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About the Breed: Irish Setter


The Irish Setter is mischievous and independent, intelligent and stubborn, anxious to please and yet determined to have its way if it so chooses.


The Irish Setter was developed in Ireland during the 1700s by breeding Old Spanish Pointers, also known as setting spaniels, with the early Scottish Setters breed.


Along with its appearance, the Irish Setter’s personality is fun loving, playful and affectionate. The standard calls for a “rollicking” temperament, and anyone who has had the pleasure of raising an Irish Setter puppy can tell you exactly what that means.


It is mischievous and independent, intelligent and stubborn, anxious to please and yet determined to have its way if it decides to-go hunting or steal a treasure from closet or drawer.


Hunting instinct is strong and the breed enjoys a fine reputation as a reliable companion in the field.


The Irish Setter is a slow maturing dog, both mentally and physically. It stays a puppy for a long time, and retains some of its merry Irish character forever.


Some believe that the setter is difficult to train, but this is not so. The Irish Setter is very smart, sometimes smarter than its owner, so one must use care and patience in training this dog. Once learned, a lesson is never forgotten, so it behooves the owner to train a puppy with love and firmness, never harshness or cruelty.

The breed is naturally clean and fastidious and will house-train quickly, if given the opportunity to go out at regular intervals when it is young.


It loves to be with its people and will adapt to riding in a car, preferably in a crate where it can stretch out comfortably and be secure.


This breed is not aggressive but it will energetically announce the arrival of all comers, and if put to the test has been known to protect its owners from harm.

One of the primary requisites for owning an Irish Setter is the time and the facilities to exercise it often. This is a high-energy-level breed, needing an area to run and play big enough for it to stretch its legs. This is the single most important factor in raising a happy and healthy dog.


Exercise, however, does not mean opening the door and allowing the dog to run free. Irish Setters will follow their noses and cannot be guaranteed to remain within one’s property until they are well along in years. Sometimes this happy state of aging never occurs. Either an ample fenced yard or the means to walk or run the dog daily are a must if you wish to have a happy and adjusted Irish Setter.


  • Fun loving and playful—most remain puppy-like well into adulthood. 

  • Affectionate—loves to be with its people.

  • Intelligent and anxious to please.

  • Naturally clean and fastidious.

  • Strong hunting / prey drive instinct.


  • Require regular brushing and combing at least several times a week, if not daily.

  • Mischievous, independent, and stubborn.

  • Strong hunting / prey drive instinct.

  • High energy, needs a lot of exercise.

Best With

  • Homes with a large, fenced yard with a solid 5 to 6-foot fence.

  • Owner(s) committed to regular, consistent, positive reinforcement training.

  • An active home that can provide regular daily exercise, both physical and mental.

Not For

  • Homes with no one home a good portion of the day.

  • Someone who expects a great dog without putting in the time and patience to provide training.

  • Someone who isn't able to laugh at occasional mischief.

More Info




Females: Preferred height at the withers is 25 inches, and roughly 60 pounds. Males: Preferred height at the withers is 27 inches, and roughly 70 pounds.

Males: Average 34 to 36 inches at the shoulder, and 160 to 180 pounds.



Mahogany or rich chestnut red with no black. A small amount of white on chest, throat or toes, or a narrow centered streak on skull not to be penalized.

Energy Level:



Life Expectancy:

On average, 10 to 15 years.



Irish Setters typically love children and are usually very gentle with them. However Irish Setter puppies may be a little too rough in their play for very young children.

Other Animals:


Irish Setters usually get along with other dogs, but do tend to prefer other setters. They can be taught to tolerate cats. Irish Setters ARE hunting dogs and their prey drive is high. They like to hunt birds, rabbits, cats who run away and other small animals.



Irish Setters do well in action sports such as Agility, and Flyball. They can do obedience competition as long as their owner makes the practices fun and short. Nothing bores an Irish Setter more than practicing the same thing over and over. They excel in the field with competitions in Field Trials and Hunting Tests, and love a day of hunting with their human companion.



This is the Irish Setter’s biggest downfall. They have long hair on their chest, belly, legs, ears and tail. They require brushing/combing several times a week if not daily. All dogs shed, Irish Setters tend to shed a lot twice a year (Spring and Fall) and a moderate amount the rest of the year.


For the most part, Irish Setters are healthy. As a breed, they do have problems with Bloat (a medical emergency where air is trapped in the stomach and can cause death), Cancer (various kinds), and Hypothyroidism (easily controlled with inexpensive meds, but is genetic).

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