Why a Golden Irish?
We breed for the intelligence and beauty of the Irish Setter and the loving, loyal temperament of the Golden Retriever. So far, we have had great success. Opening up the gene pool gives hybrid vigor, and a beautiful loving companion. See our Facebook to connect with our Golden Irish comunity.
The Golden Irish is a hybrid between a Golden Retriever and an Irish Setter. Interestingly the cross is quite similar to early golden retrievers as seen in this 1930 painting. The Golden Retriever has been bred for lighter colors in recent years because this is favored by the AKC. Our Golden Irish puppies tend to be darkly colored.
How'd we start?
15 years ago we were breeding Golden Retrievers and Irish Setters separately till Ginger, one of the cleverest Golden Retrievers I've ever known, found a way to Red, a stalwart Irish Setter. We found the puppies were far less prone to allergies, were much calmer than most Irish Setters, and were more athletic than most Golden Retrievers. We knew these dogs would be a hit, and they have been.
Why we Continue
The Golden Irish was not merely something stumbled on by accident. The original accident was precipitated by a years long love of both the Golden Retriever and the Irish Setter. My first experience of the Irish Setter was reading Jim Kjelgaard’s Big Red. I was fascinated with the grace and freedom that contrasted the Irish Setter from more conventional setters in the story. Jim Kjelgaard didn’t try to pretend the Irish Setter was more obedient than the Springer Spaniel. He, rather, romanticized the hunt as a thing natural to the dog and foreign to the dogs human companion. Big Red knew what he was doing when he hunted. He didn’t need to be an extension of a long leash. Big Red was the master hunter and Danny was his mere apprentice.
Irish Setters are strong willed. They are intensely loving and loyal but they do not have the level of automatic obedience seen in some breeds. They are majestic animals who do require some work during training to reach their potential. Unfortunately, because as the world has urbanized, the required space for an Irish Setter to shine has become rare, and this magnificent breed has seen declining popularity. Irish Setters are creatures of the open fields and the ubiquity of automobiles has ensured open fields are rare. We are fortunate to live in an area of the country still rural enough to allow the Irish Setter to run. But even we have to find time and space to give our dogs this opportunity.
It would be years before I actually had an Irish Setter, but it was always was a dream in the back of my mind. I always had an excuse. We don’t have the space. We aren’t experienced enough for an Irish Setter. There was always something but it was always mostly a question of space and time. I always knew one day I would have one. Just not now. I find it strange how aptly we avoid our dreams. It’s as if we need something to wish for and fear losing, it is an object of desire more than we want to gain the object itself. We put off getting an Irish Setter for the time being.
A close, second choice, of a family pet was the Golden Retriever. Golden Retrievers are in many ways similar to the Irish Setter, but they weren’t bred so much to run the fields as to wait by the side of the hunter and retrieve the downed birds. They have some instincts for pointing and flushing but these are more incidental. After more than 20 years experience with both of the animals I have concluded that the main character trait differentiating the Golden Retriever and Irish Setter is patience. The Golden Retriever was bred to patiently wait for the hunt. The Irish Setter was bred to go out and make the hunt happen. Both love to chase things. Both can have seemingly boundless energy. Both are loyal companions. The Golden Retriever will wait for the ball to be thrown and the Irish Setter will grab the ball and expect to be chased. The Irish Setter is proactively invoking the hunt, whereas the Golden Retriever is awaiting its arrival.
We purchased our first Golden Retriever when we lived in the small town of Shedd, Oregon. We lived an a 1/2 acre lot. The yard was easily big enough for Mandy, our golden retriever. It really would not have been sufficient for an Irish Setter. We had 4 children at the time so Mandy was very loved and got plenty of playtime. A few years later we moved to a 100 acre farm, along the Calapooia River, in Tangent Oregon. This time we had plenty of space for an Irish Setter. We mulled around the idea of getting an Irish Setter for a while. Josiah, our son, had also just read the ‘Big Red’ books and really wanted an Irish Setter. Once he was old enough to really take care of a dog we finally acquiesced and that’s when he received Red. Yes ‘Red’ was named after the dog in the book. Josiah was 12 and really liked the name, so it stuck.
We moved to the farm because we loved animals and wanted space for them. Because of our love for the breed, we began breeding Golden Retrievers. We were no experts at first and have learned a lot in 20 year. It was in the context that Ginger, a Golden Retriever, and Red, Josiah's Irish Setter, bred that we had the first litter of ‘Golden Irish’ puppies. The first thing we noticed when we hesitantly advertised them was that there were a lot of people who had them in the 70’s who wanted one now. Irish Setters were among the top 10 family pets in the 70’s and accidental breedings with the Golden retriever were common. It turns out the patience of the Golden Retriever tends to be inherited by the Hybrid making them more suitable for Urban environments. It also turns out that the grown dogs can be stunningly beautiful. We have improved our breeding over the years and no longer hesitantly advertise. Through our hard won experience we are able to consistently breed Golden Irishes to our own very high standards. I recommend looking at the images page to see some of the stunning photos we have collected over the years. Don’t hesitate to contact us with inquiries regarding these superb animals.