Canine Breed Menu

Red Setter

Red Setter

Red Setter
Breed Organization
Irish Setter Club of America
Native Country
Other Names
Irish Setter, Irish Red Setter, Red Spaniel, Madra Rua
Life Expectancy
Approximately 12-15 Years
Litter Size
Average 6-8 Puppies
Breed Group
AKC Sporting
Breed Appearance
The Irish Setter is an active, aristocratic bird dog, rich red in color, substantial yet elegant in build. Standing over 24 inches tall at the shoulder, the dog has a straight, fine, glossy coat, longer on ears, chest, tail and back of legs. At work he is a swift-moving hunter; at home, a sweet natured, trainable companion.

Breed Description
Head: Long, cleanly cut, without heaviness. Oval skull. Pronounced occipital peak. Pronounced stop. Muzzle fairly angular. Flews not pendulous. Nose mahogany, brown, or black. Head slightly broader in the red and white variety.
Ears: Set on low, medium-sized, thin, hanging with a fold flat against the head. Set on at eye level in the red and white variety.
Eyes: Not too big, dark (hazel or brown).
Body: Well-proportioned. Neck very muscular, not too thick, without dewlap. Chest narrow when viewed from the front, as deep as possible. Rounded ribs. Muscular, slightly arched loin.
Tail: Set on fairly low, medium in length, thick at the base, tapering to a thin point. Carried level with the topline or lower. Beautiful feathering.
Hair: Short on the head and fronts of the legs. Elsewhere, hair is medium in length, flat, neither wavy nor curly. Feathering long and silky at the tops of the ears, long and fine on the backs of the legs. Beautiful feathering on the abdomen.
Coat: Mahogany setter: golden mahogany, never smoky. White markings on the chest, throat, or toes, small flashings on the forehead, or a narrow flare on the nosebridge or head are tolerated.
Size: Red and white: dog: 62 to 66 cm (24.5-26 in); bitch: 57 to 61 cm (22.5-24 in). Red: dog: 57 to 70 cm (22.5-27.5 in); bitch: 54 to 67 cm (21-26.5 in).
Weight: 20 to 25 kg (44-55 lb).

The Irish Setter was brought to the United States in the early 19th century. It commanded great respect in the field and was one of the most commonly used dogs among the professional meat hunter fraternity. In 1874, the American Field put together the Field Dog Stud Book and registry of dogs in the United States was born. The FDSB is the oldest pure-bred registry in the United States. At that time, dogs could be registered even when bred from sires and dams of different breeds. At about this time, the Llewellin Setter was bred using blood lines from the Lavarack breeding of English Setter and, among other breeds, bloodlines from native Irish Setters. Around the same time, the red Irish Setter became a favorite in the dog show ring.

The Irish Setter of the late 19th century was not just a red dog. The AKC registered Irish Setters in a myriad of colors. The Setter that was completely red, however, was preferred in the show ring and that is the direction that the breed took. Between 1874 and 1948, the breed produced 760 conformation show champions, but only five field champions.

In the 1940s, Field and Stream magazine put into writing what was already a well-known fact. The Irish Setter was disappearing from the field and an outcross would be necessary to resurrect the breed as a working dog. Sports Afield chimed in with a similar call for an outcross. Ned LaGrande of Pennsylvania spent a small fortune purchasing examples of the last of the working Irish Setters in America and importing dogs from overseas. With the blessing of the Field Dog Stud Book, he began an outcross to red and white field champion English Setters. The National Red Setter Field Trial Club was created to test the dogs and to encourage breeding toward a dog that would successfully compete with the white setters. Thus the modern Red Setter was born and the controversy begun.

Prior to 1975, a relationship existed between the AKC and the Field Dog Stud book in which registration with one body qualified a dog for registration with the other. In 1975 the Irish Setter Club of America petitioned the AKC to deny reciprocal registration, and the AKC granted the request. It is claimed, by critics of the move, that the pressure was placed on the AKC by bench show enthusiasts who were unappreciative of the outcrossing efforts of the National Red Setter Field Trial Club, as well as some AKC field trialers following a series of losses to FDSB red setters. Working Irish Setter kennels today field champion dogs that claim lines from both the FDSB dogs and AKC dogs.

The Irish Setter is bursting with energy, spirited, and independent. He has a highly developed sense of smell and works rapidly, but his search range is smaller than that of the English Pointer. He is flexible and points firmly. He specializes in woodcock and partridge. Very affectionate, Irish Setters make wonderful pets. They need firm but gentle training.

Skin problems, epilepsy, hip dysplasia and bloat. Bloat is a health issue to most dogs, being the second largest killer of dogs other than cancer, but Irish Setters can be particularly susceptible to it because of their deep chests. Other health concerns include eye problems, hypothyroidism, and osteosarcoma.

To live in the city, he needs lots of exercise for his physical and emotional well-being. He requires daily brushing and regular attention to the ears.

Hunting Dog, Companion Dog.

Horse Herd