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Irish Setter
Characteristics, History, and Health

Irish Setter

The Irish Setter, also known as the Red Setter, is a breed with a rich history. Its origins can be traced back to Ireland in the 18th century, where it was developed as a versatile hunting dog, specializing in bird hunting and retrieving. The breed's ancestors include the Irish Water Spaniel, Irish Terrier, and possibly the English Setter and Gordon Setter. Over time, the breed's appearance was refined to emphasize its striking red coat and elegant, athletic build. Irish Setters have a luscious, silky coat that is moderately long. The coat is straight and lies close to the body, with feathering on the ears, chest, belly, legs, and tail.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Red Setters
Life Expectancy
12-15 years
Average Male Height
27 inches
Average Female Height
25 inches
Average Male Weight
70 pounds
Average Female Weight
60 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Chesnut, Mahogany, Red
Coat Pattern
White Markings

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Irish Setters can suffer from hip dysplasia, epilepsy, degenerative myelopathy, autoimmune thyroiditis, inherited blood disorders such as von Willebrand Disease I and Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency Type I (CLAD I), and eye disorders such as progressive rod-cone degeneration and progressive retinal atrophy.

Personality and Behavior

Irish Setters are eager to please and respond well to positive reinforcement and training. Irish Setters are known for their friendly, outgoing, and affectionate nature. They are highly sociable dogs that thrive on human companionship and are generally good with children and other pets. This breed tends to be energetic and playful, making them excellent family pets. However, they do require regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom, as they may become destructive if not adequately engaged. They are lively, intelligent and mischevious which may lead them to be chewers, barkers, and diggers if not trained properly.

They are typically outgoing and friendly with other dogs and people. Due to their nature as hunters, they have a strong prey drive so care should be taken when introduced to other small animals.

Fun Facts

The breed's rich red coat is one of its most striking features, but interestingly, it wasn't always red. The early Irish Setters had more variable coat colors, including black and white. The solid red color became more prevalent as the breed was refined.

Irish Setters are known for their boundless energy and athleticism. They excel in various dog sports and activities, such as agility, obedience trials, and of course, hunting trials.

The famous 1945 movie "The Bells of St. Mary's" featured a lovable Irish Setter named "Rusty" as one of the main characters, further popularizing the breed.

The Irish Setter has a strong sense of smell and is often used as a detection dog for various tasks, including drug detection and search-and-rescue missions.