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Irish Setter

The Irish setter’s beginnings were in Ireland where it was first used as a hunting dog. It is thought to be a cross of several dogs, including the English setter, Gordon setter, both land and water spaniels and the pointer. This produced a dog close to the one we have today, except it had shorter legs and a red and white coat.

First used as a hunting dog, the Setter was fast, with a great nose for following scents over all kinds of terrain in all kinds of weather. These abilities made it in great demand.

A breeding program was started in the 19th century to breed these dogs with just red coats. When this was successful, they were used less and less as hunting dogs and were bred more for their beautiful appearance.

Brought to the U.S. around the end of the 19th century, it was called the Irish Red Setter because of its beautiful coat. It soon became very popular in the United States and won many dog shows. But in the 1940’s a disease called Progressive Retinal Atrophy diminished a large number of the Irish Setters. Fortunately the numbers rose again when this disease was able to be bred out of them.

Height: Males 23 to 26 in

Females 21.5 to 24.5 in

Weight: Males 70 lbs

Females 60 lbs

Life Span: 12 to 15 yrs.


  • Very good with children, makes a great family pet
  • Low dominance
  • Easy to train
  • Good for novice owners
  •  Good with other pets
  • Good in most climates
  • Not a barker


  • Needs human companionship
  • Needs a large yard
  • Needs a lot of daily vigorous physical exercise
  • Very active indoors
  • Prone to hip dysplasia and bloat
  • Regular skilled grooming needed
  • Not good for apartment living


By: Linda Eastabrooks

Former AKC Breeder


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