The Red Setter is a pointing breed that was originally imported from Ireland, the earliest dogs coming to the US in the early part of the 19th Century. Originally used as a companion gundog, by the early 20th Century the breed had lost much of its hunting instinct as the show fancy held most of the gene pool. The Red Setter, as it is known today, is a product of an aggressive restoration effort that began in the early 1950s by a group of avid hunters who received permission from the Field Dog Stud Book, the oldest registry in the United States, to restore the breed as a quality shooting dog and hunting companion. Dubbed “The Purest Challenge,” the National Red Setter Field Trial Club was founded and exists to this day as the driver of the restoration of the Red Setter as a working dog.
The Red Setter is an athletic and powerful bird dog, with a high prey drive toward game birds, natural retrieving ability, and high intelligence. They are exceptional hunting partners as well as faithful and loyal home companions. The dogs are registered as Irish setters with FDSB, AKC, and FCI. Unlike the show or bench dogs, the Red Setter is a smaller, more athletic looking dog, with less feathering, a powerful and expansive chest, and a weight of around 40 to 50 lbs. In some bloodlines a significant amount of white may be present; the predominant color will be some shade of mahogany or brownish-red. In the competitive field trial circuit, the Red Setter, while considered a minority breed, is very competitive in both FDSB and AKC trials, and is quite capable of competing against the Pointer and English Setter in the top venue horse-back field trials. They are exceptional hunting companions, with outstanding endurance, staunchness and intensity on point, easy going temperament, and excellent bidability. As a breed they tend to show high style, with most bloodlines exhibiting outstanding gait, as well as the American preference towards pointing with a high head and high tail. They tend to adjust well to terrain, and a Red Setter can be a horse-back field trial competitor one weekend, and foot hunting grouse the next. They make excellent house companions, as they have a great temperament with people, and are easily trained for the home environment.
— Deb Staudt Fazenbaker