A majestic, red haired dog with floppy ears, a long neck, long legs and wagging tail stands on the grass in a garden.

Irish Setter

4 August 2023

Let’s talk about… Irish Setters: what are they?

  • The Irish Setter, also known as the Red Setter, is a medium to large-sized gun dog breed that originated in Ireland.
  • They are known for their stunning deep red or mahogany coat, which is their most distinctive feature.
  • Irish Setters have an elegant and athletic build, standing at an average height of 58 to 67 cm.
  • They weigh between 25 and 32 kg.
  • Irish Setters can live up to 12 to 15 years.
Irish Setter  Exercise Needs 4/5 Grooming Ease 3/5 Trainability 3/5

What is the temperament of Irish Setters like?

  • Irish Setters have a lively and affectionate temperament, making them wonderful family pets.
  • They are known for their friendly and sociable nature, getting along well with people of all ages, including children.
  • They thrive on human companionship and are often referred to as "velcro dogs" due to their tendency to stick close to their loved ones.
  • Irish Setters are intelligent and eager to please, making them trainable with positive reinforcement methods.
  • They have a playful and exuberant personality, always ready for a game or adventure.
  • Irish Setters require regular exercise to help channel their energy and maintain their mental well-being.
  • Insufficient exercise and mental stimulation can lead to boredom and potentially destructive behaviour.
Alun, the Irish Setter

How much exercise do Irish Setters need?

  • Irish Setters are an active breed that requires at least 1.5 to 2 hours of exercise every day to keep them happy and healthy.
  • They have a high energy level and thrive in environments that provide ample opportunities for physical activities.
  • Daily walks, jogging, or play sessions in a securely fenced area are essential for meeting their exercise needs.
  • Engaging them in activities such as retrieving, agility training, or even participating in dog sports like flyball or obedience trials can help keep them mentally stimulated and physically fit.
  • Irish Setter puppies have specific exercise requirements that should be tailored to their age and development.
  • It's important to avoid overexerting their growing bodies, as they are susceptible to joint and bone issues.
  • Puppies under 3 months of age should have short, controlled play sessions to prevent excessive strain on their joints and muscles.
  • Gradually increase the duration and intensity of exercise as they grow older.
  • By the time they reach 6 months of age, they can handle slightly longer walks and play sessions.
  • They should not be on full exercise levels however until 18-24 months.
  • It's best to consult with your veterinarian for specific exercise guidelines based on your puppy's individual needs.
Ginny, the Irish Setter

Do Irish Setters need a lot of grooming?

  • Irish Setters have a beautiful, silky coat that requires regular grooming to keep it looking its best.
  • Their coat is moderately long and feathered, with feathering being more prominent on the chest, tail, and legs.
  • Weekly brushing is recommended to prevent matting and keep their coat free from tangles.
  • During shedding seasons, which occur twice a year, more frequent brushing may be necessary to manage the amount of loose hair.
  • Irish Setters are generally clean dogs and do not have a strong odour, unless they’ve gone through something smelly on their walks which is always possible with these adventurous pooches.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.
Murphy, the Irish Setter

Are Irish Setters easy to train?

  • Irish Setters are intelligent and eager to please, which generally makes them receptive to training.
  • However, they can also be independent thinkers and may exhibit a stubborn streak at times.
  • Positive reinforcement training methods that involve rewards, praise, and consistency work best with this breed.
  • They respond well to gentle guidance and patience.
  • Start training your Irish Setter from an early age to establish good habits and basic obedience commands.
  • Keep training sessions interesting and varied to prevent boredom, as they can lose interest quickly if they feel repetitive.
  • Socialisation is also crucial for Irish Setters to ensure they are comfortable and well-behaved in different situations and around other animals and people.
  • With the right approach, patience, and consistency, Irish Setters can become well-trained and obedient companions.
Rosie, the Irish Setter

What do Irish Setters eat?

  • To maintain optimal health, Irish Setters should be fed a balanced and nutritious diet.
  • Choose high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their age, size, and activity level.
  • Puppies require a specially formulated puppy food to support their growth and development.
  • They should be fed 3-4 times daily until they are 6 months old, then twice a day.
  • As they transition into adulthood around 12 to 18 months, gradually switch them to an adult dog food.
  • Feeding schedules and portion sizes may vary depending on the brand and your dog's specific needs.
  • It's important to monitor their weight and adjust their food intake accordingly to prevent obesity.
  • Your vet can advise on the dietary needs of your pooch.

Are Irish Setters healthy?

Irish Setters are generally healthy dogs, but like any breed, they may be prone to certain health issues. Some health concerns commonly associated with Irish Setters include:

Bones and Joints

  • Hip Dysplasia - a condition where the thigh bone and pelvis do not sit together properly at the hip joint, which can lead to discomfort and arthritis


  • Osteosarcoma - primary cancer of the bone


  • Entropion - this is where the eyelids roll in, causing eyelashes to rub onto the surface of the eye


  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) - this occurs when the stomach twists and gas and contents get trapped inside. It is a very serious condition and a vet should be contacted immediately!


  • Hypothyroidism - a condition where your dog does not produce enough thyroid hormone


  • Epilepsy - A condition of the brain that causes dogs to have fits


  • Atopy - when the immune system overreacts to an allergen and results in skin irritation.

This list is by no means comprehensive, if you have any concerns about the health of your dog, or if you want to discuss further if an Irish Setter is right for you, consult with your vet.

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BorrowMyDoggy has 585 Irish Setter members

Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian. Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you ever have any concerns about your dog's health, contact your local vet.

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