Red Setter Championships

The Irish Red Setter Club was established in 1882 to promote the breed and drafted the breed standard which was issued the 1886. The Club has organised field trials and shows to set the Standard for the Breed since that time.

The Irish Red Setter Club ran the second edition of the European Championship for Irish Red Setters in conjunction with the International Irish Red Setter Club. The trials were run on snipe on the blanket bogs in East Galway, hosted by the Mountbellew & Moylough Gun Club on the 14th  to 17th of October 2019. Blessed by good weather and a bountiful supply of snipe the Championship was another great success. Just under 50 Irish setters from France, the UK and Ireland competed as well as people from Switzerland and Greece. The events were licenced by the Irish Kennel Club and run under Federation Cynologique International Rules for pointing breeds.

The Judging panel was drawn from senior national and international sources. The Irish judges included Jim Sheridan, the Chairman of the IKC Field Trials Committee, Patrick McCarthy, Michael Heuston, Aidan Dunne, all A Panel Judge together with Jean Pierre Gott , President of Honour of the French Irish Setter Club and Rene Bloch an international field trial judge from Switzerland. The Solo trials were judged by IRSC Club stalwarts Kristin Jameson and John Mullins.

There was a very positive atmosphere at the event and the judges commented on how the competitors competed in a very sporting manner. As a showcase of the capabilities of the Irish Red Setter, this was a great event. The wonderful grounds and the game supply permitted the breed to display its capacity as the best breed on snipe. This was very evident as can be seen by the number of dogs in the awards and the high number of excellent classifications awarded by the judges.  Mr J P Gotti stated in his summation and that one of the trails he judged was the best field trial he ever saw, from the point of view of the beauty of the trial grounds, the game present and most importantly the quality of the dogs he judged. A total of nine dogs were classified in that trial, seven of which were given an excellent award. Praise indeed from an international judge with vast experience.

The European Champion on Snipe 2019 is  Phillipe Guittard’s IRSB Jessie de l’Anse de Ty Roux handled by J F Meret and the Vice Champion is Pat Reape’s IRSD Ballinahemmy Mike. The Championship is judged over two days and rewards dogs that are placed in both days with accumulated points thus acknowledging the consistent performers at the events.

The event was sponsored again by Connolly’s RED MILLS and Devonish Nutrition, permitting the invitation of an international and national panel of judges, social events and bespoke prizes for all the winners. One of the owners of RED MILLS, Bill Connolly, also competed successfully with his team of Irish setters as evidenced in the list of winners below.

The Championship was followed by the IKC Derby hosted by the Irish Red Setter Club and the Club’s autumn Open stake. Both stakes were held in Co Galway and concluded the week -long festival of field trials in this beautiful county.

This Championship is held every second year in Ireland, however the International Irish Red Setter Club and the Irish Red Setter Club will host the first ever European Championship for Irish Setters on Grouse next July in the Scottish borders by kind permission of the Duke of Buccleuch. We look forward with great anticipation to this event.

That standard is the description of working dog, the physical specification of an athletic, enduring working dog. In Ireland Irish setters were developed to hunt game-birds on the mountains, bogs, farmland and forests of the country and up to World War II were almost exclusively the only breed used for that purpose. 

In 1998 the Irish Red Setter Club published the Working Style for the Breed. The Standard and Working Style together describes the physical form and working ability of the Breed.

The Irish Red Setter is a hardy, healthy, intelligent dog, possessed of excellent working ability and great stamina. The breed enjoys great success at field trials in the Ireland and the UK and is probably the most consistent of the classical pointing breeds at present. The reasons for this are they are easy to train and have a strong hunting desire and are very natural around game. As a shooting dog the same reasons resonate; the breed is noted for its willingness to please the owner and in the shooting field their ease in finding and handling all game is widely appreciated. They have great ability in producing game, as they flush birds freely and make wonderful markers and retrievers when encouraged to do so. Across Europe the breed is less popular than the Pointers and English setters but in recent years it has won some of the most prestigious competitions open to them.

Working Standard

As Irish Setters were originally bred as partridge and grouse dogs, their style of hunting these birds may be taken as the norm.

In their quest there must be an intensity that gives purpose to the hunt for game. The concentration on the job at hand should be evident in every stride and movement. The co-operation with the handler is part of that concentration and should not interfere with the quest for game.

In the gallop the head is carried above the line of the back, the line of the muzzle always parallel to the ground. The gallop is fast, flowing, free of obvious effort. The line of the back remains as close to horizontal as possible, due to the harmonious interaction of front and back legs. As the body of the Irish Setter is close to being square, the galloping dog appears relatively high over the ground.

The tail is carried in the line of the back, tending downwards and should not be above the back line. Some tail action is acceptable, but the more serious hunters use their tails little, except for balance on their turns.

On finding game Irish Setters shorten, taking a few tight casts in the cone of the scent before drawing forward to set. From once they wind game to the set, some tail action is seen. The body lowers at the back and stays high at the shoulder and head as they sift the wind for the exact location of their birds. The ears are expressive, being well up and forward on the head as they approach game.

Standing or crouched setting are normal attitudes. The set is intense and rigid, full of energy and concentration, crouched in bare ground or on a surprise point and as a fixed extension of its form in drawing game where the vegetation is relatively high, the placement of the feet controlling and balancing the tense and immobile body. The head is held well up, eyes fierce, ears high, forward and expressive, the tail rigid, bristling with the passion of the find, arched under the line of the back or in its line.

The attitude in roading must be very intense and concentrated. The head remains well up in the air to control the film of scent, muzzle parallel to the ground, the shoulder blades exposed over the line of the back and the tail carried rigidly, arched towards the earth. Any tendency towards stickiness is a grave fault.

Irish Setters are fast, wide rangers. They use the ground with intelligence and precision, breaking their casts as the check the wind for the faintest taint of game. Should it be unfounded they resume their cast with urgency. The depth between the casts should be moderately open, depending on the conditions of the day.

The International Irish Red Setter Club is a Club of the breed Clubs around the world and has played an important role for Irish Setter owners and breeders organising European Championships for the breed on wild partridges in France (March), a practical hunting Championships in Italy (September) and ac Championship on Snipe in Ireland (October). These events are run by the breed clubs in the host country and are great occasions for the breed enthusiasts to meet, get to know one another and see the best of the breed.

Just like any working dog, Red Setters rely on good nutrition to maintain the work rate needed for training and competing. Engage working dog food balances the right amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals to support increased stamina, healthy joints and supreme condition. To find out more visit or for pallet orders contact Chris Redpath on 07714786779.

One thought on “Red Setter Championships

  1. It has been a greit pleasure to read such a complete and right conment about a shooting breed like an Irish red setter: I am an owner of five english setters,I use them for shooting woodcoks in the Baske Country, but I am thinking in an Irish red setter to train it for Field trials and compete with him over Scotland on summer as I spend July and August over there every year. But I need a good puppy perhaps from Ireland? If the postponed European championship for red setters on grouse was to be held in Scotland in 2020 is going to be in 2021 I would like to watch it very much.


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