The Irish Setter is a medium to a large dog used for hunting or companionship. The dog will be 26 and 28 inches at the shoulder and will weigh between 60 and 70 pounds. The bitch is 24 to 26 inches at the withers and weighs 50 to 60 pounds. The Irish Setter is a rather elegant looking dog, with a long neck and legs. The coat is of medium length, with feathering on the ears, legs, tail, chest, and undersides. The color of the coat is chestnut red to mahogany. There might be a touch of white on the chest or toes. The Irish Setter will live from 11 to 15 years. This dog is also known as the Irish Red Setter.


Although references to setting dogs appear as early as the 16th century, the Irish Setter did not emerge from the general setter pool until about 1800. To create the dog, breeders used the Irish Water Spaniel, English Setter, Pointer, Irish Terrier, and Gordon Setter. Originally a red and white dog with shorter legs than the breed now has, by the 19th century a pure red dog had been obtained. The Irish Setter was bred to be a hunting dog and excelled at flushing birds from cover. It is sturdy enough to handle most terrains.


The Irish Setter is a good-natured breed and is known for its affectionate manner. This is an enthusiastic dog that will get along well with cats and other household pets. It has no problem in its relations with other dogs. Children are considered close friends by this dog and it will enjoy playing with them. As the Irish Setter will generally treat everyone as a buddy, it does not make a very good guard dog. This dog is often used as a therapy dog due to its good nature.

Health Issues

The Irish Setter is considered to be a fairly healthy breed, but problems can arise, as they can with any living creature. This dog can be subject to epilepsy. Bloat, or stomach torsion, is a serious problem that will need immediate veterinary intervention to save the dog’s life. Several small meals instead of one large one, and quiet time after eating are thought to help prevent bloat. As with most larger breeds, hip dysplasia can also occur.


The coat of the Irish Setter will require daily brushing and combing. The feathering, especially, can become matted and tangled if not attended to. If the dog is used for hunting or other outside activities, it is important to remove any burrs or other plant matter that might have become tangled in the coat. Ticks should be removed promptly. The longer a tick remains attached, the greater are the chances of its transmitting some disease.

Living Conditions

As the Irish Setter is a very affectionate dog, it should be with its human family as much as possible, regardless of whether it is a hunting dog or a companion. This dog is unsuitable for apartment living and should at least have a yard to play in. Long walks or runs are needed by this dog every day; it was bred for hunting and activity and needs to burn off its energy. If denied proper exercise, the dog will become bored and destructive.