The Irish Setter breed, characterized by a gregarious personality and a silky smooth coat of fiery red hair, traces its lineage to Ireland, where it was popular as a hunting dog. Originally the breed was both white and red, but in time the red became predominant and the Irish Setter started to lose his work as a bird dog, becoming more and more desired for winning ribbons in the show ring.
The breed first came to the United States in the late 19th century and was the one of the first breeds to be registered in America. Its average height is 27 inches, growing between 60 and 70 pounds in weight. Just as many owners are drawn to the Irish Setter because of his attractive coat as to his winning personality. Like Will Rogers, the Irish Setter never met a man he didn't like. In fact, sociability makes this dog a great family dog and not one for leaving alone all day forgotten in the back yard.
Irish Setters are very intelligent dogs who respond easily to training, and they stay trained for life. This breed has become popular for use as a therapy dog assisting both the blind and the hard of hearing. Their intelligence combined with naturally high energy means that extensive daily exercise is a must for them to stay happy. Irish Setters are definitely not the couch potatoes of the dog world. Give them an obedience task to do and they are happy campers.
The most common health issues associated with Irish Setters are hip dysplasia, bloat because of their broad chest size, epilepsy and skin problems. Daily grooming and weekly bathing are necessary to keep their gorgeous silky coats in top shape. The "feathers" between the toes can present health issues as burrs and other debris can get caught in between the toes, leading to infection unless promptly removed. Some Irish Setters are also subject to PRA, an eye condition causing night blindness and sometimes blindness. It's a good idea if at all possible to know the dog's heritage and whether or not they have been tested as puppies for evidence of any of the above health problems.
Given the proper high-quality diet, enough exercise and lots of affection, the Irish Setter has a life expectancy between 12 and 14 years.