Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Irish Setters

This fascinating dog breed is one of the best pets imaginable due to its easygoing nature.

In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about Irish Setters, an amazingly friendly type of dog!

1. They have a long and silky coat of a distinctive color

Irish Setters are easily recognizable because of the distinctive red or chestnut color of their coats. This coat is very silky and therefore requires frequent brushing. They also have a very thick undercoat which gives them protection for cold winter weather, while their topcoat is thin.

The coat on many parts of their bodies is also feathery such as the tail, ears, chest, and legs. Everything combined makes recognizing the appearance of this remarkable dog breed pretty straight-forward.

Irish setter coat
The distinctive coat / Egooktamuck /

2. Male and female Irish Setters don’t differ much in size

This dog breed is relatively big and males and females don’t differ that much in size. Male dogs usually stand between 24 and 28 inches (61 and 71 centimeters) and weigh anywhere between 65 and 75 lbs (29 and 34 kilos).

Female dogs are slightly shorter and weigh anywhere between 55 and 65 lbs (25 and 29 kilos).

This dog breed is known to have a deep chest and slim waist and has an average life expectancy of between 11 and 12 years.

two irish setters
Two Setters on the beach / RX-Guru /

3. They’re not too fond of small pets due to their natural instinct

This breed was originally used as gundogs so they are perfect hunters. Their natural instinct is to prey on small animals such as birds, ducks, and quails.

Even though they are great companions and do reasonably well with other dogs, they mostly don’t appreciate the company of other small pets such as cats. Their hunting instinct might get the better of them.

These dogs are described asdemonstrably affectionate,” which means they have a tendency to actively seek the company of people and other animals as well.

Irish setter hunting
Natural hunter / Egooktamuck /

4. These dogs like to stay busy all day long

They were bred as hunting dogs so they were trained for many centuries to do their daily job. That’s why this dog breed needs a lot of open space to run around and have activities to keep them occupied.

This also means that they are easily bored, so they are definitely not suited to stay in the house the whole day or even in the garden. Boredom because of a lack of activity and human companionship might lead to destructive behavior in this breed.

Irish setter fun facts

5. Setting dogs were first described in the 16th century

The name of the dog, “Setter,” was originally described in the year 1570 in a book called “De Canibus Britannicus” by Caius. In this book the dog is described as follows:

Another sort of Dogges be there called the Setter, serviceable for fowling, making no noise either with foote or with tongue, whiles they follow the game. They attend diligently upon their Master and frame their condition to such beckes, motions and gestures, as it shall please him to exhibite and make, either going forward, drawing backeward, inclinding to the right hand, or yealding toward the left.

First description of Setters in 1570.

It’s fair to assume that the described dog didn’t look anywhere near how modern-day Irish Setters look, but the description of the dog’s behavior is pretty spot-on.

Irish setter facts
An amazing Setter / Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez /

6. Red Setters didn’t start our being red

Caius mentioned in the same book that the described dog looked as follows: “The most part of theyre skinnes are white, and if they are marcked with any spottes, they are commonly red, and somewhat great therewithall.”

It’s assumed that the original dogs were overall white and had red or chestnut spots. Selective breeding resulted in the dog becoming more and more colorful and less white, eventually resulting in the white completely disappearing.

Red setter in 1797
Red Setter in 1797 / Wiki Commons

7. They came in a wide variety of colors by the 19th century

It’s assumed that serious breeding programs to turn the Irish Setter’s coat into a completely red or chestnut color increased in the 18th and 19th centuries, resulting in the coat we can see in the breed today.

By the year 1845, they were described as being “very red, or red and white, or lemon-colored, or white patched with deep chestnut.” This means that the efforts to turn the dog breed’s coat into a red or chestnut color were paying off

The white in the dog’s coat eventually completely disappeared by the end of the 19th century.

Irish Setter in 1881
Irish Setter in 1881 / Wiki Commons

8. The description of the breed didn’t change much since 1886

The first club dedicated to this dog breed was established in the late 19th century in Ireland as well and was called the “Irish Red Setter Club in Dublin.” This club was also the first to draw up a standard which was approved on March 29, 1886.

This description featured 100 points to describe the physical characteristics of the breed. One of the most remarkable facts about Irish Setters is that the points on this scale didn’t change all that much until today!

Irish setter sideview
Sideview of the dog / Adam Ziaja /

9. The breed encompasses both show and working dogs

There are two distinctively different types of Irish Setters, namely those that were bred as show-dogs and the working Red Setters. The show dogs are much bigger and heavier than their working counterparts, weighing up to 25 lbs (12 kilos) more!

Regardless of this difference, both the American Kennel Club and the original Field Dog Stud Book recognize both types as “Irish Setters.”

Irish setter interesting facts
Both show-bred and field-bred Setters are Irish Setters / Piqsels

10. Their friendly nature makes them useless as guard dogs

Apart from being used as gundogs and pets, this dog breed can be used for a variety of useful activities. One of the most important uses is as therapy dogs in schools and hospitals as their friendly nature and company make children and patients feel at ease and relaxed.

This also means that they are pretty useless as guard dogs as they are simply too friendly to understand the danger and would simply welcome the intruder instead of chasing it away!

Funny Irish Setter
They are too friendly to be guard dogs / Pixabay