Irish Setter At-a-Glance

With its long, flowing red coat, the friendly and lovable Irish Setter is one of the most beautiful dog breeds. You will very likely be constantly stopped on walks by people who want to admire it.

Irish Setters are one of the older dog breeds and have been around for 200-plus years. They were originally bred in Ireland to work in the moors and assist in the hunting of grouse, partridge, and other game birds. Their job was to flush the game, not retrieve it. They are not retrievers.

Weight (pounds)
Male: 70-80
Female: 60-70100
Height (inches)
Male: 27-28
Female: 25-26
Lifespan (years)

Dog Breed Group

Characteristics Ratings

We rate 19 characteristics for each breed, divided into three categories:
Highest Rated – Characteristics for which this breed is rated 4 or 5 stars (on a 5 star scale).
Neutral Rated – Characteristics that rated 3 stars.
Lowest Rated – Characteristics that rated only 1 or 2 stars.

Highest Rated

  • Good Family Dog
  • Kid Friendly
  • Good With Other Dogs
  • Low Drooling
  • Friendly to Strangers
  • Likes to Play
  • Handles Change Easily
  • Easy to Train
  • High Energy Level
  • Tolerates Cold Climate
  • High Intelligence

Neutral Rated

  • Low Shedding
  • Protective Nature
  • Low Amount of Barking
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Tolerates Hot Climate

Lowest Rated

  • Suitable for Small Yards/Apartments
  • Tolerates Being Left Alone
  • Good General Health

General Overview

Irish Setters make ideal family dogs. They are friendly, affectionate, make good companions, and are excellent with children.

They are not aggressive or challenging around other dogs. They also do fine with other animals in the family, so long as there is a period of introduction. With strangers, they are not aggressive but can be a bit aloof at first.

Their kind and non-aggressive nature mean they are not good guard dogs. However, they will bark to let you know if strangers are around or if they sense any other sort of danger.

They need human companionship and to be with their family, so they are not a good choice if you are away a lot. Separation anxiety is definitely an issue with this breed.

From a physical maintenance standpoint, they do need to be brushed daily due to their thick, luxurious coat. Other than that, their grooming needs aren’t high and they don’t need regular trips to the grooming parlor.

They do shed but not as much as you would think, given their thick coats. Also on the plus side, they don’t drool much at all.

An important thing to consider with an Irish Setter is their very high need for daily exercise. Being a sporting breed, they are full of energy and can become destructive when they aren’t given enough physical and mental stimulation.

Brief walks on a short lease will not do it for Irish Setters. They need frequent long walks and lots of off-leash exercise. Canine sports are a good choice, as they excel in agility, rally, tracking, and obedience.

Their extremely high need for exercise means they are not suitable for apartments or houses with small yards.

Being very intelligent and eager to please, Irish Setters are quick to learn. However, they are easily distracted due to their hunting instincts and can become bored with training unless it’s consistently fun and interesting.

As a result, great patience is needed when training an Irish Setter. Yes, they are highly intelligent, but they are also thinkers, so they are not a dog that will simply sit and do exactly what you tell them.

When it comes to health Irish Setters, unfortunately, have some problems. Selective breeding over the years has resulted in them having a high frequency of inherited diseases.

Progressive retinal atrophy and hip dysplasia are two of the most common ones. Veterinarians will tell you that Irish Setters are now prone to a variety of eye problems.

Less common are ailments that affect many dog breeds, such as gastric torsion and epilepsy.

However, despite these health issues, Irish Setters enjoy one of the longer life spans for large breed dogs, at 12-15 years. So, you’re liable to have this wonderful breed for a long time!

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