Description & History

The Irish or Red Setter has probably evolved from the red Irish Spaniel. Cross-breeding in the early part of the eighteenth century with red and white, liver and white and black Pointers also Irish Water Spaniels gradually developed the breed. Much later in the nineteenth century strains from the Gordon Setter were added to created the Irish Setter as we know it today.

Originally the breed was used for netting partridge and quail and also for hawking; the dogs used for this purpose were called sitting spaniels. With the introduction of the sporting gun, requiring new methods of training, certain spaniels gradually evolved to become the Irish Setter of today.

The Irish Setter is an independent-minded dog but, if trained with patience and understanding, it is a first class gundog which is respected worldwide by sportsmen as an excellent worker with stamina and ability.

The task of the Irish Setter is to seek and point game birds. It will do this by quartering the ground well in advance of the guns. On finding game, the dog will hold on point until the gun commands the dog to move in and flush the birds; the dog must then drop to the ground out of line of the guns.

Irish Setters are used for other work besides that of a gundog. It was one of the first breeds to be used by the Search and Rescue Association in the United Kingdom to help locate missing people. Also,in New Zealand they are used with success as guide dogs for the blind.

The breed which is popular in Great Britain and the United States is a successful show dog and field trial competitor. The breed has been recognised in the British Isles since 1873.

An energetic dog which is best suited to rural surroundings where it can be given plenty of exercise and freedom.

Rosamund Walters.

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