Irish Red Setter
|Country of origin
|Classification and breed standards
||Group 7 Section 2 #120
||Group 3 (Gundogs)
||Group 1 - Sporting Dogs
||Gun Dog Breeds
|Not recognized by any major kennel club
|This breed of dog is
The Red Setter is a variant of the
Setter or Irish Red Setter. The Red Setter is a pointing
dog used to hunt
upland game. Considerable acrimony exists between the partisans involved in the
debate over this breed.
The Irish Setter was brought to the United States in the early 1800s. It
commanded great respect in the field and was one of the most commonly used dog
among the professional meat hunter fraternity.
In 1874, the American Field put together the
Field Dog Stud Book and registry of dogs in the United States was born. At
that time, dogs could be registered even when bred from sires and dams of
different breeds. At about this time, the Llewellin Setter was bred using blood
lines from the Lavarack breeding of
English Setter and, among other breeds, bloodlines from native Irish
Setters. Around the same time, the red Irish Setter became a favorite in the dog
The Irish Setter of the late 1800s was not just a red dog. The AKC registered
Irish Setters in a myriad of colors. Frank Forester, a 19th-century sports
writer, described the Irish Setter as follows: "The points of the Irish Setter
are more bony, angular, and wiry frame, a longer head, a less silky and
straigher coat that those of the English. His color ought to be a deep
orange-red and white, a common mark is a stripe of white between the eyes and a
white ring around the neck, white stockings, and a white tage to the tail."
The Setter that was completely red, however, was preferred in the show ring
and that is the direction that the breed took. Between 1874 and 1948, the breed
produced 760 conformation
champions, but only five field champions.
In the 1940s,
Field and Stream magazine put into writing what was already a well-known
fact. The Irish Setter was disappearing from the field and an
outcross would be necessary to resurrect the breed as a
dog. Sports Afield chimed in with a similar call for an outcross. Ned
LaGrange of Pennsylvania spent a small fortune purchasing examples of the last
of the working Irish Setters in America and importing dogs from overseas. With
the blessing of the
Field Dog Stud Book, he began an outcross to red and white field champion
English Setters. The National Red Setter Field Trial Club was created to
test the dogs and to encourage breeding toward a dog that would successfully
compete with the white setters. Thus the modern Red Setter was born and the
American Kennel Club refused to recognize the dogs registered by the Field
Dog Stud Book in an unprecedented change. Until this time registration in one
body automatically qualified a dog for registration in the other. To this day,
the policy of reciprocal registration between the AKC and the FDSB remains with
all breeds except the Irish Red Setter.
The modern Red Setter is smaller than his bench-bred cousin. While show dogs
often reach 70 lbs, the working Red Setter is generally around 45 lbs. The coat
is less silky and the feathering is generally shorter. The color is lighter,
with the working dog found in russet and fawn colors. The Red Setter often has
patches of white on his face and chest as the Irish Setter of old did.
The Red Setter is a happy, biddable dog. He is readily trainable and
reportedly learns quickly. Most Red Setters do not retrieve as readily as many
versatile breeds do but can be taught to retrieve to hand. The Red Setter
makes a loving house companion and is reportedly good with children.
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