My dad, who grew up with dozens of different dogs, had an Irish setter for a short period of time. The beautiful setter, however, did not last very long in his family. The dog had so much unchanneled energy that no one could keep it in a fence. The setter ran away countless times and finally escaped one day and was never found again. It’s a sad story for a such a beautiful dog, but it is perhaps a sage warning for anyone seriously considering an Irish setter.
Irish setters are famous for their hyperactivity and nervous natures. They are gorgeous and loyal dogs when their energies are properly utilized, but they do require plenty of attention and training.
Irish setters reached the height of their popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. President Richard Nixon, for instance, had a gregarious Irish setter named King Timahoe. It’s impossible to deny that these dogs are utterly beautiful. However, these sleek redheads come with fiery personalities. For that reason, I don’t think I’d ever get an Irish setter, but I’m very happy to admire them from afar.
I fell in love with a dog at the shelter a few weeks ago who was described on the SPCA website as an “Irish wolfhound” mix. Like Irish wolfhounds, this dog was quite tall and lanky, but that was where the similarities ended. I found the description a bit humorous, since it’s not like there are a ton of Irish wolfhounds roaming the countryside and impregnating strays. These dogs are still fairly rare in the United States, even though most people could probably correctly identify one. Wolfhounds don’t look like a lot of other breeds.
The Irish wolfhound’s claim to fame is that of the tallest dog breed. They don’t necessarily weigh the most, but they are very leggy. With this height, unfortunately, comes a tragically short lifespan. Your average wolfhound will live to be seven or eight years old.
Like many giant breeds, Irish wolfhounds have a history of being very gentle and mild-mannered indoors. They can be spirited puppies, however, and prospective owners are cautioned about keeping breakable items scattered around the house. I love the look of this breed, but its comparative rarity and short lifespan lead me to think that it might not be the best for us at this time. But how great would it look to have one of these gorgeous giants on your hearth? Or waiting for you at the farm gate? I can imagine it now…