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What Do Irish Setters Hunt?

Many people get dogs simply to feel accompanied, while others do it for a specific reason. Remember that a large number of dog breeds have certain abilities that allow them to perform well in various activities.

Many dogs are trained to be police, fire, or hunting dogs. In this article, we will talk about Irish Setters and how they excel as hunting dogs.

What Do Irish Setters Hunt

Irish Setters are excellent hunting dogs that excel at any type of game but do best at retrieving, pointing, and hunting game birds.

Although these dogs are considered excellent family pets, many people today use them as hunting dogs due to their superb hunting skills.

Suppose you want an Irish Setter for hunting purposes. In that case, it is important that you first know what type of animals this canine usually targets, as remember that not all dogs consider the same creatures as prey.

Irish Setters were bred to be hunting dogs from the start. The owners of these dogs used to go bird hunting together with their Irish Setters, who excelled best at pointing and retrieving. In this way, they made the job of their hunting owners easier.

What Prey Does an Irish Setter Tend to Hunt?

We have already mentioned that this breed of dog was specifically trained to hunt birds. While they are capable of showing off their hunting skills when it comes to catching other animals, Irish Setters excel at retrieving and hunting birds of various types, such as:

  • Guinea fowl
  • Pheasants
  • Mallards
  • Partridges
  • Turkey

Do Irish Setters Only Hunt Birds?

The answer is no! Although the Irish Setters were excellent hunters of the birds that we have mentioned in the previous point, the reality is that these animals were also used to retrieve, point and hunt other types of animals such as:

  • Rabbits 
  • Grouse
  • Squirrels
  • Deer 
  • Foxes

Does the Terrain Have Anything to Do with the Type of Animal Irish Setters Hunt?

Of course! This factor is important to consider if you are thinking of hunting a specific animal with your Irish Setter.

In the past, the hunting activities of these animals with their owners were highly terrain-dependent. Due to the athletic and high energy level of these dogs, they excelled best in grasslands, open fields, and wetlands. Some Irish Setters do better on rocky terrain.

Why Are Irish Setters Great for Hunting?

Hunting the prey that we have mentioned above requires many skills that not all dogs have. The first thing you should understand is that Irish Setters are characterized by having a strong prey drive which they developed thanks to their hunting ancestors.

These animals have a greater prey instinct than some breeds of hunting dogs. An Irish Setter is not as recommended for a family with other smaller pets unless they are provided with proper socialisation training.

An Irish Setter will identify potential prey and then quickly chase after it to catch it.

Keep in mind that Irish Setters with wilder tendencies and trained to catch and kill their prey follow this predatory sequence:

  • Orientation: The first thing an Irish Setter does when hunting is look for its prey. It could be a bird flying or a rabbit running.
  • Eye Fixation: In this stage, the Irish Setter will fix its eyes on its prey.
  • Stalking: Once the Irish Setter has identified its prey, the next step is to stalk it. It will approach the creature slowly without making any noise to avoid detection.
  • Chase: If the Irish Setter is close to the prey, it will try to catch it by pouncing on it. In case this canine fails, then it will chase after the other little animal. We can say that this is the final stage of the predatory sequence of a normal Irish Setter.
  • Bite or Grab: When it catches its prey, the Irish Setter will grab it with its mouth.
  • Kill: An Irish Setter that has been trained only to hunt and kill will mortally bite its prey with its powerful bite.
  • Dissect: In the final stage of the predator sequence, the Irish Setter will dissect its prey once it is dead.

Keep in mind that not all dogs of this breed meet all these stages, as it largely depends on how they have been trained.

What Should I Consider to Teach My Irish Setter to Hunt a Certain Animal?

Irish Setters are designed for hunting birds instinctively. However, you may want your dog to catch another specific animal. The following steps will help you achieve that goal:

  • Train your Irish Setter by teaching it the basics of hunting and some commands.
  • Provide obedience training for your furry companion.
  • During hunting training, use the animal you want to hunt with your Irish Setter as prey.