Irish Setter

Type: Gun Dog

Height: 25 - 27 inches.

Weight: 60 - 70 lbs.

Life Span: 12 - 14 years.

Litter Size: 7 - 8 puppies.

Country of Origin: Ireland

Activity: Very High. Irish Setters are equipped with boundless energy.

Watch-dog: High. They are very alert, and very good gundogs.

Guard-dog: Very Low. Irish Setters are much too friendly to defend anyone.

Description: The Irish Setter is an aristocratic bird dog who has a rich, lustrous red coat and an expressive face. They are a friendly and amusing breed who enjoy children and make good pets, gundogs or watchdogs. They enjoy human companionship and may be boisterous at times. They have even been known to run up to other dogs just to play with them. They highly enjoy running circles around people or dogs in an attempt to play. Irish Setters are slow to mature, making them ideal candidates for the person who loves the puppy mentality. Sometimes known as "Big Red or the Red Setter" they have boundless energy and are full of high spirits. They love to exercise and exert themselves with anything, which requires careful training by the owner so that their busy minds do not turn to more destructive behaviors if they are bored. Irish Setters are a little lighter and speedier than the other setters. They are not as heavy as their cousins, and are known to be one of the most elegant looking. Irish Setters have a well muscled, thin body with drop ears that hang low. They have long fur that is wavy and feathered, and long limbs and tail to complete. Their brilliant red color attracts the eyes of judges and pet lovers alike. The Irish Setter is the perfect breed for a fun-loving, active family.

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Other Names: Red Setter, Modder rhu (Red Dog in Gaelic), Red Spaniel

Colors: Mahogany or rich chestnut red with no trace of black. They may also have white markings on the head, chest, throat, or sometimes the toes. A star on the forehead or narrow streak or blaze on the nose or face is permissible.

Coat: Short and fine on head, fronts of legs and tips of ears; moderately long, free and as straight as possible on rest of the body; they have a good feathering on the chest and backs of legs, as well as tail. Their fur is very silky in appearance and to the touch.

Temperament: Irish Setters are active, affectionate and exuberant. They love to play, and will actively seek out playmates, often making circles around them. They get along well with other animals, especially horses, making them unable to guard effectively. They get along very well with children, despite their excited behavior. They love to be around their owners, and need discipline with a sensitive hand. They are sensitive to their owners, and need not be harshly punished. Irish Setters are very outgoing, friendly, spirited and lively throughout their adulthood. They mature slowly, making them have the demeanor of a puppy most of their lives.

With Children: Yes. Irish Setters are friendly and patient with children.

With Pets: Yes. If they are given socialization to other animals when they are young, they get along with them great. Irish Setters have a special affinity to horses.

Special Skills: Field sports dog and family pet.

Care and Training: Daily combing and brushing is required to keep the Irish Setters coat in excellent silky condition. Pay special attention during shedding. Irish Setters need a large amount of exercise. Lack of exercise can make them restless and difficult to train. If they become too bored, they can turn to destructive behavior to entertain themselves, so they should be walked and played with daily. Irish Setters have a mind of their own but are intelligent to understand what is expected of them. Use a consistent, loving approach when handling. Teach a puppy to come when they are young. But do not use harsh training, as they are very a sensitive breed.

Learning Rate: High. Obedience – High. Problem Solving – High.

Special Needs: Attention, exercise, fenced yard, grooming, and a leash.

Living Environment: A home with a fenced yard is mandatory. Owners of an Irish Setter should be patient and enjoy an athletic breed. The best owner for this breed would be an active family living in a rural or suburban environment.

Health Issues: Skin problems, epilepsy, hip dysplasia and bloat. Bloat is a health issue to most dogs, being the second largest killer of dogs other than cancer, but Irish Setters can be particularly susceptible to it because of their deep chests. Other health concerns include eye problems, hypothyroidism, and osteosarcoma.

History: Developed by crossing Irish Water Spaniels, other Spaniels, Setters (Gordon) and pointers (including the Spanish Pointer, which is unknown outside of Spain), they originally had a red and white coat. During the 19th century a chestnut red coat was introduced and is now the only accept color by American standards. Back then, however, the two both came in the same litter. The red and white, as well as the solid red colors on this breed have existed in Ireland thought to be as far back as the 1700s. Although the Irish claim this breed to never have mixed with pointer blood, they do in fact resemble pointers more than some of the other Setters. As Bede Maxwell, author of The Truth About Sporting Dogs, says, “Irishophiles may prefer to believe their Setter sprang full-formed from among the shamrocks, but history yields no proof of it.” Edward Laverack, a man who spent his lifetime trying to perfect the English Pointer, is most credited with the development of the Irish Setter. For much of the 18th and 19th centuries, the breed flourished as both solid red and red and white. Only until the breed began to prosper in dog shows in Victorian England did the solid red color become more popular and begin to dwindle the population of the red and whites. In 1882 the Irish Red Setter Club was formed, and thus continued the streak of red. Today the red and whites are considered a different breed than the solid reds, although they are entirely similar except for the color of coat. The breed proved itself a worthy gundog to the English, and is still used today for that purpose. Mostly, though, this breed has been moving into the position of family pet rather than hunting dog. Today the Irish Setter is widely used as a friend of the family, as well as in dog shows around the world.

First Registered by the AKC: 1878

AKC Group: Sporting Group

Class: Gundog

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 7), KC(GB), UKC