Irish setters are very affectionate, and they are a breed that has no problem cuddling up to their owners. Some may like to cuddle more than others, but in general, most setters will be more than happy with cuddles on the couch.
Below I’ll explain all about Irish setter affection with seven additional ways they show their love regularly. You may be surprised by some!
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Are Irish Setters Affectionate?
It’s normal for owners to wonder how affectionate their breed is. And if you already own an Irish setter or are planning on getting one, it’s a valid question to ask.
How affectionate the breed is can really change the kind of personality they have, and this matters a lot to most people.
Fortunately, Irish setters are known to be excellent family dogs, and for good reasons! They are naturally affectionate, friendly, and soft. Of course, if you’re looking for a fierce guard dog, don’t get a setter!
Irish setters seem to confuse themselves with lapdogs, and despite their large size, will often come to lean on you, sit on you, and be as physically close to you as possible. Physical contact like this is a very powerful indicator of love, affection, and devotion from a dog to its owner.
Do Irish Setters Like To Cuddle?
In general, yes, Irish setters do like to cuddle and are quite fond of resting with their owner either on the couch or bed!
But it must be said now, all setters are different, and some may not be as cuddly as others. Maybe this isn’t an issue for you, but if you’re expecting your new setter to always accept your cuddles, you may be in for a shock…
How affectionate and cuddly your setter is, becomes harder to predict if you have rescued him or her from a shelter. Oftentimes, dogs from shelters have had a tough past, and this can really affect their emotional state for many years to come.
If you have your Irish setter from a puppy, then the way you raise him and interact with him will impact the kind of personality and character he will have as an adult.
Can You Make Your Irish Setter More Cuddly?
If your Irish setter really isn’t cuddly at all, you’re probably wondering if there’s anything you can do about it.
Honestly, you can’t make your Irish setter more cuddly, but there are some things that may help the situation.
1. Stop giving cuddles when he doesn’t want them
One of the worst things to do is to consistently try cuddling him all the time, especially when he doesn’t like it or want it.
If you keep trying to cuddle him when he doesn’t want to, he will react negatively, and this will only reinforce to him that cuddles are something negative, and something that he doesn’t like.
Although it may be hard, try to stop giving him cuddles (at least for a short while). This alone will likely have a positive effect, and may even reverse the tables! I know many owners who have tried this with breeds known to dislike cuddling, and it usually leads to the dog suddenly changing their minds.
2. Positive Reinforcement Always Works
Positive reinforcement is a powerful training method that I’m sure you have heard of already.
The reason it works so well is that dogs learn through associations and repetition, and when you add rewards to the training, it’s bulletproof.
You can start directly rewarding your Irish setter whenever he shows you affection, even if these moments are far and few between. Reward him with praise and a little treat when he comes for some cuddles.
It won’t take long for him to make the connection. But I must mention the obvious, lol. For a while, these cuddles may entirely be treat-fueled, rather than love-fueled. It’s up to you how you feel about that!
3. Regain Their Desire For Attention
This one gets a little bit deeper into canine-behavior psychology. But I’ll try to keep the explanation simple.
The basic principle under this is to be the one to break the attention first. So before your setter becomes tired of his cuddle and moves away, you need to be the one to stop first.
For example, if you’re on the couch in the evening giving him a casual belly rub, before he gets tired of it or moves away, you need to stop the interaction first.
What does this do? Well, firstly, you are stopping it while he still enjoys it, and you’re not letting him get fed up with the interaction, and secondly, because he didn’t experience getting fed up, he’ll be left wanting more.
I know, it seems a little elaborate, but it’s a common technique discussed frequently, and I know owners who have had success with this.
7 Ways Irish Setters Show Affection
You may be interested to know there are many ways your Irish setter shows affection, other than just cuddles! So let’s run through them below.
1. He brings you his toys
Yep, something as simple as bringing you his toys is a way of him telling you that he loves you.
The fact that he’s choosing you to play with (an activity with a lot of importance to him) means your bond with him is strong. It’s a subtle clue, but meaningful.
2. Easy eye contact
Eye contact is one of the most powerful forms of non-verbal and is pretty much universal across all animals.
If your setter is able to casually engage in eye contact and gazing with you, that’s a good sign.
If your setter never dares to look at you, or cannot look at you directly when you are looking at him, it indicates he’s unsure, fearful or the relationship isn’t at a trusting level yet.
3. Excited to see you
Nothing beats coming home to your setter that’s wagging his tail with the biggest smile on his face.
His positive energy when you arrive is a clear indication that he loves you to the moon and back. If this wasn’t the case, he would likely keep his distance from you and maintain minimal engagement.
4. Relaxed body language around you
His overall body language speaks volumes when it comes to how he’s feeling.
If your setter is able to assume vulnerable positions like laying on his back when close by you, it means he feels safe and comfortable.
And for dogs, this means a lot! Dogs are very much in tune with their survival instincts, so their body language gives away how they are feeling very transparently.
If your setter looks very relaxed around you, that means he feels safe, comfortable, and secure with you.
5. Eyebrow and ear movements
Researchers have now shown that eyebrow movements and ear placement also indicate certain emotions, despite being hard to see!
Dogs will typically raise their eyebrows, specifically their left one when they look at someone they love or have a strong bond with. Their ear placement also changes when they look at someone they love.
Typically the ears will sit back slightly on their head when you look, speak, or get close to your setter. This is a challenging one to spot, but it’s still important!
6. He’s receptive to you
Being receptive to your commands, and well, whenever you speak, is an indication you have a strong bond.
When your setter becomes very sensitive to things you say and the actions you do, it shows that he cares about you and you are very important to him. This isn’t just a matter of being obedient, it’s a sign there is an established relationship between you both.
7. Physical contact
Physical contact is a huge one! And yes, it’s the same as cuddling. But physical contact goes beyond the obvious cuddles and snuggles.
Physical contact can include subtle things like coming to sit next to you, leaning on you, or simply placing himself close enough to have a single paw slightly touching you.
Any kind of physical contact, obvious or discrete is a massive show of affection. Nothing beats physical contact.
Thank you for reading! I hope this has answered your question about whether Irish setters are cuddly and affectionate or not, and please let me know if you have further questions. For now, have a great day with your setter! Kind regards, Harry.