Breed Group:
Sporting Dogs

Middle Age: 5 years

Geriatric Age: 10 years

Life Span: 11 to 15 years

Irish Setter Background Info & History

The Irish Setter breed is believed to be a descendent of the English Setter that was crossed with the Irish water spaniels back in the day. Records show that the Setter was in Ireland back in the early 1700’s and made their way throughout the British Isles over the next hundred years. The Irish Setter is known for having an impressive sense of smell that their owners would use to locate birds for hunting.

Finally, in the 1800’s, the Irish Setter dog breed was brought to the United States where they continued to work and hunt small game. Because of their eye-catching appearance and stoic hunting skills, the Irish Setter quickly became a popular show dog. They have a beauty unlike any other breed with their elongated body and chestnut coloring. In more current times, the Irish Setter is sought after for their graceful beauty rather than their advanced hunting skills. Today the Irish Setter is a loving and friendly breed that is the perfect pet for any household.

Irish Setter Temperament & Personality

Energetic yet compassionate, the Irish Setter is an all-time favorite for many pet owners. They quickly become loyal to their family members and are very welcoming to strangers. Their even temperament allows them to easily live with children and other household pets. An Irish Setter is best suited for an active family who can give them plenty of love and attention. The Irish Setter personality is dependent on several factors such as genetics and training.

Make sure to socialize your pet while they are still a puppy so they will be outgoing and friendly to people and other dogs. Don’t expect this breed to be a good watchdog. They may bark to warn you that a visitor is there, however they are so friendly that they will be the first one to welcome them inside your home. Keep in mind that this breed was once used for hunting, which means they may take off running after spotting a small animal. Keep them on a leash and make sure your backyard is safely secured to prevent them from running away.

Irish Setter Trainability

The Irish Setter is an intelligent breed that is easily trainable. Their one downfall when it comes to training is their high energy level. Some Irish Setters are hyper and easily excited, which causes them to become distracted and uninterested in your training efforts. Try training your dog as young as possible in order for them to become a well-rounded pet later on in life.

Even though they are a very friendly breed, early socialization is imperative for them to feel comfortable around strangers and other dogs. When training an Irish Setter, make sure to be patient and persistent. Never use harsh training tactics to get them to listen to you. This breed tends to be very sensitive and will become depressed if they are mistreated in any way. Using positive reinforcement is the best way to reward your Irish Setter.

Exercise Requirements for Irish Setters

Once this breed is full grown, they should be getting at least an hour of physical activity every day. Even though they are spunky and energetic as puppies, over-exertion can be very harmful to an Irish Setter. Within the first year, this breed grows fairly quickly, and too much exercise can cause stress on their developing bones and joints. Within the first 6 months, an Irish Setter should only get about 15-30 minutes of physical activity every day.

Irish Setters are a great running companion once they are fully grown. They can tolerate a high amount of physical activity and should be taken out with the family as often as possible to release their built-up energy. Irish Setters also excel at agility courses, which is another great way for them to fulfill their exercise requirements while sharpening their mental skills at the same time. If they are not properly exercised, they can quickly become bored. Once a dog turns restless, they will find ways to entertain themselves which usually includes causing havoc in your home.

Irish Setter Lifespan

The average lifespan for an Irish Setter is between 11 to 15 years.

Popularity of the Irish Setter

The Irish Setter has always been a popular breed. Not only do they have a stunning appearance, but they’re also a great pet for any kind of household. Their high intelligence is another bonus that adds to their overall success. Today the Irish Setter is the 76th most popular breed in the United States according to the AKC.

Feeding Recommendations for Irish Setters

Due to their large size, an Irish Setter should be fed 2-3 cups of food a day, split into two separate meals. Keep in mind that their recommended amount depends on several factors. Their size, age, metabolism, and activity level should all be considered when created your dog’s feeding plan. Consult with your veterinarian to create the proper regimen that best works for your individual pet.

Most importantly, make sure the food you are feeding your dog is made with high-quality ingredients. Many pet food companies include harmful preservatives, soy, and by-products. Try to find a food that is organic and made from all-natural ingredients that will help to improve your pet’s overall health. It is also important to have a bowl of fresh water readily available at all times. It should be changed daily and topped off when needed. Your dog can easily become dehydrated or overheated, so it is very important to provide them with clean drinking water.

Grooming an Irish Setter

Showing off a rich mahogany coat, the Irish Setter has one of the most beautiful coats of all the breeds. Their fur is fine and short on top, while gracefully flowing longer throughout the rest of their body. Their tail should be silky and feathery when properly groomed. Since the Irish Setter has such a fine coat, they should be brushed at least every other day to prevent tangles. Unless they get into a dirty mess, they only need to be bathed a few times a year.

Over bathing can cause their skin to become irritated or dried out. If you wish to bathe your Irish Setter more frequently, make sure to use a veterinarian-approved shampoo. Their long and hanging ears are prone to moisture build-up, so be sure to check them at least once a week for an infection. Use a moistened cotton ball with an ear cleanser recommended by your veterinarian. During your weekly grooming, brush your Irish Setter’s teeth to prevent bacteria and tartar build-up. This will help to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

Are Irish Setters Good With Kids?

The Irish Setter is a great family dog. Their playful characteristics matches perfectly with children, and they also have the patience to deal with a young child. This breed loves to be the center of attention and needs to be around their owners at all times of the day. Make sure to do obedience training with your pet in order to teach them how to properly behave around children.

Early socialization to different people will help your Irish Setter learn how to interact in a busy family setting. For the most part, this breed works very well with families, however, be very careful with babies or young toddlers. The Irish Setter is still a large dog, and their energetic personality may be too overbearing for small children. Make sure to always have an adult present during any interactions between your child and pet to prevent any roughhousing from occurring.

Irish Setter Health Problems

Hip dysplasia: Most commonly seen in larger breeds, hip dysplasia is caused by an abnormal formation within the hip socket. This genetic disorder causes the joints to rub and deteriorate, which can lead to arthritis, lameness, or inflammation.

Hypothyroidism: This health complication occurs when the body can not produce enough thyroid hormones. In most cases, symptoms include weight gain and skin problems. Luckily for owners, hypothyroidism can easily be cured with a synthetic hormone pill.

Epilepsy: Epilepsy is the number one cause of seizures in dogs. This neurological disorder is believed to be caused by trauma, tumors, toxins, or infections. Seizures can range from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on its severity.

Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer that commonly affects larger breeds. Swelling, joint pain, and lameness are all common symptoms of osteosarcoma. Some dogs will have a massive growth or inflammation in the affected area of the tumor.

Bloat: Bloat is a serious health complication that commonly affects large, deep-chested animals. In cases of bloat, the stomach fills with air, food, or gas, and becomes trapped, blocking the passageways of the stomach.

More Resources

National Breed Website: Irish Setter Club of America

Irish Setter Rescue: Save Our Setters, Inc.

Health Issues Associated with this Breed: