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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Irish Setter

Irish Setter

Origin: British Isles

AKC Group: Sporting

Height: Males: 26 - 28 inches; Females: 24 - 26 inches (Male)

Weight: 60 - 70 pounds (Male)

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Irish Setters are playful and sometimes impulsive. They need lots of exercise and will become destructive if confined too long. They're good with children and other pets.

Irish Setters are sporting dogs. In general, sporting dogs are active and alert and require daily exercise. Because they have superior instincts in the water and woods, sporting dogs are often used for hunting. If exercised and properly trained, most sporting dogs make excellent pets.

British Isles
Male height: 
Males: 26 - 28 inches; Females: 24 - 26 inches
Male weight: 
60 - 70 pounds
Silky, with longer hair on the chest, stomach, legs and tail.
Various shades of red. Some white is allowed on the chest, throat and toes, as well as a strip on the forehead.

The Irish Setter is believed to have descended from a variety of spaniels, setters and pointers. Setters bred in Ireland throughout the 18th and into the 19th century were both red and red and white. It was in the mid-1800s, when all-red setters started to turn heads in the show ring, that they became increasingly popular. The Irish Red Setter Club was formed for the breed in 1882.

These setters were brought to the United States in the late 1800s to work as gundog, a job they handled beautifully. Their flashy red coat also made them popular in the show ring, and by the mid-1900s, they were one of the most popular breeds in the country. The demand for puppies strained the breed; however, and its popularity diminished. Those who own an Irish Setter today are happy for that, as he is once again proving himself to be a hardworking field dog and an eye-catching show dog without sacrificing temperament.

Big, elegant and athletic, with a flowing red coat and upbeat personality, the Irish Setter turns heads wherever he appears. His devil-may-care personality, paired with a happy-go-lucky air, endear him to all who meet him. He is more than good looks and personality, though. The Irish Setter is a delightful companion and a friend to all he encounters, enthusiastic, intelligent and loving. As his hunting instincts are nurtured, he is once again proving himself in the field.
At home: 
The Irish Setter's size and energy level may not be best suited to apartment life, as he needs space in which to run and frolic. He is curious and loves to investigate everything, so a fenced-in yard is necessary. He will bark to alert you of anything interesting approaching (letter carrier, neighbors, squirrels), but his friendly nature makes him a poor watchdog.
The Irish Setter must have plenty of exercise. Long walks, opportunities to hunt, hiking, and even jogging or biking are all activities he will enjoy - they will help keep him healthy and sane as well.
The Irish Setter needs an age-appropriate, high-quality food geared toward his activity level.
Although the Irish Setter is quick and eager to please, his enthusiasm can make it difficult for him to focus on training for long periods. Working him often and for shorter periods is the best way to achieve results.
Irish Setters are playful and sociable and love children, although their exuberance may be too much for very young children. They get along well with other dogs and can get along with other pets if socialized to them.
The average life span of the Irish Setter is 11 to 15 years. Health problems may include arthritis; bloat; canine leukocyte adhesion deficiency (CLAD); epilepsy; hip dysplasia; hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD); hypothyroidism; osteosarcoma; patent ductus arteriosus (PDA); progressive retinal atrophy (PRA); and von Willebrand disease.
Fun fact: 

Color is the Irish Setter's defining feature, and it has been described as red, mahogany, chestnut, blood-red, and every shade between yellow and brown during his formative years.

Grooming blurb: 
The breed's long, flowing coat needs regular brushing to look its best, especially where there is profuse feathering. Natural-bristle brushes are best because they don't tear the coat, and a pin brush can be used on the feathering. Show dogs require professional grooming. The breed's long ears can harbor infections if not kept clean.
Copyright by T.F.H. Publications, Inc. This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.