Irish red setter

Irish Red SetterAs the national dog of Ireland, the Irish Red Setter is known among dog lovers worldwide. Lovers of the breed appreciate the dogs for their affectionate nature but also for their performance in the hunt. In this article you will find more information about the Irish Setter as well as hints for keeping and buying them.

Irish red setter



As the name of the breed suggests, the Irish Setter originated in Ireland. The Irish Setter as we know it today has existed since about the 17th century. century and is considered to be the oldest purebred setter breed.

Although the exact ancestors of the breed are not fully known, it is believed that the Irish Setter is a result of mating between English and Gorden Setters.

However, there are also experts who suspect a relationship with the Epagneul Breton, which was kept by the Irish and Bretons. What many people don't know is that the Irish Setter can live until the age of 20. century inside had a white, red coloring.

Evidence of this can be found in ancient paintings depicting the bicolored hunting dogs. However, since the red puppies were so popular, it was decided to breed only red Irish Setters.

Among the pioneers of breeding with red Irish Setters today is Lord de Freyne. This had the first in writing mentioned kennel red setter, which were known at that time under the name Modder Rhu. De Freyne and his relatives kept a studbook for 70 years, documenting every litter of their setters until the line died out due to incestuous matings.

In 1874, at a dog show, both red and white setters and red-only setters were presented and judged separately.

Already in 1885 it was decided in the context of the foundation of the "Irish Red Setter Club" that the Irish Setter must be red from now on. When the pure breeding started the Irish Setter became more and more a fashion dog. Used only rarely for hunting purposes.

Nevertheless, there are still hunters and foresters who keep an Irish Setter as a reliable hunting companion.

Appearance of the Irish Setter

With a withers height of up to 72 cm in male dogs, the Irish Setter belongs to the larger dog breeds.

Characteristic for the outer appearance of the four-legged friend is the coloration of the coat, which is called chestnut red or chestnut brown. According to the breed standard, only minor white coloring is allowed on the chest, forehead, neck, chin and toes.

The coat of the Irish Setter is very dense, smooth and lies close to the body. The length of the hair varies depending on the part of the body. While these are on the body partly only medium long, it forms on the back of the legs, the tail, the throat and the chest the so-called feathering. This is a much longer coat.

Irish Setters have a strong, but elegant physique with harmonious proportions. The head is relatively broad, has a slightly upturned skull and a pronounced stop.

The expressive eyes of the dogs are oval and dark colored. The floppy ears naturally lie close to the body. Are approximately on the height of the eyes. The tail is about as long as the hock joint. Is carried by the Irish Setter mostly on the height of the back line or somewhat under it.

The chest is strong with clearly arched ribs.


While the Irish Red Setter used to be mainly kept by hunters, these four-legged friends are now popular family dogs. Lovers of the Irish Setter appreciate the breed for their calm, balanced and sensitive nature, which leads to the fact that they are hardly noticeable at home.

But even though Irish Setters are adaptable enough to be kept in a large apartment, they need a lot of outdoor exercise. It is important to give your puppy the possibility to run freely and to get rid of his energy.

However, one should always keep in mind that Irish Setters still have a strong hunting instinct, which must be controlled.

The Irish Setter develops a strong bond with his family. Since it is considered particularly fond of children, it is also suitable for families with small children with its gentle nature.

Both acquaintances and foreign visitors are greeted by the Irish Setter friendly and without shyness. Also in the contact with other domestic animals there is usually no problem.

As a guard dog, however, the Irish Setter is rather unsuitable, because he would certainly be happy about a burglar.


Raising an Irish Setter is essentially no different than raising any other dog breed. You should, however, be able to take into account the breed-typical sensitive and delicate nature.

In order for you to enjoy your four-legged friend when he is fully grown, it is advisable to start training him as early as possible. This is how your puppy learns from the beginning what is allowed and what not.

Without proper training, it can quickly happen that undesirable behaviors creep in, which are later difficult to untrain again. Among the most important factors in dog training, besides loving consistency and patience, are empathy and mutual trust.

Completely inappropriate, however, are extreme severity or corporal punishment. Violence will definitely not help you with the education.

In order not to overstrain your puppy during the training sessions you should keep them short at first. This will keep your Irish Setter puppy focused and motivated and he will progress quickly. The Irish Setter has like all Setters a medium length coat. Must therefore be brushed regularly. Only with the appropriate coat care can matting be prevented in your Irish Setter. In addition, you should examine the coat of your dog after each walk and remove any dirt immediately to prevent knots in the fur. Since the setter grows more hair between the pads and the claws, these must also be trimmed from time to time.

Nevertheless, the grooming of the Irish Setter is relatively uncomplicated compared to other dog breeds, because the dogs do not have an undercoat and therefore they shed only little hair.

So that your four-legged friend is used to grooming from an early age, you should get him used to it when he is still a puppy. If you are overstrained with the fur care, we recommend you to look for a dog salon.

Common diseases

In many dog breeds specific diseases occur, from which other breeds are either not at all or only very rarely affected. The Irish Setter is also affected by such a genetically predisposed disease.

So there are always Irish Setters, who fall ill with CLAD. This is the so-called Canine Leukocyte Aedema Deficiency, which leads to the fact that the diseased dogs are particularly susceptible to infections of any kind.

The cause of the disease is a mutation of the surface molecule CD 18. This causes the immune system to no longer function properly.

Puppies suffering from Canine Leukocyte Aedema Deficiency are usually very small and often show severe infection symptoms such as tonsillitis, dermatitis or gingivitis.

In the further course of the disease there is often swelling jaw bones and / or inflamed joints accompanied by high fever.

Since CLAD is inherited autosomal recessive, it can only come to an outbreak of the disease, if both parents pass on the hereditary defect. To be sure that your Irish Setter is CLAD free, you should ask your breeder to show you the test results.

Another hereditary disease that occurs in the Irish Setter is Progressive Retinal Athropia (PRA).

This is a group of hereditary photoreceptor disorders of the retina.

In veterinary medicine we differentiate between the late developing degenerative changes and those that occur already in puppyhood.

In the Irish Setter there is usually a mutation-related dysplasia of cones and rods. Since PRA is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, only Irish Setters that inherit the mutation from both parents become ill.

Dogs that carry only one copy of the mutated gene act as carriers and transmit it to their offspring with a probability of 50%.

Famous Irish Red Setter

In the Disney family film "Big Red" (My Friend Red) from 1962, an Irish Red Setter plays the leading role. The film is about the reserved orphan boy Frankie, who is adopted by a rich veterinarian who lives on a farm.

Frankie is given the task of training the behaviorally challenged Irish Setter named "Big Red" and develops an ever closer bond with the animal. When Big Red is separated from Frankie before a dog show, the latter breaks a window to be with the boy.

The dog is injured so badly that it has to be euthanized. Frankie prevents this however. Nurses his friend back to health.

What does an Irish Red Setter cost?

An Irish Red Setter from a good breeder costs about 1600€ – 2000€. However, this amount is only the cost of acquisition. As a responsible dog owner, however, you should also be aware of the subsequent costs.

In addition to basic equipment (toys, leash, dog bed, etc.), you should also have a dog insurance.) for your dog come namely still current costs, which are due month after month. So you have to pay not only for the food of your Irish Setter, but also for urgently needed vaccinations, possible veterinary visits or a dog liability insurance.

If, for example, you plan to challenge your darling in dog sports, membership in an appropriate club costs money, of course.

How to find the right breeder

Choosing a suitable kennel is of elementary importance if you want to get an Irish Setter. While dedicated breeders take their time to plan the next litter and only breed dogs that are free of diseases, breeders only have money in mind. In order to make as much profit as possible, such providers only take care of your puppies to a limited extent. Often the animals are neither vaccinated nor medically treated in any other way.

To avoid being sold a sick dog – which may or may not be viable – look for a breeder who belongs to a breed association. We also recommend that you visit your breeder at least once before buying.

Here's how you can get to know your Irish Setter, get an idea of the breeding conditions and meet the breeder.

At your meeting, ask to be shown documents that provide information about the health of the parents and ask your breeder if they vaccinate and chip their puppies prior to release.

If everything is coherent, your breeder makes a nice impression and has the necessary expertise, there is nothing standing in the way of your purchase. By the way, do not be surprised if the breeder also asks you (private) questions. Responsible breeders are usually very careful about who they sell their puppies to.

Dog insurance

Having an Irish Setter means taking on responsibility. This not only means that you have to feed and walk your pet regularly, but also means that you have to be there for your dog financially.

If your Irish Setter causes damage, you will be held liable for it. Moreover, they must be able to pay for veterinary treatment.

So that you do not have to sacrifice your entire savings in an emergency, it is advisable to take out a dog liability insurance, as well as an OP insurance for your dog. This way you don't have to worry about possible costs and you can live in the certainty that you can be there for your dog in an exceptional situation.

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