Irish Setter

Dog breeds – Irish Red Setter

Irish Setter is a born therapist and friend whose patience is difficult to overcome. These dogs work great with people because they can love and trust them. If you like physical activity and wise animals, Irish Setter can be a perfect companion for you.

FCI Classification

  • Group 7: Pointing Dogs
  • Section 2: British and Irish Pointers and Setters
  • Pointing type
  • With a working trial
Irish Setter, Irish Red Setter

Breed’s origin

The breed was mentioned for the very first time in the 16th-century De Canibus Britannicus by Caius. He called the dogs ”setters” or setting dogs, yet they were hardly similar to the modern Setters. However, Caius made also the reference to the extinct Spaniels, which had a lot in common with the modern Setters. Nonetheless, he put an emphasis on the fact that the dogs are almost entirely white or eventually red. It may indicate that today’s red Irish Setters originated from selective breeding. In the 19th century (to be exact, in 1845), the Irish Setters lived almost exclusively in Ireland. They had the following color patterns: red, red-white, lemon or white with brown patches.

A modern breed’s standard was developed by the members of the Irish Setter Club with a seat in Dublin. The standardization was approved on March 29th, 1886. At the beginning, the standard was based on a 100-point scale. The points were granted for the physical traits. Although the number of points was later decreased, the breed’s standard has not changed.

Irish Setter, Irish Red Setter


Its hair is of a moderate length, silky soft, chestnut or red. There are some curls on the ears, however, in general, the hair should not be wavy. In fact, it should adhere tightly to the body and be very delicate. The hair on the underline forms the fringes, which run-up to the chest and the neck. There is abundant hair between the toes. On the tail, the hair forms a long crest. However, the closer to the tip of the tail, the shorter the hair is.

With its head and muzzle, it resembles Spaniel. On the muzzle, there is a dark red, black or hazelnut nose. The eyes are of similar colors (except red). The ears are of a moderate size, delicate, set low.

Males’ height in the shoulders ranges from 58 to 67 cm (23 – 26,3 in) and the females’ from 55 to 62 cm (21,6 – 24,4 in). The males should weigh between 27 and 32 kg (59,5 – 70,5 lb) and the males between 24 and 29 kg (60 – 64 lb).

Irish Setter, Irish Red Setter


It is docile, therefore it is great with children, other dogs and pets in general. However, as it is a hunting dog, it may have hunting instincts, which is why it may ”hunt”  for cats. It is enthusiastic towards the visitors and when it plays with children, it tends to be really loud. It is not aggressive, on the contrary, it is very affectionate.

Setters are active dogs, therefore they require every day long walks, during which they may run a lot.

Although Setter tends not to listen to the commands (it pretends that it is deaf), proper training should change such behavior.

Irish Setter, Irish Red Setter

It loves getting a task to do, and gets bored easily when deprived of activities. It may even become hyperactive and destroy some objects. It loves physical activity and hates being left alone. It may feel sad even in the most beautiful and the biggest garden when there are no people near. It loves human’s company to the extent that it reacts to the command quickly and with a positive attitude.

Irish Setters like observing their surroundings. Nonetheless, they cannot be guarding dogs, because they do not keep enough distance towards strangers.

It is a brilliant therapy dog in schools and hospitals, where it spends time with little patients. Children like reading out loud while it is lying next to the bed. They do not feel pressure and are not being judged when they make a mistake. The dog’s presence calms them.

Irish Setter, Irish Red Setter

Detailed information / size

Irish Red Setter

  • Height at shoulders:
    • males: 58 – 67 cm (23 – 26,3 ft)
    • females: 55 – 62 cm (21,6 – 24,4 ft)
  • Weight:
    • males: 27 – 32 kg (59,5 – 70,5 lb)
    • females: 24 – 29 kg (60 – 64 lb)
  • Lifespan: 11 – 12 years
Irish Setter, Irish Red Setter

Irish Setter – curiosities

  • The name “setter” may have originated from a hunting technique used by the breed – they set the prey, then approach it quietly and suddenly lay down on the ground.
  • Setters hunt mainly for the game birds as they are very effective on both wet and dry moorlands.
  • In the USA, Irish Setters are very recognized in hunting. In fact, the hunters use them the most during hunting.
  • There are several diseases within the breed, including hip dysplasia, cancers, progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, entropion, hypothyroidism, bloat, osteosarcoma, von Willebrand disease and celiac disease.
  • Setter constitutes a logo of the Irish bus company, Bus Éireann.
  • If you are thinking about having an Irish Setter as a pet, you should bear in mind that it does not belong to the most intelligent dogs.
Irish Setter, Irish Red Setter


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