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The OutCross Program

The Irish Red & White Setter is one of Ireland’s nine native breeds, all of which are working dogs.  Since the recognition of the Irish Red & White Setter as a separate breed the population has grown considerably, however, numbers are still small internationally in real terms with a relatively high level of inbreeding particularly when looked at over ten generations. The majority of Irish Red and White Setters are primarily owned and bred as show or companion dogs. There are a relatively small number of working lines and these are largely related. 

The outcross programme is important in increasing the genetic diversity of the breed and preventing the emergence of further health and genetic problems resulting from inbreeding. It is better to act in a timely manner in preventing a problem rather than wait until the situation is more critical.

 There is an increasing interest in the Irish Red and White Setter as a working dog, particularly in countries with a strong culture of using pointing breeds. The lack of unrelated working lines and high inbreeding coefficients have been well flagged as major concerns.

The Irish Red & White Setter is first and foremost a working dog, and an important part of our natural and sporting heritage.

The Irish Kennel Club has primary responsibility for the well being health and future of it’s native breeds and takes seriously its responsibility in securing the future of the Irish Red & White Setter in keeping with its proud heritage.

It is the expectation of the Irish Kennel Club and also of the Irish Red & White Setter Club that only a small number of breeders nationally and internationally will participate.

The programme is sensibly open-ended, not with the objective of stringing the programme out ad infinitum, but to ascertain degree of interest, uptake, outcome, success of outcrosses, and to allow time to determine when and if the objectives of the programme have been achieved.

We are fortunate in having a gene pool in the working Irish Red Setter that is genetically very close to the Irish Red & White Setter.  Indeed it was this shared ancestry that enabled the revival of the Irish Red & White Setter.

The Irish Kennel Club and the Outcross committee will monitor the programme on an ongoing basis, engaging genetic expertise as necessary, and we look forward to the cooperation of other National Kennel Clubs and interested breeders.


Rules & Regulations of the International Outcross Programme

It is envisaged that any Irish Red Setter and Irish Red & White Setter from an FCI affiliated country or a National Kennel Club with whom the Irish Kennel Club have a reciprocal agreement could be used in this programme.  This is an international outcross programme sanctioned by the Irish Kennel Club and will be run with the cooperation of The Irish Red & White Setter Club, Irish Red Setter Clubs, The Irish Kennel Club and other National Kennel Clubs. 

  • All Irish Red Setters and Irish Red & White Setters, which are to be included in the Outcross Programme, must be approved by the Outcross Committee.

  • All Irish Red Setters included in this programme must have the appropriate health certificates with regard to Canine Leucocyte Adhesion Deficiency, Hip Dysplasia, and a general health certificate including details of height at the shoulder. In addition a minimum of two side profile photograph’s must be included

  • All Irish Red and White Setters require the same documentation and certificates and in addition a certificate confirming Von Willebrands free.

  • All testing  for Von Willebrands disease, CLAD and Hip Dysplasia,  to be carried out by a recognised veterinarian.

  • The details of all dog pedigrees, health certificates and all other relevant documents must be presented to the IKC committee four months prior to any mating.  Any deviation on this matter must have the approval of the committee.

  • The Irish Red & White Setter Club is aware that some ‘Irish Red Setters FDSB’ were imported from America and were mated with Irish Red Setters in Europe.  This American Red Setter breeding is not recognised by the American Kennel Club as Irish Red Setters or by the Irish Kennel Club and the Irish Red Setter Club is totally opposed to having dogs with such breeding being introduced to the Irish Red Setter gene pool.  We are aware that these dogs were crossed with English setters in the past. Under no circumstances can any dog with such pedigrees be used in any part of the Outcross Programme

  • Dogs participating in the Outcross Programme must be micro-chipped for identification.  It is also proposed that any resulting pups may be DNA tested at the request of the Outcross Committee.  This would have to be part of any signed agreement entered into by all participants in the Outcross Programme.

  • All outcross pups are to be clearly identified on their registration certificates for the first three generations, with (X1) (X2) (X3) appearing after the registration number.

  • First generation outcrosses (X1), which do not have correct phenotype, may not be exhibited at shows but may be entered in confined breed field trials.

  • All outcross offspring with correct phenotype once registered, may be exhibited at shows and trials and will enjoy the same rights and status as all other registered dogs.

  • Second generation pups with incorrect phenotype will be registered, but endorsed ‘not to be bred from’. In the event that any exception to the breeding restriction needs to be made, the outcross committee will adjudicate on same.

  • Red & White Setter offspring that appear in a litter from two Irish Red Setter parents may have applications made to be registered as 1st generation outcross(X1), subject to all other criteria being met.

  • All applications should be sent to Karen Murphy,  Secretary-Irish Kennel Club, Fottrell House, Greenmount Office Park, Harolds Cross Bridge, Dublin 6W.

Note to breeders:

  • In selecting stock for inclusion in the programme, you should endeavour to source pedigree’s that will contribute unrelated genetic material, but importantly look beyond that, and give careful consideration to the characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of both dogs in the proposed mating, including temperament, conformation working ability etc.

  • Underpinning your approach in selecting dogs, both Red and Red & White, should be the understanding that the Irish Red & White setter is a working dog and as such should be bred to ‘demanding performance standards’.


This is an important opportunity to address the problems of a restricted gene pool and secure the future of the Irish Red & White Setter.  The commitment time and effort that will be required of breeders to make a success of this programme is considerable, and much appreciated.

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