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.
Irish Setters are active dogs, though those bred for the show ring are content with long daily walks and occasional running and fetching games to vent their energy. Irish Setters bred for hunting are much more athletic and need more vigorous exercise. Without enough exercise, Irish Setters become rambunctious and bored, which they usually express by destructive chewing, especially when young or adolescent.
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. If you work all day, this is not the breed for you.
Irish Setters are probably the most trainable of the setters, but can still be stubborn and manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. Many Irish Setters are easily distracted by exciting sights, sounds, and scents; it takes some training experience to hold the dog's attention throughout a training session. Read more about Irish Setter Training.
The Irish Red Setter is an energetic and high-spirited breed, affectionate, but intelligent and independent. They do not have guarding instincts, and therefore get along well with other animals. They are good with children. This Setter can be difficult to train because of that independent temperament, and requires firm handling. Their temperament can vary - some can be high-strung, others are reserved. They are adaptable to any climate, very fast, with an excellent sense of smell, and therefore make excellent hunters. However, they must be trained to be hunters from an early age.
Irish Setters were developed to be bird dogs, tracking, pointing and retrieving game birds in the field. Today, they are rarely used in the field, but maintain their high energy and stamina in modern life. Irish Setters are loyal family dogs for those with active lifestyles. They get along well with children, love people and get along well with other household pets. They will want to be a part of any and every family activity. Though they are generally well-mannered dogs, Irish Setters are brimming with energy and are prone to leaping and jumping on guests. They are good watchdogs, in that they will let you know when someone is approaching, but they should not be relied upon as guard dogs – visitors will be welcomed into an Irish Setter's home as if they are old friends.
Separation Anxiety is common in this breed. Irish Setters are social creatures and they love spending time with people. Leaving them alone for long periods of time can lead to destructive behavior and excessive barking. It is important to properly exercise your Setter before leaving him alone, as lack of exercise can make these destructive tendencies worse. Irish Setters are best suited for people who have flexible work schedules, or families with a stay at home parent.
My grandfather used to keep English Setters for hunting. I remember the last one most vividly, because he got him when I was young and "grew up with him." Since he got him for hunting, he bought him as a young dog who had been trained by his breeder. I don't know who the trainer was, but he was hands down the best dog I have ever encountered. He was gentle and patient, and extremely obedient. If you told him sit/stay, regardless of the distraction (other dogs on the field, wave a steak in his face, say "come here"), he wouldn't move unless you said, "Good boy." This was very useful when going on hunts around other dogs.
He was an outside dog, unless temps were extreme, so that may have contributed to his "doggy smell," but he never came off as dirty other than that. His coat was soft and shiny.
I think they always seem like old souls. I don't know why they aren't more common.
I have an Irish Setter and I grew up with Goldens. Setters are goofy, mischievous, and higher energy. Mine is very biddable, but can be stubborn when his wants don't line up with mine. Mine sheds very little and does tend to drool, but apparently that varies by setter.
There are couple of not obvious things that are different than Goldens. Spay coat, if you're planning on neutering your dog the coat will sometimes lose its shine and become a weird fuzzy texture. Prey drive, walks can take twice as long when your dog decides he's gonna stop and point at critters. Attention from random people, I get stopped on walks all the time by people that love the breed, they have a lot of admirers.
Good luck with your search and let me know if you have any questions!
I've had Irish Setters for the past 20 years and from my experiences, they are not difficult to train. You have to start young, but just like training any breed, you have to be consistent and keep at it and be the alpha. It is a great choice, I love my Irish Setters. They are so goofy and just make us laugh. My current boy was very easy to train and he is great, I can bring him anywhere and he is so well behaved. They are a very smart breed, they just like to act goofy and be silly sometimes.
my setter is 8 months old. very easy to train but he is definitely still a handful. you can't train a dog to have less energy. he needs an hour a day to run around and if he gets it, he's an angel.
My Irish Setter will fall asleep before the car backs out of the driveway. He's normally nothing but pure energy, but something about cars (maybe planes) puts him to sleep. I was on a road trip, and he slept through three whole states.
The Irish setter is the youngest of the three AKC setter breeds and probably is descended from the English setter in particular. The Irish hunters wanted and needed a fast working dog with a keen nose, and the bright red color was easy to spot in cover.
Initially, the Irish dogs were red and white, but then a "landmark" dog came along who pushed the influence in favor of the all-red dogs. Champion Palmerston was a stunning, lighter boned, red-mahogany dog who came on the scene in 1862. From him we get most of our modern day Irish setters.
There is speculation off and on about pointer influence in the background of the Irish setter, but most fanciers deny it. Today, the Irish setter is a beloved family companion, and sometimes hunting dog. The breed has had some wide swings in popularity, one time inspired by the Walt Disney movie and the books about "Big Red."