Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Irish Red and White Setter Breed Info, Pictures & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Irish Red and White Setter Breed

Height: 22-26 inches
Weight: 50-70 pounds
Lifespan: 10 to 14 years
Colors: White base with red patches
Suitable for: Families, singles, hunting companion
Temperament: Energetic, loyal, devoted, playful, affectionate, athletic

The Irish Red and White Setter is the lesser-known cousin of the Irish Setter and is a fairly rare breed that was once on the brink of extinction. They are primarily used for hunting, with plenty of energy and stamina that makes them a popular choice as hunting companions. These are beautiful dogs, with long, silky, feathered locks that make them stand out from other breeds, along with distinctive red and white markings. These markings play a pivotal role in making them easy to find out in the field.

They are friendly and affectionate dogs that make just as loyal and loving family dogs as they do hunting animals. They may need dedication to train, but in the end, they are obedient and devoted animals that love to please their owners.

These dogs originated in Ireland in the early 1700s, far ahead of their Irish Setter cousins. They were bred for fowl hunting and would lock onto the scent and slowly approach their prey with phenomenal restraint and patience. This earned them a valued place among hunters, as they were known for hunting for their owners and not instinctually for themselves.

If the Red and White Irish Setter sounds like the dog for you, read on for more information about this dedicated and loyal breed.

divider 10Irish Red and White Setter Puppies

sleepy Irish Red and White Setter puppy
Photo Credit: FogDogStudios, Shutterstock

Irish Red and White Setters require a great deal of exercise to stay happy and healthy, and they have almost unmatched stamina. They are devoted and affectionate dogs that make perfect additions to families and will give children a run for their money with their high energy. They can be a challenge to train, though, and are more ideally suited to owners with experience.

They are a vulnerable and rare breed, and puppies can be difficult, if not impossible, to find. The puppies are incredibly adorable, so be prepared to bring one home and energetic and athletic dog if you’re set on having an Irish Red and White Setter.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Irish Red and White Setters

1. They almost went extinct

Despite the early origins of these dogs — dating as far back as the early 1700s — the breed almost went extinct in the late 19th century. This was mostly because of the rise of the more commonly known Irish Red Setter that quickly rose to prominence. Only a handful of breeders managed to keep the breed alive, and around 1970, a revival of the breed began in earnest. It took decades, but the breed was finally recognized by the American Kennel Club in January 2009.

Still, these dogs are rare, and the breed is still vulnerable, with fewer annual registrations with the AKC than any other breed.

2. Irish Red and White Setters mature slowly

Setters are far slower to mature than other breeds, and their physical growth usually outpaces their growth mentally and emotionally, resulting in large, fully-grown dogs with puppy-like energy and temperament. This means they will require more attention and dedication in training and may take longer to obey basic commands.

3. Multiple U.S. Presidents owned Irish Setters

Irish Setters have been the dog of choice for at least three U.S. Presidents: Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon, who had arguably the most famous Irish Setter named King Timahoe.

The Governor of Maine from 1921-25, Percival Proctor Baxter, had the most beloved Irish Setter among elected officials. It is said that his Setter, Garry II, was so popular that kids would wait along his route to the State House just to pet Garry. He also had his own couch in the Governor’s office.

Irish Red And White Setter portrait in field Outdoor_Natalia Fedosova_shutterstock
Photo Credit: Natalia Fedosova, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Irish Red and White Setter 🧠

Irish Red and White Setters are some of the most devoted and loving breeds of dogs and make great family pets. Make no mistake — these dogs will keep you busy! They are full of energy and stamina with batteries that seem to never run flat. These dogs are devoted to their family and do not like being left at home alone for long periods. If they are not exercised sufficiently, they will often resort to destructive behavior, with your shoes and furniture being the first victims.

Although these dogs are curious and love to follow new and exciting scents, they are loyal animals that with the right training, will never stray too far from their owners. They make great watchdogs, as they are alert and reliable, but they are not the best guard dogs because they don’t have many protective or aggressive qualities.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Irish Red and White Setters are ideal family dogs for active families, provided that they are socialized early and trained well. That said, they are easily excited and may be too boisterous for young children, as they can knock kids over unintentionally.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

These dogs are friendly and curious animals and will get along great with other dogs if they have grown up with them. Cats are a different story, though. Irish Setters have a known tumultuous history with cats and may cause your feline friend untold grief. That said, if they are trained properly and socialized to cats early on, they will likely be fine.

Divider 4Things to Know When Owning an Irish Red and White Setter

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Setters are energetic dogs that require a steady stream of nutrient-rich foods that can keep up with their fast metabolism. Good-quality dry kibble is great, and we recommend around 2-3 cups a day, split into two meals. Ideally, this should be supplemented with quality lean meats and canned food to provide variety.

Dogs are naturally omnivorous, so their diet should consist of both meats and vegetables. They will use both protein and carbohydrates for energy synthesis and can thrive on a wide variety of diets. That said, dogs with this level of energy will not do well eating exclusively dry kibble every day, and they’ll love the variety of wet food or home-made meals on occasion.

The most important ingredient in a healthy diet for these dogs is protein, and this should make up between 30% and 60% of their daily intake. Protein is essential to give them the energy they need and help them build and maintain essential muscle mass, and they’ll need around 15% of their daily intake to be fat. This keeps their coat and skin healthy and provides additional energy.

Lastly, processed human foods should be strictly avoided, including sugar, wheat, corn, and dairy. Table scraps should also be avoided (no matter how convincing their eyes can be!), as this can cause them to lose interest in their own food and become overweight.

Fresh, clean water should be available to them at all times.

Irish red and white setter near to trophies_Glenkar_shutterstock
Image Credit: Glenkar, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

As you may have guessed by now, Setters need a ton of exercise. These are not the type of dogs that are content to lounge on the sofa for most of the day. They will require long, off-leash walks in open spaces where they can run around freely. We recommend at least two hours of vigorous exercise every day, ideally, split into two sessions.

In addition to high-energy walks and running, these dogs will love mentally-stimulating games, like fetch, that will challenge and stimulate their hunting instincts and hopefully keep these instincts at bay (your cat will appreciate this too!). We recommend varied exercise and exposing your Setter to different sights, smells, and sounds. They will love regular hikes, swims, and visits to parks with other dogs. All these activities will keep your Setter well stimulated and out of mischief.

Training 🦮

Irish Red and White Setters can be somewhat challenging to train, as they mature slowly and are distracted easily. That said, with dedication and commitment, they can become obedient and well-behaved dogs because they are highly intelligent and eager to please.

One of the real keys to good training is early socialization. This helps keep your Setter from getting distracted by other animals. Leash training is also essential to get into early on, as these energetic dogs have a surprising amount of strength and can be a handful on a leash. We recommend that you begin training from the moment that they arrive home, and start leash training indoors. Once they are accustomed to the leash and no longer tug on it while walking, they are ready for long walks outdoors.

Grooming ✂️

Irish Red and White Setters have long silky fur that will require regular brushing and grooming. If you start with a regular grooming regime early on, they will learn to love the process. They have wispy hair on the feet and ears that should be regularly trimmed to avoid matting. Their coat is not extremely thick and is not heavily prone to knotting, but brushing will help get rid of any excess dead hair caused by shedding. These dogs look best when their coat is left more natural-looking, with their wispy feathered legs and tails, so trimming of the hair is not usually required, besides the feet and ears.

Irish red and white setter dog standing in the field_L Nagy_shutterstock
Image Credit: L. Nagy, Shutterstock

They will need the occasional rinsing after a muddy walk, but bathing them with soap should be kept to a minimum. Soap can disrupt the natural oils on their coats and cause skin issues and make their coat dry and coarse. Their silky coat sheds dirt easily, and a rinse with clean water is all that’s needed most of the time.

Apart from that, the rest is basic maintenance. Give their nails a clipping every couple of weeks if needed, and a good tooth brushing to prevent any dental disease.

Health and Conditions ❤️

These dogs are generally a healthy breed but have several common health concerns to be aware of:

  • Von Willebrand’s Disease. This is a disease of the blood, which stops your dog’s blood from clotting over a fresh wound. This can be a huge issue, as your dog could potentially bleed to death from even small wounds. There is, unfortunately, no cure for this disease, but it can be managed.
  • Canine Leucocyte Adhesion Deficiency. This disorder will result in your dog’s immune system being unable to fight off infection. The dogs will not grow properly and continuously pick up infections. Thankfully, this disease is exceedingly rare today, as the Kennel Club will only register dogs that are proven to be clear of it.
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia. A common issue among active dogs, this disorder is the abnormal formation of the hip or elbow joints, causing pain and inflammation. This is found primarily in working gundogs, though, so gentle but rigorous exercise will go a long way in the prevention of symptoms. A good diet and weight management will also help tremendously.
  • This disorder can linger for years before showing symptoms, which makes it difficult to diagnose. It is easily treatable with the correct medication.
  • Posterior Polar Cataract. This is fairly common among Setters but thankfully, rarely progresses to a serious level. A cataract forms on the back of the lens of the dog’s eye and usually affects their vision to a limited extent. In rare cases, the cataract can progress to affect the entire lens.

Another notable condition among Setters is bloat, which is largely mitigated by a good diet, allergies, and eye issues. Setters may commonly suffer from the above conditions but are by no means limited to these disorders. In general, however, you’ll be happy to know that they are a healthy breed that usually lives long, happy lives, thanks to good breeding practices.

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Skin infections
  • Food allergies
  • Skin allergies
Serious Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Keratitis
  • Brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome
  • Proptosis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Patella luxation
  • Progressive retinal atrophy

Divider 5Male vs. Female

While there are notable differences between males and females, spaying females and neutering males will mitigate most of these. This simple procedure will also go a long way in making for a calmer, gentler, happier dog. That said, there are generalizations between the two to be aware of.

Males are usually less moody and more emotionally stable than females. They are consequently more dependable and reliable as working dogs. Males tend to be more aggressive and assertive than females, although aggression is a rare trait among Setters in general. Females are usually more independent and will show affection only on their own terms.

Every dog is a unique individual, whether male or female, but there are a couple of important aspects to consider when deciding on sex.

  • Females are generally smaller and lighter than males, so they may be easier to handle for inexperienced dog owners.
  • Other pets. If you have other dogs in your house already, this will greatly affect your decision. Males may fight with other males and females with other females. If the dog you already have is at all aggressive or possessive, we highly recommend getting a Setter of the opposite sex.

Divider 3Final Thoughts

The Irish Red and White Setter is an energetic and active breed that is sure to keep you busy. These dogs require a ton of exercise and are an ideal choice for active owners who love to be outdoors. Loyalty and devotion are words that are synonymous with this breed, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a dog more dedicated to their owners. While this is a great trait in training, these dogs are known to mature slowly, so you’ll need a good dose of patience during training. They are gentle animals who make great companions for children but can be a bit too overbearing for small kids.

If you are an outdoor or hunting enthusiast and want a loyal, hardworking, obedient, and unique pooch, the Irish Red and White Setter may just be the ideal breed for you.

Featured Image Credit: Glenkar, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database