Everything you need to know to buy or adopt an Irish Setter or Irish Red and White Setter puppy or adult dog.


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Irish Setter!

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Irish Setter dog breed

Buying or Adopting an Irish Setter or Irish Red and White Setter

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018

Is a DOG really the right pet for you?

I've been helping people choose and find dogs for over 35 years now, and I have to say that for many people, dogs are not ideal pets.

Pros AND Cons of Owning a Dog

Should you get a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog?

Don't set your sights on any purebred dog until you read these three eye-opening articles:

The Truth About Purebred Dogs

The Truth About Crossbred Dogs

The Truth About Mixed Breed Dogs

Is an Irish Setter the right breed for you?

Irish Setters: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Irish Setter Health Problems

Are YOU right for an Irish Setter?

Can you provide what this breed needs?

  • Someone home most of the day
  • Fenced yard (6-8 feet high, not an electronic/underground fence)
  • Restricted exercise when young – until maturity (at least 18 months old), exercise restricted to multiple short (20 minute) walks, fetch games, and playing with other dogs – no forced running (beside a jogger or bicyclist), no long-distance treks, minimal jumping
  • Ample exercise after maturity – enough ongoing exercise that your Irish Setter stays slim and is tired enough to sleep contentedly and not get into mischief
  • "Mental exercise" – interesting activities that keep the mind stimulated, such as a challenging dog sport (agility, rally obedience, musical freestyle, tracking, field trials); challenging dog toys; a homemade obstacle course; tricks and games such as Musical Toys and Hide 'n Seek; instructions in my training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words
  • Brushing – moderate
  • Trimming/clipping – every few months
  • An indoor lifestyle, except for exercise and bathroom breaks
  • A meat-heavy diet, either homemade or commercial – meat is expensive, so people with less money should opt for a small dog
  • An owner with enough money to treat the health problems Irish Setters are prone to (pet health insurance can really help here!)
  • An owner who is okay with moderate shedding
  • Commitment to provide thorough socialization – introducing your Irish Setter to lots of people and other animals
  • Commitment to establish the right Leader-Follower relationship with your Irish Setter, teaching him to listen to you and do what you say

Should you get a male or female Irish Setter?

Symbols for male and female Male Dogs vs. Female Dogs
Which one makes a better pet?

Should you get a young puppy, an older puppy, or an adult dog?

Girl hugging a dog Puppies vs. Adult Dogs
What age should your new Irish Setter be?

Where can you buy or adopt an Irish Setter?

Irish Setters come in two colors: solid red, and patterned red & white. They're actually considered separate breeds, with the solid red dogs retaining the name Irish Setter, while the patterned dogs are called Irish Red and White Setters. On my website, I often use the name Irish Setter to refer to both breeds.

The solid red dogs are much more common in the United States. Out of 189 breeds in the American Kennel Club, where 1 is most popular and 189 is least popular, Irish Setters rank 76th, while Irish Red and White Setters rank 142nd.

Adopting From Dog Rescue Organizations
Irish Setters are often available from Dog Rescue groups, though these are almost always the solid red dogs. Irish Setters may be turned into Rescue because they need much more exercise than the owner expected.

Adopting From Public Animal Shelters and Humane Societies
Irish Setters (solid red) can sometimes be found here, although Irish Setter Rescue groups do try to move Irish Setters out of shelters and into their rescue network.

Buying From a Dog Breeder
You can buy an Irish Setter or Irish Red and White Setter from a show breeder, who breeds their dogs to match a detailed standard of appearance for the dog show ring.

Or you can buy from a performance breeder, who emphasizes an energetic temperament and strong working drives for hunting. These will almost always be Irish Red and White Setters. The solid red Irish Setter has had most of its hunting instincts stripped away by show breeders.

Some breeders are a combination of show/performance, though how they prioritize those two goals can vary greatly. You can also buy an Irish Setter from people who "just breed pets" or "just had one litter." But should you? Be sure to read the article to learn more about these people.

Here's one difference between a responsible breeder and an irresponsible breeder – BOTH PARENTS of an Irish Setter puppy should have:

  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or PennHip certifying the dog to have normal hips
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) certifying the dog to have a normal thyroid

Also, at least ONE PARENT of an Irish Setter puppy should have:

  • a DNA test proving they are Normal/Clear of a severe hereditary eye disease called PRA.

If a seller can't show you those certificates, the puppies are higher risk for health problems. You might choose to accept that risk. But then you need to be willing (and able) to pay a couple thousand bucks for future surgeries and lifelong meds if your Irish Setter ends up blind and crippled.

Puppy in a pet shop window Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store
Irish Setters are sometimes found in pet shops. I have plenty to say about buying a puppy from a pet shop!

Related Articles

Girl holding up a puppy and looking at him How To Choose a Good Irish Setter Puppy
How to test the temperament and personality of Irish Setter puppies and pick the best puppy in a litter.

Pedigree parchment AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?
Should you consider buying only AKC registered Irish Setter puppies? Do AKC papers and pedigrees really matter?

To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.