History of the Breed

There are records of all red dogs in kennels at the end of the 18th century. Most authorities are of the opinion that the all red dogs came from breeding white and red dogs that had increasing amounts of red.

During the 19th century, the red dogs started establishing themselves in ever greater numbers until they eventually became the predominant variety. In the middle of the 19th century, conformation shows were established and the flashy all red Setter took the world by storm. By the late 19th century, it was difficult to find a white and red setter in the show ring, although there are reports of them being shown until WWI in the United States.

WWI brought great hardship to the people of Ireland and their dogs. The number of white and red Setters had declined to nearly zero. Anna Redlich credits Rev. Noble Huston of Ballynahinch, County Down, to saving the line and gradually building up the numbers. With the aid of his cousin, Dr. Elliott, he was able to slowly bring back the breed. Dr. Elliott lived in a house named Eldron, and that prefix is in the names of dogs bred in the 20's and 30's. The Rev. Huston did not keep official pedigrees, but did record his litters in the parish register. Although most of the dogs were kept in Ireland, a single dog was sent to the United States, two to Spain and several to England. There were other breeders in Ireland during this time, but their contribution to the current lines are not recorded.

The next important players in this story are Mr. and Mrs. Will Cuddy. In 1940, Mrs. Maureen Cuddy (nee Clarke) was given a sickly puppy bitch. She nursed the puppy to health and called her puppy Judith Cunningham of Knockalla. It is highly probable that every recorded IR&WS today is descended from this bitch. The Cuddys were instrumental in forming an IR&WS group in Ireland and gaining recognition of the breed. Mrs. Cuddy carried on a lengthy correspondence with the aging Rev. Huston and is responsible for researching and preserving much of the early 20th century history of the breed. In 1944, the Irish Red and White Setter Society was formed in Ireland.

Between the end of WWII and the early 1980's, the Irish slowly built up the numbers of what became officially known as Irish Red and White Setters. The breed spread to England. Both the Irish Kennel Club and the Kennel Club came to recognize the IR&WS as a breed separate from the Irish Setter.

The IR&WS again came to the United States in the 1960's with the import of a few dogs by a couple of individuals. In the 1980's, breeding pairs were imported and the gradual increase in the IR&WS population began. Since that time, several other imports have arrived and an unhurried breeding program has resulted in approximately 500 dogs populating a wide area of the U. S. and Canada.

The American Kennel Club fully recognized the Irish Red and White Setter January 01, 2009. Other U. S. registries, such as the Field Dog Stud Book, recognize the breed. In Canada, the CKC accepted the IR&WS to full recognition in May of 1999. The IRWS is a favorite among international competitors.

The Irish Red and White Setter Association is the AKC Parent Club for Irish Red and White Setters. The IRWSA has structured its' organization to comply with the requirements of the AKC, provide a democratic voice by the membership and promote the IRWS as a family, sporting and conformationally correct dog.