Home for Irish Setter Lovers Around the World
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 :-)
Oh I'd write forever about these lovely companions but others have already said loads of what I'd say. But one thing is, that if you have a lab that is good off lead, a puppy Irish will usually learn from the older dog, so your lab could be a very important part of the training process. I've had 16 Irish, half mad and half quite calm (relatively speaking) and my latest 15 month old, Callum, is best taken out with our oldies because he will run but watch them and come back when they do. Disaster strikes if we let off Callum and Steo who is 2!!!!!
Good luck with your research and deliberations.
Very sensible too! Like most dogs they saying "never a bad dog, always a bad owner" Setters can become totally unbalanced if their owners don't understand their needs. Your working lab sounds delightful and if you have a new puppy of any breed they will copy his behaviour as we learn from siblings and parents - same instinct to be part of the pack!!! I showed Irish for nearly 40 years and found them to be delightful companions, especially the dogs bitches can be a bit tiresome because I found them to be wilful. Nonetheless either sex provided me with hours of fun and er, excercise. It is an essential part of their spirit to run and there is nothing finer than to see them in full flight but once they have burned off they are funny, intelligent, inquisitive, adorable creatures to share one's life with. I am without any at the moment but have a rescued dalmation, a parson russell and a puppy working cocker all of which keep me occupied. The WC is a really character, energetic, intelligent and adored by everyone whilst the PT is a "born again" traffic warden - bossy little madam. The dally is 13.5 and is a funny old thing but can still keep up with the other two on our long treks thro forests, alongside rivers and across moorland - wonderful.
There are a lot of health issues with most pedigree dogs these days and Irish are no exception so it is vital that if you plump for one go to an established breeder via the kennel club.
Good luck and thank you for understanding that taking on another responsibilty has to be considered and not rushing out and buying a setter just because they look so handsome,
Welcome Laura. You've started a good one here....really enjoyed reading all the replies. What can I tell you about my experience as a first time setter owner....and now devotee! I was blessed to recieve a showing retired five year old with a friendly, loving, calm temperament and personality. He has simply been a joy to share life with. Ok, I am spoiled because he is such a well behaved dog who is great on/off lead with good recall. He is also a great eater (loves visiting people with fridges..need I say more), with no health issues and no separation anxiety when left alone. Any hair he sheds forms into tumbleweed so it is easy to lift or vaccum and grooming is relatively easy with the right products. The best way I can put the pro's into words is to say to you that' life is better with a setter' (I know i've said it before), but it's true! The cons....well, the only one I can think of would be the heartbreak of losing them to the rainbow bridge.
But, hey, that's just my perspective! You have my best wishes as you contemplate your own journey with one!
I've had experience of four Setters, two bitches while we were kids and the two dogs that we have now. They have all been different! The first was a sweet girl who loved everyone as well as furry critters. We used to keep guinea pigs and she used to treat them as if they were her puppies, rounding them up to keep them safe. Then we had Loopy Lu and life was never the same! She lived up to her name and got into sooo much trouble.
Our two boys can also be a handful at times but we love them all the same.
When it comes to grooming, there are two ways of looking at it. Maintaining a coat take commitment rather than time (although a full bath can take as long as two hours), and needs to be looked after properly. If you attack it with a brush when it's full of leaves and mud you're not going to have a crowing glory for very long. I have met some owners that this doesn't seem to be much of an issue but I think if you are going to choose a breed like a setter, than part of the attraction is the coat. If you're not sure that you want to make time each day there are easier breeds to go for, with less of a grooming regime. Treat the coat as you would your own hair and you won't go far wrong. I spend approx hour an hour a day grooming both dogs (quick brush, check for burs etc), and then once a week a more rigorous going over. one advantage is that they do not continuously shed so you won;t have the tell tail signs of where the dog has been as you would have with a lab or a golden retriever.
The IS is a much maligned breed. IMHO, they are most magnificent, regal and stunning dog there is. I despise it when people call them hyper. They are happy, energetic and extremely athletic. Some of the maneuvers my boys make blow me away. They are late maturers ( but he's 3 or 4 ), keep waiting, be patient because they are the sweetest, most lovable dog and best of all, fairly long lived. Never forget they are a hunting breed so the "nose knows". Start training early.
They do shed but not drastically and the red hair isn't extremely noticeable. I know a guy w/ 3y/o Labs and they are so chill. My fellas are 2 but I know what the end result is. I've had 8.
Hi Laura – welcome! I was smitten by the beauty of the IS at a young age and vowed that one day I would call one of these magnificent creatures my own. Three years ago I took the plunge… and what a steep learning curve that’s been!
I have nothing much else to add to the discussion (in any case there are far more knowledgeable and experienced people on this site than I) but I’m not sure whether anybody has told you yet that to keep the coat you mustn't neuter. Both IS boys and girls need hormones to keep their glorious coat. If the dog is neutered they will quickly start to look like Orang-utans (i.e. all orange and tufty) and to keep on top of it grooming will become a full-time occupation. Obviously you can go OTT on grooming anyway - I'm not a fastidious groomer but then I don’t show and the dog is out in all weathers so I would never get anything else done if I spent all my spare time brushing. But obviously living with an entire boy or girl brings its own challenges….
I think it’s a good idea to spend some time with people who own IS but do keep a level head all the while. You really want to make the right decision. Just to say that once tried you’re likely to have another – IS are very addictive. I’m planning another addition to the family soon.
I look forward to your decision.
Thank you for this information about the effect neutering can have on the quality of the dog's coat. Hmmm, I'll have to think about this. I did really want our next dog to be a female BUT our dog is male and in all likelihood will remain entire. I don't want a litter of lab x IS puppies!! Will keep thinking and thanks :-)