Table of Contents
- 1 The Irish Red and White Setter
- 2 Fun Facts about the Irish Red and White Setter
- 3 Irish Red and White Setter Breed Characteristics
- 4 Irish Red and White Setter Maintenance
- 5 How long do Irish Red and White Setters usually live for?
- 6 Are Irish Red and White Setters healthy?
- 7 What do Irish Red and White Setters eat?
- 8 Do Irish Red and White Setters need a lot of exercise?
- 9 Irish Red and White Setter Training
- 10 Irish Red and White Setter Temperament and Personality
- 11 Are Irish Red and White Setters rare?
- 12 Irish Red and White Setter Breed Clubs
- 13 Irish Red and White Setter Breeders
- 14 The Origin of the Irish Red and White Setter
- 15 The History of the Irish Red and White Setter
- 16 Irish Red and White Setters Today
- 17 Native Irish Dog Breeds
The Irish Red and White Setter
The Irish Red and White Setter is a breed of hunting dog from Ireland that was originally bred to hunt wild birds.
While their exceptional skills as a hunting dog are well known in certain sporting circles, this Irish breed of dog is less well known for its lively, spirited nature that makes them great companions for active people.
The solid red Irish Setter dog breed, which actually originates from the Irish Red and White Setter breed, is far more widely known.
Fun Facts about the Irish Red and White Setter
- Irish Red and White Setters have their own style of pointing and creeping along the ground when they are hunting.
- This breed almost became extinct after the World War I but was rescued by dedicated breeders
- Irish Red and White Setters can be difficult to train and require positive reinforcement rather than harsh criticism.
- These dogs remain puppylike in their play and interactions until about 3-4 years of age.
- Irish red and White Setters were only recognised as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 2009
- The Irish Red and White Setter Breed is known as An Sotar Rua agus Bán in the Irish language. Sometimes the Irish Red and White Setter is abbreviated to IRWS.
- Irish Red and White Setters are one of 9 recognised Irish Dog Breeds.
(The other Irish dog breeds are the Irish Setter, Irish Water Spaniel, Irish Wolfhound, Kerry Beagle, Irish Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Glen of Imaal Terrier and the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.)
The Irish Setter Doodle or simply Irish Doodle is also a well known dog, but is not an officially recognised breed.
Irish Red and White Setter Breed Characteristics
How tall is an Irish Red and White Setter?
The official heights of the Irish Red and White Setter Breed Standard vary slightly according to different countries.
Generally Irish Red and White Setter males are 61-66 cm (24-26 inches) and females 57-61 cm (22-24 inches).
What do Irish Red and White Setters weigh?
On average Irish Red and White Setters weigh somewhere between 23-32 kg (50-70 lbs).
What do Irish Red and White Setters look like?
Irish Red and White Setters are white dogs of medium-sized dogs, with deep red, or chestnut colored markings.
These red and white dogs have solid red patches that are often thought of as floating islands of color on the white coat of this breed.
As a sporty breed, the powerful, balanced, muscular appearance of this dog is very evident.
The coat of the breed is silky, with feathering on the legs, chest and tail areas.
While the coat can be either straight or slightly wavy it is not curly and is typically a medium length.
Natural oils, as well as the texture of the coat help to repel much of the dirt and debris that it is exposed to when out and about, making the brushing and grooming regime easier.
Irish Red and White Setters have triangular shaped ears that hang against their faces. Their eye color can either be hazel or brown.
The most obvious similarity is to the Irish Setter, which have been interbred in the past. It is also thought that the Irish Red and White Setter is likely to have spaniel ancestry.
What dogs are similar to the Red and White Setter?
What is the difference between an Irish Red and White Setter and an Irish Setter?
In comparison to the Irish Setter, the Irish Red and White Setter is a little smaller, heavier with a stockier build.
This breed also has a broader head and the coat is typically not quite as long as the Irish Setter.
Regarding their temperament, while they are both considered to be stubborn breeds, the Irish Setter is thought to be the more unpredictable and not quite as relaxed as the Irish Red and White Setter.
Generally speaking the Irish Red and White Setter is considered the better hunting dog and is very much still considered to be a field dog by many.
Just to make things a little more complicated, some dogs are known as Red Setters.
This is used to distinguish all red dogs that were specifically bred for field rather than show conditions (Irish Setters). More information can be found in the Irish Setter article.
Did you know?
In Ireland until the mid-19th century, dogs with solid red, white and a mix of red and white markings were known as Irish Setters. They were regularly interbred with each other.
However, around the 1870s, the popularity of the solid red setter increased hugely as people became more interested in the “flashy” color of the coat, rather than just to field working abilities that these dogs had been famed for previously.
Irish Red and White Setter Maintenance
As with all dog breeds, is it important to regularly check the nails and paws of the dog.
When necessary, the nails of the Irish Red and White Setter should be trimmed so they do not make a clicking noise on the pavement.
(Tip: it is best to do this task regularly rather than cutting too much of the nail off at one time and risking an injury to the animal’s foot.)
Brushing the teeth of an Irish Red and White Setter should be carried out once or twice a week using a specially formulated toothpaste designed for dogs.
This will help prevent painful dental problems that may otherwise crop up from time to time.
As the ears of the Irish Red and White Setter hang downwards, it is necessary to regularly check them for wax build up and moisture, which can cause ear infections.
Does the Irish Red and White Setter need much grooming?
The Irish Red and White Setter does not have a very difficult coat to manage.
It should be brushed 2-3 times a week to help remove dead hair and debris.
Special attention should be given to the brushing if the dog was in an area known to have ticks.
Feathered areas on the body, tail and legs are prone to getting knots and tangles so these should be gently worked out.
Usually, the feathered areas do not need to be trimmed as the coat should have a natural look.
Depending on the terrain that the dog exercises in, a small trim of the longer hair may make grooming easier.
Do Irish Red and White Setters shed?
Irish Red and White Setters do not tend to shed excessively.
The moderate level of shedding can usually be kept well under control by brushing 2-3 times a week.
Is the coat of the Irish Red and White Setter hypoallergenic?
No, the coat of the Irish Red and White Setter is not considered to be hypoallergenic and therefore is not thought to be a suitable breed for people who suffer from allergies.
Be sure to consult with your medical, as well as veterinary professionals if you are looking for a dog that is suitable for someone with particular allergies before deciding to purchase one.
How long do Irish Red and White Setters usually live for?
The average life expectancy for an Irish Red and White Setter is usually between 10-12 years.
Some individuals live for as long as 15 years.
While they do sometimes suffer from some health issues, the Irish Red and White Setters are usually healthy dogs.
Are Irish Red and White Setters healthy?
Health issues that are sometimes associated with Irish Setters include hip dysplasia and eye problems including post polar cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), as well as hypothyroidism.
Other health problems include canine leukocyte adhesion deficiency (CLAD) which is an immunodeficiency disease that was originally discovered in Irish Setters.
Through interbreeding of Irish Setters and Irish Red and White Setters, also now occurs in the latter breed.
It can cause swollen lymph nodes, skin infections and poor weight gain among some of its symptoms. DNA testing can detect the presence of the disorder in dogs.
Spontaneous bleeding that occurs through the eyes and mouth could be a sign of Canine von Willebrand Disease and should always be followed up with a vet.
Dogs found to have this disease should not be given medication that prevents blood clots.
It is best to avoid very strenuous activity and exercise for the first 18 months, to prevent damaging the developing joints of the dog.
What do Irish Red and White Setters eat?
Irish Red and White Setters require high quality food, ideally with a high enough protein content.
They have a tendency to put on weight and become obese if their food and exercise routines do not balance.
The quality of the food as well as the quantity is also very important.
Consult your veterinary specialist to make sure that the dog is getting the right type and amounts of food on a daily basis to meet its nutritional needs.
Age, gender and activity level will also be factors that need to be considered to get the correct diet for this breed.
Do Irish Red and White Setters need a lot of exercise?
Irish Red and White Setters are active hunting dogs that have lots of energy. Every day, regardless of the weather, they need plenty of strenuous exercise for their physical and mental health.
Roughly between 1-2 hours of exercise is what this breed requires daily.
These dogs are great navigators, so jogging or hiking through different terrain types suits them well.
They will also join you if you go for a cycle. It is best to keep their exercise routine varied, so adding in canine sports such as flyball, agility, rally tracking or obedience adds a bit of variety that they crave.
Without this outlet for their abundant energy, Irish Red and White Setters tend to become frustrated.
This can lead to unwanted destructive tendencies.
In some people, especially families with younger kids, the exercise requirement for this breed is high, so it is important to make sure that this breed is suited to your lifestyle and available amount of time, before opting for it.
Once the dog gets a chance to be powered out by exercise every day, they like to relax and chill with the family in the evenings.
Can Irish Red and White Setters swim?
The versatile nature of these hunting dogs means that Irish Red and White Setters are able to swim and enjoy a variety of different habitats.
While some dogs may enjoy water more than others, generally speaking Irish Red and White Setters do enjoy swimming.
Always introduce the dog slowly to water and make sure that the swimming environment is safe.
Irish Red and White Setter Training
Irish Red and White Setters are smart dogs, who can learn things quickly.
However, they also have a stubborn side that can make training them a slow (and sometimes tedious) process.
The key to success is starting to train the Red and White Irish Setter puppies when they are very young from about 8 weeks of age.
Clear, consistent commands by an authoritative person work best.
It is important to avoid harsh criticism as this can hinder the training progress of this sensitive dog.
Short, regular training sessions with emphasis placed on positive reinforcement techniques achieve the best results with this strong willed breed.
It is worth keeping in mind that in many ways, Irish Red and White Setters retain their puppy-like qualities and puppy-like energy levels for a considerable length of time.
Often it is only after 3-4 years, that the dogs calm down and mature into an adult dog.
Do Irish Red and White Setters bark a lot?
On average, Irish Red and White Setters tend to be moderate barkers.
They are not typically very vocal all of the time, but can become so if they are frustrated or do not receive enough mental stimulation and exercise.
Irish Red and White Setter Temperament and Personality
Irish Red and White Setters are friendly dogs that are well suited to family life.
Bar their high exercise requirement, the dogs are generally uncomplicated, gentle and make good family pets.
The breed was developed for hunting and its strong abilities in this area are reflected in its methodical and thorough hunting skills.
In addition to great scenting abilities, this curious dog breed has excellent navigation skills, which are well suited to the Irish terrain of trees, low scrub and grasses.
Hunting in open spaces does not tend to suit this breed as well.
When taking part in a hunt, it is determined and focused.
A well trained dog will know exactly what is required of them during a hunt, when to communicate with a hunter and when to stay quiet.
Are Irish Red and White Setters good with children?
Yes, the mild demeanor of the Irish Red and White Setter is well suited to children.
This breed is known for being friendly and affectionate, as well as being a good playmate for certain activities like frisbee.
It is always best to keep a good level of supervision on all play between children and dogs or other animals.
It must be said that this breed is best fitted to families with slightly older children, who are more familiar with dogs and how to treat them correctly.
Some families with younger children may also find the high exercise requirements too much of a burden on family life.
Are Irish Red and White Setters good family dogs?
If you have an active family with older children, then yes, Irish Red and White Setters are a suitable dog breed.
Given the high exercise and time requirements of this breed, it is essential that the dog is integrated into the family outdoor activities.
Families with a passion for hiking, jogging, cycling and other active sports are the best fit.
Can an Irish Red and White Setter be left alone?
As Irish Red and White Setters are very sociable, it is not advisable to leave them alone for long periods of time.
They enjoy lots of activity, as well as human company and can become depressed or destructive if left alone without input for a length of time.
Are Irish Red and White Setters good with other dogs?
Generally Irish Red and White Setters can mix well with other dogs, especially if they have received early socialization and exposure to other canines.
By starting young, Irish Red and White Setter puppies get a chance to learn about important social interactions with humans, dogs and other household pets that will help them develop confidence as they mature.
Do Irish Red and White Setters get on well with cats?
Irish Red and White Setters that are exposed to a family cat at an early age can learn to tolerate them.
It is very important to start this early socialization when the dog is still a young puppy to have the most success.
These dogs still have an instinct to chase smaller animals, so some level of supervision may be needed, depending on the individual character of the dog.
Are Irish Red and White Setters smart?
Yes, Irish Red and White Setters are an intelligent breed that enjoy learning new things and tricks, as well as mental stimulation.
Keeping your dog fit mentally, as well as physically, is an important part of looking after this dog.
Playful, fun dog training sessions that focus on learning new things should be regularly included in your dog’s activity routine.
Are Irish Red and White Setters aggressive?
Irish Red and White Setters are generally mild mannered and not aggressive in nature.
Dogs that have been well trained and socialized to different situations are unlikely to react in an aggressive way.
Harsh treatment, including criticism during training can impact negatively on the character of the dog.
Are Irish Red and White Setters good guard dogs?
No, Irish Red and White Setters are not typically good guard dogs and do not strongly defend their territory.
However, their alert and vocal nature make them excellent watch dogs that will draw their owners attention when required.
Do Irish Red and White Setters have a strong prey drive?
As excellent hunting dogs, Red and White Irish Setters have a strong prey drive.
Dogs that have received plenty of training, are less likely to chase after any small creature that runs away from them.
Their style of hunting requires them to scent out their quarry and indicate to the hunter where it is and not to directly chase after it straight away.
These dogs tend to mature slowly so before that level of discipline is reached, extra care is needed so that their prey drive does not get out of hand.
Do Irish Red and White Setters need to be on a leash?
It is advised that Irish Red and White Setters are kept on a leash in public areas, especially when they are young and not fully trained.
These red white Irish Setter dogs need a lot of exercise so it is important to find a safe and secure place where they can run free, without any concerns for safety.
Are Irish Red and White Setters rare?
There are not many Irish Red and White Setters and in many countries this breed is classed as vulnerable.
Even in Ireland, the place of origin of the Irish Red and White Setter breed, it is not one of the breeds Irish people know well.
According to the American Kennel Club it is ranked 154 in the popularity rankings of 284 breeds.
Irish Red and White Setters are certainly not as popular as its cousin the Irish Setter.
In order to ensure that there is enough genetic diversity in the breed, Irish Red and White Setters have been outcrossed with Irish Setters in a much debated breeding program organized by the Irish Kennel Club.
Irish Red and White Setter Breed Clubs
While the following for this breed was initially limited and slow, the popularity of the breed grew over time.
This was largely in response to several very determined individuals who appreciated this breed and pushed for its widespread recognition.
(More details about this are given in the history of the Irish Red and White Setter outlined below)
The first Irish Red and White Setter Society was established in 1944 by the dedicated breed enthusiasts Mr. and Mrs. Cuddy.
As the dogs were imported to other countries such as the UK and the United States, other breed clubs for this native Irish dog came into existence.
This was especially noticeable after the formation of the Irish Red and White Setter Field & Show Society in 1981, which is now the Irish Red and White Setter Club.
Other Irish Red and White Setter Clubs include:
- Irish Red and White Setter Association (US)
- Irish Red and White Club of GB (UK)
- Irish Red and White Setter Club (Canada)
(For information about Irish Red Setter Clubs, please check our article about the Irish Setter dog breed.)
Irish Red and White Setter Breeders
If you are looking to buy an Irish Red and White Setter puppy, then it is highly available that you select a reputable breeder.
When dealing with professional breeders who are passionate about their dogs, they will want to make sure that their dogs are placed in suitable homes.
They will also be willing to answer your questions, as well as ask you questions about how you and your lifestyle will suit this particular breed.
Even though you may want to look for Irish Red and White Setter breeders near me, there may not be any in your area so you might need to search a little further.
It is important that you always visit the breeder, see the mother of the puppies and the facilities before deciding to purchase an Irish Red and White Setter for sale.
Some breeders of Irish Red and White Setters may also have older dogs as well as puppies, so if you think that is a better option for you, be sure to enquire.
It is a good idea to stay in contact with the breeder and definitely inform them if your dog develops health issues later in life.
This is important so that they can be aware of the issue and the possible implications for other breeding programs.
Other places where you can enquire about red and white Irish Setter puppies for sale would be at your local veterinary clinic.
Some of the national kennel clubs and Irish Red and White Setter clubs also offer a marketplace or enquiry section for puppies.
- American Kennel Club Marketplace
- The Kennel Club (UK)
- Irish Red and White Setter Club of GB (UK)
- Canadian Kennel Club
Anyone looking for these puppies in Ireland for sale, should contact the Irish Red and White Setter Club (Ireland) for help with their enquiries.
The Irish Red and White Setter Club of America insists that all of its breeders must share all health care test results (regardless of whether they are positive or negative) on this Canine Health Information Centre (CHIC) database.
This ensures that they can get a CHIC certification.
(Note that a CHIC certification alone does not mean that they passed all of the test results!)
Irish Red and White Setter Cost
The cost of Irish Red and White Setter puppies for sale is likely to vary depending on where you are, the availability of the breed at the time, as well as the bloodline and gender of the animal.
For a rough estimate on the cost of red and white setters for sale, potential owners should be willing to pay in the range of about US$1800-2500 for a purebred puppy.
Irish Red and White Setter Rescue and Adoption
As with all breeds, sometimes Irish Red and White Setters need to be rehomed for various reasons.
If you think that rehoming an Irish Red and White Setter is the option for you, then it is best to get in contact with your nearest breed club as they can often point you in the right direction in terms of who to contact.
For example, the Irish Red and White Setter Club of GB has an extensive list of questions that must be completed in order to be placed on their waiting list of suitable candidates to adopt an Irish Red Setter.
As these dogs require a lot of exercise, sometimes new owners find this requirement difficult to fulfill.
Be sure to keep this in mind when considering your suitability for this breed.
The Origin of the Irish Red and White Setter
The Irish Red White Setter can trace its roots back to probably the 18th century, where it was developed in Ireland as a breed to hunt birds such as partridge, grouse, pheasant and snipe.
At this time, some dogs had red and white markings, some were mostly white while others were mostly red.
There was likely to have been a large degree of crossbreeding between the different colored dogs resulting in a mixed breed before standardization.
It was only in the 19th century that the focus of this hunting dog changed from its performance in the field to the color of its coat. This is particularly true for the Irish Setter.
The History of the Irish Red and White Setter
The Irish Red and White Setter has long been associated with the gentry in Ireland.
One family, for example, with a special interest in the red and white setters was the Rossmore family of County Monagan.
Prior to the widespread usage of guns for hunting, these setter dogs would be used to first find the game birds and then indicate their location using their muzzles as pointers.
Instead of diving straight at the game, these dogs would slowly approach the spot with the hunter who would usually have captured the birds using a net.
The discipline and restraint that these dogs could demonstrate, even with their natural prey instincts, is quite remarkable.
When the transition to hunting with guns occurred, these dogs remained a useful addition to the hunter as they could stay still when required.
This allows the hunter to get a good shot without risking injuring his canine companion.
Irish Red and White Setter Working Dogs
The Irish Red and White Setter hunting dogs, known for their energy, power and stamina in the field.
Their navigation and scenting abilities were considered some of the finest of the hunting dogs in Ireland during the 19th century.
Although these dogs mature slowly and can take a considerable amount of time and skill to train correctly, a well trained hunting dog would have been a valuable asset for its owner.
Red and White Coat of Setters
The vegetation and land cover in Ireland favored dogs with red and white markings.
The Irish red dogs that were mostly red or solid red, could sometimes be difficult to distinguish in the thick vegetation and only easy to spot in areas void of scrub.
The mixed Irish Setter white and red coat is easier to spot in the vegetation and thus was favored, particularly in the past, by hunters.
Irish Red and White Setters – Show Dogs
Around the 1870s the rise in popularity of the solid red colored setter dog occurred.
Up until that point these dogs, regardless of their coloring were primarily valued for their abilities in the field.
In a relatively short space of time, the popularity of the red and white colored setter dogs declined and never really returned to the highs of the hunting days in the mid 19th century, while there was a dramatic rise in the interest for the solid red Irish Setter.
This change was especially evident in the dogs entered in dog shows in Ireland and Britain around this time.
Irish Red and White Setters Revival
By the time World War I was over, the Irish white and red colored Setter was facing extinction.
Reverend Noble Huston was a passionate dog breeder who took an interest in the Irish Red and White Setters and focused on saving them from disappearance with the help of his relative Dr. Elliot. While the number did not grow significantly, their dog breeding efforts certainly helped to stabilize the number from declining further.
Maureen Cuddy and her husband also invested great efforts to save, as well as promote the breed.
Judith Cunningham of Knockalla is one of the famous dog names connected with this breed and it was the name of a bitch belonging to Maureen Cuddy who formed some of the founding breed stock.
Some outcrossing with Irish Setters was carried out several times over the last few decades, when the genetic diversity in the Irish Red and White Setters became too low.
This was just one of the hurdles that enthusiasts of the breed had to overcome in trying to get the Irish Red and White Setter recognized as a unique Irish dog breed.
Around 1978, the Irish Kennel Club final did officially recognize the breed and this helped establish the breed further.
A crucial turning point occurred in the 1980s after the formation of the Irish Red and White Field and Show Society was founded.
This greatly helped to promote a breed that many thought was already extinct.
Not only in Ireland, but also the UK, the US and in Canada for example did the popularity and enthusiasm for this breed increase. Other clubs and societies dedicated to the breed started to emerge.
While initially, there was much focus placed on the working abilities of this dog, Irish Red & White Setter also started to emerge as more regular participants in dog shows as well.
In addition to their skilled performances in a wide range of dog sports, these dogs are also occasionally used as therapy dogs.
Irish Red and White Setter Breed Recognition
The breed was first recognized by the Irish Kennel Club in 1978.
Recognition from the other larger kennel clubs took several years to achieve with the United Kennel Club granting the breed status to the Irish Red and White Setter in 1995, followed later by the Canadian Kennel Club around 1999 and the American Kennel Club in 2009.
Irish Red and White Setters Today
The Irish Red and White Setter is considered a vulnerable breed due to the numbers of registrations each year.
While this breed is not as popular as the more well known Irish Setter, Irish Red and White Setters have their own unique personality and are excellent all rounder dogs for active and energetic people.
Bonus Tip: For some more details about the Irish Red and White Setter (as well as the solid red Irish Setter Irish people are particularly fond of), a very interesting read is “The Curious History of Irish Dogs” by David Blake Knox.
Native Irish Dog Breeds
Ireland has a total of 9 recognized dog breeds. Three of these are classified as gun dogs: Irish Red and White Setter, Irish Setter and the Irish Water Spaniel.
For a good overview about Ireland’s native breeds, Irish history and more, you can check out the Guide to Irish Dog Breeds.
More in depth information about the individual dog breeds can be found here:
- Irish Red and White Setter
- Irish Setter
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Irish Wolfhound
- Kerry Beagle
- Irish Terrier
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Glen of Imaal Terrier
- Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
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Please note that this article is only for general information purposes about the Irish Red and White Setter breed and should not be used as a substitute for canine health information, as well as medical and pet care advice from veterinary specialists.
(Irish Nature Expert and Celtic Enthusiast from Ireland)
Emer Walker, founder of LetsGoIreland.com, is a Cork native with profound expertise in Irish nature and ecology. Holding a PhD in Restoration Ecology and backed by extensive research in ecological sciences, she’s delved deep into Ireland’s natural wonders, from its rugged landscapes to its serene beaches. Emer’s passion also encompasses Celtic art and traditions. As a true authority on Ireland’s natural and cultural heritage, she invites readers through LetsGoIreland.com to immerse themselves in the authentic Irish experience.