JaneDogs Exploring the Wonderful World of Dogs

Setters and Pointers

Gordon Irish and English Setters

The magnificent Pointer with its unique head is as legendary in this category as the Setter breeds pictured here. Originally popular with huntsmen called 'fowlers' who captured birds by throwing a net over them, once the gun was invented these dogs later became popular with shooters. Despite their original use becoming almost redundant, most Setters and Pointers retain the instinct for finding birds.

How the Pointer and Setters Worked

The historical use of Setters was first described in 1485 AD. Through the next six centuries the way these dogs worked firstly by training and then instinctively, has not changed. The dog(s) began by searching for birds around the edges of the field. This helped to burn off the dog's initial exuberance. It also assisted the dogs to establish their bearings and familiarize themselves with the type of smells they would be required to seek. The dogs would then systematically work back and forth, starting near the huntsman and gradually working further and further afield until the bird or game was found. When two dogs worked as a team, one worked close to the huntsman while the other went further afield. If either dog found the game, the other dog assisted. The correct manner in which the dog assisted was to be aware of where the huntsmen and the other dog were positioned. They also responded should the huntsmen send them towards an area such as undergrowth beside a river.

Once game was detected, the dog froze, either pointing or crouching. If other dogs were present, they also froze, "honouring" the first dog's point. The pointing or setting dog remained motionless until the huntsman was in position. The huntsman might also give a command instructing the dog to remain still. In times gone by, the dogs had to 'freeze' while a net was thrown over the bird(s). But once guns came into use, the bird was shot.

Many modern Setters and Pointers still retain this instinct to spot birds and 'freeze', despite never having been used for their original purpose. It is recorded that the very first dog show held in Newcastle upon Tyne in England in 1859 was exclusively for Setters and Pointers. So historically, these breeds are very important, their good looks retaining popularity for almost two centuries.  


Irish and Irish Red and White Setters

The Irish Red and White Setter is historically an older breed than the Irish Setter. Some people believe the Irish Red and White Setter originated from 'setting spaniels', the white patches within his coat making him stand out against the brownish red bracken that covers the Irish hills in autumn and winter.  This was an advantage for huntsmen of the 17th and 18th Centuries. The Irish Setter is a much more modern breed, his popularity arising with the advent of... »» Read more...