The Irish Red and White Setter: All You Need to Know

The Irish Red and White Setter is a beloved breed of dog known for its loyalty, intelligence, and charming personality. This sporting dog has a rich history, distinctive appearance, and unique temperament.

In this article, we will explain all the fascinating details of the Irish Red and White Setter – from history and ancestors to physical traits and personality to health and lifespan.

History and Origins of the Irish Red and White Setter

Early Beginnings in Ireland

The roots of the Irish Red and White Setter can be traced back to Ireland in the 17th century when the dog was developed as a hunting companion, bred for its exceptional skills in pointing and retrieving birds.

Irish Red and White Setters were used by Irish hunters to track and hunt gamebirds in the rough hills and bogs of the Irish countryside. The dog would crawl up on the prey and then point to its location. 

Development of the Breed

Over time, the breed was refined to enhance its hunting abilities and physical characteristics. Today, the Irish Red and White Setter is a versatile hunter and can hunt a variety of game, including birds, rabbits, and even deer. 

Despite its popularity as a hunting dog, the Irish Red and White Setter is also a beloved family pet. The breed is known for its friendly and affectionate nature, making it a great choice for families with children.

Recognition by Kennel Clubs

The Irish Red and White Setter was officially recognized by the Irish Kennel Club in 1944. The breed was later recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2009 after decades of work by breeders to promote and preserve the breed. 

Physical Characteristics of the Irish Red and White Setter

The Irish Red and White Setter is a beautiful and athletic breed that has been prized for its hunting abilities for centuries. In addition to their impressive hunting skills, these dogs are known for their striking physical characteristics.

Size and Weight

The Irish Red and White Setter is a medium-sized breed, with males weighing between 42 and 60 pounds and females weighing between 35 to 50 pounds. Males stand between 24.5 and 26  inches tall at the shoulders, and females 22.5 to 24 inches.

Coat and Color

One of the most distinctive features of the Irish Red and White Setter is its coat. The coat is dense, silky, shiny, and with pronounced featherings on the ears, legs, chest, and tail. 

As the name suggests, the coat is white with patches of deep red. The red patches are described as “mahogany” or “chestnut” and are scattered across the body in a unique pattern. 

The Irish Red and White Setter requires regular grooming – brushing and bathing to keep its coat clean and free of tangles. The breed sheds moderately through the year and intensely during shedding seasons. 

Distinctive Features

The Irish Red and White Setter has long floppy ears and a long face with strong jaws. The powerful neck and shoulders show off the breed’s strength and athleticism, and the body is well-built and proportional. 

The tail is long and feathered, which adds to the dog’s graceful appearance as it moves through the field. The long, slender legs are built for speed and agility, allowing the Irish Red and White Setter to navigate rough terrain with ease.

Temperament and Personality Traits

The Irish Red and White Setter is a highly energetic, friendly, and intelligent dog that makes an excellent family pet. It has a strong desire to please its owners and loves to be around people. 

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

The Irish Red and White Setter thrives on exercise and outdoor activities. It is ideal for families who have an active lifestyle, as it requires plenty of time outdoors to burn off their excess energy.

Breed members love to run, play, and explore, making them perfect for families who enjoy hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. Without enough exercise, they can become bored and destructive. 

Socialization and Friendliness

Irish Red and White Setters are known for their friendly and sociable personalities. They are outgoing and love to interact with people and other dogs. They are patient and gentle with children and are good watchdogs.

Breed members are loyal and affectionate towards their family members and enjoy spending time with them. However, it is still important to socialize them from an early age to ensure they grow into well-behaved dogs. 

Intelligence and Trainability

The Irish Red and White Setter is a highly intelligent breed that responds well to positive reinforcement training methods. They are eager to please and quick to learn, making them an excellent choice for families who are looking for a trainable dog.

These dogs can be taught a variety of skills, including obedience, agility, and hunting. However, some breed members can be stubborn and require a firm and consistent training approach. 

Health and Lifespan of the Irish Red and White Setter

Common Health Issues

Like all dog breeds, the Irish Red and White Setter is prone to certain health issues, such as: 

  • Hip Dysplasia: A genetic malformation of the bones forming the hip joint resulting in pain and lameness in the affected leg 
  • Eye Problems: The breed is prone to two eye issues, including progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and posterior polar cataracts 

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

To keep your Irish Red and White Setter healthy, it is important to provide regular preventative care, including vaccinations, flea and tick control, and regular grooming. You should also schedule regular checkups with your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s health and catch any potential health issues early.

Expected Lifespan

The average lifespan of the Irish Red and White Setter is between 11 and 15 years. With proper care, breed members can live long and healthy lives, bringing joy and companionship to their families for many years to come.


In conclusion, the Irish Red and White Setter is a wonderful breed that is full of personality and energy. They are great family pets for those who are willing to provide them with plenty of exercise and socialization.

With their intelligence and trainability, Irish Red and White Setters can learn a variety of skills and make perfect companions for those who enjoy outdoor activities and spending time with their furry friends.

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