Irish Red and White Setter

Irish Red and White Setter
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Irish Red and White Setter is a dog breed of medium size that originated in Ireland. It belongs to the Pointer group of gundog dogs that almost became extinct until they were revived recently thanks to dedicated breeders. This breed is a bit rare as a variety in comparison with the Irish and English Setters.

The original purpose of this breed was to hunt down birds and let their owners know the birds’ whereabouts by ‘pointing’ to them with the unique stance. In this article we are going to take a look at this beautiful and graceful dog, his physical characteristics and what makes this breed interesting.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingBelow Average
All Around FriendlinessAbove Average
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group:Sporting Dogs
Height: Generally 1 foot, 10 inches to 2 feet, 2 inches tall at the shoulder


Weight:Generally 50 to 70 pounds
Life Span:10 to 14 years

 When it comes to adaptability, the Red and White Irish Setter is a dog breed that does not adapt well to apartment living. This is a sporting breed that needs to spend a lot of time exercising outside.

You might make it work if you own a spacious apartment and you are able to provide your dog with regular walks and prolonged exercises in the parks. Otherwise, if you do not have a yard, you should look for another dog breed.

This dog is more or less good for novice owners, but you might face difficulties regarding training – this breed can be quite stubborn. He is a very intelligent dog but if you have never owned a gundog type of dog then this breed might be a challenge.

They are also very sensitive and they don’t like being neglected or spending too much time alone. These are family dogs that like interaction and being around their owner. They also tolerate cold and hot weather relatively well so it doesn’t really matter the environment as long as they have enough space and activities.

Speaking of being friendly, the Red and White Irish Setter is a real family dog who is very affectionate to both adults and children. He can be very incredible with children and he can also be friendly towards other dogs. He might be shy around strangers but that might be because of lack of training and socialization; otherwise, this breed is always friendly and affectionate and never bad-tempered or vicious.

When it comes to general health and grooming, the Red and White Irish Setter does shed throughout the whole year and you should be prepared for regular brushing, even more so because of his long coat. He is easy to groom because the coat is not too much curly or dense.

The breed drools just a bit and there is also a potential for weight gain. This dog is not considered very healthy due to various conditions that might affect him, but that can also vary from individual to individual. The size is medium.

Speaking of trainability, the Red and White Irish Setter is a very intelligent dog that is easy to train and responds amazingly well to positive reinforcement. There is a potential of mouthiness, because of his heritage, including prey drive and wanderlust potential, but they can be reduced to minimal if the dog is trained and socialized from an early age.

However, it is recommended to keep this breed on a leash during the walks through unfamiliar and urban areas because he might run off after smaller animals or anything that catches his interest. He also has a tendency to bark.

When it comes to exercise needs, they are very high; which is logical because this dog belongs to the sporting group. The Red and White Irish Setter has a high energy level and loves running and exercising in nature. The ideal place in a city would a park or even better, a fenced area. The intensity of games and exercises should be intense, but since this dog is playful, you should not have any problems to engage him.

Main Highlights
  • The Red and White Irish Setter belongs to the Pointer category and they used to be gundogs in the UK.
  • This breed also became extinct but it has been revived recently.
  • This dog is listed by the Kennel Club in the UK as a Vulnerable Native breed.
  • The Red and White Irish Setter is a very affectionate and family dog that goes well with children and hates being alone.
  • You should keep him on a leash all the time except in the fenced areas.
  • This breed is a less popular variety of the Irish and English Setter.
  • Recently the Irish Kennel Club (IKC) announced that they would allow crossbreeding between the Red and White Irish Setter and Irish Setter in order to avoid the possibility of a restricted gene pool.
  • This breed does not do well in small apartments, it needs space and lots of exercise!
  • Never buy a Red and White Irish Setter puppy from illegal or suspicious breeders, especially puppy mills! Otherwise you might end up with a sick puppy and just contribute to the illegal trade of dogs!
Breed History

The Red and White Irish Setter is a gundog that originated in Ireland. It is believed that this breed was known as ‘setting dogges’ by the 17th century, mostly because it has a role of indicating the whereabouts of game birds by scenting the air and then freezing in a position. After that a hunter would come and throw a net over the birds or shoot them. This is how this breed is used today as well.

During the 18th and 19th century a group of breeders tried to preserve the breed with red and white markings on the body and this line is the one that we see today. However, during the 20th century, this breed was in decline and the Irish Kennel Club decided to help to revive this breed.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized this breed in 2009 but it is still listed as a Vulnerable Native breed because there are less than 300 registrations of this dog each year.


The Red and White Irish Setter is a dog breed of medium size. The males are a bit bigger and heavier than females and they are usually 24 to 26 inches (61 to 66 cm) tall and weigh 50 to 70 lb (23 to 32 kg). The females are 22.5 to 24 inches (57 to 61 cm). The life expectancy is around 10-12 years.

Personality and Character

The Red and White Irish Setter is a dog that is friendly, playful, loyal, affectionate and energetic. His energy level is very high which means that he simply requires lots of exercise on a daily basis. He loves his family and his owner and he is also amazing around children. His temperament is considered affectionate and nice, never vicious or bad-tempered.

This dog needs a yard, but that does not mean that he is a kennel dog who likes being alone all the time. He loves being among family members and he would definitely be sad if forced to be all alone outside or somewhere where he can be bored and depressed. Be aware of the fact that this dog seeks your constant attention.

Health and Potential Problems

This dog breed is not really considered a healthy dog, mostly because of various hereditary and outcross conditions that affect him; here are some of them that affect this breed more than the others:

  • Canine Leucocyte Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD), is when the immune system fails to fight infections which can affect puppies who are then unable to develop and always suffer from various infections. Most of them die because they are unable to grow. It has been proven that this breed carries a mutation gene for this condition.
  • von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) is a serious condition when the blood is unable to clot over a wound which results in excessive bleeding that can lead to death in severe cases. Sometimes a dog can die even from a small would, such as a cut. It is possible to be treated with medication.
  • Posterior Polar Cataract (PPC) is the condition when the dog’s sight is impaired by a cataract.
  • Other: There are some outcross problems that have been noted when this breed is crossed with Irish Setters. The goal was to create genetic diversity and prevent medical conditions but many breeders rejected this notion.
Care Features

When it comes to care features, the Red and White Irish Setter that his basic needs be fulfilled just like any other dog – he needs his teeth brushed at least a couple of times per week in order to prevent gum diseases and teeth decay.

He also needs his nails trimmed when they become too long and start clicking on the floor. Besides this, you need to bathe him at least once per month or two months and you need to groom him when it is needed, which is not difficult.

You must brush his coat (which is long) and walk him daily because this breed is very active and requires intense running and walking in order to remain healthy. After each walk you should carefully examine his coat so there are no ticks, cuts, fleas or tangles.

Feeding Schedule

When it comes to the feeding schedule, the Red and White Irish Setter is a big dog, and he also is very active which means that he needs 2 to 3 cup of high-quality per day.

It would be for the best to mix dry and canned food but it all depends on your dog’s age, general health and activity level. This breed is very active and energetic, but you should try not to overfeed them since they love eating.

Make sure to include all the best when you buy food – vitamins, vegetables, proteins and the meat of best quality. If the food is of proper quality, then the health will be okay as well.

Coat, Color and Grooming

This dog breed has a coat of medium to long length that is slightly wavy and silky. The basic color is white with red markings and patches of deep red all over it. Sometimes there are some flecking on the head and feet but not too much. The color should always be deep, not light.

The coat should be combed every day after each walk to prevent tangles and dirt. You should trim the coat when it is needed, and the hair between ears is usually thinned as well. The coat is not very thick so it is easy to clean and groom it.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

When it comes to children, this breed gets along well with them, mostly because this is a really affectionate breed that thrives in a family. They can be gentle towards children and as long as they have been trained properly, there would be no problems. It is in their nature to be sweet and affectionate.

Due to their heritage and prey drive, they might go after smaller pets and animals and that is why they should be socialized and kept on a leash outside. If they grow up with other pets, they would probably be friendly towards them. They are not aggressive towards other dogs as well.

Bringing this topic to an end, we have covered the most important characteristics of a dog called the Red and White Irish Setter, the pointer dog breed from Ireland. You are now familiar with this beautiful dog’s physical traits, health issues, sensitivity level, and personality quirks.

Even though the Red and White Irish Setter is not very popular or known as his other cousins the Irish Setter and the English Setter, he is still a wonderful and affectionate dog that deserves our attention. With his white coat and noticeable red patches, he is not only wonderful but also a hard-working dog that is even today used for various hunting and sports activities.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.