The Irish Setter.

This is a magnificent breed of dog seldom seen. In fact, they are so few in numbers in the U.K. that they are now on the vulnerable breed list. This is a shame, as Irish setters are a lovely breed and one which this Holidays 4 Dogs article will take a closer look at.

Irish setters were bred as hunting dogs to flush game from the uplands of Ireland. It was the Irish Red and White setter which preceded the red coloured dogs. The red setter’s reputation grew so much, they were eventually favoured over the red and white setter.

In the 1860’s the dog was a popular breed in field trials and they performed exceptionally well. However, by the turn of the century, show enthusiasts coveted the breed and, sadly, hunting skills went by the wayside in the favour of aesthetic show points.

There are a few gundog enthusiasts who still work Irish, (and Gordon setters). Notably within the Irish Setter Association, England, who organise field trials. However, generally speaking, you are unlikely to see an Irish setter on the average shoot.

Appearance and temperament. 

Setters are large dogs with striking looks. Their coat has long feathering which needs regular grooming and attention. While they do shed quite profusely twice a year, some would argue the longer hair is easier to remove from furnishings than hair from short coated dogs. They have very biddable temperaments, but they are also reputed to be somewhat highly strung at sitting, pet sitting They are most definitely high energy dogs. As a result, they can sometimes be a nuisance if not given enough to do, mentally and physically.

Because they are not a common breed, it is a good idea to do plenty or research on available puppies. There are a scattering of breeders across they U.K who breed their dogs as pets and show dogs, but it is essential to make sure the breeder you choose is health testing their stock.

Unfortunately, Irish setters do suffer from inherited eye diseases and Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD), which is an auto immune deficiency. There are DNA tests available for these diseases. Because they are quite a large breed of dog, they can also suffer from bloat.


It is a shame the Irish setter has fallen so much out of favour, because they can offer a great deal as a pet and a working dog. It would be nice to think that others will nurture the breed in the future; especially in terms of its working abilities.

With dedicated owners, breeders and enthusiasts the Irish setter could surely achieve its full potential in more diverse arenas.