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The dog breed Irish Setter was developed in Ireland in the 1700s from the Old Spanish Pointer, setting spaniels, and early Scottish setters.
Early Irish Setters were white with red blotches on their coats, but today the Setter's coat is a rich mahogany color. The Irish Red and White Setter is more closely related to those early Setters.
The Irish Setter's name in Gaelic is Madra rua or "red dog". Originally, the Irish Setter was bred for hunting, specifically for setting or pointing upland gamebirds. They are similar to other members of the setter family such as the English Setter and Gordon Setter. Irish Setters are extremely swift, with an excellent sense of smell and are hardy over any terrain and in any climate. The Irish Setter is used for all types of hunting. It even works well on wetlands.
Today, the Irish Setter is more commonly found as a companion and family pet.
The modern Irish Setter dog is smaller than his bench-bred cousin. While show dogs often reach 70 lb, the working Irish Setter is generally around 45 lb. The coat is less silky and the feathering is generally shorter. The color is lighter, with the working dog found in russet and fawn colors. The Irish Setterr often has patches of white on his face and chest as the Irish Setter of old did.
The Irish Setter is a happy, biddable dog. He is readily trainable and reportedly learns quickly. Most Irish Setter do not retrieve as readily as many of the versatile breeds do but can be taught to retrieve to hand. The Irish Setter makes a loving house companion and is reportedly good with children.