The vast majority of modern Irish Setters are not ever going to be used as hunting dogs, even those of championship lines. In the late 20th century the breed moved from a hunting breed to a show breed, somewhat changing the appearance of the dog, but also developing a much more family friendly dog that was an ideal companion pet.
Even the championship show lines and field lines are typically outstanding family dogs, due in large part to their temperament and outstanding personalities. The Irish Setter is definitely a great consideration as a pet for a very active, outdoorsy type of family. They love children of all ages, although there are some considerations to keep in mind with having children and any type of dog.
Irish Setters And Young Children
The Irish Setter can be a great dog with younger children for several reasons. Perhaps one of the most obvious is that the breed is naturally very playful and they love to have lots of attention, something that most toddlers are more than willing to give to dogs in the house. They are very patient with little hands and petting from the children. The Irish Setter is also not possessive of their toys or food, once properly trained and socialized, so there is very little concern with the dog snapping, growling or nipping at the child.
Of course Irish Setters that are raised in families with smaller children and then obedience trained and socialized are very tolerant of children. They are gentle and loving, plus they have the energy and patience to keep up with kids of all ages.
The challenge to having an Irish Setter in the house with small children is that sometimes the dog's natural enthusiasm and playful behavior can be rather rambunctious and may result in the child being bumped or even knocked over in a game or at play. Teaching the dog to play gently with younger children and always supervising the dog and child at play can prevent many of these potential minor issues.
Irish Setters And Older Kids
Older children are a great match for an Irish Setter. The same gentleness and non-aggressive type of traits that make the breed good for younger children also go for the older kids. The older children that enjoy working with the dog can learn about obedience work, and the Irish Setter will typically respond very well to commands from children. Having the child participate in obedience training as well as working with the dog under the parent's supervision will help the child become an effective leader for the dog. Kids must be taught to avoid any type of harsh treatment or punishment as it can result in the dog becoming timid or avoidant.
Many older children enjoy grooming and caring for these gentle yet very playful dogs. The older kids will also enjoy the non-aggressive nature of the dogs that make it easy for the child to take the dog out to the park or for walks without having to worry about running into other dogs and having problems.
Irish Setters And Other Dogs
Irish Setters that are socialized as puppies and provided lots of opportunity to interact with other non-aggressive dogs are wonderful as companion dogs. They can get along with dominant breeds as they are not typically going to need to be the leaders of the pack. Their natural playfulness also makes them a good match for other high energy breeds, and they will self-exercise with another dog in a large, fenced yard.
As with any breed of dog, spayed and neutered Irish Setters will typically be calmer and less likely to have any dominance or aggression towards other dogs. They will, obviously, not have any of the hormonally driven behaviors that may cause aggression. They can get along with dogs of any size, surprisingly enough they are often great companions to even smaller sized dogs. With very tiny toy breeds they do need to be socialized as the rough and enthusiastic play of an Irish Setter puppy or young dog may be a bit much for a tiny toy.
Irish Setters And Cats
Generally, any Irish Setter raised with cats in the house will be a true cat lover for all of his or her life. They very rarely will not get along with household cats and are often very affectionate and friendly, even playing with cats just as they would with a child or another pet.
The Irish Setter is also not jealous of his or her toys or bedding. They do tolerate other pets, including cats, playing with their things or sleeping with them on their bed. Ideally the Irish Setter would much rather sleep up on the bed with the people, a trick they will certainly learn quickly if allowed.
The Best Yard For An Irish Setter
The best option or yard for an Irish Setter is a very large, fenced yard that allows them room to run and play. They do not do well in an apartment, however if someone is home to walk these dogs multiple times a day they can adjust. Ideally the Irish Setter should have plenty of off-leash time after they have been trained, as they do love to run and work off their energy.
If outside during the day these dogs need the same basic considerations as any other dog. They need a kennel or a dog house that is cool in the summer and dry and warm in the winter. They also need fresh, clean drinking water and toys to play with. Several different types of chew toys, raw joint or knuckle bones and some different types of balls are great options to keep the dog busy when you are gone.
The ideal family for an Irish Setter will be very geared towards including the dog in the family activities. The Irish Setter is not a good breed for those wanting a kennel dog or a completely outside dog. These dogs need to have human companionship and a job to do to be completely happy and well adjusted.