Irish Setter

July 17, 2020 // 8 minute read

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Irish Setters are large-sized dogs known for the tall and elegant appearance. The Irish Setter stands at the height of 27 inches, have a sturdy built, and are covered with a brilliant coat that comes in the color of mahogany or chestnut. Partisans describe it as the most beautiful of all dog breeds.

These dogs come in two types – show and field dogs – depending on what you prefer. Show dogs are usually heavier and larger than the latter, but regardless of which type you’ve got, you can expect them to be natural gun dogs.

Irish Setter is not a dog just for anyone. He needs ample space to run, and he needs someone who can provide him a lot of attention and care. The energy of this dog is explosive, that an inexperienced dog owner might easily get overwhelmed. However, with the right person, he is a beautiful and loving companion who will surely fill your house with laughter.

Irish Setter

Irish Setter Breed Statistics

Dog Breed GroupSporting
Breed SizeLarge
Height27 inches (male); 25 inches (female)
Weight70 pounds (male); 60 pounds (female)
Lifespan12-15 years

Irish Setter Ratings

Energy level
Exercise needs
Requires attention
Friendly with family
Friendly with kids
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other dogs
Prey Drive

Irish Setter History

As their name implies, the Irish Setter originated from Ireland in the 18th century. During this time, Irish hunters wanted a fast working dog with a keen sense of smell and red-colored coat to be easily spotted. With this thought in mind, they combined English setters, spaniels, pointers, and Gordon setters.

The result? A red and white dog.

The first Irish Setters were originally called red spaniels or modern rhu (Gaelic for red dog), which describes their coat color. However, some of these dogs came in a color of red and white or have red coats with white spots (they were called shower of hail dogs).

It was only in 1812 when Irish Earl Enniskillen, along with two other breeders, started breeding Irish Setters to be of solid red color. When Palmerston appeared in 1862 with its solid red color coat, Irish breeders decided they wanted that breed standard.

He became the landmark dog of the Irish Setter dog breed – light-boned with a red-mahogany coat. And from him originated most of the modern-day Irish Setter dogs.

By 1875, the first Irish Setter, Echo, was imported to the United States. And by 1878, the American Kennel Club registered the first dog of the breed, Admiral.

Since the 1870s, these dogs have dominated in show rings and dog show competitions. Their popularity continued soaring until the 1960s and 1970s when a movie named Big Red was made.

The breed now ranks 76th as the most popular dog breed in the US and continues to be a great family companion and hunting dog.

Irish Setter Facts

Irish Setter Temperament

Irish Setters are often described as active, outgoing, and sweet-natured dogs. Most people describe their attitude as rollicking – lively, intelligent, and with a great sense of mischief.

These dogs love people, especially their families. They need love and attention. If left alone for long periods, they tend to have separation anxiety, which brings out destructive behavior. You can expect them to retain their puppy nature for years, even if they turn adults.

It is recommended to give them ample space to run around so they can have enough exercise and training. This way, they’ll be able to expect any excess energy they have.

With their friendly nature, you can expect Irish Setters to get along with everyone. They are great playmates to children, friendly with strangers, and good with other pets. Make sure not to leave them alone with toddlers, though.

They make excellent watchdogs as they will let you know when someone new or suspicious comes. However, they are not aggressive and will immediately turn friendly if they know that there is no harm. But in case there is, these dogs will step in to protect.

Obedience training is essential to retain good manners and make them more dignified. Always remember not to treat them harshly. Irish Setters are sensitive dogs, and they will not easily forgive. It’s also best to get them accustomed to new things, so they become more well-rounded.

Irish Setter Care Requirements

  • Nutrition: Irish Setters require a high-quality and well-balanced diet, the same as any other dog breeds. Essential nutrients to have in your dog’s food are proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins. It is recommended to feed your dog frequently as puppies as this is the growing stage. And this may decrease as they grow older. Same with proteins. A dog’s food must contain more proteins than fats, but this percentage will decrease as your pups mature. Make sure to only get the nutrients from high-quality ingredients. For proteins, only buy high-quality animal meat such as lamb, beef, chicken, or fish. Fats can be derived from fish or chicken oils. As for carbohydrates, cooked whole grains or sweet potatoes are excellent sources. You can add some fruits and vegetables too for sources of fiber and vitamins. For dog foods, make sure only to get the premium ones that don’t contain fillers or additives. These have very low nutritional value and can cause digestion problems.
  • Grooming: Irish Setters are covered with a long, silky coat that sheds seasonally. However, 2-3 times a week of grooming is required to remove any mats and tangles. This will also help in ensuring that their coat remains healthy and silky. If the shedding season comes, you can brush their coat daily. This way, hair all over your floor and furniture would be the least of your problems. This also helps in building up your bond with your dog. You can give your Irish Setters a frequent bath if needed, but sometimes, one bath every few months is fine. The ears, however, must be cleaned regularly to prevent ear infection. Check and trim their nails also to ensure that your dog is out of any discomfort and pain.
  • Exercise: Irish Setters have very explosive energy, and they require a lot of activities and exercises. It is highly recommended to have a large backyard where they can run around. But, you have to make sure that the fence is secured. You can also take them out on daily long walks, but make sure they’re on-leash. You can also create some play-session or activities you two can do together. It is also a great idea if you have them join some dog shows where they can showcase their skills in obedience, tracking, rally, and, most of all, agility.
  • Health: Irish Setters are generally healthy dogs with a long lifespan. But, like any other dog breeds, they are still prone to many health conditions. The most common conditions affect their bones. These are hip dysplasia, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, osteochondrosis dissecans, and panosteitis. Hypothyroidism, epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy, and gastric torsion are some diseases to watch out for. Canine leukocyte, a genetic disorder, is also common and may have immunological implications. For some of this disease, you can let your dog take a screening test to rule out some diseases. It’s also recommended to meet at least one of the parents, so you know which genetic health conditions are present in their DNA.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy of Irish Setters is 12-15 years.

Irish Setter Care Requirements

Famous Irish Setters

  • Elcho: The first Irish Setter imported to the US
  • Palmerston: The landmark dog or standard of the Irish Setters
  • Admiral: The first Irish Setter registered by the American Kennel Club
  • Mike, Peggy, and Tim: Irish Setters of the White House; owned by Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and Richar Nixon respectively
  • Saluki: Cesar Millan’s, the dog whisperer, Irish Setter; this is his first dog
  • T-Bone: The Irish Setter mascot of Pace University

Fun Facts About Irish Setters

  • Irish Setters originated from 18th century Ireland.
  • The Irish Setter’s red coat is the most notable feature of the breed.
  • They were originally red and white dogs.
  • They come in two types – field dogs and show dogs where show dogs are heavier and larger.
  • They were brought to America in 1870.
  • One Irish Setter is a mascot of Bus Eireann, an Irish bus company.
  • Even US Presidents love the dog breed.
  • An Irish Setter was the main dog cast in the live-action movie “Big Red.”

Check Out Other Sporting Dog Breeds:
American Water Spaniel, Boykin Spaniel, Brittany, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Clumber Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Curly-Coated Retriever, English Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, Irish Red and White Setter, Irish Water Spaniel, Kooikerhondje, Labrador Retriever, Lagotti Romagnoli, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Pointer, Spinoni Italiani, Sussex Spaniel, Vizsla, Weimaraner, Welsh Springer Spaniel, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Wirehaired Vizslas

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