The most ancient of the three Setter breeds descended from the Old Spanish Pointer, setting spaniels and ancient Scottish setters. According to some sources the Bloodhound and Pointer also played a part. Some back-breeding to Gordon Setters and/or English Setters probably also occured at a later stage.
The early Irish Setter was red-and-white in color, but gradually evolved to solid red. However, for many years there were three types of Setters in Ireland: the Northern type was solid red, the type found in the south and west was white and red and the one found in along the northwest coast was sprinkled with white spots on red (also known as "shower of hail"). However, by the end of the 1800s solid red became the dominant color for Irish Setters.
The long, straight, silky coat should be free as possible from curl or wave and mahogany or rich chestnut red in color with no black. Some white on chest, throat, toes, or a small star on forehead or narrow streak or blaze on nose or face are allowed. Specimens that are evenly flecked all over are preferred over those with heavy patches of colors.
Photo: Richard Paul
The red-and-white variety was recognized as a separate breed after the Second World War.
Irish Setters make excellent watch dogs, and if the situation demands it, also guard dogs. They are excellent companion dogs for families with children, but can be too boisterous for little ones.
(Red Spaniel, Red Dog, "Modder Rhu")
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