Meet the Breed: Erin Go Braugh
After centuries in the shadow of the Irish Setter, the Emerald Isle's best-kept secret, the Irish Red and White Setter, comes into its own.
Ireland gave us shamrocks, leprechauns, Riverdance, St. Patrick's Day and the Blarney Stone, as well as many beautiful dog breeds. According to its devotees, the most beautiful breed of all is the Irish Red and White Setter.
Breeder Debbie Cournoyer of West Kingston, R.I., loves the breed's pearlescent white coat, with red patches, that "just shines in the sunlight." Despite its current popularity (it's ranked 80 out of 164 breeds according to American Kennel Club 2009 registration statistics), this athletic and aristocratic setter was in danger of extinction just a few decades ago.
Setters in history
Hunting dogs were known in Ireland since the time of the Romans. Later, Crusaders returning from continental Europe brought home sporting dogs that were often referred to as spaniels. The term "setter" appeared in 16th-century literature with illustrations of a dog lying and pointing at a bird on the ground while a hunter stands close by holding a net.
Hunting with a net requires the dog to find the bird by scent and then freeze to point on it, far enough away so the hunter can throw the net over the bird (usually grouse or quail) without also snaring the dog. The name "setter" evolved from "setting spaniel" and describes the dog's distinctive stance, a crouch or "set" as the dog hones in on the bird.
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