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Irish Setter: The Ultimate Guide

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The Irish Setter is an adorable breed of dog that originates in Ireland, and they are well known for their grace and swiftness. These dogs are super friendly, love to play, and have really high energy levels to keep them going throughout the day. However, Irish Setters can also be quite stubborn sometimes, which can be challenging.

There are so many things to think about when trying to find the right dog breed for you, and it can be difficult to know where to start looking for answers to all your questions.

You will need to find out as much as possible about the Irish Setter breed before bringing one home with you, as this will ensure that you are as prepared as possible to care for them.

Irish setter

To help you search for information about the Irish Setter breed, we have created the ultimate guide to the breed, which is full of all the information you will need to know about them before you make a decision.

We are going to look at the temperament, health, appearance, and personality of this dog and more, so just keep reading to find out what you need to know.

Irish Setter Key Facts

Before we get into this article, there are some key pieces of information about these dogs that you should be made aware of, and we will explain more about this below. 

Average Lifespan

On average, the Irish Setter will live for between 12 and 15 years of age.

Minimum Exercise (Per Day)

The Irish Setter is a dog breed that has high levels of energy, and so they will need to get a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise per day. These are dogs that will need lots of exercise, which you should split into two lots of 30 minutes of exercise per day.

This will help them to burn off their excess energy and ensure that they do not become destructive at home due to a lack of exercise.

Coat Length

Short and fine on the head and forelegs, the burnished mahogany or rich chestnut red coat is moderately long and straight on the rest of the body, with long, silky feathering on the ears, the backs of the forelegs and thighs, and the tail, and a fringe of hair on the belly and chest.

Minimum Cost (Per Month)

You can expect to pay at least $90 a month to care for your Irish Setter, which is really important to consider.

You will need to ensure that you can afford this amount on a monthly basis before you consider this breed. It can be helpful to write a list of all the things you need and their cost and determine if it would be financially viable.


Irish setters are good-sized dogs, ranging from 25 to 27 inches in height and 60 to 70 pounds in weight. They stand tall and elegant in appearance, with fairly long legs and a long neck. The ears hang and the muzzle is moderate with an obvious stop (forehead).


The Irish Setter is a large breed of dog.

Average Height

Male Irish Setters will usually stand at around 27 inches at the shoulder, whereas females are usually around 25 inches tall. 

Average Weight

Males typically weigh slightly more than females at around 70 pounds. Females typically weigh around 60 pounds.


The Irish Setter is a fun-loving, playful, and affectionate dog that is always ready to have a good time with you. They can be mischievous from time to time, and they are often goofy, which is bound to make you laugh.

They are typically really loving and affectionate towards their families and love to be in the company of others. 

Irish Setters are outgoing dogs that love people. While they are not considered guard dogs, they have been known to step in and protect their families if they feel that they need to.

However, there are excellent watchdogs who will be sure to let you know if you have visitors or intruders. Something else that is interesting about this breed is that they are slow to mature, and they will stay puppy-like for several years.

Apartment Living

The Irish Setter breed is not recommended for living in an apartment unless you are a particularly active household that can provide them with lots of daily exercise. Otherwise, they do best with a large backyard in which they can run around.

Good for Novice Owners

The Irish Setter can be a good dog for a novice owner, but you will need to be very patient with them. They do have a tendency to be stubborn at times, which can be challenging when you are trying to train them. Due to this, it can be beneficial to bring in an experienced and accredited trainer that has more experience with the breed.

Sensitivity Level

Irish Setters can be very sensitive at times, and they do not do well with harsh training. You should use positive reinforcement when you are training your dog, as they respond well to this. Additionally, they can become very anxious if they have been left alone for a long period of time.

Tolerates Being Alone

These dogs do not tolerate being alone for more than a few hours very well at all. They much prefer to be in the company of others, and they can develop separation anxiety when left alone. This can lead to destructive behavior, like chewing, and they may bark excessively in your absence. These dogs are better suited to people that spend a lot of time at home.

Tolerates Cold Weather

Irish Setters were originally bred with rainy and cold Irish weather in mind. They can handle cold and wet weather quite well because of this.

Tolerates Hot Weather

These dogs can handle hot weather moderately well and adapt to warm weather climates. If you do live somewhere warm, be sure to provide your dog with plenty of opportunities to swim. You should also always ensure that they have access to water and shade.

Affectionate With Family

Irish Setters are very friendly and affectionate dogs that will get along with just about anyone, including children, strangers, and other animals. They will show you their affection in lots of different ways, and they are the perfect choice for family-living.


Irish Setters can make the perfect companion for older children, but they can often be too rambunctious for toddlers and smaller children. Due to their larger size, they could easily knock down a small child by accident. 

Dog Friendly

Irish Setters are also good with other dogs in the household, and they can even get along with cats, especially if they’re raised with them. However, they might see other animals like pet birds as prey, as this is what they were originally bred to hunt. 

Friendly Toward Strangers

These dogs are very friendly towards strangers and will get along with them just fine. They don’t take long at all to warm up to new people, and they are friendly and loving towards most people, as long as they are not perceived as a threat.

Health And Grooming

Irish setter

Now that you know everything there is to know about the temperament, personality, and appearance of the Irish Setter, we will take a look at some of their common health issues and grooming requirements. 


Irish Setters do shed moderately, so you can expect to find some hair lying around your house, especially during shedding seasons. They will need to be groomed daily to keep their long and silky coats from becoming matted and tangled. Daily brushing will also help to limit the amount of fur that is left lying around the house.


These dogs do drool, but not excessively. If your Irish Setter is drooling excessively, then it could be a sign that they have an underlying health condition.


You will need to brush your Irish Setter dog at least every other day in order to keep their shiny coats free from tangles and mats, but everyday brushing is ideal. You should also check their fur for burrs and other debris after being outdoors in a field or on a hike.

They shouldn’t need to be bathed more than a few times a year unless they roll in something that they shouldn’t have or decide to jump in a muddy puddle.

However, this is only the case if you keep them well-brushed. You can bathe them more frequently if they start to smell, and you will need to if you plan to show your dog. You will need to use a shampoo that is specifically made for dogs to avoid drying out their coat and skin.

All breeds that have pendant or hanging ears will tend to have issues with ear infections. This is why it is so important to check your Irish Setter’s ears on a weekly basis, and wipe them out with a cotton ball that has been moistened with an ear cleaner.

You should also be brushing your Irish Setters teeth on a daily basis to remove a buildup of tartar and bacteria. This will also help to prevent things like gum disease and bad breath.

Finally, you should trim their nails around once or twice a month if they are not being worn down naturally. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, then it is likely that they are too long.

General Health

Generally, Irish Setter dogs are in good health. However, just like all other dogs, there are some health conditions that they are predisposed to, putting them at a higher risk. It is important to be aware of these conditions if you are considering the breed. 

Common Health Problems

Some of the most common health problems for Irish Setters to develop are:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Canine Leukocyte
  • Epilepsy
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy
  • Gastric Torsion
  • Panosteitis

Potential For Weight Gain

These dogs can gain too much weight if they are being overfed, or if you are giving them leftovers after dinner. It is important to keep an eye on their weight, just in case. 


Thankfully, the Irish Setter is an intelligent breed that is easily trainable. However, their one downfall when it comes to training is their high levels of energy. Some Irish Setters will get too hyper and overly excited, which can cause them to be distracted when you are trying to train them.

It can also make all of your training efforts seem uninteresting to them,as  they would much rather be doing something fun and energetic.

Easy To Train

Irish Setters are not the easiest of dogs to train, even though they are really intelligent. They will require someone that is both firm and consistent to prevent them from taking advantage of you. You may also need to be patient with them when they are quite stubborn. 


Irish Setters are intelligent dogs, which is an excellent quality when it comes to their training. Even though they have some traits that can make training them a bit of a challenge, their intelligence makes it so that when they are paying attention, they will easily pick up new commands and tricks. 

You will need to be able to provide them with leadership without using anger or physical force. Their intelligence also means that they can get bored very easily if you are being repetitive in their training. You will need to find ways to keep these sessions new and entertaining.

Otherwise, they will get bored easily and find something else to do to keep them occupied. If you are really struggling, you can take them to a professional and accredited trainer who can help with this.

Potential to Bite

The Irish Setter has a low chance of biting someone, but some of the main reasons that they might bite is when they are trying to protect you or themselves, they are in pain, they are excited, or they are being provoked. They may also bite or nip as puppies, but not out of aggression. They are simply displaying their herding instincts. 

Tendency To Bark Or Howl

The Irish Setter is not a dog breed that will shy away from being vocal, and they will be sure to use their voices if they feel that they need to alert you of something 


You might not be surprised to learn that this gorgeous breed of dog comes from Ireland, which is actually famous for these dogs. The Irish Setter appears to have been developed there in the 18th century, likely due to combining English Setters, spaniels, pointers, and Gordon Setters.

The first Irish Setters were sometimes also referred to as red spaniels, which gives a clue to their heritage. They were often red and white instead of the dark solid red that we see in them today. The Irish Earl of Enniskillen was thought to have started the trend for solid red dogs. By 1812, there were no other types in his kennels.

Some other Irish breeders of the time that preferred the red version of the dogs were Jason Hazzard of Timaskea in County Fermanagh and Sir St. George Gore. One dog, who was called Elcho, was the first Irish Setter to be imported to the United States.

He arrived in 1875 and instantly became a star. The first Irish Setter to be registered by the American Kennel Club was Admiral, in 1878.

They quickly became one of the most popular dog breeds in America, and between 1874 and 1948, 760 Irish Setters became conformation champions. In 194,0 the magazine Field and Stream called for a resurrection of the breed as a working dog.

This is why it is not unusual to see two types of these dogs: the larger, heavier show dog and the lighter, sleeker field dog.


On average, an Irish Setter puppy that comes from a reputable breeder will typically cost somewhere between $1200 and $2500. Their price will depend on the age, sex, and quality of the puppy, and the location of the breeder.

Irish Setter Fun Facts

  • These dogs are well-known for their mahogany colored coats
  • The Irish Setter is a setter, a breed of gundog, and family dog.
  • The coat comes in a range of shades, from deep mahogany to rich chestnut
  • This breed was originally used to set game
  • They were developed from a mix of Irish Water Spaniel, Irish Terrier, English Setter, Spaniel, Pointer, Gordon Setter.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.