Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Irish Setters: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Irish Setter temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Irish Setter dog breed

Irish Setter Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em

Irish Setter Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2016

The picture above might surprise you if you thought Irish Setters came only in red! No, they also come in a handsome red-and-white pattern.

The most popular of the three setter breeds (Irish, English, and Gordon), the elegant Irish Setter has been described as rollicking, happy-go-lucky, clownish, impulsive, flighty, and demonstrative.

This lively dog can be a destructive handful during the gawky adolescent stage -- which lasts two or three years. But given sufficient exercise and obedience training to instill good manners, adults gradually become more dignified and aristocratic.

The sociable Irish Setter gets along well with everyone, including other pets. Indeed, he requires a good deal of companionship and doesn't thrive if left alone too much.

Though he has a willful streak and is easily distracted by exciting sights and smells (remember, this is a hunting dog!), the Irish Setter is probably the most willing to please of the three setter breeds. You must be both patient and persistent when training setters, but never harsh, because these dogs are physically and emotionally sensitive. And they have long memories: once they learn something (whether right or wrong), they'll remember it for a long time. This means bad habits can be difficult to break and harsh handling is not easily forgotten.

If you want a dog who...

  • Is medium to large, elegant and graceful in build and motion
  • Has a lovely feathered reddish coat
  • Thrives on lots of exercise and athletic activities
  • Is good-natured with everyone
  • Is peaceful with other animals

An Irish Setter may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • Providing enough exercise to keep him satisfied
  • Exuberant jumping, especially when young
  • "Separation anxiety" (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much
  • Stubbornness (mind of his own)
  • Frequent brushing and combing
  • Shedding

An Irish Setter may not be right for you.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by
  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy

More traits and characteristics of the Irish Setter

If I was considering an Irish Setter, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise. Irish Setters need regular opportunities to vent their energy. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by destructive chewing, especially when young.

  2. Separation anxiety. More than most other breeds, Irish Setters need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours. They tend to express their unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking.

  3. Stubbornness. Irish Setters are probably the most trainable of the setters, but they can still be stubborn and manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. To teach your Irish Setter to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Irish Setter Training Page discusses the program you need.

  4. Grooming and shedding. To keep their silky coat free of mats, Irish Setters require regular brushing, and also clipping and trimming every few months. And they do shed.

book cover To learn more about training Irish Setters to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.

It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Irish Setter the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.

Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.

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 healthy Irish Setter. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.

If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Irish Setter might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.

book cover Once you have your Irish Setter home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.

My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.

Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

Please consider adopting an ADULT Irish Setter...

When you're acquiring an Irish Setter PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.

But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Irish Setters who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!

Save a life. Adopt a dog.

Adopting a Dog From a Dog Breed Rescue Group

Adopting a Dog From the Animal Shelter