The Irish Red and White Setter is a very old breed of hunting dog, who has its roots in Ireland. It is the forerunner of the Irish Red Setter. It is classified as a gun dog in the UK (or a bird dog in the US) and is virtually identical in both temperament and use to the Irish Setter. The Irish Red and White Setter was first formally recognized as a bird dog breed by the AKC in 2006. The Irish Red and White Setter almost became extinct in the early nineteen-hundreds until it was revived by bird dog breeders, but still remains in a vulnerable position to this day. They are not suited to living in apartments, flats or small houses – and are best owned by people who lead active lifestyles and spend plenty of time outdoors.
Trainability & Hunting Style
The Irish Red and White Setter was bred for the purposes of hunting game birds such as partridges, pheasants, grouse and woodcocks in the UK – and quail, sand grouse or guinea fowl overseas (among other birds). They locate game by quartering ground as they trail the scent of birds carried on the wind. Once they locate the scent they will freeze and point in the direction of their quarry, (known as ‘setting’) thus indicating to their master where the game is located. They take longer to train than some other hunting dogs – but once they are trained properly they make loyal and reliable bird dog partners. They respond best to a decisive and firm training style, but do not do so well with harsh discipline. They need a long, brisk walk or jog daily, and it is strongly recommended that they not be allowed to walk in front of the owner, pulling the lead.
These are strong and powerful hunting dogs with an athletic build, the Irish Red and White Setter is muscular as well as limber and sleek. Their skull is domed in shape and they have a square-shaped muzzle. The eyes can be either dark brown or hazel in color, and are set level with their ears which lie flat and close to the side of their head. They have a deep chest with well-sprung ribs and their hindquarters are large and powerful. Their tail is strong at the base and tapers down to a fine point at the end. The tail is feathered and usually carried level with the back. Their coat is part-colored with a white base color and solid red or ‘chestnut’ patches. There is slight mottling about their face and feet. They are relatively low maintenance in terms of grooming and maintaining their condition – and it is recommended that their coat be brushed once or twice a week (or more often if they are out hunting, so as to remove debris, tangles and matting of the fur). Males can stand 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh 55 to 75 pounds. Females can stand 22.5 to 24 inches at the shoulder and weigh 50 to 70 pounds.
Irish Red and White Setters are intelligent, affectionate and high-spirited hunting dogs who love to play as well as to work and hunt. They can be described as being somewhat demanding due to their high levels of energy and high intellect. They do not have guarding instincts, and get along with other pets and with children – although they can become anxious and wary, and sometimes highly-strung if they do not get the right amount of stimulation. This relates to both physical and mental exercise. The level of dominancy in this bird dog breed can vary, and it is recommended that calm authority be exercised over them from an early age. Training them to heel early and not to jump up on humans even as a puppy is also recommended.
This gun dog is prone to von Willebrand’s disease and also Posterior Polar Cataracts. PPC is a minor form of cataract that doesn’t usually lead to blindness and can be corrected with simple surgery. Van Willebrand’s disease is a hereditary blood clotting disorder, and can result in excessive and sometimes serious bleeding from even minor skin wounds or breakages of the skin. It is recommended that the lineage of a dog be checked for such conditions before purchasing an Irish Red and White Setter puppy, and choosing a reputable bird dog breeder, of course. The life expectancy of a Irish Red and White Setter is around eleven to fifteen years.