Irish Red and White Setter

By PetMD Editorial on Mar. 14, 2012

The Irish Red and White Setter is a hunting breed best known in the field for its athletic build and keen personality. This intelligent dog breed requires daily exercise and modest coat maintenance. It is considered to be a perfect family dog.

Physical Characteristics

This Irish Setter has a strong and muscular build, as it is usually bred for the field. The silky coat is white with deep red patches, with feathering at the legs, ears and chest. Average height for the Irish Red and White Setter ranges from 22 to 26 inches and weighs about 50 to 70 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

The Irish Red and White Setter has a kind and friendly demeanor, with a keen and intelligent attitude. This Setter likes to establish a personal relationship and is good with other dogs.


The Irish Red and White Setter needs only occasional trimming and grooming of the coat to maintain its natural appearance. Originally bred for the hunting fields, it requires a great deal of exercise, such as jogging or a large yard to move about freely in. 


The Irish Red and White Setter has an average lifespan of 11 to 15 years. Although heath issues are not prominent among Irish Red and White Setters, a more common problem is posterior polar cataract, when cataracts form in the back of the eye. Rarer diseases in the Irish Red and White Setter include hip problems and von Willebrand’s disease, which prevents blood from clotting.

History and Background

Most people are much more familiar with the Red Setter breed. However, it is believed that the Red and White Setter, which dates back to the 17th century, is actually the older of the two breeds. Near the end of the 19th century, the Red and White Setter, like many other breeds of the time, suffered in number due to the hardships of WWI in Ireland. Its numbers became so rare, in fact, that the breed was thought to be extinct.

Fortunately, efforts to revive the Irish Red and White Setter in the 1920s proved successful. In the 1980s the Irish Kennel Club recognized the breed as one separate from the Irish Setter. The American Kennel Club would not formally recognize the Irish Red and White Setter until 2009.

Today the Irish Red and White Setter can be found in healthy amounts both in the U.S. and abroad, especially competing against other pointing breeds at Irish Shows and Field Trails as gun dogs.

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