Irish Setter Dog Breed Traits & Facts

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Last Updated on September 20, 2023

The Irish Setter is an Irish gun dog. With their elegant, flame-colored fur and general elegance, Setters are immediately recognizable. Although they aren’t the most well-known breed, they are extremely friendly, affectionate and playful. The Irish Setter is an ideal companion to active families with or without children.

Irish Setters get along well with strangers and other dogs, and are adaptable to all environments. What’s not to love? This is not the ideal dog companion for all people, but it’s not an ideal one. They are known to have higher energy levels and be more dependent than other breeds.

In this article learn everything you need to know about the Irish Setter, from their exercise habits, temperaments, and ideal living arrangements. Learn how to care for your beautiful coat. Let’s get started to find out if this breed is right for you and your family.

Irish Setter Dog


The Irish Setter is an elite gun dog. The Emerald Island is where he was bred by Irish hunters. They wanted a gun dog that could cover the vast flat country. His creation was influenced by English Setters, Spaniels and Pointers as well as Gordon Setters. The first Red Setters were a mixture of white and red, but the 19th century saw a shift towards the preference of red.

He uses his keen senses of smell to locate gamebirds and then he “sets” on his stomach. To signal to his master, he lowers his body and crouchs on the ground. After his master has shot the quarry, he takes it home for him. While he is still a popular choice for hunters, his gentle and fun nature is now proving to have a huge impact on families.

The first Irish Setter arrived in America in 1875. Between 1875 and 1948, 760 dogs became conformation champions, compared to just 5 in the field ring. Breed fans became concerned about the emphasis on his hunting ability and his red coat. When speaking with breeders, it is common to hear them say that they breed conformation Setters or field Setters. We’ll also go over the differences in appearance for those who are curious.

Famous Red Setters are King Timahoe and President Richard Nixon’s dog, while he was in office. Jim Kjelgaard’s well-known novel, “Big Red”, was about the love story between Danny, a young boy, and Red, his Irish Setter companion. Eleven Irish Setters won the Westminster Kennel Club Sporting Group competition, putting them in the spotlight.


The Irish Setter is a playful dog that always smiles. Even on Mondays that are the worst, this dog will smile even when it is raining. The breed lovers love his contagious happiness. Feeling gloomy? You can have a cuddle with him. You can’t bear to get out of bed? It will be worth it. He’s also great for kids who want to play with him.

This breed is a great companion for children! This ideal companion canine for children any age. You must supervise any dog that is partnered with children, but he will play alongside them for a perfect partnership. He is gentle and affectionate, and will sleep with them when they need to. He is a great candidate to be mixed with other breeds to create popular Irish Setter mix.

He is slightly distant from strangers that enter his territory. However, he will bark and alert you if necessary. Although they don’t possess guard dog genes, setters can be a good watchdog. After a while, he will become more comfortable with visitors. He will even wait at the gate with his beautiful smile if the regular delivery person shows it. He is a confident dog.

He is a sweet-natured dog that, according to some, has everything. He loves to cuddle and is affectionate. He is also sensitive, which leads to the next point. He will not settle on the floor so it is best to have a dog-on-the sofa family. He’s a cuddle bug.

He , like all gun dogs, craves the company of his master. He is a very capable and trainable partner. He is the same at home. He is a very loyal dog and hates being left alone. He is a sensitive doggo and a very needy doggo. This is not a characteristic that all dog lovers love. You need to decide if you are a dog lover who is clingy or independent.

Size & Appearance

The Irish Setter is a large-sized dog, who weighs in at 60 to 70 pounds. According to their breed standard, females’ ideal weight is 60 pounds, and the perfect weight for males is 70 pounds. Females are expected to reach around 25 inches, from paw to shoulder. And males are projected to measure 27 inches. His build is both substantial and elegant.

This pup is not your average hunting dog. He is beautiful. The most beautiful .canine has been described by many artists. His height is higher than his length, and his head is shorter than his body. The Spaniel can be seen in his sloping head and low-set ears. To aid in his graceful hunting, he has a long neck and a long tail.

There are two distinct looks within the Red Setter community. This is due to the fact that early dogs were bred to conformation (or breed standard) perfection. They were bred for their fielding abilities, not conformation. This saddening news shocked many Irish fans who began to focus on their abilities rather than their looks.

Conformation breeds will follow the breed standard. This same process has happened for other breeds, like the Lab, which created bench and field versions. Hunting dogs tend to be lighter and more sleek. This is something you should discuss with your breeder.

Coat & Colors

The coat of the Irish Setter is his most distinctive and beautiful feature. It is medium in length flat, and finely distributed across his body . His hair is naturally shorter on his forelegs and head, while the length of his rear ends and back gets longer. His ears are silky and feathery, similar to a Spaniel’s. His tail fringe is moderately long, tapering to the end. Ideal feathered hair should not be wavy or curled. To show off your Irish heritage, trim his hair to highlight his neck and lean head.

The breed has three color choices, which are simply different shades of rich red. These are red, mahogany and chestnut. They would say that redheads have more fun if they could speak! Some dogs may have white streaks on their chests, throats, and toes. A narrow white central streak on the dog’s head. Splashes of white are less common than 100% red. Some dogs are born with black spots on their coats, but this can be disqualifying in the show ring.

Some people believe that the Irish, English and Gordon Setters are one breed of Setter, but they have different coat colors. They are all distinct breeds each with their own histories, purposes and purposes. The Gordon gene pool gives us the black color, while the English gene pool gives us the white. His coat color does not alter his personality. It’s also a common misbelief that the Red Golden Retriever is actually a dog with more Irish Setter influence, which simply isn’t the case.

Exercise Requirements

The Irish Setter is an energetic dog that is well-suited for his hunting dog breed. If you are looking for a couch potato dog to accompany you, then you should consider another breed. This pup is a great choice if you are looking for an energetic and adventurous partner in exercise. He should get at least an hour of exercise each day.

This pup can be very unhappy and destructive if he doesn’t get enough exercise. He can be far from the playful, affectionate and kind-hearted dog he is. If you leave him alone or keep him in a cage, he will destroy all your furniture. If you want to have a happy relationship with this redhead you must be able to give him the exercise he needs. There are no excuses! He isn’t afraid to get his hair wet, even though he comes from Ireland.

This breed loves to walk in the woods and enjoys the country. He will do almost anything if he’s with you. He is a master at all things, from running to agility courses to flyball to frisbee. As a puppy, he should not be doing too much exercise. To keep him interested, try to find a variety of activities that he can take part in. Why not take a look at the Irish Setter Club of America page, where they list hunting championships and other exciting events that you, and your Irish, can join.

He’s an intelligent dog. His brain is active as well as his body. stimulate your dog’s mind with interactive play and solo play during exercise sessions. You can invest in frisbees and balls for him to play fetch. He loves to retrieve objects. For solo play, you can also invest in toys that are for intelligent dogs such as treat dispensing puzzles and chew toys.

Living Conditions

He is suitable for apartment living, provided that it is on the ground floor and has access to a yard To be happy, this breed must have access to fresh air and the outdoors. Because of his high prey drive, his yard needs to be secure as he chases cats and birds. He is technically a big dog but he’s not as chunky as a Mastiff so his home doesn’t need to be large. He will not realize what he’s missing until it is too late.

The sweet, gentle Irish Setter is suitable for families with younger and older children. Young couples, as well as retired people. As long as they are available for him, he can be adapted to your family’s dynamics. He loves other animals at home. He can distinguish between your cat, and his neighbors. Please, no chickens or birds! As a puppy, he likes to be around other dogs.


The Irish Setter is intelligent and eager to please his master. He is very trainable. To make him more obedient, you should start training as soon as possible. Positive reinforcement will be the best way to train this puppy. Overly harsh methods can only cause him to shy away. He will be most motivated by objects such as balls or frisbees.

*Working with a reliable breeder will ensure your puppy gets the best start in his training. They will socialize your puppy from the beginning by making sure he is with his littermates and mom. Your job is to ensure that he continues his socialization at home. Mix him with other dogs and people to build his confidence .. He will become a polite, well-socialized pup as long as he has been socialized properly.

It’s common advice to crate train anxious pups. Even if your puppy isn’t anxious, he could become anxious as an adult. So, be sure to invest in a crate made for more anxious pups before you get him home. You can spend some time researching how to train your dog to use a crate. He will be able to take it to the water like a duck to water. Dogs instinctively seek shelter ,, and comfortable beds and blankets can make them less anxious when they have to go.

His high prey drive means you need to improve his recall. He will follow your scent ., just like other dogs with high prey drives. Some Setter owners have found that their dog can be trained to follow their commands. Most Setter owners don’t let their dogs run free. You have the option to make that decision, but you should start with a long training lead before you try it for real.


The Irish Setter is a reasonably healthy dog breed. This is highlighted by his 12 to 15-year lifespan, which is great for a dog of his size. You must do all you can to ensure that your dog stays with you for as long as possible. You need to make sure he gets the best nutrition and exercise. He must go to the vest, no matter how many he waves at you. Keep your vet appointments current.

Like all purebred dogs are more susceptible to certain health issues than others. While this does not mean they are immune to other diseases, it is important for Irish dads and moms to be aware of the following conditions. You can learn more about the symptoms and how to detect them early.

Hip Dysplasia

This is a common problem in large breeds of large dogs. To lower the risk, breeders should ensure that dogs have good hip scores. Larger dogs have more bone growth than smaller dogs. This rapid growth can cause uneven bone development which can lead to additional wear and tear as well as pain. It can lead to arthritis if left untreated. It’s time for your Irish to visit the vet if he is experiencing difficulty with mobility in his rear legs.

Eye Conditions

The Irish Setter can be susceptible to several eye problems. Progressive retinal atrophy is the most common. This is the gradual deterioration and loss of vision. If left untreated, it could lead to complete blindness. It is possible to detect this early in the life of a dog, so it is important that you regularly see your veterinarians.


Low hormone levels in the thyroid gland can cause this. You may experience lethargy and infertility as well as weight gain, mental dullness and brittleness. It is not curable but can be managed with daily medication. It is not recommended to breed dogs with this condition.


This affects the Irish Setter dog breed and can cause severe seizures. It can be passed down, due to brain injuries, infections, metabolic diseases, or other unknown causes. Your Irish may be experiencing seizures if he is shaking, running fast, hiding or staggering. He will need immediate medical attention. Dogs can live normal lives with the right management.


The Irish Setter will eat between two, and three cup of food every day. This breed is known for having a sensitive stomach, so find a dog food that’s recommended specifically for Irish Setters. These dogs will grow to be large at maturity so make sure you feed them a kibble that is specifically designed for large breed dogs. This is especially important in puppyhood, as it helps to control his rapid bone growth thanks to specific nutrition.

Look for meats, meals made from real meats, vegetables, carbs, fiber, vitamins and minerals to make a balanced diet. Omega-fatty acids have a variety of health benefits that are crucial for a person’s overall well-being. They are vital for his health, ranging from increased vitamin absorption to improved cognitive function and joint support. It will also help to nourish his skin, coat, and make him look his best.

He is a deep-chested dog, which increases his risk of gastric torsion. Also known as bloat, Divide his daily food allowance in at least two meals per day to reduce the chance of bloat. Exercise before and after meals can increase the likelihood of him stomach twisting. This is a serious condition that requires immediate attention. Learn more about bloat and what symptoms you should be aware of.


The moderately long hair of the Irish Setter requires a little more effort than the average dog’s. To comb his long hair . most days, use a soft-bristle brush or pin brush. At least three times per week. This will help prevent matting and tangles and also remove dirt and hair. This will keep your dog looking great. Although he isn’t a heavy shedder, you will want to brush him daily to help manage his seasonal shedding.

Your Irish Setter will only require an occasional bath, with one every three to four months being sufficient. To keep your dog’s hair shiny and supple, use a moisturizing shampoo for dogs. If he is prone to tearing his skin, do not wash him more than that. His natural oils will be destroyed, making his hair dull.

Long-eared dogs such as the Setter, are more likely to get ear infections . This is because their ears are an ideal place for bacteria to thrive. You should inspect his ears regularly for signs of infection and odor. Use a cotton bud or an ear cleaner to clean his ears every week. Brush his teeth twice weekly, too, using a doggy toothpaste to avoid periodontal diseases. It will be easier to get him used to all aspects of his grooming routine from a young age.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

The Irish Setter is an unusual dog breed who finds himself in the top 80 dog breeds in America. You may need to travel find an excellent breeder . depending on where you live. A happy and healthy red is better than a sick one so it’s worth the effort. Breeders of high quality dogs will only breed healthy dogs and will love their puppies.

Always meet the breeder and the puppies before you make any commitments. Also, be sure to see their health certificates. A great place to start your search for an Irish puppy is with the AKC’s Irish Setter breeder list. The average price of a purebred puppy is around $1,200 and up. Beware if you find a puppy that is less than this amount. They could be an irresponsible breeder or part of a puppy-mill.

You also need to consider the additional costs of being a dog parent. You will need to purchase everything your puppy needs. This includes bowls, beds, collars, crates, collars, toys, treats, and all the other necessary items. Other ongoing costs like food, insurance, medical treatment and medication also have a cost. These costs should be considered when making decisions.

Rescues & Shelters

You also have the option to adopt an Irish Setter from rescue shelters. It is worth considering, as there are so many dogs in need of forever homes. Look for your Irish match at your local rescue shelters. Talk to staff at your local rescue shelters about how they can walk you through the adoption process. The cost of adopting a rescue puppy is often lower than that of buying a puppy from the breeder.

Alternatively, you can contact the Irish Setter Club of America. You will find contact information for volunteers who work hard to rehome rescue dogs of specific breeds across America. The adoption process is explained step-by-step so that it’s easy to follow. Other organizations, such as Save Your Setters, also have Setters listed and waiting for adoption.

As Family Pets

  • The Irish Setter is a sweet dog that’s affectionate with its family.
  • Setters are great with adults, children, and other family pets.
  • Irish Setters hate to be left alone and will become your second shadow.
  • He is very active and needs at least one hour of intense daily exercise.
  • He also needs lots of mental stimulation throughout the day.
  • Stimulation can be achieved through interactive playtime and solo toy play.
  • Setters are social pups and love a good afternoon at the dog park
  • With early training, he can be a very obedient dog.
  • They have a high prey drive and need a secured yard for their safety.
  • He is adaptable to his home space, but he needs a private yard to relax in.

Final Thoughts

The Irish Setter, a rare breed, is stunningly beautiful. Although it is hard to believe he is not more popular than he already is, we believe that his high exercise needs might be what keeps some families away. He will be a great family pet if you are able to give him the exercise he needs, and the company throughout the day.

He’s a loving, outgoing dog who loves to be with people. We hope you found this guide helpful and have the answers to all your Irish questions. As many people have done, adopting an Irish Setter to your home might be the best choice you make. He could be your pot-of-red-gold at the end.

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