Breed Information

Breed Standard

Utilization : Gun dog and family dog
Classification :
Group 7 (Pointing Dogs)
Section 3 (Pointers & Setters of Ireland & UK)

Brief Historical Summary : The Irish Red Setter was developed in Ireland as a working dog for hunting game. The Breed is derived from the Irish Red and White Setter and an unknown solid red coloured dog. It was a clearly identifiable type in the 18th century.
The Irish Red Setter Club was established in 1882 to promote the Breed. The club issued the Breed Standard in 1886, and has organised field trials and shows to set the Standard for the Breed since that time. In 1998 the club published the Working Style for the Breed. The Standard and Working Style together describes the physical form and working ability of the Breed.
The Irish Red Setter is a hardy, healthy, intelligent dog, possessed of excellent working ability and great stamina.

General Appearance : Racy and athletic,full of quality, kindly in expression. Balanced and in proportion.

Behaviour/Temperament : Keen, intelligent, energetic, affectionate and loyal.

Head : Long and lean, and not coarse at the ears. Muzzle and skull of equal length and on parallel lines.

Cranial Region :
Skull : Oval (from ear to ear), having plenty of brain room, and with well defined occipital protuberance. Brows raised.
Stop : Well defined.

Facial Region :
Nose : The colour of the nose is dark mahogany, or dark walnut or black, the nostrils wide.
Muzzle : Moderately deep and fairly square at the end. Flews not pendulous.
Jaws/Teeth : Jaws of nearly equal length, scissors bite.
Eyes : Dark hazel or dark brown, ought not to be too large.
Ears :  Of moderate size, fine in texture, set low and well back; hanging in a neat fold close to the head.

Neck : Moderately long, very muscular, not too thick, slightly arched, no tendency to throatiness.

Body : Proportionate to the size of the dog.
Chest : Deep chest reaching the elbow, rather narrow in front, ribs well sprung, leaving plenty of lung room.
Loins : Muscular and slightly arched.

Tail :  Moderate length, proportionate to the size of the body, set on rather low, strong at root, tapering to a fine point. Carried level with or below the back.

Limbs :

Legs : well muscled and sinewy; strong bone.

Forequarters :
Forelegs : Straight and sinewy, well boned.
Shoulders : Fine at the withers, deep and sloping well back.
Elbows : Free and well let down, not turned in or out.

Hindquarters : 
Hind Legs : Long and muscular from hip to hock, from hock to ground short and strong.
Stifle and Hock Joints : Well bent and not turned in or out.

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

Gait/Movement : Free flowing, driving movement; head held high. Forelegs reaching well ahead but carried low. Hindquarters drive smoothly with great power. Crossing or weaving of legs unacceptable.

Hair : on head, front of legs and tips of ears short and fine; on other parts of body and legs of moderate length, flat, and as free as possible from curl or wave. Feather on upper portion of ears long and silky, on back of fore and hind legs long and fine; fair amount of hair on belly, forming a fringe, which may extend to chest and throat. Feet well feathered between toes. Tail having a fringe of moderately long hair, decreasing in length as it approaches the point. All feathering straight and flat.
Colour : Rich chestnut with no trace of black; white on chest , throat and toes; or small star on forehead or narrow streak or blaze on nose or face not to disqualify.

Size (Height)

Desirable height at withers : 
Males    23 ins. (58 cm) to 26.5 ins. (67 cm)
Females 21.5 ins. (55 cm) to 24.5 ins. (62 cm)

N.B. : Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles, fully descended into the scrotum.
Faults : Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness of the fault should be in exact proportion to its degree.

It is proposed over the next twelve (12) years to standardise the height to a range of 23 ins. (58 cm) to 26.5 ins. (67) for males and 21.5 ins (55 cm) to 24.5 ins. (62 cm) for females.
During this period, setters that are balanced and in proportion, but outside the recommended height ranges should not be penalised.

The following interim targets are set:

2002 : Males 23 ins. to 27ins. Females 20.5 ins. to 25.5.

2003 : Males 23 ins. to 27ins. Females 21 ins. to 25 ins.

Working Style

As Irish Setters were originally bred as partridge and grouse dogs, their style of hunting these birds may be taken as the norm.

In their quest there must be an intensity that gives purpose to the hunt for game. The concentration on the job at hand should be evident in every stride and movement. The co-operation with the handler is part of that concentration and should not interfere with the quest for game.

In the gallop the head is carried above the line of the back, the line of the muzzle always parallel to the ground. The gallop is fast, flowing, free of obvious effort. The line of the back remains as close to horizontal as possible, due to the harmonious interaction of front and back legs. As the body of the Irish Setter is close to being square, the galloping dog appears relatively high over the ground.

The tail is carried in the line of the back, tending downwards and should not be above the back line. Some tail action is acceptable, but the more serious hunters use their tails little, except for balance on their turns.

On finding game Irish Setters shorten, taking a few tight casts in the cone of the scent before drawing forward to set. From once they wind game to the set, some tail action is seen. The body lowers at the back and stays high at the shoulder and head as they sift the wind for the exact location of their birds. The ears are expressive, being well up and forward on the head as they approach game.

Standing or crouched setting are normal attitudes. The set is intense and rigid, full of energy and concentration, crouched in bare ground or on a surprise point and as a fixed extension of its form in drawing game where the vegetation is relatively high, the placement of the feet controlling and balancing the tense and immobile body. The head is held well up, eyes fierce, ears high, forward and expressive, the tail rigid, bristling with the passion of the find, arched under the line of the back or in its line.

The attitude in roading must be very intense and concentrated. The head remains well up in the air to control the film of scent, muzzle parallel to the ground, the shoulder blades exposed over the line of the back and the tail carried rigidly, arched towards the earth. Any tendency towards stickiness is a grave fault.

Irish Setters are fast, wide rangers. They use the ground with intelligence and precision, breaking their casts as the check the wind for the faintest taint of game. Should it be unfounded they resume their cast with urgency. The depth between the casts should be moderately open, depending on the conditions of the day.

Irish Red Setter Kennels

Ardbraccan Kennels :
Trudy Walsh, Ardbraccan,Ferndale Road,Glasnevin, Dublin 11
Tel : +353 1 8341537 email :

Ballydavid Kennels
Hugh Brady, Lios a Phúca, Laragh, Maynooth, Co. Kildare
Tel : + 353 (0) 87 2839979 

Clannrua Kennels :
Carmel Murphy, Coole,Co. Westmeath
Tel : + 353 86 3849419 email :

Cregboy Kennels :
John Mullins, Cregboy, Claregalway, Co. Galway
Tel +353 91 798367

Drumrue Kennels :
Kristin Jameson, Tourin, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford
Tel +353 58 54405

Gardenfield Kennels :
Joe O’Sullivan, Glenmore East, Strand, Co. Limerick
Tel +353 69 85303

Lisduvoge Kennels :
Pat Reape, Knockmore, Ballina, Co. Mayo
Tel +353 86 1651450

Lusca Kennels :
Declan O’Rourke, 2 Main Street, Lusk, Co. Dublin.
Tel +353 1 8437028

Maodhog Kennels :
Aidan Dunne, Loughananna, Kilbehenny, Michelstown, Co. Cork
Tel +353 (0) 87 9787146

Mountbay Kennels :
Anthony Mulhall, Garryhinch, Portarlington, Co. Offaly
Tel: +353 (0) 57 86 23624

Sheantullagh Kennels :
Raymond O’Dwyer, Tourin, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford
Tel +353 58 52188