Yes! Irish setters are considered moderate to heavy shedders. Setters will typically shed for the entire year with an increase as summer approaches. The climate where you live can also impact how much your Setter will shed.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about Irish Setter shedding.
Do Irish Setters Shed?
Yes, Irish Setters shed fairly consistently year-round with one or two blowouts before seasonal changes. Daily brushing with the correct brushes is the best way to keep on top of the setter’s long double-coat.
As I will explain further in a section below, perhaps the only moment your Irish Setter won’t shed will be before he has his adult coat. I’ll cover that below!
How Much Do Irish Setters Shed?
So now you know that Irish Setters do shed, how much? is the all-important question to be asked next!
Irish Setters are considered to be moderate to heavy shedders. Although some will shed more heavily than others depending on a range of factors including climate, genetics, and overall health.
After having spoken to several owners in preparation for this article, I had equally mixed responses between their setter shedding “a lot” and “moderately”. So it’s pretty safe to say, dead hair is coming your way! lol.
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When Do Irish Setter Puppies Start Shedding?
When should you expect your Irish Setter puppy to start shedding?
Minimal shedding will happen in the first 6-8 months of age. After this point, your Irish Setter will slowly develop his adult coat, which is when consistent shedding will start. Your setter will have his adult coat by around 8-12 months of age.
Nearly all puppies, regardless of breed, start life with a “puppy coat” which isn’t the same as their adult coat. Puppy coats are designed to keep the pups warm as they are often unable to properly regulate their body temperature. This is why puppy coats are not designed to shed.
There may be some hair-fall right from the start, but this isn’t quite the same as typical shedding. Enjoy it while it lasts!
Do Irish Setters Shed All Year?
Should you expect your Irish Setter to shed only some months of the year? or all the time?
Irish Setters typically shed year-round with one or two distinct blowouts just before major weather changes. Spring and just before winter are usually when most setters “blowout” their coat, and therefore shed at a higher rate than normal.
But, as previously mentioned, the amount and how often your Irish Setter will shed can change depending on a few factors. If you live in a colder climate, your setter might shed significantly less than one that lives in a warm climate. Additionally, things like genetics and health can change how often your setter sheds.
Tips to Manage and Reduce Shedding
So, although you can’t totally prevent shedding, you can certainly manage it better in order to keep the dead hair at bay. These are the most helpful tips I’m aware of after more than a decade of grooming long double-coated breeds.
1. Quality diet & omega 3’s
Yep, I must start with diet. The diet/nutrition your Irish Setter receives has a HUGE impact on the health of her skin and coat, which in turn, effects shedding.
Only using a premium quality kibble that prioritizes whole and fresh ingredients is key. Additionally, opting for a kibble that keeps protein high, fat moderate to high, and carbs low will nearly always digest the best, and provide the most nutrition. This kind of macronutrient breakdown is what most working dogs thrive on (as it’s the closest to a wild diet).
Opting for a kibble that uses salmon is one of my favorite ways to keep Omega 3’s high. Omega 3’s are essential fatty acids that have a significant impact on overall skin and coat health. Many owners, including myself, choose to supplement in additional omega 3’s using a simple daily oil supplement. I advise consulting your veterinarian first though.
And finally, ensuring that your Irish Setter actually gets on well with her diet is crucial. On paper, you might be feeding an awesome diet, but if your setter’s body and digestive system disagree with it, then the nutrients won’t be absorbed anyway.
Keep her diet as high quality as you can, and her skin and coat will show it.
2. The ultimate brushing routine
There are good brushing routines, and bad brushing routines.
The best brushing routine for your Irish Setter is based on the “little and often” philosophy. Brushing on a daily basis for 15 minutes will see much better results than brushing once a week for 2 hours straight. Little and often is key and is what has worked for me for many years.
This brushing routine will control and maintain your setter’s shedding amazingly. And after just a week of daily brushing sessions, you’ll suddenly be in front of your setter’s shedding, instead of catching up with it.
3. The two best brushes to use
In addition to having a good routine, using the correct brushes is just as important!
I have tried all the brushes, combs, tools, and gadgets you could think of to stay on top of shedding, but the two best brushes turn out to be the most basic… An undercoat rake, and a slicker brush. I use both as part of the same routine.
The undercoat rake does an excellent job at removing the dead undercoat hair, while the slicker brush is used at the end of the routine to finish off the topcoat. This little routine hasn’t failed in such a long time, and so many people have great success with it!
I tend to avoid de-shedding tools due to the fact they can potentially remove some of the healthy top-coat when brushing. Although that’s not the intention, the truth is that de-shedding tools are easy to misuse, and removing the topcoat hair is the last thing you want to do. For this reason, I avoid them.
4. Avoid overbathing
A well-timed bath, especially during the blowout phase, can certainly help with shedding. But bathing shouldn’t be used as a way to reduce or maintain year-round shedding.
Overbathing especially with the wrong shampoo will lead to a dry and brittle coat that sheds at a much greater rate than a coat that’s moisturized and strong.
Setters should only be bathed about once every six to eight weeks. This is a good enough frequency to keep them clean, yet it shouldn’t be enough to remove too many of the natural oils found in the coat. Preserving these natural oils is what helps maintain a strong and healthy coat.
5. Provide sufficient exercise
Exercise is another indirect way that benefits shedding, much like diet & nutrition. Exercise keeps the body working as it should, as well as improving overall circulation, which in turn enables nutrients to be carried to the skin and hair sufficiently.
Setters are a strong working breed and should be receiving a solid amount of daily exercise anyway. Around 2 hours per day, split up into two sessions is what’s ideal for most.
Exercise is a basic, yet crucially important need, so be sure to reassess how much exercise your setter is getting, and make adjustments if necessary.
6. Never cut or shave the coat
Many owners are tempted to give their setters “haircuts” for many different reasons, the main two being to stop shedding, and to “help them keep cool”. Unfortunately, shaving or cutting doesn’t achieve either one, and only makes matters worse for your setter.
Your setter’s double coat plays important roles such as temperature regulation, UV ray protection, acts as a dirt barrier as well as stops insects from reaching the skin.
And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a possibility that shaving the coat could ruin it for years to come. This could potentially happen due to the undercoat growing back at a different rate to the topcoat, which typically causes uncontrollable matting and tangling.
Dealing with shedding doesn’t have to be such a grueling task. If you put into practice the tips mentioned throughout and form healthy habits and routines, the dead hair shouldn’t cause too much stress!
Be sure to check out other interesting Irish Setter articles on The Puppy Mag
Thank you for reading!