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Irish Setter

Irish-Red-Setter

A Swift & Impulisve Dog

Affectionate, energetic, sociable

Irish Setters are devoted, good-natured, and loyal large dogs. Irish Setters form strong bonds with their family, but some are too hyper for small children. They are often used as therapy dogs because their affection is easily won over — they are ideal for active seniors, joggers, hikers, and families with older children, but they do best when not left home alone. They are energetic and need to expend some energy outdoors. Because they are natural hunters, they need an hour of running, playing games, learning tricks, or walking every day. 

Understanding their unique needs will help keep them healthy and create a strong bond between the two of you. Explore this page to learn more about the breed’s history, health concerns, characteristics, and care needs.

Breed Details

Height:25-27 in. Weight:60-70 lbs Lifespan:12-14 years

Size
3

1=small 5=large

Grooming requirements
3

1 = little grooming - 5 = much grooming

Energy level
5

1 = low energy - 5 = high energy

Ease of training
3

1 = difficult - 5 = easy

Affection toward owners
5

1 = independent - 5 = very affectionate

Friendliness toward strangers
5

1 = shy - 5 = very friendly

Routine Care: Irish Setters are smart dogs with lots of energy, so keep their mind and body active, or they'll get bored. That's when the naughty stuff starts. They can have a high prey drive, so they need to be leash walked and a sturdy fence is a must.

Grooming: Brush their coat as needed, at least weekly.

Dental:  Irish Setters generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week!

Ear Care: Clean their ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—your veterinarian can show you how!


The Irish Setter is a protective and affectionate dog who needs a strong leader, daily exercise, and enjoys time spent hanging out with their family.

Positive Traits:

  • Great with kids and other dogs: a true family pet 
  • Excellent hunting dog  
  • Loves to play games, especially fetch  
  • Intelligent, friendly, and easily won over 
  • Even temper and gentle disposition 
  • Alert, curious, and busy

Negative Traits:

  • Requires vigorous, frequent exercise and space to run  
  • Can be rambunctious and rowdy, especially as a younger dog  
  • Sensitive by nature, a bit slow to mature  
  • Prone to boredom and separation anxiety when left alone and will find trouble  
  • Willful and stubborn if you don’t show strong leadership  
  • Needs frequent attention from their family

Whether you are considering adding a new Irish Setter to your family or you already have one as a companion, it is important for you to know about the genetically linked diseases known to occur more often in this breed. Of course not every Irish Setter will have these problems, but research shows your pal is more at risk than other breeds.

By exploring the health concerns specific to the Irish Setter you will become a knowledgeable and confident pet parent. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about breed risks every time you visit and educate yourself on the most important symptoms to watch for at home. They are counting on you to be their health expert.

Some health issues an Irish Setter could encounter:

The Irish Setter originated in Ireland during the 18th century. They were bred as gundogs for tracking, pointing and retrieving game birds. Irish Setters can be independent, but they tend to form strong bonds with family members. They are protective of their family and make good watchdogs, but don’t expect guarding instincts. The Irish Setter is an outgoing and joyful family member and prefers not to be left at home alone. Within the breed, Irish Setters can be clownish, reserved, or high-strung.

Consult with a veterinarian if your Irish Setter shows signs of the following:

Dry heaving or a large, tight, painful abdomen

Excessive licking or chewing, pawing at face and/or ears, head shaking, face rubbing

Any abnormal shaking, trembling, or excessive involuntary tremors 

Blinking, redness, pain or itchiness around the eyes

Cloudiness to eye lens

Increased blinking, extra tears and squinting

Dilated pupils in daylight, or increased "eye shine" at night

Gums that are a color other than bright pink

Dull coat, hair loss, sluggish, weight gain

General reluctance to run or play

Louder than normal panting, especially when hot or after exercise 
 

  • Care

    Routine Care: Irish Setters are smart dogs with lots of energy, so keep their mind and body active, or they'll get bored. That's when the naughty stuff starts. They can have a high prey drive, so they need to be leash walked and a sturdy fence is a must.

    Grooming: Brush their coat as needed, at least weekly.

    Dental:  Irish Setters generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week!

    Ear Care: Clean their ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—your veterinarian can show you how!


  • Characteristics

    The Irish Setter is a protective and affectionate dog who needs a strong leader, daily exercise, and enjoys time spent hanging out with their family.

    Positive Traits:

    • Great with kids and other dogs: a true family pet 
    • Excellent hunting dog  
    • Loves to play games, especially fetch  
    • Intelligent, friendly, and easily won over 
    • Even temper and gentle disposition 
    • Alert, curious, and busy

    Negative Traits:

    • Requires vigorous, frequent exercise and space to run  
    • Can be rambunctious and rowdy, especially as a younger dog  
    • Sensitive by nature, a bit slow to mature  
    • Prone to boredom and separation anxiety when left alone and will find trouble  
    • Willful and stubborn if you don’t show strong leadership  
    • Needs frequent attention from their family
  • Health Concerns

    Whether you are considering adding a new Irish Setter to your family or you already have one as a companion, it is important for you to know about the genetically linked diseases known to occur more often in this breed. Of course not every Irish Setter will have these problems, but research shows your pal is more at risk than other breeds.

    By exploring the health concerns specific to the Irish Setter you will become a knowledgeable and confident pet parent. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about breed risks every time you visit and educate yourself on the most important symptoms to watch for at home. They are counting on you to be their health expert.

    Some health issues an Irish Setter could encounter:

  • History

    The Irish Setter originated in Ireland during the 18th century. They were bred as gundogs for tracking, pointing and retrieving game birds. Irish Setters can be independent, but they tend to form strong bonds with family members. They are protective of their family and make good watchdogs, but don’t expect guarding instincts. The Irish Setter is an outgoing and joyful family member and prefers not to be left at home alone. Within the breed, Irish Setters can be clownish, reserved, or high-strung.

  • Watch Out For

    Consult with a veterinarian if your Irish Setter shows signs of the following:

    Dry heaving or a large, tight, painful abdomen

    Excessive licking or chewing, pawing at face and/or ears, head shaking, face rubbing

    Any abnormal shaking, trembling, or excessive involuntary tremors 

    Blinking, redness, pain or itchiness around the eyes

    Cloudiness to eye lens

    Increased blinking, extra tears and squinting

    Dilated pupils in daylight, or increased "eye shine" at night

    Gums that are a color other than bright pink

    Dull coat, hair loss, sluggish, weight gain

    General reluctance to run or play

    Louder than normal panting, especially when hot or after exercise 
     

Irish Setter Discussions

Share your thoughts and experiences, ask questions, or just show your love for the Irish Setter breed here!

Select Another Breed

To view the sources for the information listed on this page, see our Dog Breed Guide Reference page.

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