Breed of the Month–Irish Setter

1December 2013

Irish Setter

Color:  Rich chestnut red with no trace of black, may have white markings.
Height:  Males:  23-27 inches/  Females:  21.5-25 inches
Weight:  Males:  70-75 lbs/  Females:  60-65 lbs
Life Span:  11-15 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Arthritis, canine leukocyte adhesion deficiency (CLAD), bloat, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), osteosarcoma, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and von Willebrand disease.

Coat:  Straight, flat, with feathering, moderate length.
Country of Origin:  Ireland

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

The exact origins of the Irish Setter are not known, but the breed is believed to be developed from pointers, setters, and spaniels.  These dogs have a highly developed sense of smell and were bred to locate birds and hold their position instead of chasing.  The unique abilities of this breed made it highly sought after in the 18th century for hunting and tracking.  The magnificent color of the dog’s coat gained it popularity in the show ring in the 19th century.  The Irish Red Setter Club was formed in 1882 in Ireland.  The Irish Setter was brought to the United States in the late 1800s and the breeds popularity again grew.  A few years later, an overwhelming demand for Irish Setter puppies decreased its breed popularity.  US breeders took that opportunity to recover the breeds better traits and reemphasize its qualities as a field and show dog.

The Irish Setter is an intelligent, loving, and enthusiastic companion.  Admired by many for his beauty and grace, the Irish Setter has an upbeat happy-go-lucky personality and makes friends easily.

The Irish Setter is a very high energy breed and requires lots of daily exercise.  This breed needs at least two good hour long walks per day, plus plenty of other time to run, hunt, and explore.  This is a breed for a high energy, active person.  This breed excels at agility, obedience, hunting tests, and even pet therapy.

The beautiful red coat of the Irish Setter requires regular brushing.  Show dogs must be professional groomed.  Special care should be noted in taking care of his long ears that may become infected if not kept clean.

The Irish Setter is eager to please, but his enthusiasm can make long sessions difficult.  Short, positive, reward-based training sessions are recommended.  This breed is very intelligent but extra care must often be taken to keep his attention.