The exact Irish Setter ancestry is unknown, but it is believed that they were developed in 17th or 18th century in Ireland where hunters crossed Pointers, flushing Spaniels and some other Setters together to create excellent versatile and effective gundog that would be able to track, point and retrieve birds.
Today, the Irish Setter is known for its beautiful striking red coat, but initially, the Irish Setters were red and white, but in 19th century all-red dogs started to be bred, which was the first dogs, that are really resembling today standard Irish Setters. Today, both color variations – the all red Irish Setter and Irish red and White Setter are officially recognized.
Speaking of the coat, the Irish Setter has a relatively long, flat and reasonably straight coat. It may have a little wave though. On the chest, back of the legs and tail the coat is little bit longer and the ears have a silky fringe. The colors range from lighter red to deep mahagony.
4) Two types
Today, there are two Irish Setter types – the show dog and the field dog and there are some differences between those two. The irish Setter show dogs tend to be larger and heavier and they have more fancy and thicker coat. The size difference can be pretty big, since the show dogs can reach up to 70 pounds, the typical weight of the field Irish Spaniel is around 45 pounds. The field dog also can have patches of white on their chest and face.
5) High energy
Well, this should not be that surprising, since those dogs were bred for hard work, but it is important to mention. Irish Setters have a lots of energy and high exercise needs. They will always be ready for any kind of an outdoor adventure, it can be longer walks, hikes or runs. And those dogs truly enjoy working, so if you are not hunting with them, you can try some dog sport, for example agility, tracking trials or rally.
6) Family companions
But owning the Irish Setter is not only about working and exercising with the dog, because this is also a very loving, social, outgoing and friendly dog breed who just loves its family. This dog creates a strong bond with its owner. Their gentle and even tempered nature also make this dog good partner for older kids. They also do not have problems with other dogs, but smaller household pets might be problematic, since the Irish Setter is a hunter after all and they do have higher prey drive.
The Irish Setters have reputation of dogs, that are not easy to train. But that does not mean they are stupid, it is quite the opposite. Irish Setters are extremely smart, but also quite independent and mischevious. You will have to be firm, patient and lets say creative trainer to keep your dog entertain. Shorter training sessions are better suited for this dog and it is always a good idea to mix the training session with some physical exercise or playtime.
Irish Setter are slow to mature. Some people say, that they settle down by the age of two, but i would say that majority of them is pretty puppy like for their entire lives. If they are healthy, they will always be very playful and mischevious. You can be sure, that you will never be bored with the Irish Setter.
9) President dog
It seems, that American presidents just love this dog, because at least three of them owned the Irish Setter. The first one is Harry Truman, who owned an Irish Setter called Mike, the second is Ronald Reagan and his Peggy and the last one, which is probably the most famous one, is Richard Nixons Irish Setter named King Timahoe, or just Tim.
The Irish Setter is a relatively healthy dog breed with average lifespan betweeen 12-15 years. Problems that have been noted in Irish Setters include gastric torsion, progressive retina atrophy, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, hypothyroidism and von willebrands disease.