About The Breed

The Irish Setter is one of the most elegant of the Gundog Breeds. He is affectionate and intelligent and usually gets on well with other animals. Don’t expect your setter to be a guard dog , he is alert and intuitive but he really should not be aggressive.

Setters love to be with you as part of the family and are willing to learn but often , at their pace!

FEEDING AND EXERCISE

Setters are energetic and need plenty of exercise. They love to free run and so early recall training is a must.

Slow maturing, from puppy to around 2 years care must be taken with the diet to ensure a balanced , appropriate diet for a growing , large breed dog.

Don’t be tempted to over do the exercise with young dogs, their enthusiasm will keep them going long after they are truly tired.

Daily grooming is essential to check for knots in that lovely coat as well as checking for awns or seeds that might be trapped between their toes. Early socialisation is a good idea for any puppy and Setters just love to meet people!

Copyright Laura Kolbach

HISTORY

One of the first references to the ‘Setter,’ or setting dog, in literature can be found in Caius’s De Canibus Britannicus, which was published in 1570 (with a revised version published in 1576). Translated from the original Latin, the text reads:

The Doge called the Setter, in Latine, Index: Another sort of Doges be there, serviceable for fowling, making no noise either with foote or with tongue, whiles they follow the game. They attend diligently upon their Master and frame their condition to such beckes, motions and gestures, as it shall please him to exhibite and make, either going forward, drawing backeward, inclinding to the right hand, or yealding toward the left. When he hath founde the byrde, he keepeth sure and fast silence, he stayeth his steppes and will proceede no further, and weth a close, covert watching eye, layeth his belly to the grounde and so creepth forward like a worme. When he approaches neere to the place where the byrde is, he layes him downe, and with a marcke of his pawes, betrayeth the place of the byrdes last abode, whereby it is supposed that this kind of doge is calles in Index, Setter, being in deede a name most consonant and agreeable to his quality.”

It would be incorrect to assume the dog described above in any way resembles the Irish Setter (or any Setter) as we know the breed today. Caius was referring to a type of setting spaniel, most likely now extinct. The description of the work undertaken by this early pillar of the breed resembles the working behaviour of modern Irish Setters. Of this early dog, Caius went on to write: “The most part of theyre skinnes are white, and if they are marcked with any spottes, they are commonly red, and somewhat great therewithall.” If this is the case, it is safe to assume the solid red colouring of today’s Irish Setter came about by selective breeding practices.

Further reference to Setters in early literature can be found in The Country Farme by Surflet and Markham, published in 1616. They wrote: “There is also another sort of land spannyels which are called Setters.”

It is clear that, by the early 18th Century, the type of dog known as the ‘Setter’ had come into its own right. It is also clear the Irish had begun actively breeding their own type. For example, the de Freyne family of French Park began keeping detailed stud records in 1793. Other prominent landed Irish gentry also known to have been breeding setter lines at the same time include Lord Clancarty, Lord Dillon, and the Marquis of Waterford.

It was noted as early as 1845 that Setters in Ireland were predominantly either red, or, according to Youatt,”…very red, or red and white, or lemon coloured, or white patched with deep chestnut.” Clearly, the preference for a solidly-coloured dog was having an effect on the appearance of the typical Irish-bred setter.

The Breed Standard for the modern Irish Setter was first drawn up by the Irish Red Setter Club in Dublin and approved on 29 March 1886. It consisted of a 100-point scale, with a given number of points awarded for each of the dog’s physical attributes. The points system was later dropped; however, aside from some minor changes, the Standard remains largely unchanged today in most countries where the breed is formally recognised.

Copyright Laura Kolbach

Irish Setter Breed Standard

As issued by the Kennel Club and reproduced with their kind permission.©The Kennel Club

A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Kennel Club website for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure.However if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as undesirable or highly undesirable it is strongly recommended that it should not be rewarded in the show ring.

General Appearance
Must be racy, balanced and full of quality. In conformation, proportionate.

Characteristics
Most handsome, and refined in looks, tremendously active with untiring readiness to range and hunt under any conditions.

Temperament
Demonstrably affectionate.

Head and Skull
Head long and lean, not narrow or snipy, not coarse at the ears. Skull oval (from ear to ear) having plenty of brain room and well-defined occipital protuberance. From occiput to stop and from stop to tip of nose to be parallel and of equal length, brows raised showing stop. Muzzle moderately deep, fairly square at end. Jaws of nearly equal length, flews not pendulous, nostrils wide. Colour of nose dark mahogany, dark walnut or black.

Eyes
Dark hazel to dark brown, not too large, preferably like an unshelled almond in shape, set level (not obliquely), under brows showing kind, intelligent expression.

Ears
Of moderate size, fine in texture, set on low, well back and hanging in a neat fold close to head.

Mouth
Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

Neck
Moderately long, very muscular but not too thick, slightly arched and free from all tendency to throatiness, setting cleanly without a break of topline into shoulders.

Forequarters
Shoulders fine at points, deep and sloping well back. Forelegs straight and sinewy having plenty of bone, with elbows free, well let down and not inclined either in or out.

Body
Chest as deep as possible, rather narrow in front. Ribs well sprung leaving plenty of lung room and carried well back to muscular loin, slightly arched. Firm straight topline gently sloping downwards from withers.

Hindquarters
Wide and powerful. Hindlegs from hip to hock long and muscular, from hock to heel short and strong. Stifle and hock joints well bent and not inclined either in or out.

Feet
Small, very firm; toes strong, close together and arched.

Tail
Of moderate length proportionate to size of body, set on just below the level of the back, strong at root tapering to a fine point and carried as nearly as possible on a level with or below the back.

Gait/Movement
Free flowing, driving movement with true action when viewed from front or rear, and in profile, showing perfect co-ordination.

Coat
On head, front of legs and tips of ears, short and fine; on all other parts of body and legs of moderate length, flat and as free as possible from curl or wave. Feathers on upper portion of ears long and silky; on back of fore- and hindlegs long and fine. Fair amount of hair on belly, forming a nice fringe which may extend on to chest and throat. Feet well feathered between toes. Tail to have fringe of moderately long hair decreasing in length as it approaches point. All feathering to be as straight and flat as possible.

Colour
Rich chestnut with no trace of black. White on chest, throat, chin or toes, or small star on forehead or narrow streak or blaze on nose or face not to disqualify.

Faults
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog, and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.

Note:
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.