This rambunctious breed is equal parts ace hunting partner and jolly companion. Irish Red and White Setters draw attention with their luxurious white coats with patches of rich red. They have soulful, heart-melting expressions, and merry temperaments. Irish R&W Setters are exceptionally sociable—you've got an attentive, kind, lifelong friend when you bring home this breed. Though they are smart and learn quickly, they require diligent training because their attention is easily hijacked by birds and other interesting sights.
Irish Red and White Setters were once known as Rossmore Setters. Today, the breed is often shortened to Irish R&W Setter or IRWS.
Irish Red and White Setters have a beautiful, medium-length coat, with silky feathering on the back of the legs, as well as on the ears and tail. The hair on the head and face is short. The coat color is predominantly white, with solid, clearly delineated patches of deep red. There may be red flecks on the face and lower legs.
Average Height: 22.5-26 inches
Average Weight: 35-60 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The IRWS is strong of body and sharp of mind, traits which make them top-notch hunting partners. The breed is well-muscled through the neck, chest, and hindquarters. In the field, this aristocratic canine moves with grace and power. The round eyes of the Irish Red and White Setter are dark brown or dark hazel, and his face has a gentle, kindly expression.
Irish Red and White Setters pre-date their more popular cousin, the Irish Setter. Since the 1600s, Irish R&W Setters were hunting companions prized for their exceptional scenting and 'setting'—when dogs crouch and freeze to let hunters know the location of their prey. But the IRWS almost disappeared when breeding programs favored dogs with a deep, solid red coat. These dogs would become the popular Irish Setter, while interest in the Irish Red and White Setter waned. The IRWS was saved by a few committed breeders who kept the breed's line alive. Eventually, the Irish R&W Setter gained niche popularity among people who appreciated the dog's rich history, sweet temperament, and crackerjack hunting skills. The American Kennel Club recognized the Irish Red and White Setter in 2009.
AKC Breed Category
Irish Red and White Setters are rambunctious and good-humored. They have a courageous spirit and are game to set out on any adventure, as long as it's by your side. These spirited, active dogs require room to roam and owners willing to keep them busy.
Are Irish Red and White Setters Good with Kids? This breed is loving and playful with kids. But because Irish R&W Setters are rambunctious playmates, they aren't ideal companions for toddlers and small kids.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Irish Red and White Setters Good with Other Pets? Irish Red and White Setters are tail-wagging playmates for other dogs. They may accept cats with whom they're raised as part of the family, but their prey drive makes them unsuitable companions for small animals.
A naturally welcoming breed, Irish Red and White Setters are not the protective sort.
Are Irish Red and White Setters Good Guard Dogs? While the alert IRWS may bark when friends and strangers approach your home, they are just as likely to skip sounding the alarm.
Irish Red and White Setters are known for their high energy levels and zest for life, which they sustain well into their senior years.
- Require frequent play, exercise, and attention
- Strong willed
- Will become nuisance barkers if not kept busy
- Best suited to experienced dog owners
Irish Red and White Setters are prone to developing nuisance barking if left alone too long; they are happiest and calmest when they live indoors with their families. Because of their high exercise needs, the IRWS isn't well suited to apartment living. Even with plenty of exercise, they are likely to have excess energy at home, so keep the breakables above dog level and keep them busy. As moderate shedders, fur cleanup is manageable.
Like most setters, Irish Red and Whites should spend the bulk of the day outdoors. This breed benefits from having a large yard or expansive property. Always keep a watchful eye on your setter because he will run off after birds when unsupervised.
A healthy, adult Irish Red and White Setter requires from two to three hours of physical activity and training each day. They excel in most dog sports and agility training, as well as in field training.
Irish Red and White Setters have the stamina for several long daily play sessions and walks.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Healthy, adult Irish Red and White Setters can run with you for four to five miles. A daily run is an excellent way to burn off the breed's excess energy.
- Hiking Miles: Irish Red and White Setters are joyful, peaceful hiking buddies, with enough energy for full-day hikes.
The dietary needs of Irish Red and White Setters vary based upon their activity levels. An IRWS who hunts most days of the week will have different diet requirements than one who goes for a few long walks per day. Talk with your veterinarian about the best type and quantity of food for your Irish Red and White Setter.
Leaving your Irish Red and White Setter alone brings out the worst in this otherwise congenial dog. When left alone for even short amounts of time, the IRWS will resort to nuisance barking and destructive chewing to alleviate boredom. You can steal away an hour with crate training, but it's preferable to have a family member with the breed throughout the day.
Health and Grooming
Irish Red and White Setters require a weekly brushing and monthly bath to keep their coat clean and healthy. Give their ears a weekly wash with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt buildup that can cause infections. Brush your Irish Red & White Setter's teeth several times a week, and trim his nails every month or so to prevent painful cracking.
Common Health Issues
Irish Red and White Setters are a generally healthy breed, but may develop some breed-specific health conditions, including:
- Hip dysplasia
- Von Willebrand's disease
- Posterior cataracts
You can minimize serious health concerns in your Irish Red and White Setter by purchasing your dog from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Irish Red and White Setters are eager to please, with a streak of strong-willed determination best managed with a consistent and patient approach to training. The gentle IRWS responds to an abundance of positive reinforcement, such as praise and treats.
Enroll your Irish Red and White Setter in dog sports and advanced obedience training to ensure he gets enough activity and mental stimulation. The IRWS is an eager participant in agility, flyball, and rally training.
Sporting Dog Training
With patient training, the IRWS makes an exceptional and versatile bird dog.
No. The Irish Red and White Setter's luxurious coat sheds throughout the year and, as a result, distributes pet dander through your home. Dander is the primary cause of pet related allergies.
Many Irish Red and White Setters love swimming. In their work as gun dogs, they are usually game to retrieve waterfowl. Always watch your dog closely in or near the water.