The Irish Setter - Their History and How to Pick a Good One

  • 20/11/2010

The Irish Setter had a strong reputation as a solid hunting dog as recently as 100 years ago. Unfortunately, later evolution of breeding has tailored this breed more towards shows rather than hunting pursuits. The result has been a decline of quality as a hunting dog which is unfortunate for all sportsmen. In the past, this dog was known for being a versatile and rugged performer that was widely used in the Midwest to track down ducks, geese, and more in the late 19th Century.

There are a number of unique characteristics of the Irish Setter compared to English Setters:

1. The dog will tend be a little taller and more slender than the English Setter. They will also be lighter in bone as well.

2. These dogs will also lack the roundness in the rib cage area that other setters have. This translates into less endurance in the field.

3. Although the head size is about the same for these two breeds, the Irish breed will likely be a tad longer and narrower. Their ears may also be slightly lower on the head than their English counterpart.

4. These dogs will also tend to be slightly lighter because they have less musculature and are lighter in bone even though they are taller.

5. These dogs have a deep red color for their coat which is beautiful but can be hard to see in the field. The result is many hunters will opt for other more visible colored dogs.

6. These dogs also have a silkier coat which can be a problem in the field for picking up additional burrs.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, the Irish Setters are not on par with their English counterparts. There have been some attempts by breeders to reverse the change back to their hunting past, but at the moment these dogs are more suited for show contests.

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