Irish Setter

Updated 03 November 2023
Read time: 3 mins
article author
Written by Elle Padgham
Lead Copywriter

Breed History

Irish Setters were initially bred as gundogs in their native Ireland in the 18th century by cross-breeding Spaniels with English and Gordon Setters to create the ideal bird hunting dog. 

General appearance

The first thing you’ll notice about the Irish Setter is their beautiful flowing mahogany coat. Setters are a large breed standing up to 67cm tall and weighing in at up to 32kg. 


Irish Setters are a bold and mischievous friend to all humans. They have high energy levels and are known to be rather inquisitive. 

Health considerations

Irish Setters are known to have an average life expectancy of 12 - 15 years. Medical conditions that we need to be aware of in Irish Setters include:

Retinal Atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) affects Irish Setters eyesight and can eventually lead to blindness. The photoreceptor cells, which help convert light into signals, are impacted and deteriorate over time. Unfortunately there is no known cure for retinal atrophy but these conditions are not known to cause dogs any pain and thanks to their adaptive nature, most manage their loss of vision very well.

Irish Setters are prone to hypothyroidism, where the body cannot make enough thyroid hormone which can lead to problems with skin & coat, weight management and behaviour. The good news is that this is a manageable condition that your vet can help with through the use of hormone replacement therapy.

Hip Dysplasia
This orthopaedic condition can lead to pain and an impact on dogs mobility and quality of life. It’s important to ensure you are buying from a reputable breeder who provides hip & elbow scores for their dogs and breed from those with acceptable scores only. Feeding a joint supportive diet such as Pooch & Mutt Joint Care is important for those with joint disease.

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD)

This developmental, auto-inflammatory disease of the bones is known to be common in larger breeds such as Irish Setters as they rapidly grow. It’s a very painful condition that affects proper bone formation. Most cases will present between 3 - 5 months and can reoccur up to the age of 2 years. Cases can greatly vary in severity and can present as anything from pain and mild limping to fever, loss of appetite and depression. Speak to your Vet if you suspect your Irish Setter pup may be struggling with HOD. 


Being a highly inquisitive dog, Irish Setters will investigate almost everything with their mouths and can sometimes have a boisterous attitude. That being said, they are a fairly easy breed to train due to their intelligence.


Irish Setters need to be brushed at least 4 times a week to maintain their luscious coats. Be prepared for shedding, particularly in Spring and Autumn. A bath is advised every 6-8 weeks to keep their coat glossy and shiny. 

A top tip for Irish Setter owners is to include ingredients such as collagen into their diet to help maintain that glossy coat. Pooch & Mutts’ Skin & Coat Meaty Treats do just that!


A highly active breed, Irish Setters require at least 2 hours of exercise per day. Try to combine walking with off-lead running and at-home games.

Feeding considerations

Irish Setters are known to have very high metabolisms which need to be factored into their feeding regime. If you’re looking to keep their coat glossy and healthy, why not factor some Pooch & Mutts’ Skin & Coat Meaty Treats into your Irish Setters daily routine?

You’ll find a handy feeding calculator on every Pooch & Mutt dry and wet dog food product page to help you understand exactly how much to feed your Irish Setter to keep them at their optimum weight. Simply enter the age, size and weight of your dog. 

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