Irish Setter

Irish Setter
Other names: Irish Red Setter

The Irish Setter (Irish Red Setter) is a hunter, an intellectual inclined to extroversion and an adept of an active lifestyle with a luxurious chestnut coat.

Brief information

  • Breed name: Irish Setter
  • Country of Origin: Ireland
  • The time of the birth of the breed: XIX century
  • Weight: 27-32 kg
  • Height (height at the withers): males 58-67 cm, females 55-62 cm


  • The Irish Setter is an ultra–sociable, affectionate dog that does not know how and does not want to put up with loneliness, so it is undesirable to start it for workaholics who disappear at work for days.
  • Lack of suspicion and kindness towards humans and pets turn Irish red setters into absolutely no watchmen.
  • Modern show representatives of the breed are more companions and family psychotherapists than full-fledged hunters. At the same time, individuals from the working lines are doing a wonderful job with their historical purpose – the detection and scaring of wild birds.
  • The breed is quite athletic and requires the same from the owner, so you will have to forget about 15-minute walks for show.
  • Despite the fact that Irish setters are peaceful and get–along creatures, it is not easy to convince them of anything.
  • If an open pond is in the field of view of the pet in the summer, in 9 cases out of 10 he will rush to swim, forgetting about everything in the world.
  • The emphatically aristocratic image of the Irish red setter is necessarily time, money and labor. Without systematic washing, combing, the use of professional dog cosmetics and vitamins, it will not be possible to keep the pet's fur in a decent form.
  • At the puppy age, the "Irish" are hyperactive and destructive, and it is pointless to correct the destructive behavior of the baby, he just has to outgrow this period.
  • The coat of the Irish setter does not have a pronounced dog smell. Dogs shed very sparsely, and the fallen undercoat does not fly in the air and does not settle on things and furniture.
  • The breed belongs to the slowly maturing. Irish setters reach full mental maturity no earlier than by the age of three.

Irish Setter - charming, intelligent smart girl with a positive attitude to life and others. Sometimes too trusting, but able to insist on his own, this chestnut-haired cute is the type of pet in which you do not get tired of discovering unexpected qualities. Hunting with an Irish Setter is a topic worthy of a separate article. It is possible to return from the field without prey with a dog only in one case - if there was not a single feathered creature on this field initially.

Breed characteristics

Aggressiveness ?
Not aggressive ( Rating 1/5)
Activity ?
Very high ( Rating 5/5)
Training ?
Average ( Rating 3/5)
Molt ?
Moderate ( Rating 3/5)
Need for care ?
High ( Rating 4/5)
Friendliness ?
Very friendly ( Rating 5/5)
Health ?
Average ( Rating 3/5)
Cost of maintenance ?
Above Average ( Rating 4/5)
Attitude to loneliness ?
Moderate time ( Rating 3/5)
Intelligence ?
Standard ( Rating 3/5)
Noise ?
Low ( Rating 2/5)
Security qualities ?
Average ( Rating 3/5)
*Characteristics of the Irish Setter breed are based on expert assessment and reviews of dog owners.

History of the Irish Setter breed

Irish Setter

The Irish Red Setter is one of the most "classified" hunting breeds, the first written mention of which dates back to the XV century. At first, the term "setter" did not mean a specific variety of dogs, but whole groups of animals whose main qualification was working with wild birds. In particular, setters were often attracted to hunting partridges with a net. Possessing an extremely acute sense of smell, dogs always accurately determined the location of prey and indicated the direction to it, performing the function of a live navigator.

Little is known about the closest relatives of Irish setters. There is an assumption that the blood of several varieties of spaniels, bloodhounds, pointers and even wolfhounds flows in the veins of modern representatives of the breed. However, it has not been possible to actually confirm the guesses so far. Purposefully breeding hunting dogs with reddish-brown hair in Ireland began at the end of the XVIII century, as evidenced by the breeding books of those years. Nevertheless, until the middle of the XIX century, the breed was not considered formed, so the animals performed in groups with other varieties of setters in the rings. The official starting point of the breed's history is considered to be 1860, when it was decided to separate the Irish setters into a separate type. In 1882, the first Red Irish amateur club was opened in Dublin, and three years later the first breed standard was issued by the same organization.

Interesting fact: at the junction of the XIX-XX centuries. In Europe, the crossing of the exhibition and hunting varieties of the Irish setter was practiced. Such experiments entailed a number of problems, including the degeneration of the breed traits of animals, which is why the mating between workers and show lines had to be stopped. American breeders, on the contrary, were fond of improving mainly exhibition individuals, so today's "Irish" made in USA are somewhat different from their overseas tribesmen.

In Russia, Irish setters were known even before the revolution. Moreover, elite nurseries operated in the country, patronized by members of princely families. But even after the change of the state system, the breed was not forgotten: it continued not only to be bred, but also actively improved, importing purebred European producers into the Union. For example, an outstanding role in popularizing the "Irish" in the USSR was played by A. Ya. Pegov, a professional breeder and author of the book "The Irish Setter", which has become the "bible" of domestic dog breeders for more than half a century.

It is worth noting that Russia has always relied on breeding animals of hunting lines, which means that domestic livestock has never traveled to international exhibitions. Later, the baton of Pegov was intercepted by E. E. Klein and T. N. Krom, who modified the type of dogs towards a drier and more muscular one, which allowed the Soviet setters to get a little closer to the Anglo-Irish breed ideal.

Video: Irish Setter

Irish Setter Breed Standard

If the tops of the most refined individuals were compiled for hunting dogs, the Irish setters would have the first places in them. High-legged, with a proud posture, smooth, rapid movements, these self-sufficient "gentlemen" are a model of intelligence and restrained charm. By the way, it is this feature of the breed that marketers and creators of commercials love to exploit. Do you remember the face, or rather the happy "muzzle" of the brand "Chappie"?

Irish Setter puppy

Sexual dimorphism has a strong influence on the appearance of Irish setters, thanks to which males not only surpass females in size, but also generally look more colorful. Unique in terms of color and structure, the coat also plays an important role in the formation of the breed image. Satin, shimmering with all shades of reddish-red dogskin resembles an exquisite outfit that changes the undertone depending on the type and intensity of lighting. The richness of wool depends on the breed line. Working setters are usually "dressed" more modestly than show individuals, they do not have such lush feathery ears and less expressive fringe on the stomach.

As for the height and weight of Irish setters, males have a height at the withers of 58-67 cm, females - 55-62 cm; dogs should weigh from 27 to 32 kg–


Representatives of the breed have a narrow, strongly elongated head, with a good balance between the muzzle and the cranial part. The brow ridges and occipital protuberance are distinctly prominent, the muzzle is moderately flared, almost square at the end.

The muzzle of the Irish Setter

Jaws and bite

The upper and lower jaws of the Irish setter have the same length and are closed in classic "scissors".


Keeps his nose in the wind and his ear open :)

Medium-sized lobe, nostrils wide open. Typical colors of the lobe are dark walnut, charcoal black, dark shade of mahogany.


The Irish Setter's oval, shallow-set eyes are characterized by a slightly slanted incision. The standard colors of the iris are dark brown and dark walnut.


Small, low set, very soft to the touch. The ear blade has a rounded tip and hangs down along the cheekbones.


Slightly curved, of good length, quite muscular, but not at all thick.


The body of the Irish red setter is of good proportions, with a deep though rather narrow chest, an even back and a sloping, long croup. The abdomen and groin areas are highly taut.


Red Setter's paw

The front legs are bony, sinewy, set parallel to each other. The shoulder blades are deep, the elbows are free, without an obvious inversion to either side. The hind limbs are of impressive length, well muscled. The angles of the joints are correct, the area from the hock joint to the paw is massive and short. The dog's paws are not large, the fingers are strong, tightly assembled. The Irish red Setter moves at a classic gallop, proudly tossing his head. The reach of the front limbs of the animal is quite high, but without excessive throwing of the legs up, the push of the hind legs is powerful, springy-soft.


The Irish setter has a moderately long (in bitches a couple of centimeters longer than in males), low-set tail with a massive base and a relatively thin tip. The classic shape of the tail is straight or saber–shaped.

Irish setter on display


Irish setter puppy with white grooves on the muzzle and nose

Adults are covered with smooth, silky medium-length canine. On the front side of the front legs, the head and the tips of the ear cloth, the hair is short, adjacent to the skin. The back side of all four limbs and the upper part of the ear cloth are "decorated" with a thin adorning hair. On the tail and belly, the abundant dog hair transforms into an exquisite fringe, often passing over the chest and throat area. There are bundles of hairs between the fingers.


All dogs have a chestnut color without a hint of a black undertone. Acceptable: small white marks in the throat area, on the chest and forehead, or white grooves on the muzzle and nose.

Defects and disqualifying vices

Irish red setters may not meet the requirements of the breed standard for various exterior indicators. For example, it is undesirable that an animal has such disadvantages as:

  • long or curled hair;
  • wide or atypically short head;
  • curling into a tube / drooping burdock ears.

Bulging, small or too close eyes, a back with a hump, a flat chest, a thin crescent-shaped tail will also not be evaluated by breeding commissions. As for the complete disqualification, it threatens individuals with cryptorchidism, owners of atypical or black coat color, as well as dogs who lack toilet wool and have depigmented lips, eyelids or nose lobe.

Photo of the Irish setter

Character of the Irish Setter

Irish setter with baby

The Irish Setter is a dog whose internal battery works in turbo mode, starting from a puppy and up to a respectable age. And this applies not only to physical activity, but also to emotions, of which the breed has a strategic reserve. If during the whole day the "Irishman" did not manage to communicate with any living creature (there is no human – a cat will do), this is a serious reason for him to be upset.

Contact and friendly, Irish red setters are completely devoid of any aggression. They do not expect a trick from strangers and are generous towards children, even if they do not behave very politely. However, to perceive representatives of this breed as weak–willed mattresses is a big mistake. When necessary, the Irish Setter is able to show stubbornness and demonstrate firmness of character. However, he will not do it aggressively, but gradually, using clever tricks, and sometimes even outright pretense. Trying to dominate a person is not typical for chestnut-haired smart guys (there are exceptions too), but they prefer to make decisions in everyday life on their own.

Irish red setters are not averse to "hanging out" and easily fit into dog companies. They will also accept the second dog that appears in the house with "outstretched paws", unless it is a dominant-jealous type rottweiler or burbulya . And yet, animals feel the most sincere affection for a person, so before you get an Irish setter, think about whether you are ready to sacrifice a sofa rest for a book in favor of morning runs in any weather and whether you will not get tired of the volume of feelings and emotions that the dog considers it his duty to splash out on the owner. In particular, at home, the "Irish" like to follow the owner of the tail, unobtrusively, but insistently demanding affection, hugs and attention, and no strict commands or shouts such pathological love is not treated.

Education and training

The Irish Red Setter is a dog not without abilities, although it does not enjoy the reputation of being easily trained. The problem lies in the too lively temperament of the breed, which does not allow its representatives to concentrate on one object or type of activity for a long time. So, if you plan to seriously engage in pet training, get ready to break your head over drawing up an individual training program that will not cause rejection in the dog.

Irish Setter training

3.5-8 months is the optimal age for training an Irish setter puppy. By this time, the kids already know what a collective hierarchy is, so it is important to have time to let them know who is the real owner in the house, and who is the "guy on the hook". Training a pet to the OKD and UGC teams is a mandatory measure, since the breed is prone to escapes. Special attention is paid to working out the call "To me!". The dog should react to it instantly and unconditionally, although, as practice shows, this skill is given to the animal the most difficult.

With the rest of the teams, you can not be too zealous. The Irish Setter is not a sheepdog after all; a cop and mechanical work on the machine are not her strong suit. So, if the pet did not fulfill the requirement immediately or slightly changed it, this is already a reason to praise the animal. For such a self–sufficient and stubborn dog, this is a serious achievement.

Friends Race

Setters are dependent on the master's approval, and on this trait of character it is possible to "go out" well in cases when a four-legged pet shirks from classes. Show how upset you are by the dog's unwillingness to work with you, and in a couple of minutes the "Irishman", overcome with remorse, will force out another trick. Just do not abuse the dog's complaisance: there are situations in which the Irish setter will never make a concession. No, there will be no open protest, because the chestnut-haired cunning does not like conflicts. But there will be masterfully played deafness to commands and universal misunderstanding in the eyes. It is necessary to treat such attacks with understanding, transferring the lesson to another time, but in no case abandoning the goal completely. Irish setters are savvy guys who quickly figure out which levers to push to achieve what they want, so if you don't want to raise a stubborn lazy person, show perseverance and resourcefulness.

Psychologically, the "natives of the country of leprechauns" remain puppies for a long time: hooligan, hyperactive, uncontrollable. This fact will have to be accepted, since punishments and an authoritarian style of communication are unacceptable for the breed and will only worsen the situation. But it's really possible to slightly adjust the behavior of the baby. For example, physical activity reduces the craving for adventures well. A naughty boy who has worked up to exhaustion usually does not have the strength for leprosy and there is only one desire – to take a nap in a corner.

Hunting with an Irish Setter

Irish setter on the hunt

The main prey of the Irish red setter on the hunt are partridges, quails, crakes, grouse, ducks and woodcocks. The breed is adventurous, easy-going and relatively manageable, but not as patient as we would like. The dog works, relying mainly on flair, using hearing and vision to a minimum. As a result: during long aimless wanderings through the fields, the four-legged miner does not get enough impressions, therefore he loses interest in work and switches to another type of activity. Hunting with an Irish setter is advisable only in proven places where feathered trophies definitely live. If you need a more consistent and focused on the search process "scout", it is better to pay attention to the English setter.

Maintenance and care

In the past, a purely hunting breed, the Irish setter is now increasingly positioned as a companion dog, which did not slow down to affect the conditions of detention. The "Irish" no longer spend the night in sheds and in the open air, and they have entrusted the care of their own wool to the owners and groomers. The classic type of housing for a modern dog is a private house, preferably a country house, with a fenced yard. A more modest alternative is a comfortable couch in the apartment. Moreover, both options do not exclude intense physical activity, without which four-legged "energizers" lose their taste for life and degrade.

Animals are traditionally walked twice a day. Each such promenade lasts at least an hour, and preferably one and a half. By the way, the habit of putting up with the toilet before going outside is easy for clever setters, but it's better not to go to extremes and additionally take the dog out to cope with the need - 10 minutes spent will save the pet from unnecessary torment.


Morning in the forest

Get ready, you will have to tinker with the wool of the Irish setter a lot and often. Firstly, because it is relatively long, especially in the abdomen, chest and tail. Secondly, because the smooth, silky hair of the setters is constantly falling off, tied in knots and tangled, simultaneously clinging to the thorns and seeds of plants. It will be especially difficult with representatives of exhibition lines, whose length is an order of magnitude longer than that of hunting individuals. Comb the show-setters daily, thoroughly working through the strands with a brush made of natural bristles.

You need to bathe the dog relatively often: every 7-10 days. Usually, the washing process is preceded by the purchase of professional shampoos, conditioning compounds and natural oils to improve the structure of the coat. Without them, it is almost impossible to achieve a glamorous overflow on the wool of the Irish setter. You should wash your pet after his dog's fur is thoroughly combed, and the tangles are disassembled, because after the bath it will be more difficult to do this.

To give the appearance more thoroughbred, Irish red setters are trimmed with milling scissors. This is not a full-fledged haircut, but a light thinning of the decorating wool, so don't get carried away too much, but rather entrust the matter to the pros. During the off-season, when there is a lot of dirt and puddles on the street, it is more expedient to walk the dog in a protective jumpsuit, which can be ordered from an online store or sewn yourself from waterproof fabric.

The care of the ears, eyes and teeth of the animal is carried out regularly. The hanging ears of the Irish red Setter are poorly ventilated, so, in addition to cleaning, they will have to be artificially ventilated – take the ear cloth by the edges and wave them intensively. The claws of dogs are cut 1-2 times a month: since the breed does not like to run on asphalt, preferring sandy paths and paths, they are worn off weakly. By the way, it is best to do a "pedicure" to an Irish setter after a bath, when the claw has softened under the action of steam and warm water. Of the mandatory procedures, it is also worth mentioning brushing your teeth (at least a couple of times a week) and daily rubbing of the eye mucosa with herbal infusions (chamomile, tea).


What do we have there?

Start by buying your pet a bowl stand. The Irish Setter is not a squat breed, and bowing at every meal is simply harmful to it, there is a risk of getting an intestinal inversion. The caloric content of the diet should be calculated with an eye to the level of physical activity received by the dog. For example, athletes and representatives of hunting lines who regularly travel to the field need to be fed more densely than pets. In addition, the Irish setters are mostly poor, and this must be taken into account. Of course, it is impossible to stuff more than the prescribed norm into an animal, but it is quite realistic to make a portion more nutritious or choose the optimal fat content of food (from 16% and above).

As for the natural menu for the breed, it is not particularly original. Meat nonconditioning (at the rate of 20 g per kilogram of animal body weight), offal, fish fillet – these are the three products that make up its base. Buckwheat and oatmeal are useful for Irish red setters from porridge. By the way, puppies add grits to meat or bone broth. Vegetables and fruits are given to dogs only seasonal – and no Asian exotics that can provoke an allergy attack. Additionally, adults can be treated with an omelet of two chicken eggs, low-fat sour milk and vegetable oil (about a teaspoon), plus vitamin supplements selected and agreed with the veterinarian.

Health and diseases of Irish Setters

The health of the breed depends on how responsibly the owner of the kennel approaches its breeding. The same hereditary diseases may not manifest themselves in animals whose breeder does not save on genetic testing of the litter, scrupulously selects producers for mating and does not abuse closely related crossing. And vice versa: Irish setters who are not too lucky with the owner and heredity may have the following diseases:

  • inversion of the intestines;
  • epilepsy;
  • hypothyroidism;
  • malignant tumors (melanomas);
  • entropion;
  • hip dysplasia;
  • allergic dermatitis;
  • inflammatory processes in the uterus;
  • spinal cord pathology (degenerative myelopathy);
  • congenital enlargement of the esophagus (idiopathic megaesophagus);
  • hypertrophic osteodystrophy;
  • laryngeal paralysis.

At the beginning of the XX century, European breeders greatly overdid inbreeding, as a result of which the "Irish" suffered from progressive retinal atrophy for a long time. It was possible to eradicate the defect only after the development of a system of tests that helped identify the blindness gene in the early stages. In the end, defective individuals were no longer allowed to breed, which reduced the risk of hereditary transmission of the disease.

How to choose a puppy

Mom with puppies
  • The "girls" of the Irish red setter are more affectionate and accommodating, but the "boys" are richer "dressed" and differ in their textured appearance.
  • To choose a good friendly dog, it is better not to waste time on exhibitions, but to contact the hunting club that oversees the kennels of working setters right away.
  • Puppies of working lines look more faded compared to their exhibition counterparts. Their fur is lighter, shorter and rarer, and the puppies themselves are much smaller.
  • Buying an Irish red setter puppy for exhibitions, it is worth thoroughly studying the pedigrees of producers. It is pointless to wait for a reference exterior from a kid whose parents do not have a single exhibition diploma.
  • Specify where the puppies' parents come from. Usually domestic producers give offspring that are excellent in working qualities and very modest in external indicators. This is due to the fact that for more than a hundred years, Russian breeders have specialized in breeding hunting lines. If a puppy with exhibition potential is needed, it is better to contact nurseries that practice mating imported individuals. There are not very many of them, but they are there.
  • Depending on the breeding location, two particularly successful show types of Irish setters are distinguished: English and American. If you are a follower of the classics in all its manifestations, it is better to give preference to the natives of Foggy Albion. At one time, American breeders overdid the "upgrade" of the breed, which is why the appearance of their wards acquired a somewhat exaggerated appearance.

Photos of Irish setter puppies

The price of an Irish Setter

Average price of an Irish red setter puppy from a working line – $200 - $300 Prices for representatives of the show class are higher - from $400.

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