The Irish Setter has been a household favorite for over 100 years. Originally developed from the Setter breed a gundog, Irish Setters were a symbol of status in the 1700s and 1800s by families who hunted. Back then, their coats were mahogany and white- and some included black spots. Today, the expected color of an Irish Setter is a rich red coat through and through. Regardless of time period, Irish Setters have always been considered amongst the most beautiful of dog breeds. The Animal Kennel Club says that most males weigh around seventy pounds, where females typically edge around 60. If you’re considering bringing an Irish Setter into your family, consider the following.
In terms of general health, the Irish Setter is a very friendly breed. Like most large dogs, you will want to make sure that your breeder has tested the hips of their dogs for health. Most reputable breeders will have tested both parents and will be able to tell you they have a clean bill of health. Like human genetics, the genetics of the puppy rarely are far-off from the parents.
Otherwise, Irish Setters require the typical amount of grooming and care of most large dog breeds. In terms of preparing your home for the new addition, you will want to make sure that you have a fenced-in yard that your Irish Setter cannot escape. Their hunting nature means that if they see an opportunity to crawl under the fence and catch a squirrel, they will. Inspect your home to ensure that your newest addition can’t become your newest escape artist. To learn more about the breed, read Carlotta Cooper’s article on Irish Setters.
They say there are three core factors to choosing a good family dog: Temperament, energy, and size. Though each of these categories leave you to define your personal preference, they’re important considerations to make. For example: If you’re okay with a hyper dog but it’s one hundred plus pounds, it’s going to be difficult to ensure the safety of your child. Likewise, if you have a child that scares easily- you don’t want to choose a rambunctious dog as their companion.
Irish Setters are friendly dogs who will always greet a stranger at the door. Their hunting nature makes them full-of-energy. For those with middle schoolers and high schoolers, this is a dog that can keep up with sporting events and will love active walks. Their loyalty and energy level also makes them a good match for small children, too. As an all around family dog, Irish Setters love to be amongst people and are certified cuddle-bugs.
That said, if your family leads a sedentary lifestyle and doesn’t get out of the house much – you may find that your Irish Setter gets restless. This is a dog that needs constant activity and will not tolerate sitting around the house all day.
Generally speaking, most Irish Setters are great with other animals. In the past, they were often found out in the fields with livestock (and can still be found out in the field in rural areas). That said, they have a strong hunting nature about them. Irish Setters will chase small animals unless trained otherwise.
If your home has hamsters, chinchillas, or other small rodents- you’ll want to make sure that they are well out of your dog’s reach. Likewise, you’ll also want to make sure that you slowly introduce your dog to any feline friends. Though most Irish setters will not attach cats, it’s not a risk you want to take. When possible, get this breed as a puppy so that you can train it from day one to leave felines, rodents, and other small pets alone.
So, are Irish Setter good family dogs? Absolutely! Their fun-loving and affectionate nature makes them a perfect match for active families who want a dog that is good with their children.