Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Irish Setter Sled Dog Team Vintage Photo

It's Huskies we think of when we think of sled dogs, but Irish Setters played a starring role in the sport as well.  

My friend Lorna Coppinger wrote a  comprehensive history of sled dogs (The World of Sled Dogs: From Siberia to Sport Racing, Howell Books, NY, 1982).   
This is what Lorna had to say about the breed, "The Irish Setter, besides being crossbred with huskies, has been run on many a team and done well. His long coat and leg hair hinder in some snow conditions, but his rangy conformation and endurance enable him to complete a 15-20 mile course in good shape, often at or near the front.  A 25-mile track record was set at Ashton, Idaho, in 1935 by Don Cordingly and seven Irish Setters, traveling at about 13 1/2 miles an hour."  

The photo above is from my collection of vintage pictures.  My guess is it's a picture of Cordingly and his dog team.
Here he is with his lead dog.

Lorna continued, "Gary Gunkel and his nine-dog team of setters was unbeatable in the West in the 1960's, and in the East, John Lyman's long team of dark red dogs held their own for years against the husky-powered competition..."  

That's Lyman with his team below,
 about 1960, (photo from Lorna's book.)

Setters are near and dear to my heart.  There hasn't been a time in the last 45 years when at least one setter hasn't been lounging on a couch at my house.  

Diggory, my fist setter, about 1970.


  1. I can't imagine how their hair can handle the snow. I have a border collie and he loves the snow, but it turns into clumps all over him.


    1. I think the drivers must shave their feet. All my setters ended up with snow clumpy feet.

  2. Those Irish Setters ain't got nuthin' on The Raging Bulldogges:

  3. Those Boston Bulls are truly terrors. I posted the link for all to see! See some Boston Terrier vintage photos here

  4. I forgot to mention that the dogs also wear sled-dog booties to protect their feet.

  5. Hola amigo de los animales: veo que tienes un blog muy bueno con interesantes datos. ¡¡¡Enhorabuena por él!!!.

    Quisiera compartir contigo y tus lectores más información sobre la raza de perro Setter Irlandes y dos videos, uno de Cachorros de setter irlandes y otro con fotos del Setter irlandes.

    Espero que te guste mi espacio de mascotas (Perros y Gatos) y dejame un comentario si te apetece.

    Saludos desde España

  6. I found this website with Irish Setters dog-sledding in a race. Irish Setters Dog Sledding Really nice racing pictures.