Irish Setter

Also known simply as the Red Setter, this striking chesnut coloured dog is one of the most popular dog breeds in the gundog group.

Irish Setter breed group


Size of the Irish Setter

Large. A graceful, elegant sleek dog.

Country of origin

The Irish Setter originated in Ireland where it can be traced back in history to the 1800s. The Irish Setter was used to set, or locate gamebirds on the shoot. Today it’s still popular as a working dog, but more likely to be kept as a companion pet.

Irish Setter introduction and overview

The Irish or Red setter is a large, athletic, fluid gundog with a glossy fine chesnut/coppery coat. It’s a very lean dog, well-muscled with a narrow body and head. The distinctive shiny coat has long silky straight or wavy featherings on the ears, chest, backs of legs, abdomen and tail.

Irish Setter temperament

The Irish Setter has a friendly, cheeful and excitable disposition and a real zest for life.

The Irish Setter tends to love the company of other dogs and will normally join in with other dogs even if not invited! It can be a little over-excited in his enthusiasm to play and some owners describe their love of exercise and enthusiasm as skitterish and scatty. The Setter can build up speed quite quickly for its size and delicate looking frame, and in their excitement can be a little accident prone.

Irish Setters are generally excellent around the home, and form close bonds with the family. They tend to be good with other dogs, but owners should be careful with cats and small animals due to its strong hunting instincts. Irish Setters should be trained from an early age to prevent roaming and running off. A good recall is a necessity.

Puppies and younger dogs may be unsuitable for homes with very young children.

Colour varieties of the Irish Setter

The Irish Setter is  available in one colour red,  although some dogs may have white hairs on the chest.

Size and weight of the Irish Setter

There is no official breed standard for the Irish Setter in the UK,  but the following height and weight ranges are thought to be an acceptable healthy indicator for this breed of dog.

Height bitch 54-62cms

Height dog 58-67cms

Weight (kilos) bitch 24-29kgs

Weight (kilos) dog 27-32kgs

Exercise requirements of the Irish Setter

High. The Irish Setter is renowned for being constantly ‘on the go’ with seemingly unending amounts of energy and enthusiasm. It requires at least 2 hours of vigorous exercise daily to maintain good physical health. Lack of exercise can quickly lead to boredom and unwanted behaviour.

Is the Irish Setter a good dog for a first time dog owner?

Yes. The breed is easy to train and a quick learner, but any prospective owner must be realistic about the necessary time commitment necessary to bring out the best in this athletic breed.

Irish Setter coat length

Long. The Irish Setter has a striking glossy and silky chesnut coloured coat with long featherings on the ears, chest, abdomen, backs of legs and tail.

Grooming requirements of the Irish Setter

High. The silky featherings associated with this breed need regular attention to prevent tangles and matts. A soft slick brush or comb should be used to carefully remove thorns and brambles. Your irish setter should be towel dried after a walk in wet or muddy condtitions and feathers should then be gently brushed through.

Ears should be checked on a regular basis for foreign bodies such as thorns, brambles and ticks. Irish setters are prone to ear infections.

The featherings on an Irish Setter vary in length from dog to dog. Dogs with a particularly heavy coat may benefit from regular professional grooming. A groomer who will be able to thin the feathers to make them more manageable, without altering the classic lines and shape of the breed.


No. The Irish Setter sheds fur throughout the year.

Health Issues in the Irish Setter

The Irish Setter is generally healthy and has a lengthy expected lifespan for such a large dog, but all new owners should consult their breeder about the following known health issues:

  • Hip dysplasia - an inherited malformation of the hip joint.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy - a condition which affects the eyes and can result in blindness
  • Epilepsy

As with all pedigree dogs, it is very important to obtain a puppy from a source where you can be guaranteed that it has been bred with a view to avoiding the inherent physical and psychological diseases of the breed.

Average lifespan of the Irish Setter

A healthy Irish Setter should expect to enjoy a life expectancy of 10-14 years, which is high for dog of this size.

Approximate Irish Setter pedigree puppy price

Expect to pay around £700-850 for a puppy . There are generally between 8-10 puppies in an average litter, and puppies are normally available with 806 puppies registered with the Kennel Club in 2015.

Insuring an Irish Setter

The Irish Setter is a large dog with quite a high cost value, so expect to pay a higher premium than an average sized dog. Remember that whatever your dog’s premium starts out at, dog insurance will always rise with your pet’sage after about four years old and any on-going illnesses or conditions that your dog develops will also affect your annual insurance premiums from then on.

Estimating how much an Irish Setter would need to be fed each day

A bitch weighing 25kgs requires 330gms of complete dry food per day.

A dog weighing 30kgs requires 365gms of complete dry food per day.

The weekly cost of feeding a 25kgs bitch is around 8.00

The weekly cost of feeding a 30kgs dog is around £8.90

Other necessary costs to consider when owning any dog

Don’t forget to budget for regular treatments that are not covered by pet insurance:

  • Worming
  • Flea treatments
  • Annual vaccination boosters
  • Dental treatment

Many veterinary practices offer monthly budget schemes to allow you to spread the cost over the year.

There are 3 other types of setters in the gundog group, the English Setter, the Gordon Setter and the Irish Red & White Setter.