Exclusively Setters

Home for Irish Setter Lovers Around the World

Hello everyone,

I've joined this forum to find out more about the Irish setter. We are considering getting a second dog to be a companion for our working line labrador and were wondering whether an Irish setter would be a good breed for us.

I know very little about this breed and have a number of questions I would like to ask.

I know that setters are gundogs, but what exactly were they originally they bred to do? 

Our labrador is very calm indoors but full of energy outdoors; are Irish Setters similar?

Are Irish Setters easy to train? What is their recall like?

I saw some beautiful Irish Setters at a busy dog event; they were very calm and were not at all phased by the noise and the many people stroking them. Is this calm temperament typical?

I read in a handout from this dog event not to believe people when they say Irish Setters are mad; why were Irish Setters given that label and is there any truth in it?

I understand there working and show lines of Irish Setters? Do they differ in similar ways to working and show line labradors?

Do Irish Setters shed a lot?


What are the pros and cons of owning an Irish Setter as a pet?

Sorry for so many questions! Thank you for reading my post! Laura :-)                        

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Welcome to ES Laura. Oh dear you maybe in for a shock when you read the reply`s that I am expecting you to get !!!
Setters are the most adorable breed, bred to set birds for their handler,they are never calm ( maybe when they reach about 14) they can be trained but easy isnt the word I would use, they shred very little. This is very brief as I know there are so many other people on this site with profesional knowledgable. All I shall add is that before you decide read some of the many books on the market. Setters are like a box of chocolates once you have one you just want more. Not for the faint hearted.Enjoy this site. <:0)

Hi Laura, welcome to ES! I really hope you'll get one! IS is the most adorable breed i know: wonderful with children and you should never be afraid of leaving off lead even in crowded situations (assuming other people are ok) as beaches, parks, etc: they generally have the most warm welcome and never never attack others or make troubles..

yes, you should invest in vacuum cleaner and LOT of towels , in particular where is raining a lot (as in the uk). we trained oberon to enjoy the hair dryer since he was a puppy (initially leaving it on in the middle of the room and sniffing at it asking "what is this?" when he was 3 months old..it payed, since he LOVES to be dried now, after a walk

oberon is on the calm side, i guess.. still he's full of energy when playing and outside, he believes he's a big puppy and i think he will never grow up on this;)

he's perfectly at home when travelling and in hotels, and perfectly fine with all other dogs (assuming they "know how to play", so they chase him and he can run in circles as fast as he can;)

one other important thing is that they bark very little and not obsessed on what happens outside, very important if you leave in a town with other residents..

i dont know what to say more, either than "go for it!!". it will bring your life outside down and you will never regret :)

we bought an Irish Setter after we lost our golden retriever. She was an awful puppy. I took to putting her ear in her mouth when she was chewing me. She turned an electric ring on under a chopping board starting a small fire. Numerous items were  stolen from kitchen worktops she had a very poor recall,on one occasion making her way home from about 2 miles away accross a busy road. The breeder in her puppy notes advised on how to deal with the play aggression going down on her front elbows and barking by the new owner taking a "yes you and who's army?"approach.she would do this for a few years. Several occasions she freaked out meeting another dog on a crossing and had to be picked up. She successfully reversed out of her collar and also harness on several occasions.We found the solution was a half choke collar..she loves attention from people..On the school home run kids used to queue to have her front paws on their shoulders.In a temperature in the 90s on the beech she chased the seagulls for about 4 miles up and down the beech and was only caught when my son rugby tackled her. People come up to you saying we had one of these once and then tell you about them distracting fishermen and stealing their sandwiches or next doors turkey on christmas eve.She passed my canine intelligence test being to untangle herself from going the wrong side of the lamppost. She got a terrible shock at 5 years when an irish red and white arrived and proceeded to do to her what she had done to us. At this point she must have realised she was not a person. to make matters worse about this time her Thyroid failed she went from 5yrs to 10 yrs in a couple of months her weight shot up to 110 lbs. she is 11 on christmas day she is blind with cateracts and has had health problems from a young age at one point bald apart from head and tail from a flea allergy.. I do not think many red setters are available  from working lines in the UK.They are not  natural retrievers because the breed was finalised when nets were in use rather than guns they love water the more stagnant and flavour riddled the better.Our girl is very large from show stock but I think the breed clubs are trying to reduce the breed to a healthier size.My family say Holly was the worst puppy but the best dog we have had.I am getting a little old now and can do without a lot of excitement, but the good news is  if you have owned an Irish red setter for a few years and your still keen someone will be willing to sell you an ~Irish Red and White Setter and they have an excellent recall. But I admit to bias

reds do not bark much we attended an Irish setter rescue bar-b-q .there were about 40 reds in a big circle in the ring all trying to look as if they were not with the rif-raf next to them.the only noise came from a couple of terriers.

Thank you everyone for your replies!

The impression I am getting is that you all love this breed! From what you have said, Irish Setters are friendly, energetic, they shed a lot (but have a silky soft coat), can have poor recall, rarely bark, are trainable but not easily and are full of beans as puppies - and their puppyhood extends to age 14!! Hmmm, we'll definitely have to think about this :-)


Is there a big difference in temperament between working and show lines? Is one variety more manageable than the other?

Your girl sounds lovely. Training any dog is really important and it's good to read Irish Setters are recepetive to training. The Irish Setters I saw at the dog event were very calm which impressed me.

Hi Laura

I believe the way a dog behaves very much reflects it's owners training and handling ability.

Highly strung people have highly strung dogs. I think the setters reputation for being mad or scatty is very unfair and to be quite honest makes me hopping mad!. It is always easy to blame the dog for your own failure to train them.

I have lived with both Labradors and setters (not together) and think both are equally trainable.

I live with four setters from show lines and have previously owned many more and I can honestly say, with my hand on my heart, I have never experienced any problems with training or behaviour. 

I exercise my four dogs together off lead every day in fields and have no problems with recalling them. When they are indoors they are calm and relaxed in fact, they are couch potatoes :)

I prefer a dog from show lines, apart from liking the look of them better than their working cousins, I think they are easier to train as a family pet.




It's good to hear that Irish Setter's can be as trainable as labradors.

I think it would be a good idea for us to go to some shows or events where there are Irish Setters. Is there an Irish Setter club that advertises events?

You were asking for show information - look at http://www.bardonhill.com which has a show diary and from their Resource page you can go on to other Irish Setter websites
Hi Laura! You did not mention this question but think it is only fair to mention that health wise you should be very careful; epilepsy,bloat,Hips,cancer,MO....-Good Luck!!

Thank you for the website link; we're in Dorset so will look for shows/events close to us. Thank you also for making me aware of health conditions. I wasn't going to look into the health side until we were sure this breed was for us. However as you have mentioned it, what are the conditions that are tested for in Irish Setters? In labs, it's hips, elbows, eyes (pra), CNM, EIC.

If we decided to get an Irish Setter pup, what should the parent animals have been tested for?

I feel I must add how good it is to see someone realy looking into a breed before they got one, if more people were like Laura then there would be a lot less on rescue ( of all breeds ).Well done, keep the questions coming <:0)




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