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Irish Setters are graceful dogs that have long been admired for their long silky coats with lots of feathering. These dogs are slightly quicker and lighter than other types of setters. Their legs are long and muscular and their ears are long and low set. Irish Setters coats range in color from rich shades of chestnut to mahogany and occasionally there may be a white splash on their chest or feet. Daily combing and brushing will keep the soft, medium length coat in good condition. Extra care should be given when the dogs are molting and bathing or dry shampooing should only be done when necessary. It is important to keep the hair free from tangles and burrs.

Male dogs are usually 26 to 28 inches (66-71 cm) tall and weigh between 65 and 75 pounds (29-34 kg). Females are usually 24 to 26 pounds (61-66 kg) and weigh between 55 and 65 pounds (25-29 kg). Irish Setters typically live to be around 11 to 15 years old.

Health problems that are common with this breed include epilepsy, severe skin allergies, elbow and hip dysplasia, bloat, hypothyroidism, and progressive retinal atrophy. Owners should also pay special attention to the ears and watch for inflammation that may occur. Operations that are required for otitis often leave dogs ill-tempered.

These dogs are not well suited to live in apartments, as they need space to roam free. All setters require lots of exercise and running freely is the best way for them to get the vigorous activity they need. Long brisk walks should be taken on a daily basis or the dogs may become restless and hard to manage. There are no special dietary restrictions but setters typically prefer two or three small meals a day instead of one large meal.

Irish Setters are energetic and have high spirits like most sporting dogs do. They are very affectionate and in some instances too affectionate. They have no guarding instincts and get along well with other animals. They can be difficult to train since they are easily distracted and can be independent in spirit but the effort may be rewarding to the owner as well as the dog. Strict training is not very effective with this breed but it is important to train a dog while he is still young in order to prevent bad habits from developing. These dogs are responsive yet sensitive, impulsive yet lovable, and make great pets for children. Some dogs may seem high strung while others are more reserved but that can be a joy to own and care for. With their excellent sense of smell and their great quickness, Irish Setters make good hunting dogs and can act as pointers and retrievers.

Originally, the Irish Setters were called Irish Red Setters in the United States. This breed was derived from a variety of spaniels, setters, and pointers. It is probably older than the English Setter breed since it was developed in the 1800s after selective breeding efforts. They have been fine all around hunting dogs over the years with excellent noses and the ability to travel over any terrain. They search for game by quickly running back and forth while in front of the hunter. Despite their talents for hunting, tracking, pointing, and retrieving, today’s Irish Setters are most often selected to be a show dog or family pet rather than a hunting dog.