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What Is an Irish Setter?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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An Irish setter is a type of large breed dog that is suitable for hunting or for training at home to be a family pet and companion. It has a sweet-natured temperament, and possesses a great deal of energy. This type of dog does require daily exercise and room to run within boundaries.

In appearance, the setter tends to measure just over two feet (0.6 meters) at the shoulder when standing. It is recognizable for its long, silky red and auburn coat, which tends to hang longer around the ears, breast, and back of the legs. The length of the setter's head is often double that of its width, and ends in a fine, thin tapered muzzle. Most setters weigh between 60 and 70 pounds (27 to 32 kilograms).

The Irish setter typically possesses a fun loving and independent personality. Though these dogs are known to occasionally cause mischief, and make some small or large messes, they are also intensely loyal and eager to please their masters. Many setters, when confronted with wrongdoing, such as relieving themselves in the house or destroying a beloved family piece of furniture, will display remorse and a desire to reconcile themselves to the master they have wronged.

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This breed of dog tends to remain in its puppy phase of mental and emotional development longer than other large breeds. Once the Irish setter has reached full maturity, many of its habits are set for life. For this reason, new owners can benefit from attending training classes with their puppies and encouraging them to learn good behaviors from a new age. Setter puppies are very intelligent, and are capable of learning and obeying most commands. These dogs flourish under a loving and nurturing environment, and tend to respond negatively to physical forms of punishment and verbal abuse.

Many hunters prefer to use the Irish setter above other hunting dogs for locating and retrieving small game kills. This dog has an excellent nose, and can follow the scent trail of small animals to their hiding holes and trees. Once a quarry has been located and cornered, the setter will remain with it until the hunter arrives.

Their natural hunting instincts tend to make this breed unsuitable for open roaming. The Irish setter needs a great deal of physical exercise and can maintain high energy levels throughout the day. Homes with large, fenced yards and owners who enjoy taking their dogs on long walks or runs, make the best type of environment for this dog.

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