Irish Setters have absolutely brilliant noses and—unlike scenthounds, who smell the ground—these dogs track their quarry by following scents in the air. They also run in zig-zags (a pattern called “quartering”), which lets them catch the scent of birds from all around. This breed, as you might expect, is often trained to locate, point, and retrieve birds.
But Irish Setters aren't just expert hunters. Their gorgeous red coats and loving, devoted demeanor has made them cherished canine companions. Several have even been First Dog! Irish Setters lived in the White House with two presidents.
Originally from Ireland (as you might have guessed from the name), this large-sized and high-energy breed can grow to between 60-70 pounds and lives an average of 12-14 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Sporting group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Hunting
Breed Group: Sporting
Average Lifespan: 12-14 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 63
FAMILY gundog, setter, pointer
AREA OF ORIGIN Ireland
DATE OF ORIGIN 1700s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION bird setting and retrieving
TODAY'S FUNCTION pointing, pointing field trials
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 27 Weight: 70
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 25 Weight: 60
OTHER NAME red setter
Energy level High energy
Exercise needs High
Playfullness Very playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly
Ease of training Moderately easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Not very protective
Grooming needs Moderate maintenance
Cold tolerance Medium tolerance
Heat tolerance Medium tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS AN IRISH SETTER'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
Oh, to be an Irish Setter! Boisterous, fun-loving, and young at heart, nothing keeps these good dogs down. Their playful, happy nature makes them very family-friendly, and boy, do they love kids. They don't mind other dogs or pets, either; and a stranger is most likely a friend this pup just hasn't met yet.
WHAT IS IRISH SETTER BEHAVIOR LIKE?
Fast and enduring, Irish Setters are superior sporting dogs — they are built for speed and need lots of exercise. This dog lives to run. Whether you're training for a 5k or an ultramarathon, your Irish Setter will match you mile for mile. Once she's run enough, this four-legged furry friend is a calm and well-mannered housemate.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN AN IRISH SETTER?
Eager to please but somewhat distractible, the Irish Setter responds well to training. They're particularly willing to learn when there's food involved — isn't it funny how that works out? They excel at hunting and retrieving.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO IRISH SETTERS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Irish Setters are moderate, seasonal shedders. Those luscious locks need regular grooming. Plan on brushing at least a few times a week to keep their silky hair from tangling or matting. Bathe your furry fashionista once a month.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO IRISH SETTERS HAVE?
Though most Irish Setters are fairly healthy dogs, some have been known to develop eye disease, epilepsy, and cancer. This breed is particularly susceptible to bloat, a condition that requires immediate attention from your veterinarian. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) and contact your vet at once if you suspect your dog might be suffering from this ailment.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE IRISH SETTERS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Irish Setters among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large as an Irish Setter! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT IS AN IRISH SETTER'S BEST DAY?
An Irish Setter's best day involves lots of running, jumping, barking, and running. Did we mention running? Whether it's chasing your kids around the yard or following an interesting smell over hill and valley, this is a dog on the go.
SHOULD I ADOPT AN IRISH SETTER?
The Irish Setter will be happiest and healthiest in a home with an active family. They're not particular about the temperature, but an Irish Setter who's not getting enough exercise won't be her happiest nor healthiest self.
Have you decided that an Irish Setter is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.