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Irish Setter Dog Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

If you’re reading this article within the United States, chances are, you’re already familiar with what an Irish Setter looks like. After all, the Irish Setter Dog is one of the most popular dog breeds ever. With his happy expression and easily recognizable red coat, these guys are hard to miss whenever they are around.

Combine this with…

As a general rule of thumb, this breed is typically amiable, polite, intelligent, and playful; what’s not to love? Even former Presidents have chosen to make the Irish Setter their own while living in the White House. It wasn’t just one President; it was three!

  • President Ronald Reagan had an Irish Setter by the name of Peggy.
  • President Harry Truman had one, too, called Mike.
  • And even the controversial President Richard Nixon kept an Irish Red Setter at the White House called Tim.

And even though…

The Irish Setter may be famous, but if you adopt one, you will find they are not a “celebrity dog.” He is a dog for the average Joe or Jane. People like us. He is not one of those dogs that require a lot of grooming. But be warned, he is very much an independent-minded dog who knows how to take care of his own business. He is easy to train, never shy or aggressive, and always gentle and kind to people. There is something about the Irish Setter Breed that is distinctly noble.

 But is the Irish Setter Breed the one for you?

That’s the real question we hope to help you answer in our brief article all about the Irish Setter. You see, while the Irish Setter is a great dog, like all dogs, he will have specific characteristics that may or may not fit into your current lifestyle, which means that he may or may not be the right dog for you. And the last thing that we would like to have happen is for you to adopt an Irish Setter only to learn a few weeks later that it’s just not going to work out for you.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right.

Irish Setter Dog Fast Facts

Original Purpose:  Bird setting and retrieving

Country of Origin: Ireland

Height: 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder

Weight: 35 to 70 pounds

Life Span: 10 to 11 years

Dog Breed Classification: Sporting

Origin of the Irish Setter

Setter Dogs have been around in Ireland since the early 18th century. While there has been a lot of debate over the exact origin of these dogs, it is generally believed to have been developed from different types of setters, spaniels, and pointers. Initially, these dogs were bred by Irish hunters for their enhanced sense of smell. They were very good at detecting the prey from a distance, making them extremely valuable in hunting expeditions.

The early setter dogs…

We were of the Red and White variety. Only in the 19th century did the Irish Red Setter rise to prominence. These dogs performed exceptionally well in show rings, and their popularity increased. Ironically, though, the dog that really “jump-started” the Irish Setter’s popularity in Ireland rarely had a chance. Around the early 1860s, a runt of the litter named Palmerston was nearly put to death because he was too small for the “hunt,” and his owner ordered him to be drowned!


A “non-hunting” Irish Setter enthusiast intervened, spared Palmerston, and ultimately introduced him to several local dog shows where he proved a huge success! This led to him being used to foster many litters of his own, which changed the modern Irish Setter dog breed as we know it. Amazingly, virtually every modern-day Irish Setter today can be traced back to Palmerston, which is incredible, seeing how he almost didn’t make it!

The Irish Setter was…

First brought to the United States in the late 19th century, they were initially deployed as guns and sports dogs. They soon became a hit because of their great looks, athleticism, and friendliness, which is probably why the American Kennel Club quickly recognized the Irish Setter in 1878, one of the first dog breeds to be registered by the AKC. An Irish Setter Club was formed shortly after. And while there was a massive demand for Irish Setter Puppies in the 1960s through to the 1980s. The popularity of this breed has taken a slight hit since then – as a result, he is no longer among the top 5 dog breeds in America. But everyone knows what an Irish Setter looks like – he is instantly recognizable.

Physical Characteristics

Irish setters are tall, good-looking dogs. They can be bulky and grow up to 25 to 27 inches tall. They weigh up to 70 pounds. These dogs have an exquisite look about them. They have long legs, long necks, a moderate muzzle, floppy ears, and a firm forehead. And let’s face it, their coat is unique. It is usually light red to deep mahogany in color. The skin is of medium length and covered by long, wavy hair. The chest, tail, and back of these dogs’ legs are also covered by hair.

The Irish Setter is a very glamorous-looking dog but is easy to train and look after. As long as he gets his daily walk, he will be happy. Just make sure to brush his coat twice or thrice a week.

Personality and Temperament

The Irish Red is known for his charming personality. He has a very relaxed outlook towards life and never gets too stressed. He is playful, enthusiastic, energetic, and tireless but never shy or aggressive. All that while also remaining calm and composed in the company of strangers and coupled with the ability to make friends with just about anyone. This is why these guys are a great dog to introduce to friends. He wags his tail at everyone and has a happy, joyful personality. He is also friendly that random people on the street will want to stop you when you take him out for a walk so that they can pat him on his head.

How good is he with kids?

The Irish Setter loves children and enjoys playing with them. He makes for a perfect playmate for older children. However, he may not be suitable for toddlers; he sometimes gets too excited and could accidentally knock a little toddler over (just like many other dogs his size).

However, he is an adorable dog who loves his human family and wants to be loved. He can get very attached to his family. He gets along with cats well, so you don’t have to worry about that!

Potential Health Concerns

Unfortunately, due to extensive breeding throughout the 1960 to 1980’s, the Irish Setter is one of those dog breeds prone to various medical conditions you should be aware of. Now, this isn’t unique to this breed; it just means that you will want to be particularly careful when choosing your Irish Setter dog breeder and be sure to visually inspect the parents of the Irish Setter puppy you decide to adopt (or choose to adopt an Irish Setter rescue dog).

Conditions you will want to ask about should include:

And while many of these conditions may not be life-threatening, they can become quite expensive, particularly if they become recurring issues. This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not. But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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