Beautiful and graceful, Irish setters have a silky, feathered coat that is deep chestnut or red in color. Their regal looks have made them popular in the hunting field, show ring and homes of people since the early 1700s.
Developed, according to the AKC, by crossing Irish water spaniel, Irish terrier, English setter, spaniel, pointer, and Gordon setter, and then selectively bred for their hallmark coloring, Irish setters were used for hunting of game birds. Their popularity in the field boomed in the 19th Century, which made them popular in the conformation ring, too. By 1948, the breed had come to dominate the conformation ring, but had slipped in status in the field.
The dramatic split led to not only two lines of Irish setters, but to the creation of the red setter, which was the result of outcrossing some of the remaining working Irish setter lines to red and white field champion English setters. The inclusion of fresh field-line blood has invigorated and resurrected the hunting prowess of the beautiful dog – albeit with much controversy.
Show-bred dogs range between 60 and 70 pounds and stand approximately 27 inches tall, while field-bred red setters tend to be smaller ...