Irish Setters Health Issues
You should be aware of them but not let them prevent you from selecting this special breed

Irish Setters are a beautiful and magnificent breed of dog but like most large breeds they have several health issues that will challenge them throughout their lives.

Some of the health issues may be hereditary or issues that all large dogs face, but there is one that is unique and can be very deadly to this breed.

Although they may face several health issues, there are nutrients and natural remedies that can help with many of these conditions and assist these big lovable dogs enjoy a much healthier life.

Irish Setters are considered by most dog lovers as one of the most beautiful of the dog breeds.

Their hair coat is either a mahogany or a very rich chestnut red in color and is usually accompanied by a small amount of white on their chest or throat.

Some setters may also have a narrow streak of white that is centered on the skull.

They are magnificent in their coloring. Irish Setters have often been classified as not being very bright, but in reality they are extremely bright.

They are first class experts at getting their own way and are in some cases just very stubborn.

They bore easily and often get distracted which seems to have people classify them as being less than intelligent.

It is this happy go lucky and extremely pleasant nature characteristic that makes them so popular in the dog world.

They are very gentle and extremely kind nature dogs and they are extremely orientated to families and children.

They generally do not do well in a kennel type of environment, but still make great pets and can adjust to any type of living environment as long as they get the proper exercise.

They were originally bred to hunt and they are still superb hunters, especially as bird dogs. Their superior hunting skills could not happen if they were not intelligent.

Irish puppies are extremely impulsive, lovable, and funny, and they virtually house-train themselves if you let them go and let them enjoy the outside world.


As they grow and mature, they can become very protective of their family.

However, by nature they are not aggressive at all or are they dominant, unless they are provoked.

They will usually live a very full life of 13 to 15 years, but they do have some health issues.

Hip Dysplasia

Although this is fairly common in Irish, it is not near as big an issue as it is with other large breeds.

Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of your dog’s hip socket and in severe forms it can lead to crippling, lameness, as well as very painful arthritis.

If Irish setters are going to be breed, they should be tested and cleared of this condition by the Orthopedic Foundation of Animals prior to breeding.

Irish SettersDon't let their health issues stop you from loving one

However, there are several things you can do to help your Setter prevent this painful condition.

Several experts have equated hip dysplasia to a sub clinical form of scurvy which is a deficiency of vitamin C.

Vitamin C powder or tablets given once a day to your Setter could prevent or cure this condition if caught early.

By all means avoid steroids or aspirin as this only adds to the problem.

Also, placing a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in each pint of your dog’s water will help in preventing this condition as it helps relax the muscles.


This seems to be a growing problem with this breed and there are studies by the Genetic Disease Control Institute currently underway to determine if it is a genetic problem or a deficiency problem.

There are three types of epilepsy that can threaten setters: reactive, secondary, or primary, and all of them can be very challenging.

There are several preventive measures that owners can take. Magnesium deficiency is one of the major causes of seizures in dogs.

Magnesium is essential for nerve functions as it is required for transporting sodium and potassium in dog’s bodies.

Selenium also plays a major role in brain functions and a deficiency has also been linked to seizures.

There are also two herbs that are very powerful in helping to prevent seizures; Passion Flower and Skullcap.

Passion flower is an herb that calms the nervous system that triggers seizures, and skullcap is an herb that has several properties the assist in easing an overactive nervous system.

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy

Also known as HOD, this is a condition that will affect Irish setter puppies between the ages of five to eight months of age.

It can be fatal and the symptoms will include a very high fever, swelling of the joints, and lameness in the puppies.

This condition can be caused by too much protein in your puppy’s diet as well as too much calcium.

However, vitamin C in recommend dosages can assist in the same way with this condition as it assists with hip dysplasia.

Most experts believe that this is some type of a metabolic disorder and too much calcium and protein can activate it.

Although calcium is very important to large growing dogs, make sure only the recommended amounts are used in puppies.

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus

This is a condition that affects Irish Setters more than any other breed; it is their biggest enemy, and can take their lives very quickly.

It is often confused with bloat, but it is much different as bloat without the torsion does not rotate the stomach.

With this set of conditions, the dogs stomach will both twist and distend, affecting several veins located in the abdominal cavity.

When this happens it can cause the failure of several body systems and death can happen very rapidly.

It may be accompanied by bloat and show the same symptoms where your setter tries to vomit and can’t, but in most cases they will not show these symptoms.

The most common symptoms will be a very sudden relentlessness, a severe groaning by your pet, or a sudden difficulty in breathing.

If you sense that your dog has GDV it has to be treated immediately.

Failure to do so could cost your Irish setter their life. There are no treatments for this condition.

However, there are preventive measures that you can take understanding that this is an Irish Setters number one enemy.

Feed your dog two or more small meals and avoid at all costs a large meal.

Also, add water to dry food before it is fed to your Irish setter and allow it to soak about an hour before feeding them.

Next, elevate their dish making it easier for them to eat, and do not allow exercise right after eating.

Just like bloat, this will trigger this condition.


There are other conditions that your Irish setter may face, but these are the most common.

Understanding how to prevent them will help this beautiful red and gentle friend live a very healthy and happy life.

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