The exact origin of the Irish Setter is unknown, but it is most likely a cross between the English Setter, Spaniels and Pointers. Hunters needed a large dog that could be seen from a distance and the rich mahogany colour of the Setter's coat fitted the bill perfectly. The first breeding kennels of Irish 'Red' Setters as they were known, appeared around 1800. In 1862 an Irish setter was born which was seen as not 'correct' for hunting, but was well suited to showing. Champion Palmerston, as he was called, became a show dog and every modern day dog can now be traced back to this one dog. Irish setters have a good nose and are tireless in the field.
Irish Setters are active dogs that love to be outside. They are well natured dogs that are happiest running around and playing. They have a lot of energy and will walk for hours given half a chance. Within a family, they make good pets and are usually fine with children and other animals. They tend to be very puppy like for the first 2-3 years and take a while to calm down. Care should be taken with small children as Setters can be very bouncy and knock children over. They are devoted to their family and are always on the look out. They will let you know when someone is at the door, more out of interest than protection. Being an intelligent breed, they learn quickly and are easy-ish to train. They do think independently and can be pranksters to get their own way. Training needs to start very early to teach them who is boss, or else they will try and get their own way.
They have a high energy level, but a long daily walk should be enough to tire them out. When out, their recall is usually good, but if they sense a squirrel, they'll be off and can run fast and cover an impressive distance. They do need exercise and can be very destructive if they don't get enough. A quick walk a couple of times a day is not enough for an Irish Setter. Being a fun loving dog, they are best when the family is close to them and don't do too well if left alone for long periods. They are happiest when you, or another dog, is there. Their tail is always wagging, so watch out for cups on the coffee table; they will wipe them out in a second.
A reasonably healthy breed, Canine Hip Dysplasia and Bloat should be watched for. They do need brushing every couple of days to keep the coat looking good and trimming a couple of times a year.
Irish Setters possess a tireless and fun loving temperament. They love to be out and about exploring the countryside and stretching their legs. They are sensitive independent souls who need firm but fair training until they have matured (around 3 years).
Intelligent dogs that will remember what they have learnt (whether good or bad) they are personable and get on well with other dogs but may be too jumpy/excitable for small children.
Health problems that can affect Irish Setters include canine hip dysplasia (CHD), progressive retinal atrophy (PRA: degeneration of the retina that can lead to blindness), bloat, epilepsy and some cancers.
- Status: Common
- Life Expectancy: 11 - 12 years
- Weight: 25 - 32 kg
- Height: 25 - 27"
- Rare: No
- Coat: Medium
- Grooming Requirements: More than once per week
- Town or Country: Either
- Minimum Home Size: Large House
- Minimum Garden Size: Large Garden
- Breed Type: Gun Dog
- Size: Large
- Energy Level: High
- Exercise Required: Over 2 hours
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