Irish Red and White Setter

Table of Contents

irish red and white setter portrait
Get ready to fall head over heels for the Irish Red and White Setter, the delightful canine firecrackers that bring a burst of joy and charisma to every corner of your life! With their distinctive coat of vibrant red and white, these four-legged marvels are as eye-catching as a rainbow on a sunny day.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Irish Red and White Setter is an ideal match for active families, outdoorsy individuals, or experienced dog owners who appreciate a spirited, intelligent companion. With their keen hunting instincts and boundless energy, these dogs thrive in spacious environments where they can stretch their legs and indulge in regular mental and physical stimulation.


OFFICIAL NAMEIrish Red and White Setter
BREED GROUPSporting Group
HEIGHT22.5-26 inches
WEIGHT45-70 lbs
LIFESPAN11-15 years
irish red and white setter on the field
Photo: McBirdy Duhant/Getty Images


The Irish Red and White Setter is an eye-catching breed, known for its distinctive coat and elegant physical features. These medium to large-sized dogs possess a strong, well-proportioned body that showcases their athletic prowess and hunting abilities.

In terms of height, male Irish Red and White Setters typically stand between 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder, while females measure slightly smaller at 22.5 to 24 inches. Their weight range is also gender-specific, with males weighing between 50 to 70 pounds and females between 45 to 65 pounds.

One of the most striking aspects of this breed is their aristocratic head, which is long and lean, exuding both grace and intelligence. The skull is oval-shaped when viewed from above, with a noticeable occipital protuberance at the back. The muzzle is moderately deep and tapers smoothly towards the nose, giving them an alert and lively expression. The nostrils are wide, and the nose color should be dark mahogany or black.

The eyes of the Irish Red and White Setter are another captivating feature. They are medium-sized, almond-shaped, and set well apart. Their color ranges from dark hazel to dark brown, beautifully contrasting with their white coat. The expressive eyes convey a soft yet mischievous gaze, reflecting the breed’s spirited nature.

Their ears are set level with the eyes and are of medium size, lying close to the head. The ears are triangular in shape, with rounded tips and covered in silky hair. When the dog is alert, the ears may lift slightly at the base, enhancing their attentive and intelligent expression.

The body is well-muscled, with a deep chest that extends to the elbows and a firm, straight back. The breed has a moderately long neck that is muscular and slightly arched, allowing for an elegant carriage of the head. Their tail is strong at the base, tapering to a fine point, and is carried straight or slightly curved.

The Irish Red and White Setter is adorned with a short, dense, and silky coat that is predominantly white, interspersed with solid patches of rich red. The red patches can vary in size and shape but should not be intermingled with the white. Adding to their allure, they have lovely feathering on the ears, chest, belly, back of the legs, and tail.

Overall, the appearance of the Irish Red and White Setter emanates grace, strength, and an undeniable charm, making them an unforgettable breed to behold.


Irish Red and White Setters are as vibrant as the rolling green hills of its homeland. These dogs are true extroverts, brimming with energy and positivity. But don’t let their vivacious persona fool you. They also have a gentle, tender side that can melt even the coldest of hearts.

The first thing you’ll notice about an Irish Red and White Setter is their spirited, joyful nature. These dogs love life and aren’t afraid to show it. They’re always up for fun, whether it’s a game of fetch in the park or a romp around the backyard. Their enthusiasm is infectious, spreading joy and cheer wherever they go.

But there’s more to these vibrant dogs than just their playful energy. They also carry a sense of grace and gentleness that beautifully contrasts their lively disposition. They’re the type of dogs who will bound around the garden one minute and then snuggle up next to you on the couch the next, content to simply enjoy your company.

One of the most endearing traits of the Irish Red and White Setter is their affectionate and friendly nature. These dogs are social butterflies, always eager to make new friends, be they human or canine. They’re known for their loving disposition, forming strong bonds with their families and showing unwavering loyalty towards their loved ones.

Despite their zest for life, Irish Red and White Setters are also incredibly gentle. They have a calm, soothing presence that can often be therapeutic. There’s something incredibly comforting about having an Irish Red and White Setter by your side, their soft gaze offering silent support and companionship.

Irish Red and White Setters are also intelligent dogs with a curious streak. They love exploring their surroundings and are always keen to learn new things. This curiosity makes them fascinating companions, as there’s never a dull moment when you have an Irish Red and White Setter around.

But perhaps the most compelling trait of the Irish Red and White Setter is their versatility. They’re just as comfortable tearing around the yard as they are lounging at home. They can adapt to different situations and environments with ease, making them ideal companions for a wide range of households and lifestyles.

irish red and white setter on the hunt
Photo: McBirdy Duhant/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for the Irish Red and White Setter is one that caters to their energetic nature, innate hunting instincts, and desire for companionship. These dogs are best suited for active families or individuals who can provide them with ample opportunities for exercise, mental stimulation, and human interaction.

Physical Environment

A spacious home with a large, securely fenced yard is highly recommended for this breed. They need plenty of room to run, play, and explore, allowing them to expend their energy and satisfy their curiosity. Although they can adapt to various living situations, these setters are not well-suited for apartment living due to their size and activity levels.

Climate Adaptability

Regarding climate adaptability, the Irish Red and White Setter can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. Their dense, weather-resistant coat provides insulation against cold conditions, enabling them to perform exceptionally well in the field during hunting expeditions. However, it is crucial to monitor them during extreme cold, ensuring they have access to proper shelter and warmth.

In hot climates, the breed’s thick coat may cause them to overheat if not properly cared for. It is vital to provide them with adequate shade, water, and ventilation during warmer months. Avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day, and be vigilant for signs of heat stress or dehydration.

Ideal Owner

In terms of pet parents, the Irish Red and White Setter thrives with experienced dog owners who understand the breed’s unique traits and requirements. They need someone who can provide consistent, positive reinforcement-based training and who is patient, persistent, and confident in their approach.

First-time dog owners may find the breed’s energetic nature and stubborn streak challenging to manage without prior experience.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, the Irish Red and White Setter generally gets along well with other dogs, thanks to their friendly and sociable temperament. However, their strong prey drive may pose challenges when introducing them to smaller animals like cats or rodents. Early socialization and careful supervision are essential to ensure harmonious coexistence with other household pets.


The Irish Red and White Setter is a moderate-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming, requiring regular care to keep their coat in top condition and maintain their overall health. By establishing a consistent grooming routine, pet parents can ensure their setter looks and feels their best while also preventing potential health issues.

Coat Care

One of the most prominent features of the Irish Red and White Setter is their unique, silky coat. Regular brushing is essential to keep it free from tangles, mats, and debris. It is recommended to brush their coat at least two to three times a week using a slicker brush or a pin brush, which can effectively remove loose hair and prevent matting.

Pay particular attention to the feathering on the ears, chest, belly, legs, and tail, as these areas are more prone to tangling. Additionally, a comb with both wide and narrow teeth can be used to gently work through any stubborn knots or tangles.

The breed’s coat does not require frequent trimming, but occasional tidying up around the ears, paws, and hocks can give them a neat appearance. Some owners may choose to have their setter professionally groomed every few months to maintain a well-groomed look.

Bathing the Irish Red and White Setter should be done as needed, depending on their activity level and whether they’ve picked up dirt or debris during their adventures. Using a mild dog shampoo will help preserve the coat’s natural oils and prevent skin irritation. Ensure that the coat is thoroughly rinsed and dried afterward to avoid any residue buildup.

Dental Care

Dental care is an important aspect of grooming for the Irish Red and White Setter. Regular teeth cleaning can prevent bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. Ideally, their teeth should be brushed daily using canine-specific toothpaste and toothbrush.

Alternatively, dental chews, toys, and specially-formulated dental diets can supplement your dog’s oral hygiene routine. Regular veterinary check-ups will also help identify any dental issues before they become severe.

Nail Trimming

Nail care is another essential component of the grooming routine for this breed. The Irish Red and White Setter’s nails should be trimmed every three to four weeks, or whenever you hear them clicking on hard surfaces. Overgrown nails can cause discomfort, affect their gait, and potentially lead to injury.

Use a dog nail clipper or grinder and be cautious not to cut into the quick, which can be painful and cause bleeding. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian for guidance.

Ear Care

Lastly, don’t forget to check your setter’s ears for any signs of infection, irritation, or wax buildup. Clean the outer ear with a soft, damp cloth or a cotton ball moistened with a veterinarian-approved ear-cleaning solution. Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal, as this can cause damage to the delicate structures within.

irish red and white setter running on the field
Photo: McBirdy Duhant/Getty Images


The Irish Red and White Setter is a highly energetic and athletic breed that requires a significant amount of daily exercise to keep them physically fit and mentally stimulated. These dogs thrive on regular physical activity and are best suited for active families or individuals who can dedicate time and effort to meet their exercise needs.

Exercise Amount & Types

Expect to spend at least an hour to an hour and a half each day engaging in various forms of exercise with your Irish Red and White Setter. This can include brisk walks, jogging, off-leash playtime in a securely fenced area, or even hiking and swimming.

Keep in mind that these dogs have a strong prey drive, so ensure they are under control when off-leash, especially in areas where small animals might be present.

In addition to physical exercise, the breed also benefits from mental stimulation to keep their intelligent minds occupied. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and scent-based games can provide mental challenges that help prevent boredom and keep them engaged.

Dog Sports

Due to their natural hunting instincts and exceptional tracking abilities, the Irish Red and White Setter excels in a variety of dog sports and competitions. These activities not only provide an excellent outlet for their energy but also strengthen the bond between dog and owner.

Some popular options include field trials, agility, obedience, rally, and tracking events. Participating in such activities allows your setter to showcase their innate talents while also providing valuable socialization opportunities with other dogs and handlers.

Exercise Precautions

When exercising your Irish Red and White Setter, it’s essential to consider their age, fitness level, and any potential health issues. Puppies and senior dogs may require shorter, less strenuous exercise sessions, while healthy adults can handle more vigorous activities. Always monitor your dog during exercise and adjust the intensity and duration accordingly to ensure their well-being.


The Irish Red and White Setter is an intelligent and eager-to-please breed, which can make training a rewarding experience for both dog and owner. However, their independent nature and occasional stubbornness require a patient and persistent approach to training. Knowing what to expect and employing the right techniques can help ensure success in training your setter.

Early Socialization

These dogs are highly trainable, but their spirited personalities might present some challenges for first-time dog owners or those unfamiliar with the breed’s unique traits. Early socialization and puppy training classes are highly recommended to help your Irish Red and White Setter develop into a well-mannered, confident adult.

Exposing them to various people, animals, and environments during their formative months will lay a solid foundation for future training efforts.

Positive Reinforcement

When it comes to training methods, positive reinforcement techniques are the most effective and enjoyable for this breed. Using rewards like treats, praise, and play will encourage your setter to focus on the task at hand and motivate them to learn new commands and behaviors. Consistency is crucial, as these intelligent dogs can quickly pick up on any discrepancies in your expectations or instructions, which may lead to confusion or resistance.

Patience in Training

Patience is key when training an Irish Red and White Setter, as they may occasionally exhibit a stubborn streak or become easily distracted. Maintaining a calm, assertive demeanor and setting clear boundaries will help establish your role as the leader and guide your setter towards the desired behavior. Avoid harsh punishments or negative training techniques, as these can damage the trust and rapport between you and your dog.

irish red and white setter at a dog show
Photo: Kyle Reynolds/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

The diet and nutrition of the Irish Red and White Setter play a crucial role in maintaining their overall health, well-being, and energy levels. Providing a balanced, high-quality diet tailored to their age, size, activity level, and any specific health needs is essential for keeping your setter in optimal condition.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting suitable dog food, it’s important to look for products that follow the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). These guidelines ensure that the food contains all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals required for your dog’s health.

Depending on your preferences and your dog’s individual needs, you can choose from dry, wet, or raw food options. Consult your veterinarian for personalized recommendations based on your setter’s specific requirements.

The amount of food your Irish Red and White Setter needs will vary depending on their age, weight, and activity level. Puppies generally require more frequent feedings, typically three to four times a day, as they grow and develop.

As they transition into adulthood, you can reduce the frequency to two meals per day. It’s essential to monitor your dog’s weight and adjust their portions accordingly to prevent overfeeding and obesity, which can lead to various health issues.

It’s important to monitor your setter’s dietary needs throughout their life, as nutritional requirements may change due to age, health conditions, or fluctuations in activity levels. Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify any dietary adjustments needed to maintain your dog’s overall health and well-being.


Treats can be a valuable tool for training and reinforcing positive behaviors, but they should be given in moderation. Treats should not exceed 10% of your setter’s daily caloric intake to maintain a balanced diet. Opt for healthy, low-calorie options like fruits, vegetables, or specially-formulated dog treats.


Access to fresh, clean water is vital for your Irish Red and White Setter’s health. Ensure that your dog has a constant supply of water, especially during exercise, hot weather, or when consuming dry kibble. Remember to clean their water bowl regularly to prevent bacterial growth.


The Irish Red and White Setter is generally a healthy and robust breed, with a life expectancy of 11 to 15 years. However, like all dog breeds, they are prone to certain health issues. Being aware of these common concerns and taking preventive measures can help ensure your setter remains in optimal health.

Some health issues associated with the Irish Red and White Setter include:

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain. Regular veterinary check-ups, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing a balanced diet can help manage and prevent this issue.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an inherited eye disorder that causes gradual vision loss and can eventually lead to blindness. Regular eye exams and genetic testing can help identify affected dogs and inform responsible breeding practices.

Cataracts: Cataracts are characterized by the clouding of the lens in the eye, leading to impaired vision or blindness. Early detection through routine eye examinations can help manage the condition and prevent further deterioration.

Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD): This is a rare, inherited immune disorder that affects the dog’s ability to fight off infections. Genetic testing can identify carriers of the gene responsible for CLAD and inform responsible breeding decisions.

Allergies: The breed may be susceptible to various allergies, including food, environmental, and contact allergies. Regular veterinary check-ups, allergy testing, and appropriate dietary adjustments can help manage and alleviate symptoms.

To keep your Irish Red and White Setter healthy, it’s crucial to provide them with a balanced diet tailored to their age, size, activity level, and any specific health needs. A high-quality diet can help maintain their overall well-being and prevent obesity, which can exacerbate certain health issues.

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for monitoring your setter’s health and identifying any potential concerns early on. These visits should include routine examinations, vaccinations, and preventative care for common issues such as heartworm, fleas, and ticks.

Additionally, staying up-to-date with your dog’s vaccinations can protect them from various infectious diseases and ensure they remain in good health.

irish red and white setter's face up close
Photo: PaulaConnelly/Getty Images


The Irish Red and White Setter has a rich history that dates back to the 17th century in Ireland. This versatile and athletic breed was originally developed as a hardworking and efficient gundog, with its primary purpose being to assist hunters in finding and retrieving game birds.

The breed’s keen sense of smell, remarkable endurance, and natural hunting instincts made them highly sought-after companions for sportsmen.

The Irish Red and White Setter is believed to be one of the oldest setter breeds, with its ancestry traced back to various spaniels and pointing dogs. These early setters were specifically bred for their ability to “set” or crouch low when they detected game, allowing hunters to approach and throw a net over the birds.

As firearms became more prevalent in hunting, the breed evolved to adapt to these new methods, with dogs now trained to stand tall and point when they located game.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Irish Red and White Setter enjoyed widespread popularity in Ireland and Britain. However, by the late 19th century, the breed’s numbers began to decline as the solid red Irish Setter gained favor among hunters and breed enthusiasts. The Irish Red and White Setter faced near extinction during the early 20th century, with only a handful of dedicated breeders working diligently to preserve the breed’s lineage.

One such breeder, Maureen Cuddy, played a pivotal role in the breed’s revival during the mid-20th century. Cuddy acquired an Irish Red and White Setter named Judith Cunningham of County Clare in 1940, and her efforts to revive the breed led to the formation of the Irish Red and White Setter Club in 1944. Through the club’s work, the breed’s population gradually increased, and by the 1980s, the Irish Red and White Setter had regained some of its former prominence.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Irish Red and White Setter in 1999, and the breed became eligible to compete in the Sporting Group. Since then, the breed has continued to gain popularity in the United States, both as a skilled hunting companion and a devoted family pet.

Today, the Irish Red and White Setter is celebrated for its unique combination of beauty, athleticism, and intelligence. With a dedicated community of breeders and enthusiasts working to preserve and promote the breed, the Irish Red and White Setter’s future looks promising.

Parent Club

The Irish Red and White Setter Association of America (IRWSAA) is the official parent club for the Irish Red and White Setter in the United States. Founded in 1997, the IRWSAA is dedicated to promoting and preserving the breed through education, responsible breeding practices, and various events and activities.

You can access the club’s website to find valuable information about the breed, its history, and resources for owners.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Irish Red and White Setter’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

irish red and white setter lying on the floor
Photo: PaulaConnelly/Getty Images Signature


When considering acquiring an Irish Red and White Setter, it’s essential to prepare for their unique needs, such as exercise, grooming, and training. If you choose to buy, ensure you purchase from a reputable breeder who conducts health testing and adheres to responsible breeding practices.

Alternatively, consider rescuing an Irish Red and White Setter from a shelter or breed-specific rescue organization. The AKC and IRWSAA can also assist in locating rescue groups and available dogs in need of loving homes. Opting for rescue not only provides a second chance to a deserving dog but also helps alleviate the strain on shelters and rescue organizations.


Are Irish Red and White Setters a rare breed?

Yes, the Irish Red and White Setter is considered a relatively rare breed compared to its more popular cousin, the Irish Setter. However, dedicated breeders and enthusiasts have been working diligently to preserve and promote the breed.

What is the difference between the Irish Setter and the Irish Red and White Setter?

While both breeds share similar origins, the main difference lies in their appearance. The Irish Setter has a solid red coat, while the Irish Red and White Setter is characterized by its distinct red and white coat. Additionally, the Irish Red and White Setter tends to be slightly smaller and more athletic than the Irish Setter.

Do Irish Red and White Setters bark a lot?

As a breed, Irish Red and White Setters are not known for excessive barking. However, individual dogs may vary, and some setters may bark more than others. Proper training and socialization can help curb unwanted barking.

Are they good pets?

Yes, Irish Red and White Setters make excellent pets due to their friendly, affectionate, and loyal nature. They are particularly well-suited for active families who can provide them with the exercise and mental stimulation they need to thrive.

Are Irish Red and White Setters hypoallergenic?

No, Irish Red and White Setters are not considered hypoallergenic. Although no dog breed is entirely allergen-free, some breeds produce fewer allergens than others. The Irish Red and White Setter’s shedding and dander can trigger allergies in sensitive individuals.

How do Irish Red and White Setters get along with other pets?

Irish Red and White Setters generally get along well with other pets, including dogs and cats. Early socialization and proper introductions are essential to ensure harmonious relationships between your setter and other animals in the household.

Can Irish Red and White Setters adapt to hot or cold climates?

The Irish Red and White Setter can adapt to various climates, but they are more suited to moderate temperatures. In hot weather, ensure your setter has access to shade and plenty of fresh water, and avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day. In cold climates, provide your dog with a warm, sheltered space and consider protective clothing if necessary.

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