An Irish Setter puppy sits on their new owners lap in this image.

10 Things To Know About Raising A Setter Puppy

Setters are a fantastic group of dog breeds. Not only are they gifted swimmers, but they also love nothing more than to go into nature and find some game birds. The Setter’s past derives from selective breeding to increase characteristics helpful to hunt, much like pointers, but the Setter was also a retriever. 

The breeds of Setters are loyal, compassionate, and friendly, making for great companions. The dogs’ intelligent and active nature means they enjoy an active lifestyle and are quite capable of following trained orders.

Before we go further if you’re interested in having a Setter join your family, then knowing what to expect when raising a Setter puppy is a smart move. Let’s dive in.

Get To Know The Setter Breeds

An excellent first step is to make sure that you fully understand the history of the Setter dog breeds and what their breed personalities and characteristics are. A perfect way to do that kind of in-depth research is to read some books about the breed, especially the iconic book “All Setters.” 

It will also help you determine what type of Setter you wish to adopt. The term Setter describes the position that this breed of dog historically took when they found a game bird while hunting, a type of crouch toward the prey. 

Setters are sporting dogs; a specific variety is called a “gun dog.” Starting in the 15th century in the United Kingdom, they were bred for bird setting and retrieving during hunting. 

These breeds have an exceptional amount of stamina and speed despite their large size.

An exceptional English Setter is shown in this picture.
Above Image by michellegraber from Pixabay
A beautiful Irish Setter is shown in this picture.
A beautiful Irish Setter is shown in this picture.
Above Image by Mr_Incognito_ from Pixabay

There Are Two Main Types Of Setters

The Irish Setter and the English Setter are the two most common Setter dog breeds. We aren’t going to go into detail about the third, not-so-common setter – The Gordon Setter. The Gordon Setter is a rare comparatively. Gordon’s main difference is its dark coloring, being black with rust on the face and underbelly. 

English Setters are generally white with spots (orange, liver, or black). Irish Setters can be a stunning red-mahogany color. 

Generally, there are a lot of similarities between the two types of Setters. However, there are also a few notable differences. Irish Setters require grooming more than the English variety does due to their magnificent and fine coat. Irish Setters bark rarely, while English Setters are more vocal. English Setters are not usually used as therapy dogs, while Irish Setters are frequently trained for that use. Irish Setters have a higher incidence of that stinky doggie smell, while English Setters do not. Let’s review:

English SetterIrish Setter
White with orange, crimson, or black spotsRed mahogany color
Less groomingLess grooming
Occasional barkingRarely bark
They are not used as therapy dogs.They are often used as therapy dogs.
Not as much ‘dog smell.’More ‘dog smell.’

Setter Personality Explained

Setters are widely known to be friendly, peaceful, and mild-mannered. They can make fantastic family dogs, as they are very good with children, showing off their loving and easy-going personalities. 

Because Setters can be a little hyper and not understand how big they are (especially their powerful, feathery tails!), puppy training is essential with small children around. This way, they are set up for success as they grow into their size. 

Setters can be alert and protective of their people and their home but listen well when told to calm down. Because of their slightly goofy, loving nature, they aren’t great at being guard dogs. However, they will still be protective and let out the occasional bark to let their families know when someone is arriving.

A dog whistle is shown in this file photo.
A common dog whistle is often employed for dog training.
Image by Walter Bichler from Pixabay

Training A Setter Puppy

An obedience course is highly recommended for this intelligent breed of dog. 

Like most dogs, Setters thrive on routine and established expectations. Signing your Setter puppy up for obedience training helps them build a relationship with you, grow their confidence about being an excellent dog, and give you control as they grow into their considerable size. 

Obedience training for your Setter puppy also helps moderate their natural exuberance and train them into a lovely family dog that doesn’t knock people over or pull on the leash. It’s also important to teach your Setter puppy the “recall” command as early as possible since these dogs love to run and can easily take off when allowed to be off-leash. 

The training especially applies if they see a bunny or a bird in the distance! Positive reinforcement training methods are the best kind of training for any breed, but especially for a Setter puppy as they are compassionate in temperament. 

Harsh or hostile training methods will not be productive with a Setter puppy. 

Setter Breed Sizes

Your Setter puppy will grow and grow and grow! Full-grown Setters are large dogs with males growing to be between 55 and 80 pounds and up to 27 inches in height at the withers.

Females will be a bit smaller once they are full-grown, hitting between 45 and 70 pounds in weight and up to 26 inches in height at the withers. Your Setter puppy will grow into an athletic-looking dog with powerful back legs.

House Training A Setter Puppy

For any puppy, housetraining is an essential aspect of their overall training. With the Setter breeds, it’s vital to set them up for success with proper house training. 

These brilliant puppies want to please you; you just need to tell them how. In order to get things started, it’s good to set up some puppy pads in the area where the puppy will be spending most of their time. 

Puppy pads have a natural attractant that encourages the puppies to use the pads for their bathroom needs. Then, start taking them outside many times a day, especially after eating, drinking, or waking up. 

When the puppy goes to the bathroom in the designated place outside, praise them! Be consistent with this practice, along with having puppy pads for the occasional accident, and you will have a fully house trained Setter puppy within weeks. 

A common puppy pad can save your floors and help train your Setter puppy.
A common puppy pad can save your floors and help train your Setter puppy.

Buy Puppy Pads Now On Amazon

Setter Dog Breed Activity Level

Setter puppies are very active and often characterized as hyper. It’s essential to give them abundant exercise opportunities, as being exercised regularly helps keep Setter puppies happy and well behaved. 

The puppies do mellow out a lot as they age, but they will still need daily, brisk walks that are 40 min or longer. This breed is a good fit for someone who regularly hikes or jogs due to their high energy level and their love of digging, roaming, and jumping. 

Obedience or agility training for a Setter puppy would be a good fit, especially as these are smart dogs who enjoy learning and working. Like any intelligent dog breed, Setters can get themselves into trouble if they get bored, so make sure you’re prepared to give them all the excitement and exercise their minds and bodies need. 

Socializing A Setter Puppy

A Setter Puppy is a very high-needs puppy that loves their family and needs to feel loved in return. This breed needs regular interaction with people and wants quality time exploring the world together. 

If you plan on leaving your dog alone for many hours at a time or stuck in a backyard, this is not the breed for you. These dogs are fun-loving and very smart! If left alone, they can become escape artists and manifest their love for running. 

Setters can also become problem diggers and chewers if they are bored, anxious, or distressed.

Due to the Setters’ size, it is critical that socializing with other dogs and people from a young age is done as soon as possible. When these dogs get big, they can knock a person over if too excited, so socialization is vital.  

How Setters Are With Other Pets

Keep in mind that a Setter puppy was initially bred to be a hunting dog. Because of this and their natural prey drive, it’s essential to be careful when introducing a Setter puppy to other, smaller pets.  

If socialized early as a puppy, they should be able to make friends nicely, as they’re friendly, loving, and sociable nature can win out. Setters also love spending time with other dogs, but it’s crucial to foster this early with a Setter Puppy to avoid any shyness. 

Plan puppy playdates with healthy boundaries so that the puppy feels safe and has positive early interactions with other dogs. 

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Setter Puppy Body Care 

A Setter Puppy will need regular grooming due to their adorable floppy ears and medium-length coat. They are moderate shedders all year round. 

Setter ears, tail, and underside all have gorgeous feathered fur that needs to be maintained by being brushed at least once a week (preferably more often) to avoid tangles and mats. 

Setters do love to be outside exploring, which can lead to some muddy and dirty fur! Professional grooming occasionally will also help avoid nasty tangles. 

Keep in mind that if you start brushing your Setter puppy early and take them to the groomers as a pup, they will quickly adapt to these routines as adult dogs. 

Setters also need regular ear cleaning to avoid any infections in their floppy ears. One other thing to keep in mind is that a Setter puppy will be prone to drooling, especially when they are excited, hungry, or have just had a big run. It is typical for the breed and will continue into adulthood.

Setter Dogs Medical Care

If a Setter puppy is well cared for, they can be expected to live for 10-14 years, with the average age being 12. Setter dogs are known to have a high metabolism, and so your puppy could need more food than a dog of the same size but a different breed. 

Keep a close eye on their weight and development, and adjust their food quantity if needed. It’s also important to keep in mind not to over-exercise a Setter puppy, as their bones don’t fully mature until they are a year old. It can be challenging due to their high energy levels! 

It’s essential to keep an eye on your Setter puppy’s gait, as the breed can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. Other medical concerns typical with this breed include blindness due to the deterioration of their retinas and skin problems or “hot spots.”

Best Advice: Take your new puppy to the vet and have them do a thorough once over. Follow all veterinary advice, and you and your puppy should be okay. 

Sources

Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia user Francescobrisa. Used under creative commons licensing.

  • American Kennel Club – Irish Setter – https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/irish-setter/ – Accessed Dec. 2, 2020.
  • American Kennel Club – English Setter – https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/english-setter/ – Accessed Dec. 2, 2020.
  • American Kennel Club – Gordon Setter – https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/gordon-setter/ – Accessed Dec. 2, 2020.
  • Wikipedia – Irish Setter – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Setter – Accessed Dec. 2, 2020.
  • Wikipedia – English Setter – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Setter – Accessed Dec. 2, 2020.
  • Wikipedia – Gordon Setter – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Setter – Accessed Dec. 2, 2020.

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