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The Irish Setter

The Irish Setter is glamorous, enthusiastic and loving, he is also intelligent and biddable but you have to be in possession of a sense of humour if you are to get the best out of Sotar Rua (literally Red Setter in Irish).



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 Dogge called the Setter, in Latine, Index: Another sort of Dogges 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 dogge 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.


The Irish Setter began to divide into two types, the working setter is smaller, lighter and has less coat than the show type which is heavier boned with far more feathering. The temperaments differ in as much as the working setter is more active and often requires more in the way of tasks and work to do but both types are generally responsive and affectionate.


















We have both types through Rescue and will always try to match new owner to dog but please remember , "It is not what the dog can do for you, it is what you can do for the dog"

The English Setter

The English Setter is one of the oldest breeds of gundog, with a history that goes back to the 14th century. It was developed over hundreds of years from the spaniel and was originally called a Setting Spaniel. They would be worked on moorland, ranging out freely in front of the hunter, quartering the ground and looking for birds. When located, they would crouch (or set) and remain motionless facing the birds, often lifting a paw to indicate the position of the quarry. The hunters would  lay nets so that on a given command, the dogs would move forward and drive the birds into the nets. Use of the net continued until the late 18th century, but as use of the gun replaced the net, the term Setting Spaniel was replaced by that of Setter.  

Laverack Setters
The modern English Setter owes its appearance to Mr Edward Laverack (1800-1877) who developed his own strain of the breed by careful inbreeding and selective line-breeding during the 19th century. The modern show-type of English Setter is frequently referred to as the Laverack-type. He was the author of the book entitled The Setter, published in 1872. This was considered to be the definitive book on the breed and was the basis for the creation of the English Setter Standard.

Llewellin Setters
Mr Richard Purcell Llewellin (1840-1925), based his strain upon Laverack's and concentrated on developing his ideal of the working setter by breeding a number of other strains with his own. The modern-day working setter is frequently referred to as the Llewellin-type.

We have both types through Rescue and will always try to match new owner to dog but please remember , "It is not what the dog can do for you, it is what you can do for the dog"

The Gordon Setter

The Black and Tan Setter is the heavyweight Hunter of the Setter family. Generally confident and willing they came from the same pot the other "setters" came from but  Alexander, the 4th Duke of Gordon (1743–1827), established his kennel of Black and Tan Setters at Gordon Castle, which was situated near Fochabers, not far from the River Spey and a few miles from the coast of Moray and it is due to his interest that the Gordons became distinctive.

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