The Irish Red and White Setter is a spirited and athletic breed best known for their hunting prowess and hard-working nature. The breed originated in Ireland around 400 years ago and predates the all-red Irish Setter by about 200 years. They are are a bit smaller and stockier than the Irish Setter. They are one of four different setter breeds, whose job was to sniff out game birds and lay down quietly, or “set”, went they located one.
The modern Irish Red and White Setter is still used for hunting as well as being a devoted companion dog and successful competitor in hunting, agility and tracking competitions. The Irish Red and White Setter ranks number 146 out of 193 in the AKC’s most popular breeds.
Characteristics of the Irish Red and White Setter
Here we will go into more detail about the appearance and temperament of the Irish Red and White Setter.
The Irish Red and White Setter is an AKC certified medium-sized dog breed. Males are 24.5-26 inches in height and weigh 42-60 pounds. Females are 22.5-24 inches in height and weigh 35-50 pounds. They are a long-lived breed with a lifespan of 11-15 years.
The breed’s namesake coat has a white base with rusty red patches and red speckles on their face and legs. Their coat pattern was bred to be easy to spot in the woods while hunting. Their dark eyes and prominent eyebrows give them a gentle expression. Their coat requires frequent brushing with a dog brush to avoid tangles and mats. They shed regularly, which can be minimized by regular trimming of their coat and monthly bath. Check out or recommendations for dog vacuums to keep your furniture clean.
Irish Red and White Setters are often described as intelligent, dignified and patient. They can be gawky and boisterous in adolescence and grow up to be calm and polite in adulthood. They get along well with almost everybody, including humans, other pets and children. They are friendly with strangers and would not make a good guard dog. Because of their high level of sociability, they cannot be left alone for very long without developing destructive behavior. While they love their humans, other pets in the household can help minimize separation anxiety and boredom. Irish Red and White Setters can make great travel companions for longer car trips and they enjoy exploring outside on long walks and hikes.
Caring for an Irish Red and White Setter
To ensure you are providing your Irish Red and White Setter with everything it needs to live a long and happy life, it is essential to understand the quirks of the breed and what works best for them. Following are preliminary tips on health and training your Irish Red and White Setter so you know what to expect. However, remember that each dog is unique, even within a specific breed.
The Irish Red and White Setter should be fed a diet of high-quality dog food. It is important to purchase a dog food that is meant for the dog’s age and activity level to fulfil all their nutritional needs. Feeding them table scraps or excessive treats should be avoided, as it can lead to weight gain and related health problems. Even small increases in caloric intake can lead to weight gain over time, so consistency is key.
The Irish Red and White Setter has high exercise needs, requiring plentiful daily exercise to maintain physical health and a happy temperament. These energetic athletes are well suited for active, outdoorsy people. They enjoy daily runs or vigorous play sessions in securely fenced areas. High-impact activities on bones and joints such as stairs and jumping should be minimized until two years of age. As a young dog, their bones and joints are still developing and do not reach full strength until then. Investing in a high-quality leash and harness to minimize strain on both dog and human is recommended.
Irish Red and White Setters are moderately easy to train. They are eager to please their humans and have an impressive memory. However, this also leads them to form habits quickly that are often difficult to break. Irish Red and White Setters respond best to reward-based training and positive reinforcement. They will become fearful and nervous in response to aggressive or harsh commands, and any sort of negative-reinforcement is best avoided. Early socialization is recommended. Especially as puppies, Irish Red and White Setters are curious and may wander after smells, so training is best started early and kept consistent. If properly trained, Irish Red and White Setters will grow to be manageable and well-behaved household companions.
Irish Red and White Setters are typically healthy dogs and serious health issues are uncommon. The breed does has a small gene pool, which increases their chances of inheriting genetic diseases. Cataracts, hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, von Willebrand’s disease, hypothyroidism and immune disorders are some of the most common afflictions seen in the breed. The National Breed Club recommends certain tests for Irish Red and White Settes, including a hip evaluation, ophthalmologist evaluation and canine leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency DNA test.
The Irish Red and White Setter’s nails should be clipped monthly if not worn down naturally. Their ears should be checked weekly and any excess dirt or wax should be removed. Teeth should be brushed often with a dog-specific toothpaste.
Be sure to choose a dog from a responsible, certified breeder, preferably one who is a member of the Irish Red and White Setter Club of America. This club has a detailed code of ethics in breeding and will be able to provide owners with helpful information on heath and care for the breed. Careful selection of a puppy or adult dog will give you the highest chance of having a long-lived and healthy Irish Red and White Setter.
While you’re here, be sure to check out our dog product reviews!