Irish Red and White Setters are a distinct breed from the standard Irish Setter. These medium-large dogs have silky, flat hair that comes in white with solid red patches. Longer feathering is present on a good amount of the body. The breed's eyes are dark brown or dark hazel and round, and their eyes are close to the head. Irish Red and White Setters have a square muzzle. These dogs range in size from 22.5 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 50 to 75 pounds.
These dogs need at least one long walk or run every day, plus an occasional hike, romp in the yard, or visit to the dog park for some running and socializing.
This breed is one of the best companion animals for families. Irish Red and Whites are highly intelligent and devoted, good natured, and very gentle, making them a perfect choice for families with children and other pets. However, they are an energetic breed and need plenty of physical activity to remain healthy and happy.
Irish Red and White Setters are often confused with Irish Setters, Gordon Setters, or English Setters, but all of these breeds are different and have their own official standards.
The Irish Red and White Setter is a kind, friendly, and determined breed that makes a great family companion. These dogs are very affectionate and enthusiastic, which may make them dangerous around small children. This, of course, is only due to their size and energy level. If raised with cats, Irish Red and Whites can become great friends with their feline housemates; if not raised together, they score considerably lower on the cat-friendliness scale.
Red and Whites have high exercise needs. They are ideally suited to active families who like to run, ride, or engage in other physical activities. These dogs need at least one long walk or run every day, plus an occasional hike, romp in the yard, or visit to the dog park for some running and socializing. They also enjoy obedience, agility, and rally trials. Red and Whites also make excellent therapy dogs.
Without a daily outlet for excess energy, Irish Red and Whites may become unhappy, frustrated, and destructive. If allowed outside unsupervised, these dogs must be contained in a securely fenced yard for their safety and for the safety of neighborhood animals.
A generally healthy breed, Irish Red and White Setters are not known to suffer from a great number of genetic health problems. However, one disorder, called Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency, or CLAD, is known to affect the breed. This immune disorder affects the ability of the white blood cells in the body to fight infection. Various infections begin early in life, and the disease in inevitably fatal.
Other conditions known to affect Red and Whites include congenital hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and certain eye conditions, such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts. Regular veterinary well visits can minimize delays in diagnosis, which in turn can improve treatment options and prognosis.
With routine veterinary care, proper nutrition, regular exercise, and timely canine vaccinations, Irish Red and White Setters can remain active throughout their long lifespan of 11 to 15 years.
Irish Red and White Setters are very intelligent, but they are headstrong and slow to mature. These traits can make training slow and difficult. It's important not to be too harsh during training, or the process may end up dimming the breed's courage, spirit, and determination.
Positive reinforcement techniques, such as those involving praise, play, and food rewards, generally provide the most success when it comes to training Red and Whites. However, depending on the breed's mood, stubborn resistance may make training very difficult. When this occurs, it's best to postpone training.
Training should begin early in life and continue for several years. The Red and White does not mature until after three or four years of age. Socialization helps improve the tolerance and general demeanor of this breed. For best results, the Red and White should be exposed to a variety of sights, sounds, smells, and people starting very early in life.
Red and Whites need minimal grooming, and trimming should be kept to a minimum to maintain the breed's natural appearance. The coat should be brushed a few times each week to prevent or remove tangles and mats. Shedding is minimal to moderate, depending on climate and other factors.
Bathing every six weeks or so will keep the coat clean and fresh smelling. Extra brushing and bathing may be necessary if the Irish Red and White Setter has become dirty in the field or has rolled around in something sticky or harmful. A gentle canine shampoo can manage the coat without drying the skin.
The ears should be checked weekly for redness, odor, discharge, pain, or other signs of infection, and any excess wax should be removed with a veterinarian-approved otic cleanser. The teeth need brushing daily to keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay, and the nails require trimming every few weeks to prevent snags and breaks.
Irish Setters are known to date back to the 17th century in Ireland, and Red and Whites are believed to be the oldest of the Irish Setter breeds. However, because the solid red setter was considerably more popular than the Red and White, the Irish Red and White Setter nearly became extinct around the end of the 19th century. Efforts were made to revive the breed, and by the 1940s, the numbers had increased in Ireland.
The dogs made their way to other countries, including Spain and England, and their numbers continued to increase. In 1944, Maureen and Will Cuddy formed the Irish Red and White Setter Society in Ireland. This gained recognition for the breed and helped secure its future.
A few Red and Whites made their way to the United States during the 1960s, and a few more followed in the 1980s. From this point, the breed's popularity in America surged and the dogs became increasingly popular as companion animals.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Irish Red and White Setter in 2009.