Irish Setter

  • Overview

    In Ireland, setters were originally bred to be red and white, but when red dogs began to appear, they were noted for their hunting ability as well as their elegance in the field. The Irish Setter is one of the biggest setters, but his appearance is made even more impressive by his long, flowing coat in striking red hues. They average about 60 or 70 pounds.

    There's never a dull moment with an Irish Setter in your life. Be prepared for plenty of high-energy play, high-energy brushing and grooming and an abundance of affection from these beautiful, elegant dogs.

    View Grooming Diagram for irish setter
  • Personality

    Irish Setters love everyone, and they greet each new person and activity with a puppy-like enthusiasm. Don't expect this high-energy dog to lose his happy-go-lucky, impulsive instincts with age. In fact, Irish Setters are natural risk-takers who approach every task with an inquisitive, playful desire to get involved.

    These rambunctious dogs can be mischievous and get themselves into trouble by exploring in places they don't belong or stirring up commotion indoors. Other than that, training should emphasize positive behaviors and focus on appropriate indoor and outdoor behavior. Although these dogs are not used for hunting very much anymore and are seen mostly as elegant, beautifully-coated show dogs, they still have quite a bit of exuberance outdoors. They need to be exercised consistently, or they can resort to some of their less desirable habits, like barking, chewing and driving you crazing with constant motion.

  • Coat Care

    Irish Setters' flashy, flowing red coat is mostly seen in a deep, mahogany red hue or a golden red. The coat is short and fine on the head and the front of the legs, and it's long, silky and feathered just about everywhere else. The hair on the ears and around the underbelly is especially long and feathered and slightly fringed. Hair hangs straight and flat, so it should not look curly or wavy.

Irish Setter
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The Irish Setter's long, lustrous coat is a little bit nature and a lot of nurture. You're going to have to spend some time grooming this dog every day to avoid mats, tangles and debris collection in their profuse coat. Use either a brush with natural bristles or a pin brush on the feathered parts of the coat, which need to be brushed carefully to remove tangles and to avoid damaging the coat. Comb your Irish Setter with a metal rake comb every two or three days to remove any tangles or debris in the coat.

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With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but it's generally best to bathe dogs with silky coats more often. The coat should end up fresh smelling, light and shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry.

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Hair Clipping

Show dogs are trimmed to emphasize their lean necks and striking heads. They are trimmed around the neck, ears and face to emphasize the dog's best features. Trim around the footpads to keep the hair short.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Check your Irish Setter's ears daily for infection and trim or pluck hair that becomes long and painful to help your dog stay comfortable and healthy.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.