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Can anyone help with origins of the setter...... I have read 2 conflicting stories, one of which states that they are from spanish spaniels imported to Ireland in the 15th century and the other that they are derivatives of Pointers imported from Spain in the 15th century.... so which is it... Spaniel or Pointer?

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This is from :


The origin of the Irish Setter dates back to the early 1700s in Ireland. By the early 1800s, the breed was firmly established not only in its homeland but throughout the British Isles. While its precise ancestry is the subject of debate, some speculate that the Irish Setter descends from crosses of Irish Water Spaniels and Irish Terriers. According to other experts, it is more likely that the breed’s progenitors were English Setters crossed with Irish Water Spaniels, Springer Spaniels and Pointers, with some Gordon Setter blood thrown into the mix.

The solid red setter first appeared in Ireland in the 19th century. Its earliest ancestors primarily were red and white. The breed was developed to locate birds with its keen sense of smell and, once the prey was discovered, to hold its position (instead of chasing the birds) to avoid entering the line of fire. The first Irish Setters were imported to America in the 1800s to work as gundogs on game, particularly ruffed grouse, quail, prairie chickens, woodcock, partridge, pheasant, wild duck and teal. A legendary setter named Elcho, imported from Ireland to the United States in 1875, was one of the first of his breed to be a phenomenal success in both the show ring and the field. However, most sportsmen did not continue breeding and refining the Irish Setter for public field trial competitions. The Llewellin Setter and the Pointer eventually cornered the market in that sport, although the Irish Setter remains a competent hunting companion and high-class shooting dog, pointer and retriever in its own right.

you see.... now thats yet another theory to add to the mix!!!
this is from SSIRWS website

The Irish Red and White Setter is an ancient, native breed of Ireland, with many theories concerning the Breed’s origins. Today’s dogs can be traced back to the Spanish Pointer, and paintings have been found resembling the Breed from the 14th Century, where they were classed as ‘spaniels’a term used at that time for many sporting dogs.

And this is from the IRWSCGB...

It seems likely that the Irish Setter at some point in its history can be traced back to a Spaniel, possibly brought to Ireland from either Spain or Brittany about the time of the death of Charles I when the sport of hawking seems to have lost popularity, but as to an exact date at which these Spaniels gave way to the Setter or as to how this came about it seems impossible to positively establish.

Now I wonder where do Pointers come from? I suppose they all go back to the wolf...eventually.

I have a friend with a German Long-haired Pointer who uses it for retrieving game. She gets quite ratty when anyone calls it 'some sort of weird Irish Setter'. Which they often do.

Your poor friend Jean being asked if her dog is a" weird setter"!
I have absolutely no idea about any ancestry but am so happy that the Irish setter is here with us today :0)

German Longhaired Pointer is carrying irish setter blood....;-)))) for sure.

IS are the oldest an purest of all gundog breeds. Way older than pointers, who are a mix of totally different breeds. It is said that the Landspaniel is behind the first IS and he was brought to Ireland in the medieval time. Crossing europe and leaving traits in France, Netherlands and Westgermany, to be found in Brittany Spaniels etc.

Very interesting topic and I would recommend the Gilbert Leighton-Boyce book "Survey on early setters"




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