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LOVE the Golden Retriever's personality but don't want a dog that looks like all your neighbors? Look no further, the beautiful Irish Setter is your breed!

I think the name says it all! The luck of the Irish brings you this beautiful breed, the Irish Setter.

The Irish Setter is often referred as the Golden Retriever in Red! They have the gentle, loyal and sweet personality just like the Golden, but come in the most beautiful red colorings! So if you want a Golden Retriever personality but not the everyday Golden, the Irish Setter is the next best thing!

Bred For

A gun dog that was bred to hunt and point upland game birds. This breed has also been popular in the companion department too, growing in popularity especially in the 1970's in the United States.They originated from Ireland in the 18thcentury. Their ancestors are: English Setters, Spaniels, Pointers and Gordon Setters. At that time, they were bred to be both red and white and solid red dogs. Now, the solid red is its own entity of a breed from the white setters.


The Irish Setter's height is 25-27 inches and they can weigh between 53-70 pounds. The distinct look of the Irish Setter is their magnificent red coat! This beautiful coat is long, with silky feathering on the ears, back of their legs, thighs, belly, chest and tail. The coloring can be a rich mahogany, red chestnut and can include white markings on the chest, toes, or throat. They are a medium to large size breed that is lean in their build including their head. They have almond shaped brown eyes, their ears are long and hang downward and their nose is black. They will require regular brushing and grooming.


The Irish Setter's personality is often compared to the similarities of a Golden Retriever's such as: easygoing, friendly, lively, gets along with everything and everybody! The breed is also known to "play deaf" according to some breeders, as they are very independent. Training is easy and fun with the Irish Setter as they are very quick to learn and like any dog do best with early positive training and socialization which in turn will help with their listening skills. According to breed standards, they should be extremely affectionate, making this an excellent companion and family pet. Children will enjoy this breed! They do not do well if left alone in a backyard and thrive around human companionship. The breed tends to display a young and immature personality throughout its life. Looking for a guard dog? Due to their exceptional friendly disposition, they are unsuitable for being a guard dog, so don't count on your Setter to protect your home. Irish Setters are hunters and can have difficulties around small animals such as cats.

Activity Level

Their activity level is high. This is a hard working active breed that was bred to hunt birds, so they have a strong work-ethic. They will require up to two-three 45 minute walks a day (don't forget to add a backpack) or a good run to help burn off their energy. The Irish Setter LOVES water, so if you live near water or have a pool, this breed is going to be happy to get right in. They enjoy running, so fenced in-yard with plenty of space to run is required for this breed. Without proper exercise, this breed can quickly become destructive or hyperactive. They are not a kennel dog and should not be left alone for long periods. Consider Doggy Daycare as an alternative, your Irish will love playing with other dogs while you are at work. Agility is another great sport this breed can participate in. A job will benefit this breed long-term. Consider making your Irish Setter a Therapy Dog because of their outstanding personality around children.

Health Concerns

A typical life span for the Irish Setter is 12-14 years. Health concerns are: Canine Epilepsy, PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), Hip Dysplasia, Entropion, Hypothyroidism, Hyperosteodystrophy, Bloat, Osteosarcoma, Von Willebrand's disease, Patent ductus arteriosus (heart disorder), Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD) and Celiac disease.

Rescue First

As you begin looking for an Irish Setter, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized, not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescues. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!

At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.

On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!


Dog Breed Info

Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe

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  • Many people claim that Irish Setters are not very bright. This is an error. Irish are very smart, but are afflicted with ADHD. This is advantage in a bird dog. They are constantly looking for the next pheasant. This is a good thing, it just needs some discipline and focus. As the owner, that is your job. Provide it and you will have a valued companion, friend and hunter. I am on my fifth. Unfortunately, he was kept in a kennel for the past four years and so is a challenge, but he is making so much progress that he is praised by most of the people he meets.
    As a school teacher, I observed the same kind of discrimination of my students. People were wrong there and are equally wrong about their opinions of Irish.

  • Thank you John! You are absolutely correct, dogs that are bred as gun-dogs need consistent exercise and mental stimulation so they don't get bored. Sadly, this is a very common issue among pet-parents because many people get these types of dogs because of how beautiful, nice, smart, and easy to train they are, but then neglect to give them the proper exercise and stimulation they need daily. Being crated for hours at a time is the worse thing for these type of breeds as you are aware. Thank you for your comment! I hope people read your comment before considering a gun-dog.

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