BaxterBoo Blog
April 17, 2013

Meet the Breed: The Irish Setter

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  • Height: 24"- 28”
  • Weight: 55-75 pounds
  • Historical function: Hunting (pointing and retrieving), companion
  • Modern function: Bird dog, hunting, companion, therapy dog.
  • AKC classification: Sporting

Physical Characteristics:

The Irish Setter, also known as the Irish Red Setter, is a beautiful, large, graceful dog with a stunning shiny mahogany red, or chestnut coat. The coat is moderately long with feathering at the ears, chest, legs, and tail. The head is domed and the ears are long. They are deep chested and have a narrow waist.

History of the Breed:

The Irish Setter was originally bred to be red and white with shorter legs, but the red version became more popular and perceived as a sign of good breeding and sporting ability. The Irish Setter became popular in the 18th century throughout Ireland and the British Isles. It was developed  from a mix of Irish Water Spaniel, Irish Terrier, English Setter, Spaniel, Pointer, and even a little bit of Gordon Setter. The dog initially was used to "set" birds and would crouch low near the birds so that they could be netted.  When guns were developed, the Irish Setter became a gun dog that pionted and flushed out game while standing upright.


The Irish Setter standard calls for a "rollicking" temperament. It is mischievous and independent, intelligent and stubborn, anxious to please and yet wanting to have its way. Hunting instinct is strong and the breed enjoys a fine reputation as a reliable companion in the field. Irish Setters are energetic, affectionate, loving, high-spirited and full of energy. They have no guarding instincts, get along with other pets and are good with children. His outgoing and stable personality make him a favorite with families. Sensitive to tone of voice, this dog needs a calm, confident human pack leader for best results. Matures slowly.

  • Best suited for: Families willing to exercise and brush this active dog daily. 
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog prefers a larger yard to play in that is securely fenced. Excels at agility.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Requires daily brushing and rare bathing to keep the coat gleaming and tangle free. An average shedder.
  • Exercise needs: Daily long walk or jog. May become destructive if mental and physical exercise needs are not met.
  • Life expectancy: 11-15 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to bloat. Feed several smaller meals rather than just one large one. Also prone to epilepsy, severe skin allergies, elbow and hip dysplasia. May suffer from hypothyroidism,d eye problems, and autoimmune disease. Watch for ear infections.

Breed Club Links: Irish Setter Club of America Perfect Pairings: UGroom Combo Brush

Have any stories about an Irish Setter? Please share!

Photo courtesy of fame.fusion.

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This entry was posted by Mary.

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