Irish Red and White Setters

The Irish Red and White Setter, eclipsed by the popularity of his cousin the Irish Setter, was almost lost to extinction, but fortunately hunters recognized his abilities and brought him back from the abyss. He is distinguished, as you may have guessed, by a red and white coat. The Irish Red and White is just as friendly and affectionate as the Irish Setter, but with the same potential for being stubborn. He comes in a more standard size, typically weighing 60 to 70 pounds. Here's what you need to know if you're considering acquiring an Irish Red and White Setter.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

Words frequently used to describe this breed are "tireless" and "enthusiastic." The Irish Red and White Setter loves to run, but given an ample daily quota of exercise, he is a calm and fun-loving companion. He can be a good choice for families with older children, but he's probably too rambunctious to be set loose among toddlers. He also gets along well with other pets such as cats if he's raised with them. Irish Setters are alert and will loudly and excitedly announce that someone is approaching the house.

Choose an Irish Setter if you are an active person who can give him the exercise he needs. A long walk or run of an hour or so will do, or you can take him hiking or run him alongside your bicycle, safely leashed, of course. He's also a super competitor in dog sports such as agility, obedience and rally and can be an excellent therapy dog. Be warned: if you don't give him an outlet for his energy, he will become frustrated, and a frustrated Irish Red and White Setter is a destructive Irish Red and White Setter.

The Irish Red and White Setter responds well to patient, gentle training with positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise and food rewards. That said, he does like to have his own way and may stubbornly resist you if what you're asking doesn't seem like much fun. For best results, begin training early, keep it interesting and don't assume you can stop after a single obedience class. This breed is slow to mature, so he will be playful and puppy-like until he's 3 or 4 years old.

The Irish Red and White Setter has a medium-length particolor coat of deep chestnut red patches on a white background. Brush and comb the coat two or three times a week to prevent or remove mats and tangles. A bath every six weeks or so doesn't go amiss. In addition, trim the nails as needed, brush the teeth, and keep the ears clean and dry to prevent infections.

Last but not least, it should go without saying that a people-loving dog like the Irish Red and White Setter needs to live in the house. It's an unhappy Irish Red and White who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.

Health Issues Common to Irish Red and White Setters

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.

Irish Red and White Setters have some health conditions that can be a concern, especially if you aren't cautious about whom you buy from. They include hip dysplasia, eye problems such as cataracts, autoimmune thyroiditis, von Willebrand's disease and an immune disorder called Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD). A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy's parents have hip and thyroid clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, a DNA test for CLAD showing whether the dog is normal, a carrier or affected, and a clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Medium $1,500-$6,000
Cataracts Medium $1,500-$5,000

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Irish Red and White Setter Puppy

Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. To find a list of breeders, visit the website of the Irish Red and White Setter Association.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Irish Red and White Setters aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Irish Red and White Setters can live 12 to 14 years, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.

Puppy or adult, take your Irish Red and White Setter to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Irish Red and White Setters

Pet insurance for Irish Red and White Setters costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Irish Red and White Setters are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Irish Red and White Setters are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Irish Red and White Setter is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.