How to Care for an Irish Setter

Bred to hunt game birds, the Irish setter is also a great companion dog for active families with room to romp.
settler image by Aleksander from

The Irish setter is a strikingly handsome sporting dog or gun dog with a gleaming red coat and a lighthearted personality. The breed was originated in Ireland to hunt game birds. Irish setter coat colors vary from rich red to dark mahogany. The Irish setter has a reputation of being a challenge to train. This breed needs some open space to romp, and is not suited for apartment living. The Irish setter is happiest when interacting with his family, and does well with mature children. An amiable dog, he loves to play and can become mischievous when left alone for long periods. Given the proper environment, Irish setters are generally easy to care for.

Step 1

Feed your Irish setter puppy a high-quality puppy food three times a day until he is at least 6 months old. Then reduce the feedings to twice each day, if you wish. Like many large breeds, Irish setters are subject to bloat due to gastric dilation, in which the stomach fills with gas and fluid, and sometimes gastric torsion, a rotation or twisting of the stomach. Prevention measures include dividing your adult dog's ration into two or three meals per day, rather than loading the stomach with one large meal. Three feedings is best. Let him rest after vigorous activity before feeding him, and let him rest after feeding before resuming vigorous activity. Keep fresh water always readily available so that your dog does not feel the need to consume large quantities of water at a session.

Step 2

Housetrain your Irish setter puppy by taking him outdoors on a leash after meals and 20 minutes after drinking water. Praise the puppy for correct behavior. Keep him in a crate or in a room with a washable floor when you cannot watch him. Irish setters are fastidious animals; they are easy to housebreak.

Step 3

Begin training your Irish setter puppy early, as soon as the dog has acclimated to his new home. The Irish setter may challenge your authority. Conduct regular, daily training sessions, and be consistent with commands. Reward your dog with treats for good behavior. Do not allow poor performance. Go over the training repeatedly until the dog obeys consistently. This breed responds better to praise and treats than to negative training such as jerking on the leash.

Step 4

Teach your Irish setter to not jump on humans. Gently tip him backward when he attempts to jump on you. Irish setters have an exuberant nature and will easily become jumpers unless they are trained not to do so.

Step 5

Exercise your Irish setter for an hour daily to prevent behavior problems. Irish setters are high-energy dogs that need both long walks and time romping in the yard or field.

Step 6

Groom your Irish setter’s coat every two weeks with a stiff brush and metal comb, removing debris in the fur and untangling mats that may have occurred from romping outdoors. Brush him daily to control shedding. Carefully trim long feathering on the ears to keep it from hanging in the food bowl. Trim the hair on the bottoms of the feet to prevent matting. You can also trim tail feathering to prevent messiness after defecation.

Step 7

Administer flea and tick treatments as recommended to prevent the Irish setter from picking up pests on his long hair during long walks and romps outdoors.


  • Given the opportunity, Irish setters may wander in search of adventure. Always have your dog enclosed in a fenced area or on leash. Ensure that your dog can be returned to you by attaching a name tag with proper contact information to his collar. You can also have your veterinarian implant a microchip that identifies the dog.


  • The Irish setter has an independent spirit and may challenge your authority. Have a confident, calm manner, and do not let rebellious behavior slide. Enforce the rules you have set for the dog.

  • Irish setters are prone to a few genetic disorders, such as hip dysplasia, epilepsy, eye problems and hypertrophic osteodystrophy. Ask the breeder for a written statement that your puppy’s bloodline is free of these diseases.

Items You Will Need

  • High-quality food, puppy and adult types
  • Leash
  • Stiff-bristle brush
  • Metal comb
  • Scissors


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