Monday, April 11, 2011


The Irish Setter's origins remain a mystery. We do know they became popular in Ireland soon after they first appeared there a few centuries ago and that most of today's Irish Setters can trace their linage to Irish kennels. They became popular because their performance as upland bird dogs was unparalleled. They are the tallest of the setters and one of the most handsome. The Irish Setter requires large amounts of fats, as well as a high carbohydrate to protein ratio in its base diet. It will produce a very healthy and shiny coat when the proper balance of fat-to-carbohydrateto protein is provided. The source of the fat in the Irish Setter's diet is very important. The best sources would be from vegetable sources and the worst would be from animal sources, such as beef fat.


This is due to the different sources of fats containing different amounts and ratios of the alpha-Linolenate family. When feeding the Irish Setter, just think of the ingredients for grandma's Irish Stew. These ingredients represent the food supplies found in Ireland for centuries. I think the best food blend for the Irish Setter should contain potatoes and other vegetables such as carrots, rye grains, with meat sources of lamb and poultry. Conversely, I think the least desirable blend would contain horse meat or beef and their by-products, with soy, fish, or rice.

For Irish Setter's those of you who do not know me, I am a professional Canine Beautician of over twenty years I run my own High Street Grooming Salon in Leicester, apart from pet dogs we also have a regular clientele of many breeds of show dogs, and together with our Thendara Irish Setters, I also own and show Afghan Hounds, the ultimate challenge in coat care and presentation! It is important to remember when reading the following that these are my opinions, others may do it differently with equally good results, and there are those that sculpturing and preening of coats is objectionable.

My view is that today’s show IRISH SETTER dog has to be presented to advantage if one wants to compete at the highest level, take a close look at any group at a general championship show, note the top IRISH SETTER, look at their presentation, believe me, they were not just thrown in the bath the night before and quickly hacked at on the bench before their class!


Regardless of how much long feathering the individual dog carries, the crowning glory of the Irish Setter is his unique and beautiful red coat, which should gleam like a new conker. Length and quality of coat is genetic, I do not believe there is anything you can feed to a dog which will make its coat grow longer than its own genetic make up will allow. IRISH SETTER Coat condition is dictated by the animals general health and diet, how it is cared for and seasonal changes, some will moult in the summer months, and the majority of bitches are difficult to keep in condition when they come into season or after a litter, most will drop a lot of coat around that time and the condition will be lost for a while. When my own Bitches are dropping coat, I bath them every few days and brush and brush until all the dead hair is removed, the sooner its gone the sooner the new hair will start to come through.

From the many questions I am asked the main concern for a lot of exhibitors is how to accomplish trimming, but before I go into that lets look at something far more important. BATHING. I do not hold true with the belief that to regularly bath a dog will ‘ruin its coat’,’ is not good for it’, or ‘will wash all the oil from the coat’. ‘Get real’ you cannot change how your dog is made but you can ensure its presentation can compete with the best, learn to cherish every hair.

Never brush or comb the long feathering hair when dry, especially when dirty. Always shampoo and condition first and brush out when towel dried. This should be done at least once a week, or on a male dog it should be done every 3 days. When brushing out at a show always mist the coat first with water.

Every IRISH SETTER coat is different, so trial different products until you find one that suits. You will probably find you will need to use a different shampoo and conditioner on the body to that of the feathering. If your IRISH SETTER dog has thick strong hair with a course feel to it and or a certain amount of wave in the top coat, use a shampoo and conditioner that is rich, such as Plush IRISH SETTER Puppy conditioning shampoo with evening primrose or one made for long flowing coated breeds i.e. Afghans, Llasa Apso etc. Where the feathering is fine use a much lighter shampoo, Plush IRISH SETTER Puppy Body Building shampoo will help boost the volume without flattening the hair, if conditioner is still required use a very diluted, silk protein conditioner. To use something richer as those mentioned above will make fine hair lank.

On the head and body I prefer to use something like Plush IRISH SETTER Puppy’s all purpose shampoo with henna, it gives a great shine, or if there is a build up of conditioning products and or dirt the best clarifying shampoo is Plush Puppy Deep Cleansing shampoo, Which will leave a gleaming coat. When shampooing it is imperative to saturate the dog with warm water, for the first wash dilute your shampoo and rinse through the coat, shampoo the head and body first with your chosen body shampoo and rinse thoroughly now work in the conditioning shampoo through the feathering and rinse out.

IRISH SETTER Weight Standards: m - 70 lbs.; f - 60 lbs.
Height Standards: m - 27 inches; f - 25 inches
Coat: Long, flat, silky coat with feathering, Mahogany
Common Ailments: hip dysplasia, bloat, PRA

Cover the entire feathering in conditioner, if there are any tangles work out with your fingers and then brush through with a bristle brush, (wet hair can take far more punishment than dry) dilute some more of the conditioner and pour over the body and rinse out until the body feels squeaky clean, then gently rinse out the remaining conditioner through the feathering until you can feel just a trace left. Squeeze excess water from the coat and towel dry.

I recommend only two types of brush to be used on a show coat the first is a good quality bristle or bristle and nylon type, although expensive I find the best is a Mason & Pearson, the second is a good quality cushioned pin brush. Combing should be done very carefully and only on fully brushed out hair. After towelling start brushing out the long hair with the pin brush, always start from the ends and work up towards the body, use the bristle brush on the body. If you intend to blow dry the coat wait until the coat is just damp, blow-drying very wet hair will knock the body from it.

If your IRISH SETTER dog has quite a short flat body coat, leave to dry naturally, or with maybe just a little warm air being brushed through in the wrong direction this will lift the roots slightly and give more movement to the coat. On thick or wavy types blow dry thoroughly brushing the coat downwards as you go. Now go on to drying the feathering, I start with the front legs working with the brush from the bottom of the leg, brushing each section until dry working up towards the body, I then usually go on to the chest area back legs and tail and finishing on the more delicate under body hair. The coat can then if needed be gently combed into place.

When maintaining IRISH SETTER the coat between shows always use a clarifying shampoo to remove excess conditioning products, oils and other maintenance products, grooming sprays and dirt, then go on to the conditioning shampoo rinse thoroughly and then saturate in conditioner and rinse but leaving some still in, the coat should feel rinsed but slick, alternately a leave in oil treatment such as Plush Puppy Sea Breeze Oil can be used, follow their instructions.


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