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Irish Red and White Setter Temperament: Social Butterflies

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The Irish Red and White Setter, known for its striking coat and lively disposition, holds a special place in the hearts of dog enthusiasts. Despite facing the challenge of being classified as a vulnerable native dog breed in the UK, the Irish Red and White Setter proves to be an exceptional companion, ideally suited for both families and individuals.


Beyond their elegant appearance, these dogs are renowned for their unique temperament, which combines a loving nature with a touch of independence.


In this comprehensive blog post, we will immerse ourselves in the fascinating history and temperament of the Irish Red and White Setter.


Our journey will also address common questions prospective dog owners may have and shed light on potential health considerations within the breed. By the end of this article, you will have a well-rounded understanding of whether this breed aligns with your lifestyle and preferences. Let's dive right in.



Table of Contents



Irish Red and White Setter History: Where are Irish Red and White Setters from?

The lineage of Irish Red and White Setters can be traced back to Ireland, with their name "Setter" originating from the distinctive crouching position they assume when they spot game in the field.


Historically, the Setters gained a reputation before the invention of gunpowder when birds were hunted with nets. The Setter would freeze and go into their crouching position to indicate the presence of game. The hunter would then throw a net over the birds.


The Irish Red and White Setter became the top choice because of their standout white markings, especially as hunters switched to using guns. Nobody wanted to aim at their beloved hunting companions accidentally. People couldn't agree on whether those markings were a good thing or not. Conversely, their solid-coloured cousins blended better with the surroundings, so they didn't spook the birds as easily.


Historical accounts suggest that soldiers returning from Spain brought dogs often referred to as "spaniels," which could indicate any small hunting bird dog at the time. The "Setting Spaniel" is considered the breed's forerunner.


In this lineage, it's believed that the Red and White Setter came before its mahogany-coloured Irish Setter cousin, with the latter resulting from selective breeding to accentuate the dominant red colour. The Red and White Setter boasts more white markings compared to red. These shared characteristics make both breeds closely related and share a similar temperament.


Interestingly, it wasn't until the 1860s that the Irish Red Setter began to outshine its Red and White counterparts in popularity gradually.


Setter dogs commanded a high value in the past. Around 1820, a quality Setter would fetch a hefty price, typically ranging from 15 to 20 guineas. Considering that the average weekly wage at the time was approximately one shilling, it's clear that these dogs were a luxury accessible only to the upper class.



Among the notable owners, the Rossmore family of Rossmore Castle in County Monaghan stood out. Even today, the family retains a collection of portraits and paintings featuring Irish Red and White Setters.


In the 1900s, Irish Red and White Setters faced the brink of extinction as the Irish Setter surged in popularity. However, this once-endangered breed saw a resurgence thanks to the unwavering dedication of renowned breeders like George and Olive Upton, Noble Huston, and other illustrious names.


Their relentless efforts prompted the Irish Kennel Club to recognise the breed in 1944 officially. Today, the Irish Red and White Setter remain classified as a vulnerable native breed by the UK Kennel Club, never quite reaching the same level of popularity as their solid red-coated cousin.


Their enduring legacy is a testament to the passion and commitment of those who championed their survival.


The registrations of Irish Red & White Setters with the UK Kennel Club were high in 2022. In 2023, a total of 2 registrations were recorded, demonstrating a slow interest in this beautiful breed. We are sure the breed will turn it around soon with their great temperament.

Q1 2022

Q2 2022

Q3 2022

Q4 2022

2022 Total

Q1 2023

Q2 2023

12

47

1

17

77

0

2

Source: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/5984/quarterly-breed-stats-gundogs.pdf updated October 2023


Now that we have learnt about their history, let's look at the temperament of the Irish Red and White Setter.


What is the Temperament of the Irish Red and White Setter?

Like their Setter cousins, the Irish Red and White Setter boasts a temperament deeply rooted in their partnership with humans. Their people-oriented nature is a testament to their longstanding history of working alongside humans. These Setters are affectionate, highly responsive, and brimming with positive energy.


Their optimism shines through in their outlook on life, and their boundless enthusiasm is infectious, positively impacting their owner's day-to-day experiences. With an Irish Red and White Setter as your steadfast companion, you can bid farewell to dull moments. If you're looking for a loyal and affectionate canine companion, the Irish Red and White Setter won't disappoint.



Irish Red and White Setter Temperament
Owning an Irish Red and White Setter naturally aligns with an active, outdoorsy lifestyle.

As a gundog breed, the Irish Red and White Setter boasts remarkable stamina and can often spend extended hours outdoors.


Their exceptional sense of smell and specialised breeding for tracking and retrieving birds across diverse terrains make them adept hunters.


While they are commonly associated with open-terrain hunting, they have also demonstrated their hunting prowess in forested areas.


Owning an Irish Red and White Setter naturally aligns with an active, outdoorsy lifestyle.


Activities such as hiking, running, and cycling are right up their alley, as these energetic canines eagerly embrace physical challenges. Off-lead walks are significant for this breed, ensuring they can freely explore and exercise their instincts.


Living in an urban environment far removed from open spaces may not be ideal for this breed. Instead, they thrive in rural or semi-rural settings, where they can fully indulge in their active and nature-loving tendencies.



Choosing the proper environment is essential to provide an enriching life for your Irish Red and White Setter.



To keep your Red and White Setter content and prevent them from becoming high-strung or anxious indoors, they typically need approximately 2 hours of outdoor activity and mental stimulation at home. Meeting these exercise and mental needs ensures they are relaxed and affectionate at home.


Once their daily dose of physical and mental engagement is met, these setters eagerly embrace the role of a mellow and cuddly family companion. They relish spending quality time with you and being integral to the family dynamic.


Your Irish Red and White Setter is a faithful companion who thrives in your company, and training can be quite a fun experience when you set the right stage. These dogs have a long history of working alongside humans, making them easy to train, especially when you sprinkle in positive reinforcement.


Keep it short, sweet, and engaging. They've got noses that can pick up scents from miles away, and they're always on the lookout, which means they can get distracted easily. So, make sure your training sessions are interesting to keep their attention.


Training isn't a one-and-done deal. It's an ongoing journey throughout your dog's life to ensure they don't pick up any bad habits along the way.


In a nutshell, and this goes for all gundog breeds, having an interest in Gundog training and dog sports is a big plus if you're considering owning one of these breeds. These dogs are natural-born athletes who relish activities like obedience, agility, and tracking. It's only fair to allow them to indulge in sports and activities, and they'll thank you for it with their boundless enthusiasm and zest for life.


While the Irish Red and White Setter is naturally outgoing and adores human interaction, socialising any dog, including them, is essential. Socialisation is the key to helping them adapt their behaviour to people of all ages and become responsive to commands even in diverse and bustling environments. Moreover, it prevents them from becoming anxious or high-strung when faced with stressful situations.


These sensitive dogs have an exceptional affection for their owners. They have an uncanny ability to sense your emotions and will stay close by when you're feeling down, ensuring your happiness. With their gentle and sensitive disposition, the Irish Setter breeds generally get along famously with other animals, earning them the reputation of being "social butterflies."


Regarding noise levels around the house, Irish Red and White Setters typically don't fall into the "loud" category. They may bark to alert you to visitors or changes in their surroundings, but they're not your go-to choice for a guard dog. Their temperament is more inclined toward loving all people.


However, their alertness still makes them capable watchdogs at home, keeping a keen eye on your surroundings.


The Irish Red and White Setter's temperament combines affection, energy, independence, and protectiveness. These dogs are a fantastic choice for sport-loving families who can give them the exercise and mental stimulation they need.


Their loving and loyal nature makes excellent dogs for those who appreciate their unique temperament and spirited personality. If you're considering bringing one of these magnificent dogs, prepare for a lifetime of love, adventure, and heartwarming moments.




Do Irish Red and White Setter shed?

Yes, Irish Red and White Setters do shed, but their shedding is considered moderate. Shedding is typically more noticeable during the fall and spring seasons when they undergo a heavier moult.


However, it's important to note that they tend to shed less between these seasons. Female Irish Red and White Setters may also experience increased shedding after heat cycles.


Regular grooming and brushing can help manage their shedding and keep their coat in good condition. You can use any brush to maintain a tidy coat, but for the feathered areas, it's advisable to use a wider-toothed metal comb. This will help prevent matting and keep those areas in good condition.



Are Irish Red and White Setters good with cats?

Irish Red and White Setters, known for their social and mellow nature, generally have a good rapport with other animals, including cats. However, there are some essential ground rules to remember when introducing both animals.



Irish Red and White Setter Temperament
Senior Irish Red and White Setter still enjoy their walks.

Supervised Initial Meetings: Always introduce them under supervision. This initial interaction should occur in a controlled environment where the dog and cat are closely monitored.


Leash and Harness: Keep your Setter on a leash and your cat harnessed during the first few meetings. This provides a level of control and prevents any sudden, uncontrolled movements.



Positive Associations: Encourage positive associations by offering treats and praise to the dog and cat during their interactions. This helps create a sense of reward and comfort.


Gradual Introduction: Allow for a gradual introduction. Let them become familiar with each other's scents and presence without direct physical contact.


Respect Individual Space: Ensure the cat and dog have safe spaces to retreat if they feel overwhelmed. Cats, in particular, value their personal space.


Observe Body Language: Pay close attention to their body language. Look for signs of curiosity rather than aggression. If either animal displays signs of stress or aggression, separate them immediately.


Training and Obedience: Ensure your Setter is well-trained and responds to basic commands like "sit," "stay," and "leave it." This level of obedience is crucial for maintaining control during interactions.


Patience and Time: It may take time for the two animals to become comfortable with each other. Be patient and allow for a gradual bond to develop.


Consistency: Maintain consistency in your interactions and routines. Predictable routines can help both the dog and the cat feel secure.


Following these ground rules and being patient and observant can increase the likelihood of a positive relationship between your Irish Red and White Setter and your cat. The possibility is relatively high due to the Irish Red and White Setter being a "social butterfly".




Are Irish Red and White Setters good family dogs?

Irish Red and White Setters are indeed wonderful family dogs. They possess a combination of qualities that make them well-suited for family life. These dogs are inherently friendly and sociable, getting along quickly with people of all ages and making great companions for children and adults alike.


Their affectionate nature means they enjoy being integral to the family unit and thrive on human interaction. They are playful and energetic, ideal for families who love outdoor activities and adventures.


Their intelligence and quick learning abilities make them enjoyable to train and engage with as a family.

Proper socialisation can help them get along well with other pets in the family, including cats and other dogs. Their loyalty to their families is well-known, and they often form strong bonds with their owners.


However, it's worth noting that these dogs are active and require consistent exercise and mental stimulation. Families willing to provide them with the physical activity and attention they need will find them to be loving and cherished family members.


Proper training and socialisation from a young age are also essential to ensure they grow up to be well-behaved family pets.




Do Irish Red and White Setters bark a lot?

Irish Red and White Setters are not typically known for barking excessively. Traditionally, these dogs were trained to be relatively silent when out hunting. Their ability to work quietly in the field was highly prized, and they were held to strict standards during field trials, where any sounds during the hunt were considered a significant fault in working dogs.


In a home setting, while they may occasionally bark, especially when alerting their owners to something unusual, they generally do not tend to be overly vocal. Some Irish Setters may be more excitable and bark during playtime or dinner time, but this varies from one dog to another.


It's important to remember that individual dogs' behaviour can vary, so proper training and socialisation can play a role in managing any barking tendencies they may exhibit.




Gift ideas for Irish Red and White Setter lovers

Etsy has some beautiful Irish Setter lovers gifts.


Gift ideas for Irish Red and White Setter lovers #1: Irish Red and White Setter brooch

A beautifully crafted Irish Red and White Setter brooch, a stylish and sentimental gift for any proud owner of this remarkable breed.





Gift ideas for Irish Red and White Setter lovers #2: Irish Red and White Setter Tree Decoration

A Christmas Irish Red and White Setter hanging decoration, the perfect festive addition to adorn your tree or home for the holiday season.





Gift ideas for Irish Red and White Setter lovers #3: Irish Red and White Setter Keyring

An Irish Red and White Setter keyring, a practical and charming accessory for any enthusiast of this beloved breed.





Gift ideas for Irish Red and White Setter lovers #4: Irish Red and White Setter Sweatshirt

An Irish Red and White Setter sweatshirt - the ultimate cosy, stylish way to show your love for these incredible dogs!






Gift ideas for Irish Red and White Setter lovers #5: Irish Red And White Setter Greeting Card

An Irish Red and White Setter greeting card, a heartwarming and thoughtful way to convey your love and appreciation for these wonderful dogs.







Irish Red and White Setter Temperament in a Nutshell

  • Affectionate and Loving: Irish Red and White Setters are known for their strong bond with their owners and their affectionate nature.

  • Energetic and Playful: They are highly energetic and love to play, making them great companions for active individuals or families.

  • Intelligent and Trainable: These dogs are intelligent and respond well to training, particularly when using positive reinforcement methods.

  • Social and Good with Other Pets: They typically get along well with other animals, earning a reputation as "social butterflies."

  • Alert and Watchful: While not typically guard dogs, they are alert and watchful, making them excellent watchdogs for alerting to changes in their surroundings.






Top 10 Female Irish Red and White Setter Names



Top 10 Male Irish Red and White Setter Names


Potential health issues in the Irish Red and White Setter breed

The Irish Red and White Setter is typically a robust and healthy breed. Thanks to a selective breeding process and a small gene pool, breeders prioritise the health of individuals in their breeding programs.


However, like any breed, owners must be aware of potential health concerns and the associated medical expenses.


One noteworthy achievement in the breed's health history is the successful elimination of health issues like CLAD (Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency) and van Willebrand's disease. These conditions are now virtually unheard of within the breed, marking a significant milestone in ensuring the overall health and well-being of Irish Red and White Setters. This proactive approach aims to address and mitigate all potential health concerns for this beloved breed.


The below issues have been linked with the Irish Red and White Setter breed:


Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD) is a genetic disorder affecting Irish Red and White Setters. CLAD is an inherited condition that affects the immune system. Dogs with CLAD have a deficiency in specific white blood cells, specifically the neutrophils, which are essential for fighting off bacterial infections.


Van Willebrands: A rare hereditary bleeding disorder found in Irish Red and White Setters. It affects their ability to form blood clots properly due to a deficiency in von Willebrand factor, a crucial protein in the clotting process, potentially resulting in excessive bleeding from minor injuries or surgeries.


Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a rare health concern in Irish Red and White Setters, characterised by an underactive thyroid gland.


Progressive Retinal Atrophy: A hereditary eye condition that can affect Irish Red and White Setters. It leads to the gradual degeneration of the retina, ultimately resulting in vision loss and blindness.


Cataracts: Cataracts are a common eye condition in Irish Red and White Setters, causing cloudiness in the lens that can lead to impaired vision or blindness if left untreated.


Hip Dysplasia: Hip Dysplasia is a hereditary orthopaedic condition that can affect Irish Red and White Setters, causing malformation in the hip joint that may lead to pain and lameness. Responsible breeding practices, regular exercise, and weight management are essential for reducing this breed's hip dysplasia risk.


Being aware of potential health issues is paramount for prospective dog owners. It helps them make informed decisions when selecting a breed and ensures that they are prepared for the responsibilities and potential challenges of caring for a dog's health.


Recognising breed-specific health concerns allows owners to be proactive in preventive care, seek early intervention when necessary, and provide their canine companions with the best quality of life.

Moreover, it fosters a stronger bond between owner and pet, as proactive health management is a crucial aspect of responsible pet ownership.




Reputable Irish Red and White Setter breeders in the UK




Irish Red and White Setter Fun facts

Did you know the Irish Red & White Setter has embarked on an intriguing OutCross Program to enhance its genetic diversity?


This captivating initiative is crucial for this native Irish breed, known for its working dog heritage. Despite their recognition as a separate breed, their global population remains relatively small, with an unfortunate level of inbreeding over ten generations.


The OutCross Program aims to prevent health and genetic issues stemming from inbreeding, acting proactively to safeguard the breed's future. This is particularly important as there's a growing interest in the Irish Red & White Setter as a working dog, especially in regions with a strong tradition of using pointing breeds.


An exciting twist to this story is that the Irish Red & White Setter shares a remarkably close genetic connection with the Irish Red Setter. This relationship facilitated the revival of the breed.


In collaboration with the OutCross committee, the Irish Kennel Club carefully oversees this program, constantly monitoring its progress and seeking genetic expertise when needed. The hope is to secure the future of this remarkable breed while embracing cooperation from National Kennel Clubs and dedicated breeders.


So, the next time you meet an Irish Red & White Setter, remember they're part of a fascinating journey towards genetic diversity and a healthier, more vibrant breed!



Is the Irish Red and White Setter the right dog breed for me?

In conclusion, if you're contemplating whether the Irish Red and White Setter is the right dog breed for you, it's important to consider their remarkable temperament. These dogs offer a harmonious blend of affection, energy, independence, and protectiveness.


Irish Red and White Setters thrive on outdoor activities and generally require substantial exercise. To keep them content and prevent them from becoming high-strung or anxious indoors, they typically need around 2 hours of daily outdoor activity and mental stimulation.


This can involve activities like long walks, running, hiking, and engaging in dog sports. Meeting these exercise and mental needs ensures they are relaxed, happy, and affectionate at home.


Regarding training, these dogs are generally easy to train, especially when using positive reinforcement techniques. However, it's essential to remember that they have a keen nose and can easily get distracted.


Maintaining their attention during training is crucial to keep sessions interesting and engaging. Training isn't a one-time endeavour; it's an ongoing journey throughout your dog's life to ensure they don't develop undesirable behaviours.


Owning an Irish Red and White Setter means embarking on a lifelong journey filled with love, adventure, and heartwarming moments. So, you're ready for a companion who'll keep up with your active lifestyle and warm your heart with their unwavering loyalty and affection. In that case, the Irish Red and White Setter may be the perfect furry addition to your family.





Owners voices in three words

to be added :)



Breed box Irish Red and White Setter

Size

Large

Dog Size

62cm - 66cm

Dog Weight

25kg- 34kg

Bitch Size

56cm- 61cm

Bitch Weight

24kg-33kg

Grooming

High

Feeding Need

Medium

Tendency to drool

Low

Energy level

High

Tendency to bark

Low

Tendency to dig

Low

Attention need

Medium




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