Breed details and history of Irish Setters.

Choosing an Irish Setter

The dignified and aristocratic appearance of the Irish setter was first seen in Ireland in the 19th century. Ever since then, the breed has been a popular showpiece. Though originally used as a hunting dog, the Irish setter now spends his days doting over the family and children under his care.

History and Origin

The majority of dogs in society have been developed for a particular purpose. Many have evolved to assist their owners in certain aspects of hunting. The Irish setter is no exception.

The Irish setter is thought to have descended from English setters, spaniels and pointers. The breed may also have a little Gordon setter blood.

The primary purpose of the Irish setter was to assist their owners in bird hunting. The dog would point to a bird and hold still until the hunter threw a net over the dog and quarry. Eventually, the dog was bred more for appearance and a beautiful coat. As time went on, other dog breeds became better equipped and proved more popular as hunters. Subsequently, the Irish setter became more of a house pet than hunter.

Appearance and Size

The Irish setter is a regal and dignified dog. Their long legs, long neck and narrow head make the breed a stunning display of sophistication. The chest is deep and the dog is slender and lean. The most significant aspect of the Irish setter is the hair coat.

The early Irish setters were white with red patches. Gradually, the solid red color became more common and by the 1870s, the controversy over the color was done: red won. The Irish setter’s coat is long and deep red to mahogany with flowing feathers on the legs, tail and ears.

The adult Irish setter stands 25 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weighs up to 60 to 70 pounds.


Although energetic and playful, the Irish setter can also be gentle. As a setter, this breed needs plenty of exercise and enjoys the companionship of people.

Home and Family Relations

The Irish setter is a sensitive dog and does best in families that shower him with love and affection. The breed is known to be devoted and protective, especially around children. Young boisterous Irish setters may be too active and rambunctious for very small children.

The breed needs exercise, which can be difficult to provide in an apartment or city environment. Irish setters tend to do best when taken on daily jogs to release pent up energy.


The Irish setter tends to be slow to train but once a task is learned, they rarely need refresher courses. This breed tends toward nervousness and does not respond well to shouts or negative reinforcement. Only positive reinforcement training techniques should be used.

Special Concerns

The Irish setter does not enjoy being left alone or confined. Without consistent companionship, the dog may develop behavior problems. If not properly socialized early in life, Irish setters may develop an aggressive temperament.

The hair coat of the Irish setter is beautiful but requires lots of brushing and care to prevent mats and tangles.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the Irish Setter is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

Life Span