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Irish Red & White Setter Mobile

Irish Red and White Setter

Strong and athletic, the Irish Red and White Setter is a robust yet elegant dog, with a well-feathered, medium length coat that is, unexpectedly from the name, white with red patches. The coat should be straight or gently waved, never curly.

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys more than two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Quiet dog
  • Welcomes everyone happily
  • Generally friendly with other dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • Great family dog
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
Generally healthy breed

As with many breeds, the Irish Red and White Setter can suffer from:
- Hip dysplasia
- Gastric dilatation volvulus
- Canine leucocyte adhesion deficiency which is an inherited disorder where the immune system does not work properly.
- Von Willebrand's disease which is where a dog produces insufficient or faulty clotting factors which can result in uncontrolled bleeding. 
- Hereditary cataracts which is a condition where the lens in the eye becomes cloudy and this can result in blindness.
Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Eye screening scheme 
- DNA testing for canine leucocyte adhesion deficiency and von Willebrand's disease which test whether or not a dog has the potential to be affected by these conditions.

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10 – 13 years
Weight:  27 - 32kg
Height:  58.5 - 68.5cm
Colours:  White with patches of deep red
Size:  Medium
UK Kennel Club Groups: Gundog


Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 1/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 2/5
Shedding: 3/5
Irish Red & White Setter is running and playing in the garden


Gentle, biddable and good natured, the Irish Red and White Setter is an affectionate companion with a happy nature. Energetic and enthusiastic, they still make both good family and working dogs, and as such, require an active owner interested in training and long walks to give them the life they need.

Irish Red & White Setter is standing in the field of flowers

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Ireland

The Irish Red and White Setter can be traced back to the 18th century, though it’s possible they existed long before this, as red and white hunting dogs are described in texts as early as the 1500’s.

In common with many sporting dogs, they were popular with the landed gentry and indeed the Irish Red and White was preferred for its colour over the solid red Irish Setter, as it was felt there was less risk of accidentally shooting the brightly marked dog when it was crouching in long grass. This has long been a reason for preferring white or parti-coloured dogs with large white markings in the hunting field.

Originally bred to work with falcons, the Irish Red and White Setters function was to lie down upon spotting game, so hunters could throw nets over the crouching birds. When firearms were introduced to bird hunting, the Irish Red and White transitioned easily into a gundog.

With the advent of dog showing however, the glamorous Irish Setter with their longer coat and slightly taller, racier build, overtook the Irish Red and White in popularity. So much so, the breed nearly died out towards the end of the 19th century. Fortunately, enough survived after the First World War that dedicated breeders could save the breed and while they are still less popular than their red cousins, they have many devoted followers.

Did you know?

Did You Know?

  • Hunters in the 1800’s favoured dogs with white markings, in part due to the difficulty in seeing a dark red dog against the reddish browns of the heather and peat terrain they worked on.
  • There is another reason that seeing a dog might be difficult, and that is that when a setter locates game, they ‘sett’ in other words freeze in a low crouch, one front paw up… they will hold that position until commanded otherwise by their owner. It was not uncommon to discover a lost dog still setting, many hours later and owners joked that a truly lost dog could end up with its skeleton discovered still pointing at game during the next seasons hunt a year later!
  • Irish Red and White Setters appeared on postage stamps in Britain in 1979 and in Romania in 1971.

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