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Irish Setter

This large, muscular, elegant gundog's outstanding attribute is the rich, chestnut to mahogany coloured coat. Irish Setters come with a silky, flat coat with feathering at the legs, ears and on the tail. Balanced and elegant, the breed strides out with their head held high.

12-15 years
30.5kg for males and 26kg for females
Adult males measure 65cm and females measure 61cm
Chestnut and mahogany
Kennel Club group
The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys more than two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Quiet dog
  • Welcomes everyone happily
  • Generally friendly with other dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • Great family dog
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
Generally healthy breed

The Irish Setter dog can suffer from:
- Hip dysplasia
- Gastric dilatation volvulus
- Canine leucocyte adhesion deficiency which is an inherited disorder where the immune system does not work properly.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy which is an inherited disorder where part of the eye degenerates and wastes away which can result in blindness.  
- Osteosarcomas¹ which are a serious type of bone cancer.
- Epilepsy² which is a condition where abnormal brain function can lead to seizures which damage the brain. 
- Entropion³ which is a painful eye condition where the eyelids roll inwards.

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme 
- Eye screening scheme 
- DNA testing for canine leucocyte adhesion deficiency and progressive retinal atrophy which tests whether or not a dog has the potential to be affected by these conditions.

¹M. Szewczyk et al, 'What do we know about canine osteosarcoma treatment? – review', Sept 2014, Veterinary Research Communications  
² F. Gruenenfelder et al, 'Research Communication Seizures and Sleep Disorders', May 2009, Handbook of Veterinary Practice
³I. Broek, 'Pedigree analysis and optimisation of the breeding program in the Irish Setter', June 2017, BSc Thesis Animal Breeding and Genetics


The well-bred, well-socialised and well-trained Irish Setter is extraordinarily sweet and makes an affectionate, loyal family pet. Early exposure to cats and careful supervision is essential if they are to share a home with them - and they may not be safe with strange cats or any small furry animals.

Being terribly friendly, this is not a good guard dog, though he will announce the presence of a visitor. The Irish Setter remains playful throughout his life - one of his more endearing traits. They are often thought of as being a bit ditzy and brainless - or even highly strung - but this is generally because people buy them for their glamour and underestimate how much exercise and input this working dog needs to stay healthy and happy.

Did You Know?

  • The Irish Setter is also often called the Red Setter (or Madra rua – which means red dog in Gaelic) because of his stunning coat. It is said that the same gene that makes the Irish Setter red is the same one that is found in Irish and Scottish people to give so many of them ginger hair and freckles!
  • Two Irish Setters have found their way into the White House – one called Mike owned by Harry Truman, and the other called King Timahoe owned by Richard Nixon. Despite having such a royal name, King Timahoe disgraced himself by shredding a carpet in the Oval Office!
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