The Irish Setter, is a setter breed of gundog and family dog. This breed came about in the 18th century, from a mix of numerous breeds including pointer, Gordon Setter, English Setter, the Irish Terrier, and Water Spaniel. Bred as field and hunting dogs in Ireland, this dog also took to pointing with enthusiasm and great talent. Due to his strong sense of smell, he is able to sniff out birds from distances, track their location, and then freeze in place to alert the hunter to the bird’s position. This breed had a powerful nose and was a skilled bird dog. By the 1850’s it spread throughout Ireland and Britain.
Irish Setters range in height from 24-28 inches tall. The males typically weigh 65-75 pounds and the females weigh 55-65 pounds. This is an active, aristocratic bird dog, rich red in color and is substantial yet elegant in build. His head is long and lean. The length of the head is at least double the width between the ears. The eyes are of medium size, placed rather well apart, neither deep set nor bulging, and are somewhat almond shaped. The color is dark to medium brown. His ears are set well back and low. The muzzle is moderately deep, and the jaws are of nearly equal length. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The dog’s tail carried straight or curves slightly upward, and is nearly level with the back. The coat is of moderate length and is flat, but is short and fine on the head and forelegs. The fringe on the tail is moderately long and tapers. The color of the Irish Setter is a Mahogany or rich chestnut. There should be no black.
The Irish Setter gets along well with children, any household pets and other dogs. As they are a hunting breed, small animals may pose a problem. They may also be rambunctious with small children and also may have problems with cats in the house. This is an active breed and requires long walks daily, and off the lead running in open spaces. This breed enjoys having a job to do and lack of activity will lead to a bored dog, which in turn will lead to a destructive, even hyperactive dog. They thrive on human companionship and should not be left alone in the backyard for long periods of time. They respond quickly to positive training and are very smart. As this breed is not naturally assertive, they are not well suited a guard dogs.
The Irish Setter tends to be a generally healthy breed. The average life expectancy of the dog is around 11-12 years. Some problems that have been noted in the Setter include: hip dysplasia, cancer, progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, entropion, hypothyroidism, hyperosteodystrophy, bloat, osteosarcoma, Von Willebran’s disease, patent ductus arteriosus, canine Leukocyte adhesion deficiency, and celiac disease.