Complete Guide To The Irish Setter: Health, Grooming, Exercise and More

Guide to The Irish Setter Sweet and spirited, the Irish Setter is a versatile bird dog and a cheerful family companion. Beautiful inside and out, their loyalty and affection are the true luck of the Irish.

I grew up with an Irish Setter named Reagan next door which I would run over and pet any time I saw him. Whenever I see this breed in my veterinary practice these days, I’m always reminded of that gentle dog I knew as a kid.

How Big Does An Irish Setter Get?

Male27″ at the shoulder70 lbs
Female25″ at the shoulder60 lbs

Irish Setters average 60-70 pounds. Tall, long and lean, their sinewy build is ideal for sporting. Shoulder-length ears frame deep brown eyes and a long, delicate muzzle for a thoughtful, aristocratic expression.

What Does A Irish Setter Look Like?

Long silky feathers complement their blazing coats — shades include red, mahogany and chestnut. In motion, their fringed tails are held high, creating the flowing symmetry artists have long appreciated. Cousin to the Gordon Setter and English Springer Spaniel, they share many characteristics but are easily identified by their rich solid color.

What Is The Personality Of A Irish Setter?

Irish Setters are high-octane dogs — they don’t live life on the sidelines. Affectionate and playful, there’s no better companion for an active family with kids to entertain. They thrive on human companionship and are nurturing with children.

Outdoorsy, apartment living will be too confining for Irish Setters unless owners spend more time outside than in. Room to roam in a country or suburban setting is a better environment for this delightful, open-air adventurer. Highly trainable, they’re quiet, courteous travelers.

How Much Exercise Does A Irish Setter Need?

Irish Setters need 1-2 two hours of daily exercise. They’ll entertain themselves in a secure backyard but prefer family activities. Built for speed and endurance, they’re eager jogging partners, and they enjoy swimming, camping and hunting.

Athletic, they excel at canine sporting events from agility to tracking — activities that are fun for the whole family. At home, games like Hide-and-Go-Seek utilize their hunting instincts and help keep them physically and emotionally fit.

How Much Grooming Does A Irish Setter Need?

Irish Setters have a unique coat. Short over the saddle, it’s heavily feathered with fine, silky hair on the legs, chest and ears. Prone to knots, twice-weekly brushing is a must to prevent matting.

Use a soft bristle brush or grooming mitt in short areas. A long-toothed metal comb is ideal for teasing tangles out of long strands. With superstar looks comes an equal commitment to grooming, so the more thorough you are, the better the results.

Bathing requirements depend on their lifestyle. Setters tend to have more doggy odor than other breeds, so occasional tub time is helpful to keep them smelling fresh. Light conditioning makes combing out their feathers easier between baths.

Monthly nail trimming is recommended. While you’re at it, check their paws, especially in winter. Snow, ice, and road salt can collect in the long hair between their toes, burning their skin.

What Kind of Dog Food Is Good For A Irish Setter?

Before we start with the food lists, just know that grain-free dog foods are a myth. There’s zero science showing that they are helpful. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that it’s causing issues in certain breeds of dogs. Food allergies are the only reason to even consider a grain-free diet but only choose one with the help of your veterinarian.

Best Puppy Food For Irish Setters:

Best Adult Food For Irish Setters:

How Long Does A Irish Setter Live?

12-15 years based on information from the AKC

What Health Problems Can Irish Setters Have?

The most common health issues I see in my Irish Setter patients include:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Shoulder OCD
  • Hypothyroidism

This seems to concur with information you can check out on the Canine Health Information Center’s website. While I don’t necessarily know for sure why shoulder and hip problems are a problem for this breed, I would suggest it’s more prevalent in the Irish Setters that are on the most narrow body frames.

Where Can I Find Out More About The Irish Setter?

Irish Setter Club of America

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find A Irish Setter?

Breeder List from the Irish Setter Club of America

AKC Puppy Marketplace

Looking for a Rescue? The national breed club, Irish Settler Club of America, has a Rescue group!

Interesting Facts About Irish Setters

Irish Setters are famous worldwide for their hunting ability and noble character. But here are a few things you may not know about this beloved breed.

• Why Irish “Setter?”

Irish Setters were bred to hunt. They use their keen sense of smell to track prey for their owners. Once they find it, they freeze in a “set” stance, quietly pointing in the direction of the hunter’s quarry.

• There Are Two Types of Irish Setters

A hundred years ago, Irish Setters were common in the field. Today, they spend more time in backyards and show rings, so two distinct types have emerged — show and field dogs.

They’re a single breed, and both meet the AKC standard, but show dogs are heavier and sport thicker coats. Field animals are leaner and better adapted to hunting.

• They’re Champions

The first Irish Setter to win a US championship was Elcho in 1870. Owned by breed enthusiast, Charles H. Turner, he sired nearly 200 puppies, contributing a long line of champions. To date, Irish Setters have won 11 Sporting Group competitions at Westminster.

• And Politically Connected

At least three former US presidents have owned Irish Setters while serving. Harry Truman had Mike, and Ronald Reagan had Peggy. But perhaps the most well-known canine occupant in the White House was Richard Nixon’s Irish Setter, King Timahoe, a gift from his staff.

• A Ticket to Ride

America’s Greyhound bus line uses the sleek, aerodynamic dog in its logo. But in Ireland, Irish Setters grace the streets, painted on the sides of Bus Eireann vehicles to represent the “friendly, reliable and fast way in which the company aims to serve its customers.”

• Hail Cesar!

Canine behavior guru Cesar Milan, the renowned Dog Whisperer, is better known for his pit bulls. But the first dog he owned was a gift from a neighbor, an Irish Setter he named Saluki.