Irish Setter, Guard Dog

The Irish Setter (Irish: sotar rua, literally "red setter"), also known as the Red Setter, is a setter, a dog breed of gun dog and family dog. The term Irish Setter is commonly used to encompass the show-bred dog recognized by the American Kennel Club as well as the field-bred Red Setter recognized by the Field Dog Stud Book.


The coat is moderately long and silky and of a deep red color. It requires frequent brushing to maintain its condition and keep it mat-free. The undercoat is abundant in winter weather. Irish Setters range in height from 25 to 27 inches (64-69 cm), males weigh 60 to 70 pounds (27–32 kg) and females 53 to 64 pounds (24–29 kg). The FCI Breed Standard for the Irish Setter stipulates males: 23 to 26.5 inches (58-67 cm), females: 21.5 to 24.5 inches (55-62 cm).


Irish Setters get along well with children, other dogs, and any household pets, and will enthusiastically greet visitors. As the FCI, ANKC and UK Standards state, the breed should be "Demonstrably affectionate." As a result, Irish Setters make excellent companion animals and family pets.

Irish Setters are an active breed, and require long, daily walks and off-lead running in wide, open spaces. They are, however, a breed with a tendency to 'play deaf,' so careful training on mastering the recall should be undertaken before allowing them off-lead.

Irish Setters enjoy having a job to do. Lack of activity will lead to a bored, destructive, or even hyperactive dog. This is not a breed that can be left alone in the backyard for long periods of time, nor should they be. Irish Setters thrive on constant human companionship. Irish Setters respond swiftly to positive training and are highly intelligent.

Though they are usually alert to their surroundings, Irish Setters are not well-suited as guard dogs, as they are not a naturally aggressive dog breed.

Irish Setters are also widely used as therapy dogs in schools and hospitals. Therapy dogs are permitted in hospitals that allow service dogs and can visit patients on the assigned floors. Patients appreciate the opportunity to stroke the silky heads of the Irish Setters and also share stories of their childhoods when they once owned an Irish Setter. Recently Irish Setters have been used in the READ Programs. This is a venue where the therapy dogs are permitted in schools and then asked to sit with children as the students read to the Irish Setter. This process helps to enable the student the ability to read without being corrected or judged. Generally the Irish Setter will lay on the floor with the student as the student continues to read, in this calming and relaxed setting. Irish Setters are people dogs that do require to be with their humans.


Irish Setters tend to be a very healthy breed. Problems that have been noted in Irish Setters include:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Epilepsy
  • Entropion
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperosteodystrophy
  • Gastric Torsion or Bloat
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Von Willebrand's disease
  • Patent ductus ateriosus
  • Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD)
  • Celiac disease

It should be noted that Irish Setters are now one of the few breeds for which genetic tests have been developed to detect the presence of both CLAD and PRA (RCD-1).

Irish Setters life expectency tends to be around 12–15 years.

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