The Irish Setter: A Complete Guide

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Are you looking for a dog that has a majestic mahogany coat, high energy levels, and is an excellent bird dog? The Irish Setter might be the breed you were looking for.

Originally bred to be gundogs in Ireland, these dogs quickly became popular all over the world thanks to their fashionable coat and mischievous yet friendly nature, and the ability to be great home protectors and a great addition to any family.

However, since this breed is so popular nowadays, finding a purebred puppy with great genetic heritage and from a reputable breeder can be complicated.

Everyone wants a piece of the action and many Irish Setter owners have decided to get into the business, without prior breeding knowledge.

Six Irish Setters sitting down
Irish Setters are always ready to follow you into adventures.

This only means that the chances of buying a low-quality pup are high and that you must pay special attention to whom you are buying the dog from.

For this reason, we have decided to write this guide and help you with your search.

In our guide, you will have a chance to learn everything there is about the breed, as well as how to take proper care of your dog, and even how to find a reputable breeder and make sure that you have a clean start with a healthy puppy.

Let’s first take a look at what you need to know before you buy the puppy.

The Irish Setter Puppies – Before You Buy…

Before you can say “Okay, I am buying an Irish Setter puppy”, you need to make sure you’ve covered all the possible angles that might represent a problem with the purchase.

For example, the first thing you need to determine is the price range of the puppy, and if it suits the budget you planned.

So, let’s see if you can afford an Irish Setter puppy or you have to consider a more affordable breed.

What price are the Irish Setter puppies?

For a premium-quality Irish Setter puppy, from a reputable breeder, the price range you should expect will also be premium.

But, for $1400 to $4000, you get a healthy puppy with supreme gene quality. And, the price also depends on the end of the range you choose.

You can either get a puppy from the bottom end of the price range, that has both parents, health tests cleared, but is meant only to be a family dog.

Or, you can opt for the higher end of the price range and buy a puppy that also has breeding rights and is guaranteed to win trophies on dog shows and competitions.

How to find reputable Irish Setter breeders?

Finding a reputable breeder that has high-quality puppies can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be if you know what to pay attention to.

In order to help you out in making the right choice of a breeder, we have comprised a list of the things you shouldn’t do, as well as the things you should do when in search of a perfect puppy.


  • Ask the breeder for medical history for the puppy, as well as for the pup’s parents and their health tests clearances for the diseases that are associated with this breed
  • Ask the breeder to tell you everything he knows about the breed, as well as how to properly take care of the puppy, and which food to feed him with and what regime to follow
  • Ask the breeder to show you the pup’s parents so that you have an idea of the temperament you should expect from your puppy and to know if it suits you
  • Ask the breeder for contacts of people who already purchased puppies from him so that they can tell you their experiences

Pay attention to how the puppies and parents react when the breeder is with them and if there is a mutual love between them


  • Buy a puppy from a breeder that has many different litters available at the same time, this is most likely a puppy mill and the pups are in most cases sick right from the start
  • Buy a puppy from a breeder that doesn’t know much about the breed or how to properly take care of the puppies
  • Buy a puppy from a breeder that doesn’t have a complete medical history of both the pups and the parents (health tests clearances, vaccinations, vet checkups…)
  • Buy a puppy from a breeder that seems like he is eager to take your money and delete your number from the phone as soon as you turn your back and walk away

Okay, now that you are armed with the necessary knowledge regarding the choice of the breeder, it’s time to check some little-known facts about the puppies.

3 Little-known facts about the Irish Setter puppies

An Irish Setter eating blueberries
Irish Setters are highly intelligent.

By getting to know the lesser-known facts about the Irish Setter puppies, you are making sure you are ready for everything that comes from living with one. So, let’s see if you are up for it.

  • They can suffer from separation anxiety

Irish Setter puppies are well known for becoming attached emotionally to their human families quite fast.

They don’t like being left alone during the night, or for longer periods during the day, and will suffer from separation anxiety and become destructive.

  • They love to run

The Irish setters are a high-energy breed and they love to run.

But, while they are still developing pups, you need to keep them away from hard surfaces and not allow them to run for too long.

Their joints and still developing bones can suffer stress, and that can get much more complicated as they get older.

  • They need to exercise

Irish Setters as a breed, require plenty of exercises. When they are adult dogs, you will have to provide them with at least half an hour of vigorous exercise, twice a day.

But, while they are still puppies, just like with running, the exercises need to be puppy appropriate and limited to shorter times and fewer times a day.

Physical Traits of the Irish Setter

Once we’ve covered the most important questions regarding the pre-purchase part of the whole getting a puppy thing, you can move on and check the physical traits of your new companion.

How big is a full-grown Irish Setter?

This is not a small dog breed as their height range goes from 28 to 30 inches. Okay, they are not as big as the Mastiffs, but their size is not negligible either.

As for the weight range, on average, they go from 60 to 70 pounds of weight.

So, you are not dealing with a toy or a lap dog, but a serious athlete that has both the size and the strength to wear you off during a hike or a long walk.

What is the life expectancy of the Irish Setter?

When it comes to how long can you expect your Irish Setter to be a part of your family, don’t worry, you will have plenty of time to make great memories of all the adventures you went through together.

Their average lifespan goes from 12 to 16 years, but they can live even longer if you take excellent care of them.

Intelligence, Temperament and Personality Traits of the Irish Setter

A brown Irish Setter lying down
Irish Setters are fun-loving dogs.

Every breeder that knows this breed will tell you that, even though these dogs love everyone, they are not meant to live with everyone.

They are energy-packed and need at least an hour of exercise, each day.

Therefore, if you do decide to own an Irish Setter, your family should live an active lifestyle and match his energy levels.

And, you all have to be prepared to include him in everything you do, or he will feel left out, and even suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time.

This is when they become destructive and unveil their darker side.

As for the types, they come in two:

  • Field dogs
  • Show dogs

Field dogs are smaller and lighter and agiler than show dogs, and they come with a thinner, lighter coat.

But, both types actually match the standards both physically and mentally, and they are both recognized by the AKC.

And, both have a natural ability to be excellent gundogs.

Besides being gundogs, Irish Setters are excellent in dog sports, and they love being involved in tracking, rally, obedience, and agility.

Also, thanks to their calm temperament, they can be superb therapy dogs, and you can often see them spreading joy in children’s hospitals and retirement homes, but above all, they are excellent family dogs for the same live spirited families.

Furthermore, due to their high intelligence levels, they can be independent, slightly stubborn, and mischievous, and their training demands consistency and plenty of patience.

Also, due to the fact that these dogs mature slowly, you can expect to have a puppy-spirited dog for several years.

This is the reason why kids love them so much, but you should be careful if you have toddlers, as these big redheads can easily knock them down while playing.

In the end, having in mind that these dogs were the favorites of many presidents, movie stars, and probably an entire nation of ordinary people, what you can expect from your Irish Setter is tons of great memories and laughs for years to come.

Irish Setter Diet

When it comes to what you should feed your dog with, we recommend high-quality dry food. He should have two meals per day, and each meal should have 2 to 3 cups of food.

Of course, how much your dog will need depends on how active he is, his size, age, and metabolism.

Needless to say, is that a dog that is a couch potato will need less food than a dog that is regularly active.

And, the better the quality of the food, the lesser amount will you need to pour into the bowl.

Also, a bowl of fresh water should always available for your dog, regardless of his activity levels and diet regime.

How much Exercise does an Irish Setter need?

When it comes to exercise, your Irish Setters should have at least one hour of exercise each day.

There are many ways you can satisfy his exercise needs, but the best one is to let him run.

If you are a sportsman yourself, he can be a great jogging or bike riding partner, and after running alongside you, he will be happy to get back home and sleep like a baby.

Irish Setters also enjoy swimming, course hunting, and playing fetch. And, these types of exercises are also great for stimulating his brain.

The Irish Setter Health and Conditions

Even though, in general, this breed is considered to be a healthy one, there are a few diseases and health conditions they can suffer from. What you should keep in mind are the following issues:

  • Panosteitis
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Canine Leukocyte
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Epilepsy
  • Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Gastric Torsion (Bloat)
  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans

As you can see, there are quite a few problems, your dog can suffer from, so it’s important that the breeder you buy the puppy from, has all the health clearances for both of the pup’s parents.

My final thoughts on the Irish SetterAn Irish Setter looking to the side

The health section marks the end of our Irish Setter guide.

By now, you should have a much better knowledge of the breed, and you shouldn’t have a problem in deciding if this is the right breed for you or not.

But, if you are still unsure, take a look at our summary of all we talked about today, and make an informed decision.

The Irish Setters are fun-loving dogs that sport a stylish red coat.

But, with this breed, it’s not all about the looks as they are exceptional athletes, very enthusiastic about everything they do, as long as it involves the family, and if you share a home with this dog, you can be sure that you won’t lack fun and laughs.

He is always ready to follow you into an adventure, and most of the time, it will be you who gets worn out the first.

They are highly intelligent, which makes the training slightly complicated as they can be stubborn and independent, but with patience, plenty of love and positive encouragement, you will have a wonderful, well-mannered companion that will be the role model in the neighborhood.

If all this sound appealing to you, then this breed is the one you should choose.

Thank you for reading our guide, and if you found it helpful and interesting to read, feel free to share it on social media so that your friends can also realize how wonderful these dogs are and how fun they are to be around with.

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