The ancestry of the Irish Setter dates back to the early 1700s in Ireland. While its origin is subject of debate, a few speculate that the breed is likely to be descended from a combination of the Irish Water Spaniel, the Irish Terrier, the Springer Spaniel and Pointers, also some of the other two Setters blood thrown in the mix such as the English Setter and the Gordon Setter.
It was bred to be a field hunting dog in Ireland, specifically as a pointer to locate birds with its strong scenting skill. However, the Irish Setter’s earliest ancestors were initially coloured red and white. In the 19th century, its solid red colouring attracted more enthusiasts since red is easier to spot during a hunt. Add in the influence of the stunning Champion Palmerston, a lithe, red-mahogany dog that pushed the influence of all-red dogs in 1862. Thus, began the red Irish Setter taking precedence as an ideal colour for further breeding until today.
Over the years, the breed gained fame more due to its physical beauty, as well as its easy-going and happy disposition. In the mid-1900s, the Irish Setter was highly sought after as a show dog than as a hunting dog. Today, it is a favourite family companion, and sometimes a hunting dog. The breed has one time been the inspiration for Walt Disney movie and the books about "Big Red" in 1962.