Age Before Beauty: Not Always

The phrase, “Age before beauty,” is an old phrase found in print from at least as early as 1869 (it appeared in the Decatur Republican newspaper), and may be even older than that. Commonly used in jest by a younger person to an older friend or relative out of mock pity, one wants to be careful about the company in which it is said. The veracity of the exchanged has since been debated, but urban legend has it that when U.S. writer, politician and diplomat, Clare Boothe Luce, held open a door for the famous wit, Dorothy Parker, Ms. Luce said “Age before beauty,” to which Parker’s reply was, “Pearls before swine.”

There will be no debate about beauty when it comes to the four glorious setter breeds recognized by the AKC, but which one, do you suppose is the oldest?

Need a hint?

 English Setter,Irish Setter, Gordon Setters,Irish Setter


According to their respective breed clubs, the Irish Setter and Gordon Setter appeared in the 19th century, while the Irish Red and White Setter came slightly before that. The English Setter, however, was already known in the 14th century making it the oldest of the four setters, and certainly America’s oldest gundog breed.

In terms of breed recognition, 1878 was a banner year for three of the setters. That was the year that the AKC officially recognized the English, Gordon and Irish Setters, while the Irish Red & White Setter had to wait until 2009, ironic since it predates the Irish Setter.

A marvelous overview of the English Setter was written by Amy Fernandez which you can read here

Images: Photo of English Setter looking into camera via photopin (license)

English Setter,Irish Setter,Irish Red and White Setter, Gordon Setter

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