The Five Families of Ryman Setters

People have asked us why the five families of Ryman setters are not mentioned in the book. For anyone who is not familiar with this, the story is that Ryman had five distinct families of dogs in his kennel (sometimes referred to as lines or types). Each family had its own set of characteristics- some were smaller, some bigger, some had more go, etc. Ryman’s breeding system reportedly used various crosses of these families to produce his ideal type.

The families are not in the book because we found no evidence Ryman did this. In fact, the evidence leads to the conclusion that he did not. The continuous influx of outside bloodlines, the way they were blended into the kennel, and the direction of the breeding program over the years do not fit within such a system, and Ryman never mentioned the families or used them to describe dogs he had for sale. All references to the families we are aware of came after Ryman’s time.

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