Should I get my dog from a breeder?

irish setter breedersOnly 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 well-reasoned financial decision.

Lifetime Cost (Excluding purchase cost or adoption fees)

The lifetime cost of a small to medium sized dog has been estimated to be $7,000 to $13,000 while lifetime cost of owning an Irish Setter has been estimated to range from $6,158 to $156,590.

Vet Cost

The owner can control many of the costs in the higher estimate for Irish Setters such as for grooming, boarding, etc. But one of the costs cannot be so easily controlled: veterinary care. First-year cost estimates for veterinary care range from $50-$900; annual costs from $50-$2,400; and lifetime costs from $600-$34,500.

Why the High Cost of Veterinary Care?

The table below is from data provided by a pet insurance company of claims paid for diseases and conditions for which Irish Setters are at high or medium risk of experiencing:



Risk Profile

Cost to Diagnose and Treat

Hip Dysplasia



Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat)



Lick Granuloma



Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy






Patent Ductus Arteriosus



Persistent Right Aortic Arch



Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia



Estimates based on claims paid by Embrace Pet InsuranceSource:

Avoidable Veterinary Costs

Much of the high veterinary cost can be avoided by choosing a healthy dog from a good breeder. Many inherited diseases can be detected with DNA screening or x-ray and avoided in puppies through careful breeding and screening. Other conditions such heart disease and epilepsy that occur in adult dogs can also be reduced through a breeder’s careful recordkeeping and breeding ethics.

What’s a breeder?

Any owner of a dog which has a litter of puppies is a breeder.

What’s a good breeder?

Good breeders will know the potential diseases of their Irish Setters and be open to discussing them. They will have documents showing the dog’s parents have hip, thyroid and PRA clearances registered at the CanineHealthInformationCenter or similar organization. They will provide information about other diseases in the dog’s lineage as well as about the personality of the dog’s parents; most will have the dog’s mother available to show you and photos of the sire.

A good breeder will also be firm about screening you as a possible owner of one of his dogs.

How to find a good breeder

Don’t rush. Do a good internet search for questions and issues to address with a breeder. Talk to your veterinarian if you have one. Your state may have a club affiliated with the Irish Setter Club of America; call and talk to them. Or contact the national club. These clubs have standards for breeders which include requiring a written contract to spade and neuter any dog with a hereditary defect; these dogs cannot be registered by the American Kennel Club.

When interviewing breeders try to find one that breeds for the type of dog you’re looking for: show dog, field dog, or family pet with good personality. Make sure that if you buy a purebred dog that the owner will take the dog back from you or a rescue group if there is a problem.