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Irish Red & White Setter

Group: Gundogs (Group 3)
Club: Victorian Gundog Club Inc (Group 3)
Contact: Rachel Greaves
Phone: 03 5368 7211

Brief History

The Irish Red and White Setter is believed to be the oldest of the two Irish Setter Breeds. His origins go back to the 16th Century and old prints of this time often feature a red and white setter not unlike those seen today. When his fellow countryman, the Irish or RED setter, started to appear in litters (often with white feet and a white blaze on the chest), they quickly became popular, so much so that the IRWS almost died out. After the Second World War there were as few as twenty of this breed registered in the UK. It is currently the most endangered dog breed in the United Kingdom.

Average Life Span

When considering a dog, please realise that you are taking it on for its lifetime.

The average life span is 12 to15 years.


The Irish Red and White Setter is described as “happy, good natured and affectionate.” A streak of stubbornness and a mischievous sense of humour is also apparent.

General Breed Description

This is a strong, powerful dog, with an athletic build. High spirited and highly intelligent, they are generally willing to please. They are good workers in the field, in obedience, or any other canine endeavour. However, they do need to be occupied as a bored dog will quickly become a naughty dog. Not a breed for the faint hearted, they need constant training from a very young age, without which they will train you! They can be stubborn, mischievous, and totally loving and, when well trained, make wonderful, loyal and devoted companions. They are white in colour, with solid red patches, which are clear islands of colour. Flecking (like freckles) around the muzzle, feet and forelegs and rear pasterns is often present. The white is a lustrous, pearl white, not a stark, flat white and the red is that of a freshly opened chestnut, tending towards neither orange nor liver. 

Coat and Care Requirements

Irish Red and White Setters do moult, and regular brushing is necessary during this time. They do not have masses of coat or feathering as seen on the other setter breeds, as they are still very much a working breed. Bathing is only occasionally required as necessary.


There is no specific size or weight standard for an Irish Red and White Setter. However, they are shorter and heavier than their cousin the Irish Setter.


All breeds have individual health issues. When speaking to breeders it is recommended you enquire about the breed’s health and what health testing the breeder does. The Irish Red and White Setter is generally a healthy breed however health conditions do occur occasionally. These may include Hip Dysplasia (HD) Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD) and Post Polar Cataracts (PPC)


Irish Red and White Setters make wonderful, loyal companions. As they are a gundog bred to work with other dogs, they do get on with other dogs. They are also great with cats if brought up together. Irish Red and White Setters do need socialising when puppies, as they can be shy when young.

Irish Red and White Setters need exercise and owners must be able to access areas where dogs can run freely. They must be taught to come to recall at an early age.

In Conclusion

Now you know a little more about this breed. If you have decided this is the dog for you and wish to investigate further, please contact the Breed Club or Dogs Victoria. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog events where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the breed and its needs. With any breed of dog, it is important to research and determine suitability for your lifestyle before committing to a puppy which will be a part of your family for many years to come.

Whilst many breeds are recommended for families, it is imperative that when children are with dogs they are supervised at all times. Basic obedience training is a vital part of dog ownership.

Dogs Victoria is about the responsible ownership of all dogs and in particular the preservation of pure breeds.

Link to ANKC Breed Standard:

Registered Breeders

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