Indoor with lots of regular exercise or a large yard. Can tolerate outdoor conditions in most climates.
The Red and White Setter is a very distinctive looking dog both for its dramatic and variable red and white coat as well as for its slender yet athletic appearance. The coat, which is immediately recognizable, in long, straight and predominantly white with irregular red patches and markings across the body and face. The face and legs can have some flecking or mottling of the red on the white base color, but roan is not permitted in show Red and White Setters.
The head is very noble looking with gentle, intelligent eyes. The ears are pendulant and hang down to below the lower jaw. The tops of the ears are level with the eyes and the ears are flat to the lead except when the dog is at attention or focused on something of interest. The muzzle is wide and powerful looking and the lips are soft looking as with all gundogs. There is a definite stop between the muzzle and the forehead area. The skull is not round or flat but rather has a domed appearance. The shorter hair of the neck and tops of the ears gradually flows into longer hair framing the face.
The neck of the Red and White Setter is very graceful and slightly arched into a strong and well-balanced set of shoulders. The chest is deep and strong, ideal for running and moving through brush. The hair on the chest and ruff area is slightly longer and may be wavy but never curly. This adds to the depth of the chest. The body is well developed yet athletic looking, with the ribcage full and well developed. There is usually a definite cut-up to the abdomen that is noticed even with the longer furnishings on the belly. The legs are very straight and the dog moves very freely with a beautiful flowing gait enhanced by the movement of the coat. The back legs are very strong with a noticeable bend in the stifle that contributes to the smooth gait. The topline or line of the back from the withers to the hips is sloping downward to the tail.
The tail is carried horizontal to the ground when in action or slightly lower when at rest. The long hair on the tail forms a flag like appearance when held horizontally and the tail is almost constantly in motion when the dog is moving or hunting.
The Red and White Setter is a strong and fast looking dog without appearing lean or bulky. They are very balanced in appearance and have the ability to move effortlessly even when running. They are always watching what is going on in their environment and are keenly aware of where their owners are at all times. They are always willing to go out for walk or just outside for a look around.
The coat is medium length and rather flat, with a base of pearl white or white with solid red patches. The nose and legs can have some mottling and flecking but cannot be roan (red and white evenly mixed). The furnishings are long, thick and straight and the coat can have a slight wave but cannot be curly.
Many people are surprised to find that the Red and White Setter is actually the founding breed of the more popular Irish Setter. Originally the Parti-colored or Red and White Setter was the gundog bred in Ireland for virtually all types of bird hunting. American enthusiasts, favoring the all red coloration, began selectively breeding the white and red coat out of the breed. As the all red Irish Setter became more popular the traditional Red and White Setter became less common until almost extinct. In the 1940's a group of Red and White Setter enthusiasts in Ireland began to rebuild the breed and the Irish Red and White Club was formed in 1944. It was not until 1984 that the Irish Red and White Club of American was formed. The breed continues to be well-loved by its supporters but still not as common as the all red Irish Setter.
As with most of the gun or sporting dogs the Red and White Setter has an amazingly friendly and open personality and temperament. They are a gentle, kind and affectionate dog that is truly an excellent family pet. They are not always a good watchdog and tend to welcome all pets, animals, people and other dogs into the home or yard with a friendly wag of the tail. Some of the breed will naturally bark when strangers arrive and generally they can easily be trained to bark to give notice.
The Red and White Setter is a high-energy dog that loves to run and play as well as get out and work scent tracks and hunts. They are not good apartment dogs as they do need a lot of exercise on a continuous, daily basis. They can be somewhat rambunctious at times and as teen-age dogs often go through a challenging period of independence and over-zealous behavior. They can be prone to jumping up for attention but with firm and consistent training will be wonderfully behaved pets. Clicker training is often used with various types of gundogs but they can also be trained using praise and immediate rewards.
There are two different lines of Red and White Setters, the field line and the show line. Show line Red and White Setters tend to be slightly larger with longer coats and typically a calmer disposition. Field lines that are actively used for hunting will need more exercise and challenges and will also have slightly shorter coats. Both lines are recognized by the various organizations and many purebred dogs are both show and field champions.
The Red and White Setter is highly intelligent and has be bred to work closely with humans. They are considered to be very easy to train and often almost housetrain themselves given proper opportunities to get outdoors when needed. They can also develop bad habits relatively quickly and cannot be allowed to get started in jumping, chewing or ignoring owner commands. They are natural trackers and love to play games of hide and seek where the owner hides and the dog will then track them. This game is easy to teach the dog and provides lots of mental and physical stimulation for the dog. Since the dogs have a very well developed sense of smell they can sometimes be difficult to walk off a leash or lead as they will pick up a scent and track, often running across roads or away from owners in the excitement of the hunt.
The Red and White Setter is good as a housedog and will quickly learn to find a quiet spot to stay while indoors. They prefer to be with people rather then left alone, but do very well with companion dogs or other pets for daytime company. Since they do need exercise they are not recommended for kennels or small, confined spaces for long periods of time.
The Red and White Setter, probably because it has not been indiscriminately bred, has few genetic problems or Health issues. They are prone to Cataracts that form in the back of the eye called Posterior Polar Cataracts but these are not severe and are not typically associated with blindness. hip dysplasia is not often seen in the breed but does occasionally occur. Always ask about any health conditions that may have occurred in the Breeding line and have puppies checked by your vet.
The long and luxurious coat of the Red and White Setter does require regular care to stay in excellent condition. Although the breed is an average shedder the medium length white hair left around on the carpet and furniture often appears to be more than it actually is. The breed does have a heavy twice a years seasonal shed and females may shed more when they are in heat.
To care for the flat, long coat of the Red and White Setter groom every day or every other day with a stiff bristle brush or pin brush. Always groom in the direction of hair growth.
The longer hair or furnishings on the legs, tail and across the stomach area is prone to collecting debris such as small twigs and burrs, so keeping this area combed or brushed is essential. When bringing the dog inside from a walk, especially if they were running free, simply use your fingers to remove any twigs or burrs, preventing any knots or mats from forming. If burrs do become embedded in the furnishings or body hair clip them out with blunt tipped scissors as soon as possible. Typically the breed will not need to be trimmed for any reason providing the grooming routine is maintained.
The Red and White Setter can be bathed as required and will often actually enjoy having a bath. It is very important to avoid using any type of human shampoo or conditioner, only use dog shampoo and products. Human hair products have perfume as well as a different pH level that can lead to skin conditions, rashes and irritation of the eyes and nose.
Exercise is the key to managing and training the Red and White Setter. The very high-strung and active dogs will require a full yard to run in several times a day where more mature, calmer dogs will only need regular walks and a chance to get off leash in a safe environment. The more exercise these dogs get the happier and calmer they will be for both training and just being relaxed in the house.
Since they are a tracking dog they are prone to taking off after interesting scents. They should be exercised on a leash or in a fenced yard. Typically the Red and White Setter loves to play ball and fetch as long as the owner is willing to throw and keep playing. They will romp and play all day with even the most active children and make excellent dogs for families with active lifestyles. A Red and White Setter makes a terrific jogging or hiking companion and is always ready to go for a ride or out to the park, regardless of the weather.
The Red and White Setter is a highly intelligent breed that is very responsive to training at a young age. They do tend to be somewhat independent but with firm, consistent expectations they are fast learners. Red and White Setters will not respond well to negative training or even loud or raised voices and may become rather timid or likely to avoid people if harshly punished even verbally. The Red and White Setter quickly learns what owners want and will also learn quickly what they can get away with. Most people, even if this is a first dog, will have little trouble in working with the Red and White Setter provided they use a consistent, firm and loving training style.
Since the breed is very quick to learn behaviors they do need to be constantly challenged. As a dog used to working with people they need to be mentally challenged. A great way to keep this breed both thinking and learning is to train them in obedience or hunting. Natural scent dogs they are highly effective in hunting trials and obedience events. Many owners also use the Red and White Setter in agility training where their natural enthusiasm and energy is best suited to the test. They are excellent dogs to take to competitions as they are not typically dog-aggressive and are not timid or shy around new people. As with all dogs the more socialization and training they receive throughout their lives the more likely they are to get along well with all types of people and other animals. Occasionally Red and White Setters can be habitual cat chasers so socializing the breed with a cat is important as a puppy if you have cats in the house.
If there is more than one dog in the family it is important to isolate the Red and White Setter during training times. They tend to be highly distractible as puppies but once trained they can attend to the owner with the exclusion of other things in the environment. They can be trained to respond to hand signal or whistles relatively easily.