Appearing in records that date back to the mid-17th century, the Irish Red and White Setter falls within the 'gun dog' branch of canines and was traditionally applied as a versatile hunting dog, used to point and retrieve. A popular breed amongst hunters due to its distinctive colouring that made it easily seen, the Red and White Setter or Rossmore Setter as it is occasionally known, was facing extinction with the onset of WWI, only being saved by the efforts of Reverend Noble Huston and his cousin, Dr. Elliott. Despite many believing in the breed's ancient lineage, the Irish Red and White Setter was only recognised by the American Kennel Club in 2009.
A strong and athletic dog, the Setter is well suited to its various working fulfillments, with straight, muscular limbs, a powerful jaw, a deep chest for enhanced lung capacity and acute senses. The textured coat is feathered and common in parti-colour variations of white and red, usually with marking or flecking. Whilst its natural colouring was originally favoured by hunters as a means to detect the dog in dark, wooded areas, it may have served to camouflage this hunting breed over rustic terrain and wetlands. Lacking the inherent protective instincts necessary of a guard dog, the Irish Red and White Setter is vigilant to change and threat, making for an ideal watch dog about the homestead.
This sporting breed is both energetic and independent-minded, so firm leadership, early socialisation and consistent obedience training is essential from puppyhood. When trained, the Red and White Setter has the potential to be a loyal and affectionate companion, adaptable to new situations and people and responsive to instruction. A great breed choice for active families or the dedicated sole owner, providing its needs for regular human contact and exercise are met. On average, a Setter at full maturity will weigh 25-35 kg, with a life expectancy of 11-15 years when shown the appropriate care.
As with most breeds, hip and elbow dysplasia is a common ailment. The Irish Red and White Setter is also susceptible to the bleeding disorder, von Willebrand's Disease, as well as immune deficiencies and various optical disorders.