Common Irish Setter Health Concerns

irish setter healthIrish 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 they are, Irish owners can ensure that their dog stays healthy throughout his life.


This is one condition that is fairly common in Irish setters.  Although it is relatively easy to treat with thyroid treatments, it can become severe and seriously affect the health of your dog.  Symptoms include extreme lethargy, poor coat condition and weight gain.


While it’s not found more often in Irish setters than in other breeds, epilepsy can be a serious health concern for all types of dogs.  While there may be a treatment for this condition, it is still a good idea to ask Irish breeders if epilepsy is anywhere in the lineage.

Bloat – aka Gastric Dilation Volvulus

This is a potentially serious health condition, and it is commonly found in Irish setters.  Bloat causes the stomach to distend and twist, which can eventually cause body systems to fail because of blood loss to essential abdominal veins.   Some of the common symptoms of bloat include a distended abdomen, as well as attempts to vomit that are unsuccessful.  In the early stages of GDV, these symptoms may not present.  In some cases, the only sign is extreme restlessness.

By feeding your Irish several small meals a day, you can help to prevent this condition.  However, since it can be potentially serious, if you suspect that your dog is suffering from it, you should seek medical attention for him right away.

HOD – aka Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy

HOD is a condition that some Irish setter puppies that are between four and eight months old can be afflicted with.  When left unchecked, this condition can be fatal to them.  Puppies with this condition might show symptoms that include swelling joints, fever, lameness and lethargy.

As an Irish owner, it’s important to be aware that HOD exists because many veterinarians have no experience with the diagnosis and treatment of this condition.  Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy has been linked to high protein levels in common puppy diets.

Hip Dysplasia

This condition is when the hip joint is malformed.  It can be fairly common in Irish setters.  It is important to make sure that the parents of your Irish setter puppy have been cleared of this condition before choosing your puppy.  All parents should be cleared by an orthopedic registry, such as the Orthopedic Foundation of Animals before they are bred.

Just as in all dog breeds, Irish setters do have the potential for some health conditions.  However, when you are aware of them, and know what to look for, you can ensure that your Irish setter lives a long and healthy life.