Once used as a gun dog, the Irish Red setter is now known not only for its hunting abilities, but also for its great temperament and status as a family pet. Out of the Setter group, this breed is known as the oldest, as it was alive long before the Gordon and the English setters. As the name suggests, the Irish setter is from Ireland. It is believed that this breed was developed from setting spaniels and a Scottish setter, but of course, there is no proof of that and there never will be. As it was originally bred to hunt, it has an excellent nose.
The very first official breed club for the Irish Setter was formed in 1882 in Dublin; back in those days, you could still find white and sometimes even black in the coats of the show winners, something that was inherited from the Red Setter's cousins, the Gordon Setter and the Red and White Setter. However, this is not very likely to see in dog shows these days.
Appearance and Health
The coat of this dog is a little long and silky. It is either red or chestnut in color. It normally has feathering on the tail. The average height is 25 to 27 inches (64 to 69 cm). The average weight for males is 60 to 70 lbs (27 to 32 kg) and for females is 53 to 64 lbs (24 to 29 kg). This breed has a thin waist and a deep chest. Its average lifespan is 11 to 12 years. It is a generally healthy dog. Some health issues observed in this breed include hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, cancer, epilepsy, bloat, and hypothyroidism among others.
This is a breed that loves its independence, so if you ever want your dog to come back to you when it gets out, early training in obedience is a must. It is easily distracted, and very enthusiastic and curious. Also, it tends to play deaf, which is another reason for early training. Harsh training is not recommended with the Red Setter because of its sensitive nature. Your dog may end up cowering every time you get close to it, and hence, a gentle and kind treatment is required.
This dog is slow to mature in a physical and a mental sense, so even if it is stubborn and hardheaded, it should not be pushed to do too much before it is ready. It has a very happy and joyful attitude, and simply loves to run around and play all day long. Out of all the setter breeds, this one has the most endurance. It is very affectionate and loves to get attention from its owners.
This is a breed that loves children and human companionship; it gets along excellent with other dogs. However, you need to be careful with smaller animals, as this was originally a hunting breed. This is not the right dog to have for those who live in apartments. It is highly necessary to give it a daily exercise. Like any other breed, it becomes destructive if there is no other outlet for its energy and gets bored. This dog is anything but aggressive in nature. It loves people, which makes it unsuitable as a guard dog or watchdog. It is popularly used as a therapy dog.
This breed is generally divided into two types of setters. The working Irish setters and the ones used in shows. Show dogs are around 70 lbs whereas working dogs are around 45 lbs. The working dogs have a coat that is less-silky and shorter. Also, the color is generally fawn and russet.
This breed was brought to the United States in the early 1800's. It won instant respect from hunters because of its great working ability in the field. Back then, this was not the red dog that we know today, it was both red and white. Unfortunately, the pure-red variety was the one that was preferred in the show ring, and so the red and white setter was slowly pushed out to near extinction. Today there are two varieties of this breed, the Irish setter (the Red One) and the Red and White Irish Setter, which is not recognized by the AKC. All because the people who first had this beautiful dog in their hands did not have the responsibility necessary to keep and preserve the breed when it first came from Ireland.
Whenever looking for a purebred puppy, always look up a breeder that has a good reputation in your area. These are people who should care about their dogs, and should be able to provide health certificates and guaranties along with their puppies.