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Irish Red & White Setter - SaveARescue.org

Irish Red & White Setter

Irish Red & White Setter

  • Breed Group : SPORTING
  • Origin : Ireland
  • Average Height : 22" - 26"
  • Average Weight : 50 - 75 lbs.
  • Life Span : 10 - 14 years

Photo Courtesy of : Save Our Setters, Inc.

  • Size

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  • Energy

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  • Intelligence

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  • Ease of Training

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  • Hypo-Allergenic

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  • Shedding

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  • Good with Kids

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  • Good with Other Pets

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  • Guard Dog

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Irish Red & White Setter Rescue Organizations

  • 'Setting dogges' – an ancient term for setters, were developed to indicate the whereabouts of game birds and a dog would have been used for this in Roman times.
    The dog would find the location of the game birds by scenting the air; either freeze in a position standing or crouching down then slowly creep forward on command to disturb the birds into flight. Once the birds were in flight the hunter who had been following the dog would release hawks to capture the birds in the air.

    When netting superseded the use of hawks, setting dogs would still be used to indicate the whereabouts of the birds but the hunter would come up behind the dog and throw a net over the birds. In the mid-1600s, guns became more readily available and shooting game birds became a popular pastime of the landed gentry. The basic work of setters was still to find and point to the location of game birds but it also had to be steady to shot.

    By the 17th century 'setting dogges' had become established and the breeds as seen in the present day could be identified as Setters. Interbreeding of the different colours was still be taking place during this period but it gradually changed and sportsman (breeders) started to segregate matings to dogs adapted to the terrain it was required to work on.

    Originally, setters in Ireland were mostly red, or the parti-colour red and white, or even nearly all white dogs. All were accepted as Irish Setters and were mated to each other.

    As late as 1875 at a conformation show in Dublin, there were 66 entries in the Irish Setter classes; 23 of this entry were red and white. At a show in Cork the next year, in an entry of 96, there were 36 red and whites. This was when the fashion for solid coloured red setters began and the decline in red and white setter numbers continued. The popularity of the solid red Irish Setter in both America and Ireland gained strength as they attracted very high prices, all adding to the demise of the red and white almost to the point of extinction. A handful of breeders in remote parts of Ireland kept the breed alive.

    A small number of breeders were active from 1775 to the end of the 19th century. The Rossmore family of County Monaghan in Ireland, had a strain of red and whites dating back to the mid 18th century and this line was preserved into the 20th century. The family still own many paintings of these dogs.[12] During the breed's history, red and white setters were sometimes referred to as Rossmore Setters.Other owners recorded at this time included Reverend Mahon of Castlegar, Yelverton O'Keefe, Maurice Nugent O'Connor and Miss Lidwell whose name was sometimes mis-spelt as Ledwich. The dogs from these strains were all particularly known for their working abilities.

    Irish Red And White Setter in Tallinn

    Thanks to the efforts of an early 20th-century Irish clergyman, Noble Huston, the breed survived, but only in small numbers in the island of Ireland. From around 1970, a revival of the breed was planned, and the numbers began to increase slowly. The Irish Kennel Club approached the Irish Red Setter Club during 1976 to ask if it was willing to help oversee the revival of the Irish Red and White Setter.

    Partly through the endeavours of the Irish Red & White Setter Field & Show Society, which was formed in 1981, the breed became well established and received national and international recognition. Irish Red and White setters successfully compete in conformation shows and field trials attaining champions in both disciplines.

    Many individuals contributed to the breed's successful revival. Rev Huston kept a note of his litters in the parish register. He did not have official pedigrees but did engage in lengthy correspondence with Maureen Cuddy (then Clarke), whose kennel name was 'Knockalla".[18] In a letter to Cuddy, Rev Huston wrote: "...the present Red and Whites are not a new breed nor a revived breed (like the Irish Wolfhound) but a continued breed...It was through Cuddy's meticulous record keeping and research that in 1974 the Irish Kennel Club finally accepted that the pedigrees of the few remaining red and whites were accurate.

    It is likely that the revived generations of Irish Red and White Setters descend from a puppy bitch Cuddy nursed to health in 1940. This bitch was named 'Judith Cunningham of Knockalla'.

    By the 1980s, red and white setters were being imported into Great Britain, where the breed was developed more as a show dog. Interest in Great Britain had particularly been revived after Alan and Ann Gormley from Dublin exhibited an Irish Red and White at Crufts in 1980. This was 'Harlequin of Knockalla' who was bred by Cuddy in 1977. Harlequin had qualified for Crufts due to his success at shows in Ireland, but the Gormleys were more interested in showing their dogs than in working them. Harlequin did prove he could work while young, but an error with the paperwork meant his qualifying test at a field trial was never correctly recorded. Harlequin was sired by Glenkeen Sandy whose grandfather was Sulhamstead Natty D'Or, a field trial dog bred by Florence Nagle.

    The breed was little known in Britain and the Kennel Club had inadvertently listed Harlequin's Crufts entry among the Irish Setters. This was the trigger for great interest in the breed, as it proved the breed was not extinct as was believed.

    Irish Red and White setters bred by the Gormleys under their kennel name of 'Meudon' proved influential worldwide as their red and whites were exported to Italy, America and Holland as well as to the UK.

    In contrast to these British dogs, the breed has continued to be primarily a working and field trial dog in Ireland.

    From 1 January 2009, the Irish Red and White Setter was fully recognised by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and was eligible to compete in conformation and all other competitive fields. The breed had previously been listed on the AKC Foundation Stock Service, which is the first step towards a purebred breed gaining recognition in America. The breed was given recognition by the Canadian Kennel Club in May 1999.

    The breed is recognised by most other national Kennel Clubs. All registered Irish Red and White Setters are the descendants of the dogs accepted by the Irish Kennel Club at the time of the revival of the breed in the 1970s.

    It is listed by the Kennel Club in the UK as a Vulnerable Native breed. This is because registrations are less than 300 per year.

    Original Irish Setters were parti-colored, red and white.

    The solid red Irish Setters were rare. In about 1850 the red Irish Setter began to gain popularity.

    The parti-colored setter started its slow decline.
    The Red and White Irish Setters became nearly extinct except for the few enthusiasts who kept the breed alive.
    In the 1920s an attempt was made at the revival of the breed and it is from here that present owners can trace their pedigrees.

    The Irish Red and White Setter is a breed of dog, more specifically a setter. As with all the setters and the Pointer, it is classified as a gundog in the UK and is included in the sporting group in America and Canada. It is virtually identical in use and temperament to the related Irish Setter and its other setter cousins, the Gordon and English setters, but is more often found as a working gun dog.

    The original purpose of the breed was to hunt gamebirds. In the UK, their quarry can be partridge or grouse, pheasant, ptarmigan, blackgame, snipe or woodcock as all these birds try to avoid predators by hiding rather than flying away. Overseas bird dogs are used to hunt quail, willow grouse, sand grouse and guinea fowl.

    Despite the breed's early origins, it almost became extinct until dedicated breeders managed to revive interest and restore the Irish Red and White setter to a viable position. It is still in a vulnerable position but has gained recognition from all major kennel clubs.

  • • The Irish Red and White setter is one of the most devoted and affectionate of dogs making them ideal all-round
    family dogs.
    • They are extremely intelligent and respond well to proper training but they do need to have plenty to occupy them.
    • They thrive best in active families, where they have outlets for their high energy, and require space to run freely.
    • Young puppies do not require much exercise but once they reach maturity the breed's working instincts mean they
    require enough space to be able to run hard and fast for a long distance.
    • Setters are usually good natured, very gentle and get on well with children and other dogs.


    As with most of the gun or sporting dogs the Red and White Setter has an amazingly friendly and open personality and temperament. They are a gentle, kind and affectionate dog that is truly an excellent family pet. They are not always a good watchdog and tend to welcome all pets, animals, people and other dogs into the home or yard with a friendly wag of the tail. Some of the breed will naturally bark when strangers arrive and generally they can easily be trained to bark to give notice.

    The Red and White Setter is a high-energy dog that loves to run and play as well as get out and work scent tracks and hunts. They are not good apartment dogs as they do need a lot of exercise on a continuous, daily basis. They can be somewhat rambunctious at times and as teen-age dogs often go through a challenging period of independence and over-zealous behavior. They can be prone to jumping up for attention but with firm and consistent training will be wonderfully behaved pets. Clicker training is often used with various types of gundogs but they can also be trained using praise and immediate rewards.

    There are two different lines of Red and White Setters, the field line and the show line. Show line Red and White Setters tend to be slightly larger with longer coats and typically a calmer disposition. Field lines that are actively used for hunting will need more exercise and challenges and will also have slightly shorter coats. Both lines are recognized by the various organizations and many purebred dogs are both show and field champions.

    The Red and White Setter is highly intelligent and has be bred to work closely with humans. They are considered to be very easy to train and often almost house train themselves given proper opportunities to get outdoors when needed. They can also develop bad habits relatively quickly and cannot be allowed to get started in jumping, chewing or ignoring owner commands. They are natural trackers and love to play games of hide and seek where the owner hides and the dog will then track them. This game is easy to teach the dog and provides lots of mental and physical stimulation for the dog. Since the dogs have a very well developed sense of smell they can sometimes be difficult to walk off a leash or lead as they will pick up a scent and track, often running across roads or away from owners in the excitement of the hunt.

    The Red and White Setter is good as a house dog and will quickly learn to find a quiet spot to stay while indoors. They prefer to be with people rather then left alone, but do very well with companion dogs or other pets for daytime company. Since they do need exercise they are not recommended for kennels or small, confined spaces for long periods of time.


    Exercise is the key to managing and training the Red and White Setter. The very high-strung and active dogs will require a full yard to run in several times a day where more mature, calmer dogs will only need regular walks and a chance to get off leash in a safe environment. The more exercise these dogs get the happier and calmer they will be for both training and just being relaxed in the house.

    Since they are a tracking dog they are prone to taking off after interesting scents. They should be exercised on a leash or in a fenced yard. Typically the Red and White Setter loves to play ball and fetch as long as the owner is willing to throw and keep playing. They will romp and play all day with even the most active children and make excellent dogs for families with active lifestyles. A Red and White Setter makes a terrific jogging or hiking companion and is always ready to go for a ride or out to the park, regardless of the weather.


    The Red and White Setter is a highly intelligent breed that is very responsive to training at a young age. They do tend to be somewhat independent but with firm, consistent expectations they are fast learners. Red and White Setters will not respond well to negative training or even loud or raised voices and may become rather timid or likely to avoid people if harshly punished even verbally.

    The Red and White Setter quickly learns what owners want and will also learn quickly what they can get away with. Most people, even if this is a first dog, will have little trouble in working with the Red and White Setter provided they use a consistent, firm and loving training style.

    Since the breed is very quick to learn behaviors they do need to be constantly challenged. As a dog used to working with people they need to be mentally challenged. A great way to keep this breed both thinking and learning is to train them in obedience or hunting.

    Natural scent dogs they are highly effective in hunting trials and obedience events. Many owners also use the Red and White Setter in agility training where their natural enthusiasm and energy is best suited to the test. They are excellent dogs to take to competitions as they are not typically dog-aggressive and are not timid or shy around new people. As with all dogs the more socialization and training they receive throughout their lives the more likely they are to get along well with all types of people and other animals. Occasionally Red and White Setters can be habitual cat chasers so socializing the breed with a cat is important as a puppy if you have cats in the house.

    If there is more than one dog in the family it is important to isolate the Red and White Setter during training times. They tend to be highly distractable as puppies but once trained they can attend to the owner with the exclusion of other things in the environment. They can be trained to respond to hand signal or whistles relatively easily.

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