- Activity Level: high
- Grooming Level: moderate
- Trainability: moderate
- Adaptability: moderate
- Kid/Pet Friendly: often
- Average Size: Medium
- Average Lifespan: 12-15 years
- Prey Drive: high
- Watchdog: very alert
- Registered?: aca, akc
Irish Setter Breed Profile
The Irish Setter, also referred to as a Red Setter or Irish Red Setter, is a popular breed of gundog. They are also popular family dogs and therapy dogs. They were originally bred in Ireland in the 1800s for hunting, specifically to set, locate, and point gamebirds. This required plenty of energy, endurance, focus, a fantastic sense of smell, and the ability to navigate fields, dry terrain, and wet terrain. This dog breed came to the United States early in the 19th century. The AKC fully recognized the Irish Setter in 1878 as part of the Sporting Group.
Irish Setters are known for their affectionate and loving nature and energetic, playful personality. This dog breed is intelligent, outgoing, and active. They are good with children, other dogs, and other larger household pets. As a hunting breed, the Irish Setter does have a prey drive, so they are prone to chase small animals and may not get along with cats in the house.
This dog breed is very energetic, so any playtime with younger children should be supervised to ensure things don’t get too rambunctious. The Irish Setter makes a great family dog and is a sweet-natured companion. They make a decent watchdog as they are alert and will let you know when someone or something is around. However, they have no guarding instincts and will enthusiastically greet visitors, so they do not make good guard dogs.
The Irish Setter is a moderately adaptable dog breed. They are best suited for homes with fenced-in yards and plenty of room to run. Because they are so high-energy, they do not tend to do well in apartments. They also thrive on human attention and companionship, so they do not do well with long periods of alone time. Irish Setters tend to do well in just about any climate. As with most dog breeds, they are sensitive to extreme heat or cold.
The Irish Setter is a relatively healthy dog breed. As with any dog breed, there are some potential breed-specific health conditions to be aware of including hip dysplasia, osteosarcoma, celiac disease, bloat, hypothyroidism, Von Willebrand’s disease, and progressive retinal atrophy. Asking the breeder about the genetic history of the parents and to see any relevant health clearances can help allay some of these potential health concerns.
This dog breed is intelligent, eager to please their owners, and tends to pick up things quickly, but they are energetic and can become bored easily. They tend to be better-suited to dog owners who have experience with training and caring for high-energy dog breeds. An Irish Setter can be a good fit for a novice or first-time dog owner, but puppy training and obedience classes are highly recommended. In general, it’s important to start training as early as possible with this dog breed and implement consistent training in general obedience. They respond best to patient, consistent, fun, and positive training.
Irish Setters have a soft, flat coat that tends to be medium-length. They have a double coat where the top coat is fine and the undercoat will bulk up in the winter. Common coat colors include Mahogany, Chestnut, and Red. Because the Irish Setter has a longer coat, it needs frequent brushing to remove tangles and prevent mats from forming. Brushing your Irish Setter’s coat a few times a week or daily and the occasional bath should be sufficient to keep it properly maintained. This dog breed will shed moderately year-round and more heavily twice a year during seasonal shedding sessions. During these times, it may make sense to brush your dog’s coat every day.
In addition to coat care and maintenance, there are other grooming tasks that every dog needs to be healthy. These include monthly nail trimming, regular ear checks, and dental care. Trimming nails monthly is usually sufficient to keep nails from getting too long and hindering movement, but they may need to be trimmed more often if they are not wearing down as much between trimmings. A good rule of thumb is that if you hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor or notice them getting snagged on things, it’s time for a trim, even if it hasn’t been a full month since the last one.
Irish Setters have long, floppy ears. They’re adorable, but they also tend to trap dirt, debris, and moisture, which can lead to ear infections. So, it’s important to regularly check your dog’s ears and carefully clean them as needed to help prevent ear infections. Proper dental care for dogs is the best defense against tooth decay and gum disease. Dental disease is one of the most common health issues in dogs and it’s also one of the most preventable. Brushing your dog’s teeth or using an enzyme toothpaste every day helps prevent the tartar buildup that causes painful dental disease. You can also supplement your efforts with dental hygiene chews.
It’s important to start getting your Irish Setter used to having their paws, mouth, and ears handled as a puppy. If you get them used to it early on and make sure the experience stays a positive and rewarding one, grooming will be much easier for both of you throughout your dog’s life. Plus, it can become a calming and relaxing experience that also strengthens the bond you have with your dog!
The Irish Setter is a high-energy dog breed that requires plenty of daily exercise and a job to do in order to stay happy and healthy. Long, daily walks and some time to run each day should be sufficient for your Irish Setter, but they will certainly not say no to more activity than that. They make great running partners, are likely to enjoy going on hikes with you, and may also enjoy swimming.
They love to run off-leash, but it is important that they have mastered basic recall commands before they are permitted to be off-leash. Otherwise, they may “play deaf” and continue running to their heart’s content. They are also a good fit for dog sports like obedience, agility, rally, tracking, hunting, flyball, dock diving, and more.
A fully-grown Irish Setter usually stands between 22-26 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 53-70 pounds.
The Irish Setter generally lives for 12-15 years.
The national bus company in Ireland is called Bus Éireann and its corporate logo is an Irish Setter.