Irish Setter

Updated: September 4, 2018
Irish Setter

The Irish red setter, also known simply as an Irish setter, is considered one of the most beautiful and glamorous dogs. This is mainly due to its slender figure and its silky reddish fur.

Although originally a hunting dog, its undeniable beauty has gained it popularity among dog shows and canine enthusiasts.

Are you thinking of adopting an Irish setter? If so, keep reading this AnimalWised breed file to find out everything you need to know about the: history, character and care of these glamorous canines.

  • Europe
  • Ireland
Physical characteristics
  • 5-14
  • 14-18
  • 18-22
  • 22-27
  • 27-31
  • More than 31
Adult weight
  • 2-7
  • 7-22
  • 22-55
  • 55-100
  • 100-220
Life expectancy
  • 8-10
  • 10-12
  • 12-14
  • 15-20
Recommended physical activity
  • Low
  • Meidum
  • High
Type of hair
  1. Origin of the Irish setter
  2. Physical characteristics of the Irish red setter
  3. Character of an Irish red setter
  4. Caring for an Irish red setter
  5. Educating an Irish red setter
  6. Health of an Irish red setter

Origin of the Irish setter

The red Irish setter originated from Irish red and white setter, which is now a lesser-known breed. In fact, the red Irish setter became so popular that it somewhat displaced its predecessor. Nowadays, when talking about the Irish setter, more people initially refer to the red breed.

In the eighteenth century there was a well-defined type of Irish red and white setter, commonly used for hunting. It was only at the end of that century and at the beginning of the nineteenth century that people began to breed entirely red setters.

At that time these dogs were used exclusively for hunting. Around 1862, if red setter puppies were born with unwanted characteristics, they were sadly killed. However there was one puppy, Champion Palmerston, that was saved by an amateur breeder and became a sensation in dog shows. Champion Palmerston changed the history of the breed, and left many of its descendants as desired type by breeders. With this growth in dog show popularity, these breeds slowly became less common in hunting. This is why today's Irish setters are more common as show dogs and pets than as hunters, even though they still have strong hunting instincts.

Later, with the aim of breeding back towards the original red setter prototype, came a variety of small and more compact setters. They never gained much popularity.

Nowadays the red Irish setter is nearly completely absent from hunting grounds and is known commonly as an excellent pet. Despite its beauty and great character, the breed is not one of the most popular breeds in the world. This is perhaps because they require a lot of exercise.

Physical characteristics of the Irish red setter

According to the FCI standard of the breed, the height at the withers of males should be between 58 and 67 centimeters, while that of females should be between 55 and 62 centimeters. Their ideal weight is not indicated in the standard, but the red Irish setters usually weigh around 30 kilograms.

The Irish setter is a tall, elegant and slender dog with a beautiful and silky reddish chestnut coat. This dog has an athletic and well proportioned body with a deep narrow chest and a muscularly slightly arched back. It has an elongated and thin head with an oval skill and well-defined naso-frontal depression. Its nose can appear black or mahogany. Its ears are of low insertion and fall forming a sharp fold.

Its tail is of medium length of low insertion.

One of the most striking features of this breed is its fur. This coat is short and thin on its head and outside of its legs. However, it is longer on other parts of its body, forming fringes. The color accepted by the International Cynological Federation (FCI) standard is chestnut (slightly reddish chestnut to mahogany). Small white spots can be accepted if they appear on the chest, legs, fingers and face. Black spots are not accepted by the breed standard.

Character of an Irish red setter

In general, Irish setter dogs are cheerful, independent, very sociable and curious. They are also intelligent and friendly, but hold a strong hunter instinct.

These dogs are easy to socialize, both with adults, children, other dogs and even other pets. They are not innately aggressive dogs. However, it is always important to socialize these dogs correctly. If they are not socialized properly they may become fearful or aggressive as they grow older.

When these dogs are well educated, they rarely show signs of behavioral problems. They are, however, incredibly active dogs and therefore need a lot of exercise. If they do not receive required play time to channel their energy: they may become frustrated and turn destructive.

Because of their kind and sociable nature, setters are excellent pets for those who have enough time and space to dedicate. They tend to be delicate and good with children and are generally considered good pets for families with children. Due to their high level of activity, they are not good pets for sedentary people.

Caring for an Irish red setter

Its coat needs to be brushed once a day to keep it silky and tangle-free, but special care provided by a canine hairdressers is not necessary. You should not bathe this breed frequently, only when you believe necessary.

Irish setters need a lot of exercise. They require long walks or the option to run freely in a fenced area. It would be ideal if your Irish setter had the opportunity to run freely, preferably with other dogs, a couple times a week.

Although they are independent dogs and need to run outdoors, they also require attention and love from their families.

Due to their physical characteristics and their active character, the red Irish setters cannot adapt well to living in a small apartment or in highly populated urban areas. If you want to adopt an Irish setter, consider whether you have an open space or open garden where they can run freely.

Educating an Irish red setter

Irish setters are very intelligent dogs and therefore learn easily. However, due to their hunting instinct, they are distracted easily. Therefore, when training this breed, you have to be patient and we suggest using positive reinforcement.

Health of an Irish red setter

Unfortunately, due to selective breeding, this breed is prone to hereditary diseases. Among the most common hereditary diseases in this breed, we have:

However, if you offer your Irish setter the correct preventative medicines and the required amount of exercise it needs, be ready to have a happy and healthy canine!

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Irish Setter