Melton Mowbray Leicestershire breeder has 10 Irish Red and White setter puppies


A dog breeder has offered hope to Britain’s most endangered dog breed with a litter of 10 healthy puppies. 

Irish Red and White Setters used to be the pet dog of choice in the UK, but they have fallen out of favour amid a craze for pugs, cockapoos and labradoodles in recent years. 

In 2019 only 39 new Setter puppies were registered, compared with 35,347 Labradors. They are currently bottom of the Kennel Club’s list of vulnerable breeds, but with Ve Callaghan’s litter, there could be a brighter future in store for the K9s.  

Ms Callaghan, of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, has already found homes for all 10 dogs. 

She is one of the only remaining breeders who deals in Setters and her litter represents a quarter of the puppies born last year.    

Irish Red and White setter breeder Ve Callaghan, of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, has offered hope to the endangered breed with this litter of 10 healthy puppies 

Ms Callaghan, one of the only remaining breeders, has already found homes for all 10 of the Irish Red and White Setters

Ms Callaghan, one of the only remaining breeders, has already found homes for all 10 of the Irish Red and White Setters

The adorable litter of Setters are pictured cuddling up to one another before being given to their new owners

The adorable litter of Setters are pictured cuddling up to one another before being given to their new owners 

Red and White Setter breeder Julian Barney believes there are several reasons why the breed has become so unpopular

Red and White Setter breeder Julian Barney believes there are several reasons why the breed has become so unpopular

Jim Cuddy, chairman of the Red and White Setter Club of Great Britain, said: ‘Having 10 new puppies does help the breed, given as there were only 39 last year.

‘The aim is to sell the puppies to new owners in the hope they will go on to breed from the bitches. Once people have a breed they tend to stick with that breed in the future.

‘The dog industry does suffer from very few young people following in the footsteps of their parents and own a dog as a hobby today.

‘Setters need a good couple of hours of exercise a day. Today everyone has to have a job and don’t necessarily have the time to do that.’

Jim Cuddy, chairman of the Red and White Setter Club of Great Britain, said of Ms Callaghan's litter (pictured): 'Having 10 new puppies does help the breed, given as there were only 39 last year.'

Jim Cuddy, chairman of the Red and White Setter Club of Great Britain, said of Ms Callaghan’s litter (pictured): ‘Having 10 new puppies does help the breed, given as there were only 39 last year.’

These sleepy little Setters are carrying the hopes of the entire breed on their shoulder after just 39 were registered last year

These sleepy little Setters are carrying the hopes of the entire breed on their shoulder after just 39 were registered last year

Red and White Setter breeder Julian Barney believes there are several reasons why the breed has become so unpopular.

He said: ‘I think we have this fashion for smaller designer dogs now and Red and White Setters are are a size that suit a particular environment. They wouldn’t be good in a flat for instance.

‘We also don’t have the number of breeders out there for them right now. The general public also don’t know they actually exist. When I take mine for a walk in our local country park, people ask me what it is because they have never seen one before.

‘But as soon as you say it’s the predecessor to the red setter they say ‘oh, that’s interesting.’ Having a litter of 10 is a good size litter and helps. We want to encourage people to own them.’ 

Irish Red and White Setters (one of 10 puppies pictured) are rarer than Siberian Tigers, Amur Leopard's and Giant Pandas

Another of the puppies is pictured posing for the camera

Irish Red and White Setters (two of 10 puppies pictured) are rarer than Siberian Tigers, Amur Leopards and Giant Pandas

The alarming demise of the Irish breed has seen it plummet to the bottom of the Kennel Club's vulnerable breeds list for 2019

The alarming demise of the Irish breed has seen it plummet to the bottom of the Kennel Club’s vulnerable breeds list for 2019

Play fighting: These pet dogs have already been re-homed as they are getting rarer and rarer by the year in Britain

Play fighting: These pet dogs have already been re-homed as they are getting rarer and rarer by the year in Britain 

The rise and fall of the Irish Red and White Setter 

Irish Red and White setters used to be one of the most popular dogs in Britain.

Their name dates back to Roman times when they would find the location of game birds, set down and then creep forward to disturb them. 

But in recent years they have fallen out of favour, with only 39 newborns registered in the UK last year, down from 51 in 2018.  

Their demise can be traced back to the Victorian times when the fashion for their cousin the Red Setter took over.

The white element of the Red and White Setter was bred out and puppies with more red in their coat were removed and used for breeding.

Despite numerous efforts to revive interest, their popularity has continued to plummet over the past few decades.

Enthusiasts blame competition from designer breeds such as the labradoodle and cockapoo, in addition to the current fashion for pugs, bulldogs and rescue dogs. 

Irish Red and White Setters date back to Roman times when they would find the location of game birds, set down and then creep forward to disturb them.

Their masters would then throw large nets over the birds to snare them.

The nets were replaced with shotguns by the 16th century and the red and white markings on the gundogs helped their owners easily pick them out in the rural landscape to avoid accidentally shooting them.

But their demise can be traced back to the Victorian times when the fashion for their cousin the red setter, which had a rich chestnut coat, took over.

The white element of the Red and White Setter was bred out and puppies with more red in their coat were removed and used for breeding.

Paul Keevil, a founding member of the Kennel Club’s vulnerable breed committee, said: ‘Irish Red and White Setters have been on the list from its inception and have remained on it ever since.

‘Instead of recovering they have been in consistent decline for the last 10 years, although this is the first time they have been at the bottom. It is a very bleak future for them, it’s not good.

‘Other breeds on the list have a large international population to fall back on, For example, bloodhounds aren’t popular in Britain but they are still massive in America and Scandinavian countries.

‘What they need is not just more of them but they need more breeders, younger breeders. People who can take on the breed for the future.

‘People also need to see what fabulous dogs they are. They are really quite wonderful dogs to look at and are very graceful the way they move.’

Irish Red and White Setters (10 puppies pictured) date back to Roman times when they would find the location of game birds, set down and then creep forward to disturb them

Irish Red and White Setters (10 puppies pictured) date back to Roman times when they would find the location of game birds, set down and then creep forward to disturb them

Breeder Ve Callaghan is pictured with the pups' mother 'Corranroo Coco At Laoirebay' (pet name Tamzin) at Crufts

Breeder Ve Callaghan is pictured with the pups’ mother ‘Corranroo Coco At Laoirebay’ (pet name Tamzin) at Crufts

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