Irish Setter Manual
An on-line version of the information we give to all new owners when purchasing a puppy
Our breeding policy is simple - we breed for type, temperament and beauty using only well bred stud dogs who are usually also top winners in the show ring. We do not keep bitches purely for breeding purposes, all have been successfully shown. We make a point of carefully choosing only top quality stud dogs with a pedigree carefully matched to our own bloodlines.
Litters are only occasionally bred here for our own personal show requirements. This ensures that the quality of the puppies we do sell as companions is kept to the highest possible standard.
We hope that you will be very pleased with your new puppy who has been very carefully and lovingly bred from healthy parents. We have made every effort to reduce the risk of hereditary conditions in our breeding stock but no warranty can be given as to the future soundness of the puppy.
This information sheet contains general rearing instructions and answers to some of the questions we are often asked.
Firstly and Foremost - a word about temperament. Irish Setters are by nature extrovert, lively, fun loving and MUD loving dogs. You HAVE to be enthusiastic to cope and also be prepared to put in a lot of work whilst the puppy is young. Remember it is up to you to teach the dog to be well behaved and a pleasure to take out in public. An investment in training during the early days will be well worth while later on. If you think you need extra expert guidance during the early days, do join a canine obedience training group. Your local Information Centre will supply the secretary’s name and address.
To sum up: The handling is now up to you! If your setter becomes unruly in later life it is because he or she wasn’t correctly trained whilst a puppy.
Show Puppies - Important. Please remember that whilst we will give every assistance to any owner trying to select a puppy for the show ring, it is extremely difficult at 7-8 weeks of age to predict precisely how the same puppy will look at four years old!. For this reason, therefore, we cannot guarantee that even the most promising show prospect as a baby will turn out a top winner. Rearing, training, handling and presentation in the show ring by the new owner will, without a doubt, make or break a prospective show dog. This factor has been proved time and time again when we are left with an “Ugly Duckling” at 8 weeks of age with seemingly no show promise at all, which we were then able to bring on to his or her full potential. Show Champion Bardonhill Kiss-A-Gram was just such a puppy - she was the puppy left from the three bitches in the litter - and later went on to win Best of Breed at Crufts 1990!.
First Night Decisions. When you shut your puppy in his quarters tonight he is going to probably make a lot of noise because he misses his litter mates. If you go in and pick him up and cuddle him he will be very pleased BUT will cry again as soon as you shut the door and leave him. Here comes your first big decision - is your puppy going to sleep in his own bed or on yours? (Do bear in mind that once on the bed they are there for life and Irish Setters do grow rather large!). If you decide he is going to sleep on his own, the best idea is not to go into the room where he is but to tap the door whilst at the same time saying firmly ”QUIET”. We know that this is extremely hard, but a bit of persistence on your part here (like several trips downstairs!) will eventually work and usually, after one or two nights, all will be well.
Security - We recommend at LEAST a four foot high, strong fence around your garden, or at least round the part where your setter will spend most of his time. Chain link fencing (galvanised is better than the green as this can be chewed) must be secured at both the top (so that it doesn’t sag down) and at the bottom (so that the puppy cannot dig under). Timber of a size of 3”x1” at the top and bottom of the netting, stapled securely, will prevent escape effectively. We have found by experience that it is useless having an existing 3’ high fence which the puppy quickly learns to scale and then trying to add on bits to increase the height. The dog will just learn to jump higher and higher. If a secure 4-5’ high fence is established from day one, you will have no problems with your puppy escaping.
Crates ‘An Irish Setter in a Cage puts all Heaven in a Rage!’
There recently seems to have developed a fashion for keeping dogs in crates in the home. We strongly disapprove of keeping Irish Setters in crates at any time other than, for safely reasons, when travelling in the car or at a show. Dogs are happier when freely moving about with their owners and we believe it is cruel to confine them to such a small space, for hours at a time, on a regular basis.
If you are think you will have to crate your dog for long periods of time then please don’t buy an Irish Setter they are not a suitable breed for squashing into small cages.
What to Feed Your Puppy - The subject of much debate in the dog world! All our own dogs are fed on raw, minced beef tripe mixed with terrier grade wholemeal biscuit which has been soaked in hot water or gravy. The tripe comes to us frozen in 1lb packets, and once thawed out is rather smelly to deal with (if you are not used to such things!). However it is, in our opinion, the very best thing you can feed a setter, particularly a young puppy - PLUS the dogs love it!. As tripe is sometimes difficult for the pet owner to obtain, we have to consider some alternatives.
Possibly the next best thing is minced chicken or minced beef which you will be able to obtain from either a freezer in your local pet store or maybe your local butcher. Again serve with soaked terrier meal as before.
Looking at some modern convenience foods next, it must be remembered that with some of these diets your dog may well need his teeth cleaning regularly as they do not require the chewing effort of tripe.
Vacuum sealed cooked meats and brawns. Usually packed in large plastic sausage shaped roles about 2lb in weight and offered in a variety of flavours. Our dogs have tried these and we found them fairly good, if a little ‘mushy’. Chop up and serve with soaked meal as above.
Tinned dog meats. The better quality brands are very good, but do steer clear of the cheap sloppy type as these seem to go straight through setters and come out a similar consistency at the other end!. You will have to feed more tinned meat than fresh meat on a weight for weight basis as they seem to contain a fair amount of water. At least 2 x 12oz tins will be required to keep weight on an adult Irish Setter. Mix with soaked meal as before.
Recommended brands Pedigree, Butchers Tripe.
I do not recommend the feeding of complete dry foods alone for Irish Setters.
However there is a fashionable trend nowadays to change to this way of feeding!
Complete Dog Diets
We have used a little Royal Canin Baby Max Sensible, along with tripe, and weetabix & milk for weaning our puppies and they have done extremely well on it but usually we just use fresh meat.
We have also found that the adult dogs do like the rings and pellet types of complete food and whilst we wouldn’t use them as a sole diet , they are extremely useful to add as appetising ‘toppers’ to tripe meals. We have found a handful on the dinner very helpful to keep weight on our adult setters in cold winter weather.
Secondly Diets consisting of flaked maize and resembling bird seed. We prefer to leave these for birds to eat! It is not natural for a dog to eat finely ground up meals.
NOTE: If you wish to change the diet of your puppy from the recommended one which follows - please do it SLOWLY by starting with just a little of the desired food mixed in with his normal one. Increase the amounts of the new feed at each meal until it completely replaces the original.
Increase the amounts of each meal steadily, week by week as your puppy grows. We usually find that the puppies begin to prefer the meat meal as they get older and by the age of 12 weeks one of the milk meals can be dropped and the quantities of the other three increased. Do not worry if your puppy does not always finish all of the food, especially if you have just brought him home. Moving is a very stressful time for him and he will take a while to settle in and adjust to his new surroundings.
The amounts stated are only very rough guidelines.
DO NOT BE AFRAID OF OVERFEEDING, THE PUPPY WILL ONLY BE SICK IF YOU HAVE OVER-FILLED HIM! IF THE PUPPY CLEARS UP ALL THE FOOD AND LOOKS FRANTICALLY FOR MORE THEN INCREASE THE AMOUNT AT THE NEXT MEAL SLIGHTLY.
RECOMMENDED DIET SHEET FOR AN 8 WEEK OLD IRISH SETTER PUPPY
FOUR MEALS DAILY
BREAKFAST 7.00 - 8.00
About 1/3 to half a pint of milk with a Weetabix.Alternative breakfasts: Rice Pudding, Farley’s Rusk and Milk, Ready-brek, Cornflakes and Milk or Scrambled egg.
LUNCH 12 noon approx
8oz (upwards!) of minced or chopped tripe or chicken t, with biscuit which has been well soaked in hot water or gravy. Add a calcium supplement if desired (we don’t!).
Alternative lunches: Pedigree Puppy food (tinned or pouches)
TEA 5.00 - 6.00pm
As Lunch but no calcium supplement.
FRESH WATER should always be available.
As the puppy gets older Bonios, large square biscuits, shapes, chews etc can be given at any time if desired, but remember that if the puppy is full of snacks you cannot expect him to be hungry at meal times.
Finally on feeding ~ a word about bones (and grass!) We do give our setters bones to eat provided they are the large and non splintering type - i.e. beef knuckle bones. We buy roast bones or allow them to have raw ones when available. Bones are very helpful for cleaning teeth and will remove plaque effectively. They also have roast pigs ears.
Setters also like to graze often on green grass, this usually makes them sick! We never stop them from eating it as they seem to derive great pleasure from the taste.
Bowls A 10” diameter Stainless Steel bowl is a good size for an adult setter to feed from.
Worming Your puppy will have been wormed at least three times before you collect him or her and you will be provided with a Worming Certificate showing the dates. You will need to worm him again (particularly whilst young), so consult your own veterinary surgeon when you attend for inoculations and he will prescribe the correct tablet. It is useful to worm adult setters on a regular six-monthly basis, whether or not you suspect there are worms present.
Inoculations . The main inoculations against Distemper, Hardpad, Parvo-virus etc should begin at approximately 8-12 weeks of age. Telephone your vet to find out at what age he prefers to begin the course. We booster again at 14-18months old.
Until such time as the puppy has completed all his course of inoculations he will have little or possibly no resistance to these diseases and therefore should not be take out of the confines of your own home or garden, or allowed to mix with visiting dogs. It is, however, often useful to do some ‘Car Training’ at this time and take the puppy out for a short drive to get him used to the motion and seeing new and strange things.
Teeth Around 16 weeks of age the first set of baby teeth will slowly be shed and the second permanent set will come through. As the dog gets older there will be a tendency for the teeth to gather deposits of brown plaque around the base close to the gums. To prevent decay try to keep this removed before it has a chance to build up into hard stone-like deposits. Large knuckle bones and cow hooves are very good for cleaning teeth and will also provide hours of amusement.
Toe Nails Keep an eye on these as long nails can cause extreme discomfort if untrimmed. As your vet to cut them if you are afraid yourself. Alternatively some dog groomers will offer this service. Also watch out for stones, mud and chewing-gum! compacted in the hair between the toes as this can become very painful if left untreated. All excess hair between the toes can be clipped off.
Grooming We use Mason-Pearson (Junior size) nylon/bristle mixture brushes for grooming. These are manufactured for human use and are obtainable from good department stores or shows. They are expensive at around £35 plus but a worthwhile investment as they are particularly effective on thick coats. A thorough brushing once or twice a week will suffice unless the dog gets really muddy, in which case it would be a good idea to brush out the dirt when dry. Pay particular attention to behind the ears - a common place for large mats of hair.
Ear Cleaning This is most important. Clip the hair inside of your setter’s ears and clean out the carefully be wiping round with cotton wool slightly moistened with surgical spirit. Do this regularly to prevent infestation of ear-mites. Dogs should not scratch or shake their heads excessively at any time. If they do it usually means an ear irritation of some kind needs attention. We have found that just a little Thornit powder sprinkled inside the ear occasionally keeps them clean.
Exercise There is no need to exercise your puppy before all inoculations are completed as natural playing in your home and garden will be enough. After completion of all inoculations, the puppy can be gradually lead trained and taken for short walks . This is more to socialise than to exercise. Build up the distances very slowly leaving the long walks for when the puppy is well over six months of age. An awful lot of setters become very thin as a result of over-exercise as youngsters.
Free Exercise From the age of six months or so, try to allow some free galloping off of the lead in a safe open space. Do remember though that setters will cover the ground as if working, so allow a large area as far away from roads as possible.
Never, ever, let your dog out alone on the roads and try to establish a routine where fouling will not be offensive to others (such as an area of waste land etc) Alternatively carry a plastic bag to remove faeces if your dog does accidentally foul a public footpath or area.
Most of the above is second nature if you are an experienced dog owner, but if this is your first puppy please take note as there are quite a few ‘anti’ dog people around these days and we do not want to add more ill feeling towards our pets.
Collars and Leads A cheap, lightweight puppy collar and lead will suffice to begin with, then later a rolled leather collar is ideal. Choke chains, when used correctly, are excellent for obedience work but will leave a patch of worn, light orange hair on the neckline, which is unsightly if your puppy is to be shown. I use rope slip leads on my adults, but we also have collars with names and addresses on, which measure approximately 18” long.
Halti’s are a type of control rather like a horses head collar. These have been proved to be invaluable for strong dogs that pull a lot as they suddenly become controllable in a Halti. Of course, really a dog should be trained to walk to heel properly in the first place! but if you are having a problem with an older dog this may be the answer.
Insurance We will provide you with the documentation to cover your puppy for six weeks of Insurance. After that please contact the insurance company if you wish to continue the policy.
Kennel Club Registrations All puppies bred here will be registered with the Kennel Club and sold with full pedigrees which will be given to you at the time of purchase.
Occasionally we do re-home older puppies and adults that have been returned to us from their first owners. If they are to be kept as pets only we often do not re-issue either the pedigree or the registration documents.
Breeding It is most definitely NOT essential to breed from your bitch for “the good of her health”, but if you feel you would like to have a litter then please contact us and we will explain some of the problems and the pleasures!
Accidentally: If your bitch ever does get mated unintentionally DON’T PANIC! -telephone your veterinary surgeon as there is an injection that you can have within hours that will almost always prevent the unwanted litter.
Neutering - Don’t!
I do not recommend either Spaying a bitch or Castrating a dog Irish Setter unless a health problem warrants it. If neutered the coat of your setter will change from the normal shiny silky texture to a very woolly dry and light bushy coat in almost all cases. Spaying a bitch also seems to cause incontinence problems later in life too.
Much better to make sure your garden is secure with proper strong fencing. Most bitches will not attempt to escape from their own home to find a mate and are usually no trouble at all, apart from a little extra mess to clean up.
Irish Setter dogs are not usually prone to escaping to track down mates either.
It is really a case of secure boundaries around your property.
Beds Oval plastic beds of 30 inches long or larger are ideal for Irish Setters of both sexes.
Bathing Our own dogs are all bathed regularly for the show ring (from about the age of six months) It has never had any adverse effect on their general health - in fact we are often complemented on the shiny condition. We do not use any special shampoos, just very good human ones, but we always use a cream conditioner afterwards which keeps the coat lying correctly and makes them smell nice too!. Either blow dry with a hairdryer whilst brushing with the lie of the coat, or keep giving the dog a brush as he dries naturally.
Two Puppies We do not recommend that you take on two small puppies at the same time - unless you have previous experience of two Irish Setters. This is because it is much easier to obedience and house train one puppy at a time. Also two puppies will tend to run off and play together, ignoring you, making them difficult to catch. We would recommend that the first puppy be at least 12 months old before you take on another.
Please keep in touch It is always interesting for us to see how our puppies turn out when adult and we love to see the photos.
Minor Problems Remember if you have any problems connected with your Irish Setter or queries on dogs on general, or enquiries for other breeds for your friends etc, please do not hesitate to telephone us.
IN CASE OF DIFFICULTIES All our puppies are sold with a contract that states we will buy the puppy back for the full purchase price at any time, and we will.
Even though you are sure at the moment that your puppy will never need a new home, occasionally domestic circumstances do change and there is, unfortunately, one of our setters looking for a new home. If this happens to you please do not be afraid to contact us and we will come and collect your Irish Setter, along with its signed registration papers, and refund your purchase price at the same time.
If you ever lose our address you can always trace us through the internet or via the Kennel Club in London, just ask for the telephone number of the Irish Setter Breeders Club Secretary who will hopefully, in turn, then supply the telephone number for us. The Kennel Club will not give out direct phone numbers!
And finally when you lose your best loved friend
Over the years we have come to meet many families who have just had to face the death of their previous dog. Usually they feel bad about even thinking of replacing their much loved pet and constant companion with another young puppy.
When you find yourself in this position try to think of your next puppy not as a ‘replacement’ - for he never will be - but as a new young personality and member of the family.
Past experience has shown that we can guarantee you will love him for a whole host of new and different reasons within a very short time.