Group of four Irish Setters sitting in a field

Irish Setter Training, Temperament and Care

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Are you thinking about getting an Irish Setter for your family? Read on for more Irish Setter training, temperament and care tips, so you can understand if this breed is a good fit for your lifestyle.

You may know that these beautiful dogs are famous for their striking red coats and chummy, outgoing personalities. Originally, this breed was developed for setting small wild game animals and game birds. Today, Irish Setters are popular family pets and all-round best friends.

Irish Setters are a highly energetic breed needing lots of routine exercise, so they’re great dogs for very active families. Although they can be quite daft, they are really affectionate and love being with their humans. Training and socialization are key to these dogs because they can be stubborn at times.

This is truly an extraordinary breed. Irish Setters make wonderful pets for anyone who is willing and ready to give them loads of love, attention, and exercise. The Irish Setter — a loyal and loving canine companion who will bring you lots of joy.

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Irish Setter History

Breed Origins

Irish Setters originated in Ireland — Duh!  That’s funny, but the exact origins of the Irish Setter breed are sort of cloudy. Although, it is believed by most experts that the breed descended from a mixture of Spaniel breeds. These breeds include the English Setter, the Gordon Setter, and the Irish Water Spaniel. The Irish Setter was probably developed and introduced in the 18th century.  It was very well received as a versatile dog that was a natural hunting dog on either land or water.

Development of the Breed

The Irish Setter was first accepted as a unique breed in the late 1800’s. Although getting its start as a hunting dog, the Irish Setter quickly became popular as a purebred show dog, as well as a lovely family pet. 

The breed’s distinctive red coat can range from deep mahogany to a lighter chestnut color.  The Irish Setter’s luxurious coat is one of its most recognizable traits. The breed’s popularity continued to grow throughout the 20th century, and today it is a world-wide, much-beloved pet dog.

Breeders have worked over the decades to refine the Irish Setter’s general appearance and sometimes stubborn temperament, while saving its overall hunting instincts and athleticism. 

Today’s Irish Setters are typically friendly, energetic dogs that make great companions for active people. Overall, the Irish Setter is a beautiful and versatile breed that has a rich history and a bright future. Whether you are looking for a loyal hunting companion or a loving family pet, the Irish Setter is always a great choice.

Irish Setter Appearance

Irish Setters are well known for their beautiful features and athletic build. They are a medium to large breed — 25 to 27 inches tall at the withers and weigh in the range of 60 to 70 pounds (fully grown in their prime).

Size and Weight

Irish Setters are typically a well-built, lean breed with an aristocratic appearance. They have a deep chest, muscular shoulders, and a long, lean neck that flows gracefully into a slightly sloping topline. The breed standard calls for a well-balanced dog that is neither too heavy nor too light.

Coat and Color

Arguably, the most admired physical feature of an Irish Setter is its beautiful, long and silky coat with feathering on the ears, chest, legs, and tail. The coat is often a deep reddish mahogany colour that is unique to this breed. Some Irish Setters may have small patches of white on their chest, throat, or toes, but too much white is considered to be unacceptable for purebred status.

Facial Features

Irish Setters have a very distinctive head shape featuring a long muzzle with a slightly domed crown. These dogs have friendly, almond-shaped eyes that are usually dark brown or hazel.  Irish Setter ears are large, soft, low set, and they hang down close to the head. The facial features that people love — and that sets the breed apart — are the friendly expressions and intelligent eyes.

Irish Setters are a beautiful dog breed with a unique appearance that is immediately recognizable. Their size and weight, athleticism, unique coat colour, and handsome facial features all add to their grace and appearance.

Irish Setter sitting on a bed with a ball in its mouth

Irish Setter Temperament

Irish Setters possess a friendly and fun-loving temperament. They are truly affectionate dogs that love being with people and other pets. They are very athletic, playful, and high-energy. So this breed is a great choice for active families.

Personality Traits

Irish Setters are famous for their attentiveness, friendliness, loyalty, and enthusiasm. They are extremely social dogs that thrive on human attention. They are well-known for their high energy and big love for playing, but they can often be stubborn.  Patience and consistency are key when training these lovable dogs.

Irish Setter Training

Training Irish Setters takes patience and consistency. It also takes skill to effectively calm these dogs down during obedience training. They respond with great enthusiasm to positive reinforcement training. These are intelligent dogs which can learn quickly, but they become bored easily.  Irish Setters love running and playing, so working an energy-burning exercise routine into their training is needed. Keep all training sessions short and sweet or you will lose their attention.

A word to the wise: Irish Setters do especially well with training activities that involve agility, obedience, and tracking.

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Exercise Needs

Irish Setters need to be exercised every day to keep them lean and happy. They are high-energy dogs that need lots of run and play time. They are ‘go-with’ dogs that love all kinds of walking, hiking, running, swimming, and riding. Owners, trainers and other dogs greatly enjoy playing fetch and other active games — think tug-of-war — with Irish Setters.

To recap, Irish Setters are very friendly, outgoing dogs that are wonderful companions for active singles and families. This breed takes a lot of patience, calmness, and consistency during training sessions. Remember, daily exercise is needed to keep them lean and happy.

Irish Setter Health

Whether you are an Irish Setter owner now, or you are thinking of getting one, you need to be able to take care of the dog’s health needs. This section covers some common health problems and the care Irish Setters need.

Common Health Problems

Although Irish Setters are generally very fit dogs, there are a few common health concerns that you need to be aware of:

  • Hip dysplasia: This is a genetic condition that affects the hip joint, causing pain and mobility issues.
  • Bloat: This is a deadly serious condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself, cutting off blood flow.
  • Ear infections: Irish Setters have long, floppy ears that may hold moisture, parasites, and harmful bacteria.
  • Hypothyroidism: This occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, leading to weight gain, lethargy, and other dysfunction symptoms.

Regular veterinary check-ups and preventative care should catch these issues early and help keep your Irish Setter healthy.

Irish Setter Care

Along with your vet visits, you should do the following to keep your Irish Setter healthy:

  • Exercise: Irish Setters are an active breed that need vigorous daily exercise. A long walk or run, fetch, play, or a swim are all things you can do with your dog.
  • Grooming: Regular grooming and daily brushing can help prevent mats, tangles, ear infections, and hot spots.  
  • Nutrition: Feeding your dog a nutritionally balanced diet of high-quality ingredients will help keep him or her fit and healthy. Ask your vet about the best diet for your dog’s age, weight, and activity level.

Sharing your life with an Irish Setter should be a rewarding and happy experience for both of you. Irish Setters are a beautiful and loyal breed that can make great companions for the right owner. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, you may find that sharing life with an Irish Setter is a truly happy experience.

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Here are five key takeaways for you:

  • Irish Setters are energetic. They need regular daily exercise to stay fit and happy. Daily walks or runs and plenty of playtime, along with training is key.
  • Grooming is an important and necessary part of caring for an Irish Setter. Daily brushing and occasional baths will help keep them beautiful and healthy.
  • Positive reinforcement training is recommended for Irish Setters.  Without proper training they will become stubborn.
  • Irish Setters are usually friendly and social dogs, but they are large and may not be the best choice if you have small children. 
  • Like all dogs, there are some health concerns to be aware of including: hip dysplasia, bloat, thyroid, and ear and eye problems. Regular veterinary check-ups and a healthy diet can help prevent these issues.

We hope you have enjoyed these Irish Setter training, temperament and care tips. Is this a breed that might be a good fit with your family? Whichever pup you decide to bring home, tag us on Instagram @PetHooligans and share a photo, we would love to see them.

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