The Irish Setter
The Irish Setter is a popular breed of gundog (gundogs, or bird dogs, are hunting dogs that help hunters in finding and retrieving gaming birds). They originated in Ireland in the 1700s.
They come in two types: show dogs and field dogs. Irish Setter show dogs are larger and heavier. Regardless the type, the Irish Setter is one of the most beautiful dog breeds there is, thanks to their wonderful red coat. The Irish Setter colors are most usually deep red or some shade of chestnut or mahogany. Early Irish Setter had bicolor of red and white but because of the fact that deep red colored coat was the favored choice when it comes to dog shows, red and white Irish Setters nearly became extinct. Only a small amount of white on the chest, throat, toes, or forehead is permissible –black is not allowed. The Irish Setter is somewhere between medium-sized and large-sized dog with athletic body and long head, long legs and strong tail that they usually carry horizontally. Their coat is long and silky. A short-haired Irish Setter can be seen in the hunting field, but for dog show purposes – the longer the coat, the better. Irish Setters need to be groomed few times a week at least, in order to stop their hair from getting tangled. Their hair sheds moderately, especially if they are brushed regularly. Male Irish Setters can reach the height of 27 inches and weight up to 70 pounds, and females can reach the height of 25 inches and weigh 60 pounds. Their life span is from 12 to 15 years. All breeds with hanging ears have issues with ear infections so check your Irish Setter’s ears regularly and wipe them out.
FUN FACT: Irish Setter's popularity in USA increased during the 1960s and 1970s thanks to the books and Disney movie in which there was an Irish Setter called Big Red.
The Irish Setter is outgoing, exceptionally friendly, affectionate and loyal dog. They love their humans and always want to be the center of attention. They don’t like to be left alone. The Irish Setter gets along great with children and other house pets. Sometimes, they can see pet bird as prey because of their origin. These dogs are extremely active and have a lot of energy, which makes sense considering that they were bred for hunting purposes. They need to be given a lot of exercise. Exercising them will also protect the health of their bones and joints.
They make excellent jogging, hiking and cycling partners. The Irish Setter will be the happiest in an active family that can provide it the exercise it requires. Also, these dogs are not suitable to live in an apartment. Their ideal living situation is indoors with his owners but with access to a large yard. It is important for these dogs to stay close to their family, because, except for separation anxiety, they can suffer from attention deficit disorder. They are very intelligent dogs which makes them highly trainable. Keep in mind that although they are easy to train due to their intelligence, they also get easily distracted.
Still, many of them are trained and used as therapy dogs in schools and hospitals.
This breed will examine everything with their mouth, so crate training is a must. These dogs are sometimes stubborn, mischievous and independent, but with a patient, gentle trainer they will be willing to learn almost anything. They mature slowly so be prepared to have a big dog with puppy attitude and energy for a few years.
Health conditions that Irish Setters are prone to are: Hip Dysplasia (more about HD you can read here), Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) that usually occurs In the elbows causing a painful stiffening of the joint, Hypothyroidism (gland disorder that can cause obesity, mental dullness, low energy level, etc.), Canine Leukocyte (CAD) (an inherited abnormality that causes inability for white cells to fight infections), Epilepsy, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), etc.
FUN FACT: At least three American Presidents owned an Irish Setter during their tenure in the White House - Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.
FUN FACT: An Irish Setter named Shannon was owned by one of the Beach Boys and that dog was an inspiration for a song “Shannon” written by Henry Gross. “Shannon” was a hit and went gold in the U.S. and Canada.
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