Irish Setter in the city?

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

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Member Since
Barked: Mon Nov 26, '12 5:35pm PST 
Needs list:

OK with cats
Highly sociable - plan to take to work, walking in the city, dog parks, vacations
Athletic - able to jog/hike(from 3-15 miles) 4-5 days per week
Good with kids and other dogs
Highly trainable
Possible therapy dog at children's hospital where I work
Adaptable to apartment life/time at work place
Gentle/amusing/endearing personality
Prefer the bigger/longer hair breeds (willing to put in the grooming time)

I'm looking to get my first dog. Have always had dogs growing up and been around dogs(samoyed/poodle mix, beagle mix, pomeranian, cocker spaniel, mastiff). By far my favorite was the cocker (other than the fact he made a lousy jogging partner). As an adult have been a 'cat person' rescuing purebred persian cats. Have looked at many dogs and since the dog will be a city dog/apartment dweller the checklist of 'needs' is pretty long. Right now the Irish Setter is at the top of my list. My biggest concern is the fact that I live in an apartment. I also work full time and hope to take the dog I get to work with me. I know, apartment and full-time work are enough to make people instantly say 'no' to this dog.

However, I am very active and run/jog (6-8 hrs per week) and am looking for a dog to run with me. I also live less than 2 miles from a 37 acre off leash dog park with trails and beach access (pretty much doggy heaven in my opinion). I work on a college campus and my office is just across the street from 4 soccer fields where I can exercise the dog during work hours. I frequently travel to the mountains/snow/beach during the year.

I'm single and this would very much be a companion/go everywhere dog. My biggest worry is in the apt or office when we are not out and about. How are Irish Setters when they aren't exercised to exhaustion? Can I expect one that is properly trained to spend 2-3 hours in the office with me between walks? Would I be able to get work done? In the evenings my home is quiet, just me and the cat. Again, can they head home after a busy day and relax? Or do they need stimulation 24/7? I can't have a dog that goes running to the door or window barking every time someone goes by.

I have no issue putting in the training, exercising, and grooming time this dog needs. I'm drawn towards its beauty and sweet face, amusing(but trainable) personality, and sociable nature. The breed does not seem very popular in CA so I would likely have to go to a breeder (would prefer rescue). Unfortunately, it also makes it hard to spend any time around the breed or talk to other owners.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '12 9:32am PST 
I am afraid I am going to disappoint you, but all hope is not lost! That and you obviously are a thoughtful thinker.

An Irish Setter would not be a good choice. I know you are anticipating that wink, but I am mentored on this breed and will tell you WHY. They are true country dogs who need space and room to run and are far less apt to thrive in the city, and when they don't get what they need can be neurotic. Part of your vision that is incompatible with this dog...obviously you are thinking and exercise is not a problem....is that this is a boisterous dog. The concept of taking him to work sounds good on the surface, but this is just not a breed that will chill for hours on end. AN hour on end laugh out loud Part of what defines them as a country dog is that they need a big house. They have a high indoor energy, are very in your face and want to move about. They are far from hyper, but "calm" is just not what one thinks when it comes to their aspect and they have tremendous vigor. They don't get their nickname "rollicking" for nothing! big laugh When you have a big house and can run them out, then it is ok. They won't drive you insane. But in a small space? Or needing them to settle? They don't really have an off switch.

Secondly, please be advised that they are not what could be termed as highly trainable. This is pervasive enough in the breed where they have the reputation for being dumb. It is not that they are dumb, but they do have problems with focus and also are incredibly free spirited. I think the best all breed site out there is digitaldog.com, and a spot on phrase that had me laughing in hysterics is "this dog would be a great candidate for superhero because they are so well intentioned, except that they will occasionally forget what they were doing." laugh out loud big laugh THAT is an Irish! Charming to live with, but in terms of training and sharing their space, you had better have good tolerance levels and a sense of humor. It's part of who they are and what they were bred for...moving rapidly from one scene to the next.

Here's some shock therapy laugh out loud

So I would totally rule this breed out. I know that is hard. Trust me I do. I am very mentored on this breed and have wanted one forever, but I have waited many years (and will continue to)as they are a country dog. My mere suburban and more cottage-type existence has ruled them out, and I know what they can be when under-filled. Basically with an Irish, you really need to conform to the dog rather than he to you.

Feel free to fire any questions, of course!

The English Setter is likely the best replacement in setter land. They are totally different dogs, inside vs outside. In the home, they are extremely stable and easygoing. Outside, they become true setters. In terms of the lifestyle you are describing, they fit better. They are a ridiculously gentle and soft natured breed....trustworthy with anything. We could discuss them more if you'd like. As is true of setters generally, they are not the easiest to train. Not quite the complexity that the Irish can be...they have more focus....but are stubborn. The larger concern with them, as it seems you are not certain if the dog could come to work with you, is that one would need to be raised with care as they don't like to be left alone and are prone to separation anxiety. If you could bring the dog to work, however, they would settle very nicely, compared to an Irish, who would never leave you alone.

The Gordon Setter is the most trainable. Their basic working style is to work closer to the handler out in the field, so it comes more naturally. Their energy is between the two. They are marvelous, but a bit more serious than the other two. The Gordon is the responsible one, the English is the sweet one, the Irish is the galavanting one.

I have Cockers myself, so can understand the love. If you want me to explore that breed with you....I wouldn't rule them out, and there are some hunting lines that may actually suit you. We could also explore other breeds smile I am presuming Goldens are x'd for some reason, as they are very obvious?

Member Since
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '12 6:12pm PST 
Tiller thanks for the reply. http://www.dogster.com/forums/post.php#

You didn't say anything that shocked or surprised me. Based on what you said an irish setter puppy is definitely getting crossed off my list. However, I am going to keep the option of a young adult or rescue open. While rare, there are some irish setters that might be a good fit(which wouldn't be apparent until they were older). A few weeks ago I stopped to talk to the owners of a beautiful sheltie and was surprised to hear she was a complete couch potato. Or, I often see a pug jogging the lake (4.5 mi)with his owner http://www.dogster.com/forums/post.php# I'm a huge believer that environment/training has as much of an impact as breeding/instinct....the whole nature vs. nurture. But, I'm also realistic that it can't overcome everything.

Clownish is fine, antics are fine, I can even appreciate a stubborn streak (heck, I've trained cats so I know stubborn). They just need and off switch or at least a dimmer, some of the time. While doggie day care is an option I really would like a dog that could come to the office with me. I'm lucky enough to work in a dog friendly place (with great outdoor space for breaks) so I'd like to take advantage of it.

Yes, http://www.dogster.com/forums/post.php# the obvious choice, is on the 'B' list. In fact, I've applied to be a foster with a local Golden rescue (one of the few rescues that would even consider someone without a yard) and have a home visit next week. One big negative....goldens and labs are everywhere, call me superficial but I'd like a dog that stands out a bit. One Saturday I counted the number of dogs I passed at Ft Funston (beautiful recreation/beach area by my house that allows dogs off leash) and out of 50 dogs I passed, I swear at least 1/3 of them were labs or goldens.

I know there is a reason everyone loves goldens, but was also very surprised to learn the avg life span was only about 11 yrs. The potential for hip problems is another big negative for a dog that I'd like to run about 100 miles a month (plus walks and open play). Not to mention heart problems, eye, cancer etc. Interestingly, many issues similar to Persian cats who also suffer from poor/improper breeding practices. Still, I'm hopeful I'll be approved as a foster. I'm looking at it as sort of a test run to make sure I really can give a larger/active dog what it needs. I know that I can give a foster a good home until it gets placed. Who knows, maybe I'll fall in love with the breed. Or maybe become a perm foster.

I haven't ruled out an active cocker. The number of young cockers in rescues is shocking and sad http://www.dogster.com/forums/post.php#

Right now my 'B' list for more investigation/consideration: english springer spaniel, gordon setter, golden retriever, cocker spaniel

My 'C' list (like but some red flags on first look): bearded collie, smoyed, rough collie, sheltie

Major non negotiables are 1) aggression - safety of my cat/nieces and nephews 2) barking - neighbor complaints 3) anti social - strange dogs/people are an everyday occurrence in city living (they don't have to be everyone's best friend but can't be stressed out by strangers)

Ideally I'd like to have a short list of 4-5 breeds and see if I can find a good match through rescue. If not rescue then a young adult from a breeder. My last option would be the puppy route. I'm not in a rush and hoping that if I visit a few of the local dog shows coming up there will be some owners willing to spend a few minutes talking with me and/or let me meet their dogs.

Feel free to add to/cross off the list above. Have to check out the english setter a little closer. On first glance seems very similar to the english springer spaniel except without the floppy ears.

If it sounds like I am looking to find the 'perfect' dog, though rescue for that matter, I'm not. It's just that getting a bigger dog in a small space is a pretty high stakes game and I want to make a good choice for me and the pooch.

Edited by author Tue Nov 27, '12 6:16pm PST


Member Since
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '12 6:14pm PST 
OK, how do you gt the emoticons to work? Clearly not drag and drop frown

Member Since
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '12 7:53pm PST 
Lol, I think you got it with that last one! Just click on the emoticon you want, but you have to do it right where you want it before typing anymore or it will automatically go to the end.laugh out loud
From the sound of it, my next dog has to have basically the same requirements as yours. I love Irish Setters too (and my SO wants a husky...uh..no), but the English Setters and Cockers are among the ones that have made my 'short' list.way to go

Good luck in your search, hope you find an awesome match! smile
Ember FDX

Go Go Devil- Bunnies!
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '12 8:47pm PST 
My former employer had Setters. At least one of each. Over the time I worked there, she had two Irish reds, an Irish red & white, two Gordons, a show line English and a working English (who was a foster).

I definitely would not go with an Irish Setter. They are high strung, mischievous dogs and they will get you in trouble. You don't get much done in the office unless they're exhausted, and even then you may end up with an absent dog and a line of frustrated coworkers with absent lunches.

Gordon Setters or show line English would be a better fit. They still have energy but are more willing to relax and focus. Working English Setters can rival Irish Setters for energy, so avoid them.

As far as your other prospects go... Cockers may be doable, but be prepared to be super vigilant in your search for the right one. Overbreeding has made them quite frankly, nasty. One of my good friends in school would not touch my dogs because he was so used to his Cocker trying to take his hand off - and his situation is not uncommon. Health problems are rampant in the breed and many are unwilling or unable to live up to your energy requirements.

That being said, a Cocker should be active, alert and energetic. There are several I've seen in flyball who are just awesome and I've had some very spunky, friendly Cockers in my classes. It's just a matter of finding one that fits what you're looking for.

Your C listers all strike me as having too much fur. Depending on exactly where you are in CA, they won't be able to do much jogging. 60+ degrees and overheating becomes a very real risk.

Goldens and English Springers sound like decent matches to me, and are very common if you're looking to rescue. You could also look into Welsh Spaniels - they end up imported here occasionally and are similar to English Springers.

Member Since
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '12 9:04pm PST 
Ember - I'm in San Francisco and very heat intolerant myself. I live in the foggy part of the city 55-65 is the norm all times of year (even summer). Over 70 degrees is pretty much considered a heat wave.

Brook here is a pretty girl (I like the floppy ears) smile "IF" she isn't a big barker I'd be very interested in learning more about her because on paper she sounds like a good match.


But...yet another rescue that requires a fenced yard AND a vet reference. The last rescue I contacted wouldn't consider me because my current vet is a cat only vet (go figure, I have cats).

Only one rescue so far has been willing to even speak to me in person about adoption or foster because I don't have a yard shrug I understand screening, being selective and rescue resources are scarce, they get a lot of inquiries, blah, blah, blah. In my opinion, rescues are missing out on some good potential adopters by having automatic exclusions.

I could go on but that's enough for now.....rant over. Big rescue supporter but feel a big rescue rant coming on soon.

kitty crazy cat lady aspiring to be a dog mommy

Edited by author Tue Nov 27, '12 9:12pm PST

Miyu CGC

Bow down to the- Princess Brat!
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '12 9:30pm PST 
I don't know much about the working group/hunting dogs, so I can't comment on that bit. red face

But, I did want to chime in and echo that I feel you on the rescue thing. I'm a huge rescue advocate myself, but when you've got your heart out there looking for the right animal to fill that gap in your home... it's hurtful to be told you don't meet 'x' and 'x' and 'x' criterion, so thanks, but don't let the door hit you on the way out. Especially in the bay area! Goodness, it's so expensive to live out there I can't see how anybody has yard space at all. O.o I mean, who on earth would they adopt to, then??

Anyways, good luck on your search. The right place with the right dog will come along for sure, even if you are still currently in your 'just searching' phase.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '12 9:45pm PST 
Well I AM a rescue! laugh out loud I am in New England, but we could still work together. I'd be happy to work with you.....the legwork and thought you are doing are absolutely amazing. I also am Manhattan born and bred, so not a lot of knee jerk from me.

I am a Cocker person, was affiliated with Cocker rescue here, and have pulled quite a few for the rescue I am with now,and you can find some absolutely spectacular dogs. We pulled your dream dog three years ago....stunning black male with perfect show type, but he was 45 lbs!

I very much understand why you don't want something too common. I am the same way. If you do end up fostering a Golden, maybe they will blind that sensibility. They are so lovely and much along the lines of what you are looking for.

In terms of the others you have listed, English Springers are a major heart breed for me....ok, I have several laugh out loud But I love the Eng Springs. They are very doggy, though. Sort of the cat opposite in that they are almost anxious about pleasing you. Probably one the top five most affectionate breeds on this earth, I always say about them they have three states....receiving your affection, in a state of wanting your affection, or asleep laugh out loud If your fantasy is for affection and you can put up with it, they could serve you quite well. They NEED an active owner, are very gentle, very sweet, quite easy to train and natural pleasers. You'd need the right one, though, if you'd like that off switch.

The English and Gordon Setters I've covered, and of course the Cockers you know. I could find you something spectacular....tragically way too easy. But sharing your life with a Cocker surely is one of the true hidden joys of life.

Read up on what you have so far at any rate. As for your C list, Samoyeds have a lot to recommend save for the heavier coat, and they are extremely witty in a naughty way and not the most trainable. Beardies are akin to the Irish....likely too active and even if they are collies, full of mischief. Collies would be lovely for you, but they can be major barkers, as can Shelties, who are more emotionally vulnerable....those I wouldn't recommend as a first dog, whereas a Collie I would, but you may be setting yourself up due to the barking.

All breed sites I particularly recommend for research are terrificpets.com and digitaldog.com.

Crazy cat lady- aspiring to be a- dog mom
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 12:03am PST 
Tiller - did you see the collie I posted? She's completely caught my eye. I'd REALLY like to find out if she's a big barker - coming from rescue they should know. It's funny how you can look at a bunch of dogs and only a couple will stick with you.

I need to figure out a way to get someone to talk to me about her. They are screening Lassie next week as a fundraiser right by my work and will have some rescue collies there. I'm confident if I can actually talk to some of these rescue peeps I could get them to consider me if a good match comes along. Worst case scenario, I get a good cry in...nothing better than Lassie for that cry

Ran into similar roadblocks when I adopted my first Persian cat - everyone wanted someone with breed experience since they are so high maintenance (but also affectionate, adaptable, bonded to their person- sounds a little like a dog, huh?). I can't imagine going all the way to the east coast for a dog eek there's a dog somewhere in CA for me, he/she will find me when the time is right smile
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