Happy-Go-Lucky Irish Setter Dog Breed

irish setter closeup smiling

The happy-go-lucky Irish setter is known as a happy-go-lucky breed that’s fun to play with while still having a very sweet temperance. Recognizable for its beautiful chestnut coat, the Irish setter was originally bred in the 1800s for hunting gamebirds with its acute sense of smell. Working with a hunter, the setter earned its name by tracking down a bird and “setting” down on its belly to indicate that prey has been spotted.

But what you really want to know is, what is it like to own an Irish setter today? Do Irish setters bark a lot? Do their deep coats need extra grooming? These questions and more will be answered in this Irish setter breed information guide. 

Do Irish Setters Bark a Lot?

Irish setters are very high energy, requiring daily walks and play sessions to stay happy and calmer. Like many energetic breeds, Irish setters can grow anxious and bored if left alone without activity too often, which leads to barking.

The Irish setter does well with our wobble ball for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety

Irish setters have a particular need to set their minds to tasks in order to avoid being bored, so an open yard or field would be the best for this breed. Being originally bred for hunting, setters will have a tendency to alert their owners to other animals. 

However, the Irish setter is extraordinarily affectionate and eager to please, meaning that bad habits like barking can be trained away with reward-based, positive methods. Food and treats can be effective motivators for an Irish setter, but make sure you’re only providing your setter with healthy treats.

Naturally, we have a solution for that too: The whole-food peanut butter-flavored dog training treats from BarxBuddy.

Irish Setters Facts 

Hunters in Ireland originally bred setters for speed and endurance, and their sleek, aerodynamic frames reflect that need. Today, setters are known for being loyal pets that are good with active families. Other facts about Irish setters:

  • Irish setter size and weight: 25 to 27 inches tall and 60 to 70 pounds
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 14 years
  • Coat: Deep, chestnut coat that requires moderate maintenance 
  • AKC group: Sporting group

Are Irish Setters Easy to Train?

Yes! Irish setters are friendly and eager to please. They respond particularly well to interesting and fun training sessions that stimulate their senses while still being productive.

Irish setters will also need early socialization in order to behave well around other animals, so puppy classes are recommended. The most difficult hurdle to overcome with Irish setters is keeping them focused. Like children, Irish setters can be easily distracted and need constant stimulation and variety in their exercises. For more information on fun training exercises that incorporate positive reinforcement, read our guide here

Do Irish setters make good pets? 

Irish setters make excellent family pets. They are good with strangers, not overly protective, and always open for playing. With high energy levels, setters are particularly good with children who have a tendency to run around and play a lot. However, as with all dogs, it’s best to keep a watchful eye when they’re around younger children. Keep in mind that setters don’t like to be alone and will behave best when around their families.   

Is the Irish setter a good watch dog or guard dog?

Irish setters are far too naturally pleasing and friendly to be effective guard dogs. They will be moderately protective and watchful toward their families, but they won’t be cautious around strangers. Setters will greet anyone who enters their homes as new friends. 

Do Irish Setters Need a Lot of Grooming?

The Irish setter’s striking coat does require regular grooming in order avoid tangles or mats that form over time. A brushing session with a pin or bristle brush twice a week is advisable, with a more rigorous routine during the change of the seasons where setters will have excessive shedding. 

irish setter closeup
Irish setters’s coats are shades of chestnut, mahogany or red. This is likely an Irish setter mix, although some setters do have patches of white on their faces or chests.

Do Irish setters shed a lot?

Irish setters are moderate and seasonal shedders. During off-seasons, you’ll want to brush them once or twice a week. During heavy shedding seasons, you’ll need to brush them every day to avoid mats.

View our three-piece grooming kit, which includes a comb for detangling mats.

Setters, like all dogs, need to have their nails trimmed once a month. A nail grinder is best rather than a guillotine-scissor style, as setters have black nails and you can’t see the quick. Look to bathe them occasionally to keep their coats healthy and check for lumps or skin problems, especially around their longer, floppy ears. 

Irish Setter Mixes

irish setter puppy or irish setter mix

Combine the high love and energy of an Irish setter with other popular breeds for a pup unlike any other! Here are some of the most popular setter breed mixes. 

Resource Links for More Irish Setter Info