The wonderful, deep red coloring of the Irish Setter is one of the most notable features of this breed. Properly maintained, the long coat of this dog is beautiful. The red hair tends to part on the dog's chest and flow backwards when it walks quickly, making an awesome picture for the Irish Setter fan.
Even if kept shorter, the rich color simply attracts attention and is the reason this breed was once called the Irish Red Setter. The Irish Setter's ancestors include Pointers and Spaniels. The breed has evolved significantly over the decades of selective breeding, gaining several inches in height. Though Irish Setters of today are exclusively red, those of years gone by were not always solid red.
Some were red but many had white mixed into the coats. Today, Irish Setters may have some lighter markings, though too much white is considered a fault in the show ring. Black is also a forbidden color for showing, though some dogs have a very dark red coat.
Though many breeders and owners today select the Irish Setter based solely on the fact that these are awesome looking dogs, there's no denying that this breed is an excellent hunter, pointer and retriever. Their style of hunting varies from breeds such as the Bloodhound that can pick up scents from long distances. These hunters have a less defined sense of smell.
In order to pick up a trail, they will roam in a zig-zag motion across fields and trails until they get close enough to pick up a particular scent. The fact that they're agile and fast makes this a viable option to use the best of all their traits. Although used less often for hunting, these dogs retain their natural instinct and training is possible. Another important task assigned to the Irish Setter is agility, field and obedience trials.
These dogs quickly pick up new instruction and are very ready to please. One of the reasons for the popularity of these dogs as family pets is their complete lack of territorial guarding. They tend to be willing to share space, hearth and home with anyone (and anything) that happens by, making them much less of a threat to bite visitors than some other dogs. One important fact about Irish Setters is that some may be reserved, either all the time or in specific situations.
For example, some Irish Setters are effusive with their greetings, but only with family while others will greet everyone with the same joy. Others seem almost aloof with everyone, even those they are most devoted to. Early training and socialization can play an important role in how these dogs behave.
These dogs do have plenty of energy and most are ready for playtime at almost any given point. They quickly pick up new games such as catch or Frisbee. Remember that these dogs were bred to run. They are usually able to run very quickly and may be difficult to catch. Strict training to be sure your Irish Setter will return to you when called is important as you probably won't be able to catch your Setter if he decides to run away.
For more information on Irish Setters and other Popular, and not-so-popular breeds of dogs, visit The Sporting Dog Directory