully support every decision The Kennel Club makes to improve and regulate the health and welfare of all dogs!

Crufts has so much to offer in addition to the main event

There are myriad retail stalls, exhibitions and demonstrations, running alongside the main breed group judging event. From food, toys, collars and leads to luxury dog spas, treadmills and dog friendly holidays. Flyball, agility, dancing to music to charity and service dog demos. Dog grooming stalls, training schools… the list goes on!

‘Discover Dogs’ was introduced to Crufts in 1994 as part of The Kennel Club’s commitment to encouraging responsible dog ownership. It’s great to meet all the vast variety of breeds and chat to the exhibitors.

Scrufts is another recent addition, opening Crufts up to our nation’s popular mixed breeds.

The whole 4 days of Crufts are a hub of everything dog related and a visit to Crufts is a must for all dog lovers!

Crufts Irish Setter wins best in show

The Irish Setter has won best in show at Crufts 4 times, the first being the only bitch Ch Astley’s Portia Of Ruar in 1981.

1993 saw Sh Ch Danaway Debonair  take the prestigious podium, closely followed in 1995 by Sh Ch Starchelle Chicago Bear. The last Irish Setter best in show was Sh Ch Caspians Intrepid in in 1999.

Kerryfair Night Fever

Returning to lineage, or pedigree as is the correct term, my interest grew as I began to study the breed. Reading Eve Gardner’s book ‘Irish Setters Today’ I learnt about our boys’ breeder Sandra Chorley, and her very special dog named Kerryfair Night Fever. Mack, as he was known at home, is described in the book as one of the most influential dogs in the history of the Irish Setter.

Sandra’s journey in becoming a top Irish Setter breeder is fascinating to read and she obviously has an instinctive intuition for this beautiful and sensitive breed.

Sadly this 1998 book appears to be out of print but like me, you can buy a used copy here…

Front cover featuring Crufts Best in Show winners, Danaway Debonair and Caspians Intrepid

Our Kerryfair boys

I am now proud to know that our Kerryfair boys had such an outstanding pedigree. Our Ziggy Kerryfair High Life was Mack’s Great Great Great Grandson (I know it’s a rather tenuous link.) Crufts Best in Show winners, Danaway Debonair and Caspians Intrepid both also feature in his lineage. Patrick Kerryfair Night Reveller is linked to Ziggy through his mother and now Jude has joined us.

Jude Kerryfair Misty Jay

Above all else, we know Kerryfair Irish Setters puppies are born and nurtured by loving, caring breeders. After losing the boys, we returned to Sandra and Kerry, not to replace, but to cherish a new soul with a little of Patrick and Ziggy’s blood running through him.

Jude Kerryfair Misty Jay is everything we could dream of in a puppy.

Maybe one day, he too will follow in his ancestors’ footsteps and debut, in some capacity at Crufts? 🙂

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Follow Jude Dog’s life journey from puppy to adult.

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