If you're going to be displaying your Irish Setter in the show ring, it's important to know ahead of time exactly what it is that the judges will be looking for. This is good advice for all breeds, but with a breed that is both very aesthetically pleasing with a long, flowing coat and with a history for staunch obedience and field work like the Irish Setter, it's doubly important that both aspects of the breed be apparent at all times.
The Irish Setter should be well-proportioned, measuring slightly longer from head to tail than it is tall. Though there are usually no disqualifications due to size (thanks in large part to certain breed controversies), the ideal Irish Setter is considered to be around 27 inches tall at the withers and to weigh around 70 pounds. This is a very strict interpretation actually, and to achieve full points, deviation of more than an inch or 5 pounds is very undesirable.
The Irish Setter's coat should be short on the front parts of the body, particularly the head and forelegs, growing longer towards the rear of the dog. It's considered desirable for the coat to adopt a long and silky "feathered" appearance in certain areas such as the ears and the thighs, as well as on the belly and chest. In general, the Irish Setter's coat should be trimmed so as to emphasize the lean, direct lines of their head and neck, drawing attention to their iconic "setting" posture used in field work. Trimming is done more to preserve this natural appearance than to affect any personal style.
Coloring should be a deep and rich red hue but with no touches of black. Although small amounts of white, particularly those on the chest or between the eyes isn't penalized, it's usually not favored by judges.
The Irish Setter's walk should project a lively and proud personality with a lot of grace. The head should press forward while the legs demonstrate a smooth, controlled power that emphasizes the dog's tendency towards a focused obedience.
Physical considerations aside, it's also immensely important that the Irish Setter demonstrate qualities specific to his or her personality. In general, any significant leaning towards either shyness or hostility is considered grossly out of character and will be heavily penalized. A confident, outgoing, and even-tempered demeanor that emphasizes the breed's joyful attitude is the ideal to be achieved.
As with all breeds, obedience courses are a must for show dogs, as your Irish Setter will be called upon to walk in line with other dogs and perform basic commands without distraction or hesitation. In addition, he or she must also be acclimated to touching from an early age as judges will definitely be handling the animal and touching areas that Irish Setters can often be sensitive about, such as the ears or feet.