Irish Setters were developed to be bird dogs, tracking, pointing and retrieving game birds in the field. Today, they are rarely used in the field, but maintain their high energy and stamina in modern life. Irish Setters are loyal family dogs for those with active lifestyles. They get along well with children, love people and get along well with other household pets. They will want to be a part of any and every family activity. Though they are generally well-mannered dogs, Irish Setters are brimming with energy and are prone to leaping and jumping on guests. They are good watchdogs, in that they will let you know when someone is approaching, but they should not be relied upon as guard dogs – visitors will be welcomed into an Irish Setter's home as if they are old friends.
Irish Setters require a lot of activity to maintain an even temperament. Prospective owners should be prepared to dedicate at least one hour per day to a Setter's physical activity requirements. Brisk walks are good, but they should be allowed to run several times per week. Irish Setters are country dogs, they require wide open space and room to roam.
Agility training is often a good outlet for Irish Setters as it works the mind and the body. Though they aren't as reliable as a Golden Retriever and may not win agility championships, Irish Setters enjoy the activity and appreciate the bonding time.
Irish Setters need very little training when it comes to hunting birds, but household obedience is a different story. Don't let the long hair fool you – this is not a Golden Retriever. Training and Irish Setter requires patience, consistency and a calm-assertive attitude. This breed develops habits quickly, and bad habits can be nearly impossible to break, so the earlier you begin training a Setter, the better.
Irish Setters can be rambunctious well after puppyhood passes and even if they receive adequate exercise. It is very important to teach your setter proper manners and not to jump on people, no matter how excited he may be to see them.
Separation Anxiety is common in this breed. Irish Setters are social creatures and they love spending time with people. Leaving them alone for long periods of time can lead to destructive behavior and excessive barking. It is important to properly exercise your Setter before leaving him alone, as lack of exercise can make these destructive tendencies worse. Irish Setters are best suited for people who have flexible work schedules, or families with a stay at home parent.