The Irish Setter - "Big Red"

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Irish Setter
Weight: 60 — 70 lbs
Height: 25” — 27”
AKC Rank 2008 # 67
Life Span: 12—14 yrs
Group Sporting
Origin Ireland

Dob Breed Info - The Irish Setter

The Proud Irish Settar
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Breed Overview

Original function was bird setting and retrieving. Today, pointing, personal companion.

The origin of the Setter is not certain. One idea suggests a blend of spaniels, pointers and other setters, some English, but mostly the Gordon Setter. The Irish Red Setter came from Ireland in the 1700’s. Original Irish Setters were supposedly white with red spots but that has changed with time. By the 1900’s, Irish Red Setters, as they had come to be known, had arrived in America. The Setters were used for bird hunting, primarily. Today, it’s a companion and pet.

"Big Red" hunting
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Difficult to train. The Setter is not dumb, just sort of nervous and they can try your patience. Keep trying, as they will eventually get it. Use clicker training, as this works very well with these dogs. Also, the clicker goes with Positive Reinforcement. Once they learn, they are good to go. Don’t lose your cool.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Irish Setter puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Some Irish Setters and puppies can be difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


The Irish Setter was bred to be a tireless and enthusiastic hunter, and it appreciates life with a rollicking good natured attitude, full of gusto and fervor. Given a daily outlet for his energy, this breed makes a pleasant companion.

Without ample exercise, the Setter can be overly active inside and start to display behavior problems as well as aggressiveness.

This is a friendly breed, eager to please, and wants to be part of it’s family’s activities. The Irish Setter can be good with children but can be too rambunctious for small children. These dogs don't like to be left alone.

The Irish Setter is prone to Separation Anxiety! If you happen to get one with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

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Friendly Toward Other Dogs?

Good. Gets along with other dogs in general.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Usually not a problem. Likes just about anything.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Loves everybody. Bring on the relatives.


Very playful. Lots of energy, needs lots of play.


Very affectionate breed. The Irish Setter craves affection from his family and give affection back. S/he should not be left alone for long, as having people around is important.

Good with children

Okay for children 6 or 7 and up providing the kids have been taught how to behave with a dog.

Good with Seniors over 65?

If you are 65 and expect to be jogging for the next 14 years, GET an Irish Setter! You are retired and can give the dog the time and attention she longs for! Just remember, her daily exercise is a must.

Living environment

House with big, fenced back yard is ideal or, a farm or ranch. The Irish Setter is an indoor dog that needs people around him all the time and should not be left alone for long periods. Irish Setters need constant companionship from their humans.


Energy level

Extremely high energy.

Exercise needs, daily

Extremely high. Two hours a day of running or quick walking or heavy play.

Take your Irish Setter our jogging with you.


Pretty good, though certainly not a Mastiff!

Guard dog

No. They love people too much.




Brush and comb three to four times a week to keep fur from tangling and to keep small debris from collecting. (Look for weeds, leaves and twigs caught in their coat on the chest and underbelly.) Use a stiff bristle brush from the pet store.



Suggested Reading For The Irish Setter

The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners and should be kept close at hand.


Irish Setter Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Irish Setter puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Irish Setter Breeders with puppies for sale.

Irish Setter Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for an Irish Setter Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Irish Setter Rescue - (Nationwide) I just checked Petfinder and there are only 167 Setters listed for adoption in the entire country. That's subject to change, of course. Be sure to check dog health records if there are any.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but based on what we just found with Petfinder above, you may have trouble locating a dog. Again, try Irish Setter Rescue groups, kennels, foster homes and even breeders in your web surfing. (Sometimes breeders have older dogs left over.)

Dog Health Issues For The Irish Setter
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Irish Setter by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

Other health problems could occur in your Irish Setter. If you notice anything unusual with your pet, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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