Irish Setters are happy, playful, energetic, and usually friendly dogs. These traits in addition to its speed and a keen sense of smell well suited the breed for its original use as a bird hunting dog. The stamina of the pet Irish Setter, as with other hunting breeds, means its family must provide physical and mental challenges, including dog sports such as field trials, hunting, agility, tracking, and obedience as sport that can also help the dog and family bond together. Irish Setters seem to be good with children; however, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the child or dog and avoid the the dog's subsequently developing fear-based defensive aggression.
The Irish Setter dates back to eighteenth-century Ireland. Their name in Gaelic is "Madra Rua" which is translated as "red dog." The breed was created through a mix of the Old Spanish Pointer, setting spaniels and early Scottish setters. Early versions of the breed were white with red blotches on their coats, much like the Irish Red and White Setter of today. The Earl of Enniskellen is credited with the development that gave the breed their rich red coat in the early 1800's. The Irish Setter was first brought to the United States in the early nineteenth century by the Irish immigrants. The Irish Setter was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1878 and during the 1970's, the Irish Setter was among the most popular breeds in America.