Yes! There is a FOURTH Setter breed!
The Irish Red and White Setter.
A couple of years ago when an Irish Red and White Setter was in the ring, an exhibitor from Group Five was heard to ask an exhibitor from Group Three what breed it was. When told it was an Irish Red and White Setter he exhibitor stated:- 'Oh, it doesn't look a bit like an Irish Setter.'
The above comment is worth repeating because, of course, the Irish Red and White Setter is a totally SEPARATE breed in its own right. It is NOT an Irish Setter with white on it! Just as the English, Gordon and Irish Setters are distinctive breeds and different from each other so is the Irish Red and White Setter and judges must remember this.
When we look at an Irish Red and White Setter we expect to see a heavier dog than his Irish Setter cousin, his neck will not be as long nor will he be as tall and he won't have as profuse a coat. His base coat colour is pearly white with solid mahogany patches.
The Irish Red and White Setter is closer to his working ancestry than the other setter breeds and indeed is still primarily a working dog. Judges need to be aware of, and appreciate this fact when judging this breed. Judges should not be looking for the long flowing coat, which is seen these
days on many of the show Irish Setters. Instead they should concentrate on type, balance and correct conformation and the beautiful intelligent expression which is a hallmark of this wonderful breed.
The Irish Red and White Setter in Australia
In December of 1987 the first litter of Irish Red and White Setter pups was born in quarantine in Melbourne. Their dam was
Glenkeen Gypsy who had been imported in whelp by Scott and Ira Taylor. The Sire of the litter was
Winnowing Dan Ark bred by Dermot Mooney and owned by Isobel Somerfield.
Unfortunately, at that time, the breed was virtually unknown in Australia and most of the litter ended up going to pet homes. Although the
Taylor's did continue showing their Irish Red and White Setters for a while in Victoria they eventually returned to New Zealand and, after losing their male in a road death, the bitch went to a working home and the
Taylor's did not continue with the breed.
However, two bitches bred by the Taylor's, Nantyderi Kathleen and
Nantyderi Ennis, came into the possession of Barry and Carol Lewis, who were living near the Victorian and New South Wales border. With no male Irish Red and White Setter available in Australia it was patently obvious that one was desperately needed if the breed was to continue. In 1988 Robin MacIntosh of Sydney, New South Wales, imported from the UK the bitch,
Coolfin Rose of Erin and soon after the male Crystalblaze Flamedragon and in 1990 Robin also imported the bitch
Shannonlee Emmy. The two bitches owned by the Lewis' and the two imported bitches of Robin MacIntosh's were all mated to Blaze and the first Australian litters bearing the 'Humeden' prefix of Barry and Carol Lewis and the 'Karnachan' prefix of Robin MacIntosh began to appear.
These two early breeders continued to promote the breed and were joined three years later by Heather Beasley of Melbourne, Victoria. Whilst in the UK Heather ordered a bitch puppy , this puppy
Spyefire Maiden Voyage was purchased by Heather in partnership with the Lewis' and arrived in Melbourne in 1994. This partnership registered the prefix Eirefyre and also purchased a bitch puppy from Christine Thompson of Truestone kennels, New Zealand. This bitch
Autumn Dew of Truestone (IID) was from the imported from UK dam
Autumnwood Golden Showers who had been sent to Christine in whelp to
In 1995 another boost was given to the gene pool when Michael and Robin Ramsay of Sydney, New South Wales imported the male
Spearpoint Scotch Mist.
The next imports to hit our shores were Corranroo Clansman who was imported from the UK in 1999 by Brian Morgan of Northern Queensland and a trio of Truestone pups from New Zealand.
Truestone Kiwi Expat, a male, was imported by Anne Robertson of Canberra, and the brother and sister
Truestone Kiwi Supreme and Truestone Kiwi Export were imported by Ray and Lee Parker of Perth, Western Australia. The Parkers already had a bitch from Robin MacIntosh's breeding and a dog from the first Eirefyre litter. They had already bred two litters of Irish Red and White Setters under their 'Tintookie' prefix. A bitch from one of these litters had gone to Brian Morgan and will eventually be mated to his import
Coorranroo Clansman so this ensures a further generation of Irish Red and White Setters in Australia.
Irish Red and Whites are currently being shown in Queensland, New South Wales, Canberra, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. There is at least one Irish Red and White Setter living in Tasmania (although not shown) so from these early beginnings the breed is now being shown in almost every state or territory. This certainly augurs well for the breed.
In the last few weeks two more imports have arrived. NZ Ch. Ruemadra Royal Consort (Imp UK) and
NZ Ch. Truestone Autumn Aglo (IID) have come to Tintookie Kennels in Western Australia from the Truestone Kennels of Christine Thompson in New Zealand. These will further extend the depth and quality of the gene pool in Australia.
It is interesting to look back on the first thirteen and a half years of this breed's history in Australia. Hopefully, in the hands of a few fervent and dedicated breeders, this ancient and beautiful breed will continue to flourish as both judges and the general public begin to realize, and acknowledge, that 'Yes! There is a fourth setter breed.