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7 Crucial Things To Know BEFORE Getting An Irish Setter

Irish setters are considered wonderful family pets. They have a happy-go-lucky nature and are always full of excitement and positive spirits. Setters are naturally friendly, affectionate, and kind. But they do require a lot of exercise, training, and don’t cope well when left alone.


Do Irish Setters Make Good Family Pets?

It helps to start with defining what a good family pet means…

If you’re looking for a dog who:
Is naturally friendly
Obedient and intelligent
Affectionate and loyal
Good with other pets
Likes to be a part of the family action
Will love you and your family unconditionally…

Then yes, Irish setters fit that criteria just perfectly.

Their ability to make great family pets is something that they are actually known for. When these dogs weren’t out helping their fellow hunters scout and point wild game, they were a companion to the entire family.

Many Irish setter owners say “it’s not about whether a setter is right for your family, it’s whether your family is right for a setter!”

7 Key Things You Must Know About Irish Setters

Before you head down to your local animal shelter or breeders, it’s important to know the following 7 things about Irish setters. It’s here you’ll know whether you and your family are ready for an Irish setter.

1. Irish setters need a lot of exercise

In order to be well-behaved, content, and obedient, Irish setters need a consistent exercise routine of 1-2 hours per day, every single day.

For working dogs like setters, exercise is fundamental to their health and behavior. Without it, you will end up with a frustrated dog that has destructive tendencies.

So, it’s important to be honest about whether or not this level of exercise is achievable. Of course, the responsibility can be shared among your family members but it still requires a lot of time and it’s a daily commitment.

High-energy breeds, best suit active families, that already enjoys spending a lot of time outdoors.

2. Irish setters don’t cope well when left alone

Irish setters are a breed that does not cope well when left alone for long periods of time. Like most working breeds, they quickly form strong bonds with their family and crave human-company.

This can cause issues for families that work long hours or leave the house empty throughout the day.

The negative effects that often happen to a dog who spends too much time alone are extensive. From stress, destructive behavior, obedience issues, depression, and separation anxiety, these are issues that are very hard to overcome once developed.

Have a good think about your routine, work schedules, and whether or not your household remains empty a lot of the time. If this is the case, this may not be the breed for you.

3. Irish setters shed! Grooming required

Get ready for new red carpets… Irish setters shed. Although they are classed as only moderate shedders, it will still come as a shock to a household that is currently pet hair free. With a shedding breed like a setter, it requires an active commitment to grooming, particularly brushing.

The double coat on an Irish setter will shed pretty much year-round with two distinct periods being in spring and just before winter. Shedding is something you will always have to deal with, but fortunately, it’s something that can be managed.

Brushing is best done little and often, so having a short 15-20 minute brushing routine every other day will be necessary to keep their coat in excellent condition.

4. Irish setters are working dogs

Working dogs are a little different from non-working breeds. They all require a higher level of mental stimulation, and need to feel like they are being “worked”.

Carrying out tasks, jobs and performing roles is fundamental to their history, and it’s what they are bred to do.

Without this kind of active, mental engagement and working lifestyle, working dogs will never be fully content.

So what does this mean?

This means training and learning commands is very important, playing with interactive puzzle toys, frequently socializing with new dogs and people, and engaging in activities with you that encourage them to think, like nose-work games, for example.

None of this is a problem and can be easily achieved if you have the available time.

5. Irish setter can be stubborn

Stubbornness is something that runs in dogs, too. lol

It’s true that this varies a lot, some setters are more stubborn than others and there are no guarantees that your setter will or won’t be. But it is something that’s frequently mentioned among setter owners.

Sometimes, moments of stubbornness can lead to hilarious stand-offs, and other times, it leads to a lot of frustration. This is another reason why training and learning basic commands to a high level is super important.

If you actively begin training your setter from the moment you bring them home, you’ll deal with a lot less defiance.

6. Irish setters can be “too much” for children

I need to say first that Irish setters are naturally very good with children, there’s no disputing that. And their kind, friendly nature becomes very obvious when young children are around. However, setters are large dogs and they LOVE to play.

Sometimes, setters can be a little “too much” for children and without bad intentions, can be too exuberant and boisterous for a small child.

Of course, caution should always be taken anyway, so this isn’t something that shouldn’t cause any real issues. But it’s important to be aware of… Despite their good nature, their physical size and strength mixed with an excitable desire to play can lead to accidents and tears.

7. Irish setters can have mischievous adolescent periods

This isn’t the case for all Irish setters, but during their adolescent period, the chances of destructive behavior and disobedience are much higher. Fortunately, this can usually be prevented with appropriate exercise levels, training, and frequent engagement.

To be fair, this is the same for any working breed and even some non-working breeds. Adolescent dogs can be impulsive, excitable, and very demanding, that’s all fairly normal for this stage of their life. But it’s necessary to be aware of beforehand.

Popular Irish Setter Articles:
When Do Irish Setters Calm Down?
Can Irish Setters Be Left Home Alone?
How To Help Irish Setters Gain Weight

Does Your Family Have The Time For An Irish Setter?

What it all comes down to, is how much time and commitment will your family have for a setter?

Without a doubt, Irish setters have many desirable traits and are known for making great family pets. But it’s no secret they are a breed that requires a lot of time, focus, and attention. They are not for the “casual” dog owner as one setter owner told me.

Without the time to train, exercise, brush, engage, and interact with your setter, issues will start to happen.

It all comes down to how much time you actually have free to put into nurturing and caring for your setter. And is your family all ready to take on and share the responsibility?

Irish setters are described by many owners to be the best dog they could have ever wished for, but prioritizing them is a must.

Thank you for reading! I hope this has answered your question and if you have any feedback or further points to put forward, please let me know! For now, have a great day! Kind regards, Harry.


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.