Irish Setter

The Irish have always been great sportsmen, and therefore it is not surprising that so many spoiling dogs have emanated from Ireland, including this extremely active, glamorous-looking dog with its distinctive silky, rich red coat.


The Irish Setter's origins are not recorded. Small Spaniels that were used to find birds were bred with Bloodhounds to heighten their sense of smell. To increase their speed, the black Iberian and Spanish Pointers were introduced and thus the Irish Setter evolved. With the advent of dog shows, owners became obsessed with the glamour of the breed, but excessive inbreeding reduced the quality and it fell out of favour. By 1900 several British breeders reversed the tendency and dogs of great beauty appeared, a trend that holds good to this day.


This boisterous but talented breed needs firm and kind control from an early age for Irish Setters are wilful and have a mind of their own. They should be socialized from puppyhood - this is best achieved at a dog training club. Gentle and tolerant of children, most Setters are kept as pets nowadays, although their passion for hunting is undiminished.

must know

There are some genetic anomalies which are closely monitored by the breed clubs, notably hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), CLAD and some bloat. Buy from those breeders who test their dogs via the KC7BVA tests and take their advice.


The stunning rich red chestnut coat is the hallmark of the Irish Setter. It is a tall dog with elegant lines whose action, when running with a flowing coat, is a sight that once seen is never forgotten. Dogs are 60-70cm (23.5-27.5in) high, whereas bitches are 59-65cm (23-25.5in).

Strangers 2/5

May bark and then will be friendly

Temperament 3/5

Friendly, exuberant, needs firm handling

Exercise 5/5

As much as you can possibly give

Grooming 3/5

Three times a week

Other dogs 5/5



Happy, exuberant, full of fun, needs involvement within a family.

General care

A problem with this breed is how to provide enough exercise and stimulating activities to keep an adult dog busy. A country dog, it loves the open air and will rim with joggers and cyclists. Do not let one off the lead in traffic or in the presence of livestock. Take care not to overfeed - this dog is an athlete. Groom it three times a week, taking care to gently comb the furnishings to prevent tangling.

Gallery of Irish Setter