The Irish Setter Breed Standard
As issued by the Kennel Club and reproduced with their kind permission.©The Kennel Club
A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Kennel Club website for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure.However if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as undesirable or highly undesirable it is strongly recommended that it should not be rewarded in the show ring.
Must be racy, balanced and full of quality. In conformation, proportionate.
Most handsome, and refined in looks, tremendously active with untiring readiness to range and hunt under any conditions.
Head and Skull
Head long and lean, not narrow or snipy, not coarse at the ears. Skull oval (from ear to ear) having plenty of brain room and well-defined occipital protuberance. From occiput to stop and from stop to tip of nose to be parallel and of equal length, brows raised showing stop. Muzzle moderately deep, fairly square at end. Jaws of nearly equal length, flews not pendulous, nostrils wide. Colour of nose dark mahogany, dark walnut or black.
Dark hazel to dark brown, not too large, preferably like an unshelled almond in shape, set level (not obliquely), under brows showing kind, intelligent expression.
Of moderate size, fine in texture, set on low, well back and hanging in a neat fold close to head.
Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
Moderately long, very muscular but not too thick, slightly arched and free from all tendency to throatiness, setting cleanly without a break of topline into shoulders.
Shoulders fine at points, deep and sloping well back. Forelegs straight and sinewy having plenty of bone, with elbows free, well let down and not inclined either in or out.
Chest as deep as possible, rather narrow in front. Ribs well sprung leaving plenty of lung room and carried well back to muscular loin, slightly arched. Firm straight topline gently sloping downwards from withers.
Wide and powerful. Hindlegs from hip to hock long and muscular, from hock to heel short and strong. Stifle and hock joints well bent and not inclined either in or out.
Small, very firm; toes strong, close together and arched.
Of moderate length proportionate to size of body, set on just below the level of the back, strong at root tapering to a fine point and carried as nearly as possible on a level with or below the back.
Free flowing, driving movement with true action when viewed from front or rear, and in profile, showing perfect co-ordination.
On head, front of legs and tips of ears, short and fine; on all other parts of body and legs of moderate length, flat and as free as possible from curl or wave. Feathers on upper portion of ears long and silky; on back of fore- and hindlegs long and fine. Fair amount of hair on belly, forming a nice fringe which may extend on to chest and throat. Feet well feathered between toes. Tail to have fringe of moderately long hair decreasing in length as it approaches point. All feathering to be as straight and flat as possible.
Rich chestnut with no trace of black. White on chest, throat, chin or toes, or small star on forehead or narrow streak or blaze on nose or face not to disqualify.
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog, and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
Last Updated – December 2008
The Irish Setter Standard 1916
As Approved by the Irish Setter Club.
Head.—Should be long and lean. The skull oval (from ear to ear), having plenty of brain room, and with well-defined occipital protuberance. Brows raised, showing stop. The muzzle moderately deep and fairly square at end. From the stop to the point of the nose should be long, the nostrils wide and the jaws of nearly equal length, flews not to be pendulous. The color of the nose dark mahogany or dark chocolate and that of the eye (which ought not to be too large) rich hazel or brown. The ears to be of moderate size, fine in texture, set on low, well back and hanging in a neat fold close to the head.
Neck.—Should be moderately long, very muscular but not too thick, slightly arched, free from all tendency to throatiness.
Body.—Should be proportionately long, shoulders fine at the points, deep and sloping well back. The chest deep, rather narrow in front. The ribs well sprung, leaving plenty of lung room. The loins muscular and slightly arched. The hindquarters wide and powerful.
Legs and Feet.—The hind legs from hip to hock should be long and muscular, from hock to heel short and strong. The stifle and hock joints well bent, and not inclined either in or out. The forelegs should be strong and sinewy, having plenty of bone, with elbows free, well let down and, like the hock, not inclined either out or in. The feet rather small, very firm, toes strong, close together and arched.
Tail.—Should be of moderate length, set on rather low, strong at root and tapering to a fine point; to be carried in a slight scimitar-like curve or straight, nearly level with the back.
Coat.—On the head, front of legs and tips of ears should be short and fine, but on all other parts of the body it should be of moderate length, flat, and as free as possible from curl or wave.
Feathering.—The feather on the upper portion of the ears should be long and silky, on the back of fore and hind legs long and fine, a fair amount of hair on belly, forming a nice fringe, which may extend on chest and throat. Feet to be well feathered between the toes. Tail to have a nice fringe of moderately long hair, decreasing in length as it approaches the point. All feathering to be as straight and as flat as possible.
Color and Markings.—The color should be a rich golden chestnut or mahogany red, with no trace whatever of black; white on chest, throat or toes, or a small star on the forehead, or a narrow streak or blaze on the nose or face not to disqualify.
Excerpted from Dog World magazine, December 1916, Vol. 1, No. 12,