Breed Profile – Irish Setter
As everyone seems to love our quick guides to breeds, we’re publishing quite a few more over the coming weeks. The first from the latest list is a daft, but endearing, breed – the Irish Setter.
History of Breed: Originating in Ireland, the Irish Setter is known in its native land as Modder Rhu, literally ‘red dog’ thanks to the deep chestnut red hue of its long, glossy coat. It started out as a hunting dog and still has the high energy levels and stamina of a traditional gundog, despite the fact that these days it is less likely to be used as a gundog and more as an active canine companion.
Life Expectancy: About 12 years.
Size: A medium dog, there are no breed standards for height with the Irish Setter, but most dogs are between 64-69cm in height and 27-32kg in weight.
Features: The Irish Setter’s head is long and lean, but never narrow, with a deep, square muzzle, strong jaws, dark nose, silky ears and almond-shaped, dark hazel or dark brown eyes showing a kind, intelligent expression. Their fore and hind quarters are racy, but still need to be strong and powerful to have the stamina for a full day hunting, whilst the chest is deep to provide a large lung capacity. The coat is the classic deep red chestnut, though small amounts of white on the chest are within the breed standards. Short and fine hair on the head, fronts of legs and tips of ears, but long and glossy elsewhere with feathering on the backs of legs and tail.
Energy Levels/Exercise Required: As already mentioned, the Irish Setter has very high energy levels and will need more than 2 hours of exercise every day, as well as plenty of mental stimulation to avoid boredom and accompanying behaviour problems. They are best suited to a large house with large garden to run off excess energy with access to wide outdoor spaces such as fells, beaches or parks. A high energy dog such as this will need a nutritionally balanced dog food that contains a bone and joint complex to support them. Gilbertson & Page’s Heritage Adult or Dr John Titanium are specifically designed for working dogs and contain New Zealand green-lipped mussel extract, which is a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin, to help keep joints supple, as well as a manganese supplement for healthy ligaments.
Potential Health Problems: Hip dysplasia can be an issue with Irish Setters, which can be exacerbated when a dog is carrying excess weight. Prevention is better than cure, so feeding to condition is the best way to avoid weight problems in dogs. However, for overweight dogs, a dog food such as Gilpa Slimline that is lower in fat, without missing out essential fats and oils such as Omega 3 and 6, would be advised.
Temperament: Whilst sociable and full of fun, the Irish Setter’s spirited temperament can verge on the side of impulsive and flighty, which gets them into scrapes. They are also slow to mature and require a great deal of patience and consistency during training, which will need to be firm from the start. Saying this, they are friendly, affectionate and loyal and make a great companion for an active owner.
Family Dog/Child Friendly: Irish Setters seek out other dogs and children to play with and thrive on the atmosphere in a busy family home, especially one where the occupants enjoy plenty of outdoor activities and have similarly high energy levels to the dog.
Likes: Lots of fun activities and games, both physical and mental.
Dislikes: Lack of attention and exercise or being cooped up indoors alone.