The Irish setter’s beginnings were in Ireland where it was first used as a hunting dog. It is thought to be a cross of several dogs, including the English setter, Gordon setter, both land and water spaniels and the pointer. This produced a dog close to the one we have today, except it had shorter legs and a red and white coat.
First used as a hunting dog, the Setter was fast, with a great nose for following scents over all kinds of terrain in all kinds of weather. These abilities made it in great demand.
A breeding program was started in the 19th century to breed these dogs with just red coats. When this was successful, they were used less and less as hunting dogs and were bred more for their beautiful appearance.
Brought to the U.S. around the end of the 19th century, it was called the Irish Red Setter because of its beautiful coat. It soon became very popular in the United States and won many dog shows. But in the 1940’s a disease called Progressive Retinal Atrophy diminished a large number of the Irish Setters. Fortunately the numbers rose again when this disease was able to be bred out of them.
Height: Males 23 to 26 in
Females 21.5 to 24.5 in
Weight: Males 70 lbs
Females 60 lbs
Life Span: 12 to 15 yrs.
By: Linda Eastabrooks
Former AKC Breeder