irish setter dog breed

The Irish Setter is an aristocratic dog breed that originated from Ireland, and is part of the UKC, Gun Dog Group, and the AKC, Sporting Dog Group. This breed is believed to have been bred from English Setters, Spaniels, Pointers, and Gordon Setters during the 18th century. They were used to locate gamebirds, by using their sense of smell. Both Irish Red and White Setters are considered separate breeds today.

Brief History

During the 1800s, Irish huntsman bred the rangy “Red Setter” to cover flat countryside of the Emerald Isle. The Irish Setter’s kinsman from Scotland then bred the “Gordon Setter” to flush and retrieve game in rocky terrain. The Irish Setter is a hardworking dog breed that is both energetic and efficient in the Gun Dog Group. It is a good looking dog breed that is graceful, and gentle. This dog breed will show a hunter that he’s found birds by lying down on his belly. The Irish Setter has been a tremendous success in the show ring since the 1870’s.

Physical Features

The Irish Setter is a medium-to large-size dog breed that is lean and athletic in build. With a long, lean head, and almond-shaped brown eyes, the Irish Setter has long drop ears, and a black nose. There is delicate chiseling along the muzzle, around the eyes and along the cheeks.

Their tails are tapered to a fine point. They are  rich red in color and aristocratic in build. Their coats are mahogany or a rich chestnut red. Their coat are flat and may have white markings on the chest, toes, and throat. This dog breed has an outgoing personality suitable for all family members, adults and children alike.

Average Height:

23-28 inches

Average Weight:

55-80 pounds

Life Expectancy:

12-14 years


The Irish Setters are the quintessential family dogs. These pups need companionship, and plenty of mental stimulation. Gun dogs were bred to help hunters in the field, and to work together with people and other dogs. This breed adores children, and are the best companions for camping and hiking trips. They also enjoy swimming and boating. This dog breed is very active, and needs positive dog training and socialization from puppyhood to ensure that they are welcoming to everyone. This breed does not do well with apartment living, and is at its best with farms, and large gardens to play in. Active dog parents are a must because the Irish Setter.

Possible Health Concerns

The Irish Setter is a healthy dog breed that may be susceptible to the following health conditions:

  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a hereditary developmental disease. HD affects Irish Setters. HD occurs when the hip joint fails to develop properly. 
  • Hypothyroidism: This is a deficiency of the thyroid hormone, and can cause weight gain in the Irish Setter, as well as constipation, and cold sensitivity.
  • Osteosarcoma: This is a type of bone cancer that is on the rise in Irish Setters. It is mostly found on the dog’s limbs, although it can also be found on the shoulder at times. Most Irish Setters who are affected with osteosarcoma will get this between the ages of 7-10 years of age. 
  • Entropion: This is an inherited eye condition. This occurs when the eyelid rolls inward causing the eyelid to rub against the cornea. This is a very painful condition that can lead to blindness. Surgery correction early on helps to correct this condition and prevent blindness.
  • Bloat: The Irish Setter is deep- chested, and thus more prone to bloat. Bloat is a life threatening emergency. It is caused by the twisting of the stomach, together with the accumulation of gas, with or without fluid. At the first signs of dry vomiting, restlessness and discomfort, contact your emergency veterinarian. Don’t wait for a few hours. This is a true emergency that is life-threatening
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is the name for a group of diseases that cause degeneration of the retina. This will include inherited abnormalities of  light-sensitive cells.
irish setter


The Irish Setter needs daily exercise with plenty of off-leash runs to maintain a healthy weight and stay mentally stimulated. This breed enjoys training, and benefits mentally from all the positive attention it receives during positive dog training. The Irish Setter is a great running and hiking companion, and is also an excellent hunting dog.


Each brand of dog food should be chosen with your dog’s age and specific health needs in mind. Consult with your veterinarian as to the best dietary option for your Irish Setter.

irish setter puppy


The Irish Setter has a rich red, silky and soft coat. Grooming needs to occur daily with a soft bristle brush, and a metal dog comb to remove tangles and matting. Twice yearly dental visits are recommended for cleanings to prevent gum disease in your Irish Setter. Nails should be trimmed as often as necessary.

The Irish Setter is an affectionate and happy dog breed that is eager to please, and will easily adapt into your home. These pups do not do well alone at home all day, and need to participate in plenty of family activities. This breed is gentle and loving with children.

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