- Setters originated before the advent of hunting birds with game, when dogs that spotted birds were expected to crouch so that hunters could throw a net over the birds without it getting snagged on the dog.
- The oldest known setter dates back to the 1300s, but the Irish setter is more recent, probably from the 1700s. The breed is thought to be the result of crosses between English setters (and to a lesser extent, Gordon setters) and spaniels and pointers.
- These crosses produced red and white setters that were fast working and could be seen from a distance, qualities desired by Irish bird hunters.
- Around 1800, the first kennel of solid red setters was established. These dogs gained a reputation for both their hunting ability and striking color. Solid red setters and red and white setters diverged into different lines, now known as Irish setters and Irish red and white setters.
- In 1862, a dog named Palmerston changed the look of the Irish Ssetter because of his unusually long head and slender build. Most modern Irish setters can be traced back to him.
- The breed gained more popularity as a show dog compared to field dog, although it can still perform in both venues.
- In the 1970s, the Irish setter rose to rank among the most popular breeds in America. Its popularity has since declined dramatically.
Irish Setter Behavior Concerns
- Makes a tirelessly enthusiastic and active companion.
- Usually very good with children, but can be too boisterous for small children.
- Eager to please but easily distracted.
- Does best with reward-based training involving food.
- Outgoing toward strangers.
- Gets along well with other pets and dogs.
- Enjoys retrieving and hunting.
Irish Setter Suggested Exercises
- Makes a good housedog if given adequate exercise.
- Requires daily exercise in the form of a very long walk, jog, or energetic games. Field lines tend to be more energetic.
- A good candidate for dog parks.
- Obedience training is essential not only for control, but for the mental exercise it provides.
Irish Setter Grooming
- Coat is fairly long, silky, and either flat or slightly wavy.
- The coat needs brushing and combing two to three times a week to prevent mats. It should be bathed once a month.
- Some clipping and trimming is needed every month to maintain optimal looks.
- Shedding is average.
Suggested Irish Setter Nutritional Needs
- Adult dogs should be fed a balanced diet, with restricted calories if the dog starts to gain too much weight.
- Puppies should be fed a balanced a puppy food.