Irish Red Setter

Other names: Red Setter, Irish Setter

Irish Red Setter

Originating in Ireland, Irish Setters first appeared as gundogs. Their popularity soon spread, not only because of their enthusiasm as working bird dogs, but also because of their stunning, mahogany coats. This breed is very friendly and excel in many activities and canine sports. With a high energy drive, this dog is quite boisterous and bold too. He loves anything to do with sporting birds and has a strong hunting instinct.

Key facts about the Irish Red Setter

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Playful Hunter

Size :

Origins and history

The Irish Setter, as his name suggests, comes from Ireland. The breed was developed there during the 18th century, when Gordon Setters, Pointers, Spaniels and English Setters were likely combined. Some of the first of the breed were known as Red Spaniels, or the Gaelic version of red dog, “Modder Rhu”. Many setters with either solid red coats or red sprinkled with tiny white dots were bred during this time.

The first Irish Setter imported from Ireland to the United States in 1875 was named Elcho. This famous dog was a star, not only in the hunting field but also in the show ring. Likewise, in 1878, Admiral was the first of the breed to be registered by the American KC.  During the 60’s and 70’s, popularity rose for this breed of dogs, notably due to Big Red, a famous Irish Setter who had a movie and books named after him. The dog’s popularity remains stable in present times.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 7 - Pointing Dogs


Section 2 : British and Irish Pointers and Setters

Physical characteristics of the Irish Red Setter

    Adult size

    Female : Between 22 and 24 in

    Male : Between 23 and 26 in


    Female : Between 40 and 51 lb

    Male : Between 44 and 55 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    This active dog has a long, lean head shape, with an oval, domed skull shape. The dog’s body is longer than it is tall. His nose is either brown or black. Almond-shaped eyes are set wide apart on the dog’s face. Thin, low-set ears are triangular shaped. The dog has straight front legs and a long tail, quite thick, that tapers to a point at the end. With a shiny, usually mahogany or deep red coloured coat, with feathering that is longer in appearance. Some young dogs can have a silver-grey shade hair behind the legs and ears, however as the dog grows, this usually disappears.

    Good to know

    These good-looking, Irish Setter dogs are a very popular breed, not only in the UK, but worldwide too. This means that puppies from established breeders can be sold to a high price. As with all types of dogs, when choosing a new puppy:

    • Beware of scams online selling and advertising puppies. These false sellers might show you fake images of gorgeous Irish Setter pups they are selling, at budget prices. Always visit the breeders home before you commit to buying a puppy, or you hand over any money. 
    • Be aware also, that some amateur breeders choose to breed from a female dog too many times, which is not only very cruel but also means that the resulting pups may not be in the best of health. 
    • When deciding to buy an Irish Setter puppy, always ask to see details of the dog’s lineage, proof of their vaccinations and microchipping.


    Irish Red Setter

    Irish Red and White Setter


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      Certainly an affectionate dog, very outgoing and people-loving. Although the breed isn’t known as a guard dog, he will step up and protect his owner if needed.

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      The Irish Setter is a very playful and fun-loving breed. He is always ready for a prank, and can be quite mischievous at times, usually when you are least expecting it.

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      A very active dog, who is usually looking for fun. This breed is generally quite slow to mature, so will keep their puppy playfulness often throughout their adulthood.

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      This Irish Setter is a very sensitive dog, but also certainly very intelligent. Because of their sensitivity, they don’t respond too well to being corrected, or to harsh training schedules.

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      With his hunting dog heritage, he is certainly capable of seeking out and hunting down a game bird. With a strong hunting instinct, once he is trained in this routine, he won’t ever forget and need re-training.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      Usually happy to greet visitors or strangers with a nuzzle and a wag of the tail. This dog is generally a people-person, and loves nothing better than socialising with adults and children.

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      Look no further than the Irish Setter for an independent pet, with a great personality. A very smart dog, but also a very independent thinker. Training can often take a sense of humour and lots of patience. He still may resist what you ask him to do, as he can be quite stubborn too.

      Behaviour of the Irish Red Setter

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        Tolerates solitude

        These are certainly people pets, loving nothing more than to be in your company and be entertained by you. He is also an animal with high energy levels, and won’t take too well being left home alone for long periods of time.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        Certainly, Irish Setters are very responsive to training, however, often quite mischievous. As he loves to spend time around people, he will enjoy the extra time you spend on training sessions. Very capable of learning many skills including complex and advanced ones, especially if you begin these routines from puppyhood.

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        Providing your Irish Setter receives sufficient physical and mental stimulation, barking won’t be too much of an issue. However, some dogs from this breed do tend to bark, particularly when they discover new sounds or sights, or when they need to command your attention.

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