From "Irish Dogs" May 1978

Judith Cunningham of Knockalla

Although there are many who believe that the Irish Red and White Setters are the original breed of Irish Setters, and therefore the ancestors of the Irish Red Setters, it is without doubt, a fact that they both have existed side by side for a very long time. Certainly they have co-existed for more than two centuries, and each one, in their own right, are very fine dogs indeed.

In a short article, and with the very brief time at our disposal, it is impossible to give a comprehensive history of the Irish Red and White setter (which is incidentally the official name of the breed with the Irish Kennel Club) and readers of this article would find much to interest them in "The Dogs Of Ireland" so ably researched and written by Mrs Anna Redlich

For a description of these dogs, one cannot do better than quote from the description of the Rossmore strain given by Lord Rossmore in 1944, and which is basically the standard being used in the revival of the breed today.

Quoting from two letters sent to the writers of this article, Lord Rossmore describes them as follows "Red and Whites, which for a long period were known as Rossmore Setters ----- The Rossmore Setter had the distinction that the red consisted only of a large clearly defined splash or blotch rather than specks –There was not gradual shading of the two colours.

"The red was always of the purest and deepest of reds, and the white very white.

"They were heavier dogs than the Irish Setter today and well feathered.

"The colour of the red and white setter is most important. White should predominate and form the background or major colour. The red should only appear in large blotches. The boundary between red and white should be clearly defined. Although the boundary may be irregular, there should be no gradual blending of colour between red and white. The head should carry a red blotch, but the muzzle should be white. The ears should be red. There should be no specks on the body, but freckles on the nose and feet are allowed. The tail may be all white, but if marked with a red blotch is improved. They were easily trained, and to a keen sportsman quite the most pleasurable and keen dogs to shoot over and have as a friend that any man could wish"

An article on the Irish Red and White Setter could not be written without mention of the Rev. Noble Huston who saved the breed after World War 1 when it was on the verge of extinction. We were privileged to have his friendship, to have access to his notes and pedigrees, and to receive the help and advice which he always gave so cheerfully and without stint

In Mr Huston’s description (incidentally his dogs were from the Rossmore Setters) he states "The nose must not be greyhound in type, the ears shorter and not so far back as in the Red Setter. The colour is the colour of a freshly open chestnut, and pure not creamy white. Red and White must be divided clearly and no shading off. A red blotch in the centre of the forehead is common and desirable"

In the present revival of the breed the following conditions apply, namely:--

That the existing Irish Red Setter could be used for crossing to an existing Red and White Setter, provided that the resultant offspring, regardless of colour, would not be eligible for registration as Irish Red Setters, and any of the progeny of such animals would, likewise, be ineligible for registration as Irish Red Setters

That the English Setter must not be used in the revival of the Irish Red and White Setter.

That the existing unregistered Irish Red and White Setters must be subject to inspection and approval, as suitable foundation stock on which to rebuild the breed

That any specimen of the Red and White Setter breed intended for registration with the Irish Kennel Club must be certified as fit specimens of the breed by two of the following panel of Experts, namely Dr P.Mulligan of Monaghan, Dr B.Deeny of Strabane, Miss Patricia Kelly of Maynooth, Mrs Cuddy of Midleton, Mr T.Wall of Midleton, and Mr John Nash of Pallasgreen

That of the existing Red and White specimens only dogs with white being the substantial colour will be considered as suitable foundation stock"

An uptodate standard of the breed is at this time being drawn up, and should be shortly available….

It is possible, although very rare – that from time to time – properly marked Red and White puppies can occur in litters of whole Red Setters. Such puppies would be valuable for breeding purposes to the breeders of Red and Whites. So if any reader finds such a puppy, please keep it for us.

It is hoped shortly to revive the Irish Red and White setter Society, which has been dormant for some time, and we should be glad if owners of these dogs would contact us, either through Mr and Mrs W.L.Cuddy, Knockalla, Midleton, Co Cork, or through the Secretary of the Irish Red and White Society when it is reformed

Exile of Knockalla