Learn About Irish Setters

irish setterKnown for their gorgeous reddish coats and happy personalities, Irish Setters draw attention to themselves wherever they go. Although they are bred for field sports and make excellent hunting companions, Irish Setters also make good family pets, provided they receive plenty of exercise and attention. When you take on the care of an Irish Setter, you get a loyal friend who can remain a puppy at heart, even into old age.

The Irish Setter as a Sporting Dog

The Irish Setter has an excellent nose, which it uses to find game. When the nose is combined with the dog’s natural speed, the Setter is a superb hunting companion. These dogs are an all purpose sporting dog, with abilities to locate game, track, retrieve and point. Irish Setters can work in all kinds of conditions and locations, from upland grassy zones to marshes, but they were especially bred to work with upland game birds such as pheasant, quail and grouse. The Irish Setter also excels at field trials where it competes with other sporting breeds.

Irish Setter Sizes

As with most dog breeds, male Irish Setters are larger than females of the same breed. The typical male Setter is between 26 and 28 inches (66 cm and 71 cm) at the shoulder, while the standard female Irish Setter falls between 24 and 26 inches (61 cm to 66 cm). Although their small waists make them appear lightweight, the male Irish Setter can weigh from 65 to 75 pounds (29 kg to 34 kg), while the females weigh more in the range of 55 to 65 pounds (25 kg to 29 kg).

Coat Colors and Texture

The most striking part of the Irish Setter’s appearance is its glorious, silky coat, which can range in color from dark red to a chestnut or mahogany shade of reddish-brown. The longer hair or “feathers” of a Setter are primarily found on the chest, tail, ears and the legs, especially the rear legs. Daily brushing helps maintain the Setter’s coat and prevents problems with tangling.


Irish setters are enthusiastic, affectionate, high energy dogs that get along well with other dogs and small children. Because of their background as hunting dogs, they might have difficulty living with small animals, such as cats. Setters are not territorial, but if a stranger enters the yard, they are quick to let their owners know about intruders. Although these dogs have a reputation for being stubborn and hard to train, they are highly intelligent and can be trained if approached by a person who exhibits kindness along with authority. People with quiet or meek personalities may have difficulty handling Irish Setters.

The key to a well-behaved Irish Setter is exercise, and lots of it. These dogs have a great deal of energy, and they need to be able to stretch their legs, play and run. Without enough exercise, the Irish Setter tends to get into trouble, such as chewing up the most expensive pair of shoes in the closet. Long daily walks are a must, and it also helps for the Irish Setter to have opportunities to run. Because these dogs are good at pretending they can’t hear you, make sure you can call your dog back before letting it off leash. Also, Irish Setters have the hunting dog habit of following their noses, so their outside time should be monitored, or they will wander away.

Health Problems

For the most part, the Irish Setter is considered a very healthy dog. However, they can suffer from health problems such as cancer, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, celiac disease and gastric torsion, which is also referred to as bloat. They can also suffer from severe allergies of the skin, as well as ear inflammation and infections.

Irish Setter Articles

irish setter seamus

The Irish Setter: Its Public Face

Maybe the most well-known Irish Setter today is Mitt Romney’s dog, Seamus. In 1983, Romney transported his dog on top of the family station wagon during a 12-hour trip to the family vacation home in Canada. The story haunted both his 2008 and 20012 presidential attempts, creating an enormous backlash against him. Surveys found that […]
history of the irish setter

History of the Irish Setter

Most readers will be aware that the Irish Setter breed came to the US and other countries from Ireland. This breed actually began as one called the Irish Red Setter which was primarily a bird hunting dog that was helpful in food hunting for owners. It was most likely a combination of several breeds including […]
showing the irish setter

Showing The Irish Setter

In addition to conducting basic training for an Irish Setter, some owners are interested in further training their Irish to become a show dog . This desire will require further research and training according to the American Kennel Club requirements for showing the dog in the Sporting Category. Some owners will want to show their […]
two irish setters

Training An Irish Setter

When one has decided that the Irish Setter will become the newest member of the family, the training plan must be a primary consideration. The plan will include both the house training and behavior training for the furry newcomer. During your research about the Irish Setter, you will have learned about the exuberant personality of […]
Irish Setter Bred for Red

Bred for Red

Setters are dogs that hunt by detecting scents in the air. They sweep back and forth across a field with their noses held high to detect hiding birds. Rather than pursue the birds, setters will creep close then freeze themselves and their prey in place. This quirky behavior was greatly appreciated by hunters before they […]
irish setter facts

The Essential Facts

Any time that a person considers adding a dog to their family, it’s essential to learn as much about them as possible, so you will be prepared to offer him just what he will need to thrive in your life.  Knowing about the breed of dog you’re considering can help you choose the one that […]
irish setter health

Common Irish Setter Health Concerns

Irish setters are beautiful dogs that are generally healthy.  They tend to live an average of 11 to 15 years, and most of those years are often healthy, active ones.  However, like any breed of dog, there are some common illnesses and health problems that occur in this breed. By having an idea of what […]
irish setter coat care

Caring for your Irish setter’s Coat

Your Irish setter is a strong, happy go lucky dog who loves to play and run, but he also needs to be properly cared for to ensure that he lives a long, healthy life.  This is a hunting dog that requires lots of exercise every day, and he may get into things when not properly […]
irish setter laying down

Life with Your New Irish setter: Have a Plan

Irish Setters, or Irish Red Setters, can be an excellent choice for you if you are active in the outdoors and have the right amount of time to devote to spending time with your new companion.  However, life with any breed of dog can be a challenge when you don’t have a plan, and the […]
Irish Red Setter hunting

The Irish setter as a hunting dog

If you are a lover of the outdoors and perhaps even enjoy field hunting, then the choice of sporting dog will be of great importance to you. If you choose an Irish setter, you choose a dog with remarkable qualities. it has great social skills and gets on with almost anyone it loves being outside […]
running irish setter

Is the Irish Setter right for you?

When it comes to choosing a dog, it is always good to know a little about the breed and certainly about the general characteristics of the dog you have in mind. People who live with an Irish setter will often tell you that the dog is not really a dog but rather a member of […]
Irish Setter on Grass

Irish Setter: Breed History

The Irish Setter is a type of dog classified as a gundog.  It is thought to have come from a dog known as the setting spaniel and was crossed with other setters such as the English as well as spaniels. The Setter was bred primarily for hunting, usually for setting or locating and pointing upland […]
irish setter health issues

Irish Setter: Health Issues

Irish Setters are an active breed and need long walks with access to wide and open spaces.  They enjoy having a job to do or can become hyperactive.  They thrive on human companionship and should not be left alone for long periods of time alone. Irish Setters are generally a healthy breed of dog but […]
irish setter training

Irish Setter: More Training Tips

Irish Setters are social animals with children, other dogs and pets though sometimes may be a problem with small animals.  They are excellent companion animals and family pets though can be a little vigorous with children and may need supervision. They do not make the best guard dogs as they are not an assertive breed […]
irish setter breeding


Any decision to breed a dog is not one to be undertaken lightly and Irish Setters especially need consideration due to the size of litters produced.  An average litter can be 10-12 puppies and something more so this is a large scale undertaking.  You need to consider what will happen with the pups you have […]
irish setter breeders

Should I get my dog from a breeder?

Only about 15% of all dog owners get their dogs from a breeder. For some it’s a clear decision: they want to show or breed the dog. For others it may be snobbery — or in the case of the Irish Setter, the owner simply desires the most beautiful animal. For others, however, it’s a […]
Irish Setter Health

Major Health Concerns

Irish Setters are generally healthy dogs although prone to some genetic disorders as well as conditions common to all large dogs. Fortunately genetic testing has reduced the frequency of some of their inherited diseases and careful breeding can diminish other conditions. A potential owner is warned not to overreact to a discussion of ailments common […]