How to Tell If Your Irish Setter Is Overweight


As pet parents, we want to give our dogs the best life possible. We buy them cozy beds, fancy toys, and the tastiest treats. But sometimes, in our desire to spoil them, we forget about their health. If you own an Irish Setter, you know these beautiful dogs require much care, especially regarding their weight. Perhaps you’ve been giving your Irish Setter dog an extra scoop of food with each meal, or you’re unsure if they need to lose a few pounds.

So how to tell if your Irish setter is overweight? This article will share tips and tricks to help you identify if your Irish Setter is carrying a few extra pounds and what you can do to help them shed the weight. So, let’s get started!

What Is the Normal Weight for an Irish Setter?

how to tell if your Irish Setter is overweight

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), a male Irish setter typically weighs between 29 to 34 kg, while females are slightly smaller at 25 to 29 kg. Additionally, the AKC suggests that Irish setters should have a narrow waistline than their rib cage. This helps them maintain an ideal body weight and have a healthy life.

The Risk of Having an Overweight Irish Setter 

Neglecting certain aspects of their care, such as their routine diet and exercise, can lead to our Irish Setter becoming overweight. This condition can have significant drawbacks to their health and well-being. Here are some of the drawbacks of having an overweight Irish Setter:

1: Health Problems

One of the most significant drawbacks of having an overweight Irish Setter is the health problems that come with it. Overweight Irish Setters are at higher risk of developing various health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. An overweight Irish Setter may also have difficulty breathing and be more prone to skin infections.

2: Decreased Mobility

As well as medical issues, an overweight Irish Setter may face mobility problems or pain associated with carrying extra weight. They may also become lethargic, listless, and uninterested in physical activity. This can lead to lower energy, shorter playtime, and reduced ability to run, exercise, and explore.

This vicious cycle will make them more and more sedentary, resulting in them gaining weight. The less active your Irish Setter is, the more prone they are to developing health issues in their old age.

3: Shorter Lifespan

Did you know that an overweight Irish Setter has a shorter life span? It’s true! Obesity can lead to the development of chronic diseases, which can shorten your dog’s life expectancy. Irish Setters, who already have a shorter lifespan than other dogs, have a higher risk of health problems if they become overweight.

4: Financial Costs

Since health problems are common in overweight Irish Setters, the financial costs of caring for them can increase quickly. Veterinary visits and medications can become costly, as well as any surgeries needed to treat their weight-related ailments.

5: Emotional Distress

Being overweight can also affect your pet’s emotional health. Dogs love being active and experiencing new environments, but an overweight Irish Setter may find participating in physical activities they once enjoyed challenging. This lack of activity can lead to boredom and anxiety and even cause the dog to become depressed. This can lead to behavioral problems like separation anxiety and aggression.

6: Increased Risk of Diabetes

Overweight Irish Setters are more likely to develop diabetes, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Diabetes is a serious disease and can be extremely expensive to manage. It can also cause damage to the eyes, kidneys, and other organs if not treated properly.

These are just some risks associated with having an overweight Irish Setter. As you can see, it is crucial to reduce the risk of any health concerns.

How to Tell If Your Irish Setter Is Overweight

how to tell if your Irish Setter is overweight

So, how to tell if your Irish Setter is overweight? Monitoring your pet’s weight regularly is important, as even a few extra pounds can have serious consequences. Here are some signs that your Irish Setter may be overweight:

❃Visible Weight Gain

One of the most obvious signs of an overweight Irish Setter is visible weight gain. If your dog’s waistline is lost, and they have gained some extra fat in their abdomen or hips, they may be overweight. Observing their body profile lets you check if your dog is carrying extra weight. Ideally, you should see an indentation behind their ribs, and their waistline should be visible to the naked eye.

❃Trouble Breathing

With extra weight, the Irish Setter puts pressure on the lungs and heart, making breathing harder. It might carry some extra weight if your dog breathes heavily or pants excessively while doing low-intensity activities or after minimal exercise.


Irish Setters are high-energy dogs that enjoy being physically active. So if your dog is reluctant to exercise or seems lethargic, it might be due to excess weight. Overweight Irish Setters tend to move slower and can experience joint pain or soreness, making their movements difficult. They may also lose interest in activities they once enjoyed.

❃Poor Coat Condition

A shiny, healthy coat is a sign of a happy and healthy Irish Setter. Dogs with extra weight may suffer from a lackluster coat, bald spots, or skin irritations. This happens because overweight dogs often experience trouble grooming themselves, and they may develop skin conditions due to excessive sweating and rubbing against surfaces that irritate the skin. You should regularly check your Irish Setter’s coat if you suspect they might be overweight.

❃Difficulty Moving

If you notice your Irish Setter struggling to get up or lying down, it might be due to extra weight. Overweight dogs can experience joint pain and stiffness, making moving or changing positions hard. If your dog struggles to get up, it might need help, which is a sign that it carries extra weight.

Don’t delay addressing the issue if you notice any telltale signs mentioned above. Speak to your veterinarian and create a plan to help your Irish Setter get back in shape.

How to Measure Your Irish Setter’s Weight and Body Condition Score (BCS)

One crucial aspect of maintaining your Irish Setter’s health is monitoring their weight and Body Condition Score or BSC.

📌Understanding the Body Condition Score (BCS)

Before measuring your Irish Setter’s weight, determine their BCS. This score is useful for assessing a pet’s overall health and weight. The Body Condition Score is based on a 1-9 or 1-5 scale, depending on the system used. The ideal BCS is 4-5 on the 1-9 scale or 2.5-3 on the 1-5 scale.

A score lower than this indicates your Irish Setter is underweight, while a score higher shows that they’re overweight. Understanding the BCS is vital in determining whether your pet needs to gain or lose weight.

📌Measuring Your Irish Setter’s Weight

Once you have determined your Irish Setter’s BCS, it’s time to measure their weight. The easiest way to do this is with a digital scale. You can use your bathroom scale or take your pet to the vet to be weighed. If you’re using your bathroom scale, weigh yourself first, then pick up your dog and weigh yourself together. Subtract your weight from the combined weight, and you’ll have your pet’s weight.

📌Using Hands-On Techniques

Another way to measure your Irish Setter’s weight is by using a hands-on technique. Place your hands on your Setter’s back and feel for their ribcage. If you can’t feel their ribs, your dog is overweight. Similarly, your pet may be underweight if its ribs are too prominent.

📌Consider a Dog Food Switch

If your Irish Setter has an improper BCS, consider switching their dog food. Many different types of dog food are available, from dry kibble to wet canned food. Changing your pet’s diet can help them maintain a healthy weight and support overall health. When selecting dog food, look for a product with plenty of protein and fewer carbohydrates.

📌Consult with Your Vet

It’s essential to consult with your vet if you’re concerned about your Irish Setter’s weight or BCS. Your vet can advise how to adjust proper diet or exercise habits to help them reach their ideal weight and can give you a veterinary medical guide. They can also screen your dog for any underlying health conditions contributing to its weight loss or gain. So pet health insurance is crucial for these situations.

Tips for Helping Your Irish Setter Lose Weight

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your Irish Setter lose weight.

🔴Provide Nutritious Meals

One of the reasons why your Irish Setter may be having trouble losing weight is due to their diet. Stop excessive feeding and reduce the caloric intake for your pet. Provide them with nutritious meals that are low in calories and healthy proteins. Avoid giving them too many treats or scraps from the table.

🔴Increase Exercise

Your Irish Setter needs regular exercise for overall health and to lose weight. You can schedule daily walks, jogs, or runs at a consistent time each day. Activities such as fetching, swimming, and hiking can also help keep your pet active and burn off excess calories. However, consult with your veterinarian before your Irish Setter embarks on an exercise program.

🔴Monitor Progress

Monitoring the progress of your Irish Setter’s weight loss journey is essential. You can do this by regularly weighing them and recording the weight changes. Ensure you consistently follow the feeding and exercise program to achieve the target. Always consult your veterinarian for any concerns about your pet’s health.

🔴Offer Support and Encouragement

Weight loss can be difficult for your pet, but offering them support and encouragement can make it easier. Spend time playing with them, and offer gentle petting to soothe anxiety or frustration. Celebrate their progress with small treats or toys that your Irish Setter loves.

🔴Lessen Treats

As much as dogs love getting treats, they can easily add unwanted calories. Try limiting their treats and their daily caloric intake. Replace treats with something like a toy and playtime or try considering low-calorie treats.

🔴Keep them Hydrated 

Water is vital for your dog’s overall health and helps maintain a healthy weight. Always have fresh water available throughout the day, and make sure your Irish Setter always stays hydrated, especially during exercise.

🔴Take a Break

If your Irish Setter isn’t showing any signs of weight loss, you may need to take a break from the diet and exercise routine. Give them a few days off to rest and reset before resuming their program. This can help relieve stress on your pet’s body and make it easier for them to start losing weight again.

Regularly monitor your pet’s progress and offer them support and encouragement.

Common Causes of Overeating in Irish Setters

how to tell if your Irish Setter is overweight

If you’re curious why your Irish Setter may be overeating, several factors could be at play. Here are some of the common causes:

1: Lack of Physical Activity

Lastly, lack of physical activity is another critical cause of overeating in Irish Setters. When dogs don’t get enough exercise, they tend to become bored and compensate by eating more than they should. Therefore, ensuring your Irish Setter gets enough exercise daily is essential. Regular walks, games of fetch, or even a run in the park can help keep your dog physically fit and prevent overeating.

2: Free-Feeding

Free feeding is a common practice among pet parents because it allows dogs to eat whenever they want. However, it can be a problem for dogs that love to eat, like Irish Setters. When left to their devices, these dogs eat excessively, leading to obesity and other health complications. Feeding your Irish Setter at the same time every day, and limiting the amount of food they eat during a meal, can significantly help prevent overeating.

3: Anxiety and Stress

Irish Setter pups are social dogs that thrive on human interaction. However, most Irish setters experience anxiety for various reasons, such as separation anxiety, fear of loud noises, or changes in their environment, which can disrupt their routine.

Anxiety often leads to cravings for comfort foods, such as treats or table scraps, which can cause overeating. To prevent anxiety eating, ensure that your Irish Setter is well-exercised, has a predictable routine, and provides them with a safe and comfortable space to stay while you’re not around.

4: Boredom

Many Irish Setters are left alone for extended periods, and tend to get anxious and stressed, leading them to nibble on whatever puppy foods are available. This boredom eating often leads to overeating, as dogs consume food that they don’t need to satisfy their hunger. To prevent boredom in eating, ensure that your Irish Setter has enough toys to play with and that they receive adequate attention and stimulation throughout the day.

5:Health problems

Overeating in Irish Setters can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health problem. For example, medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, or certain medications can cause an increase in appetite, leading to overeating. If you suspect that your Irish Setter is overeating due to a health condition, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian to rule out any possible medical issues and provide you with a preventive health plan.

Exercise Ideas For an Overweight Irish Setter

As dog ages, regular, moderate exercise is essential especially for an overweight Irish Setter to regain shape. Here are some ideas for exercises you can do with your pet:

✅Start Slowly with Short Walks

The first step in helping your overweight Irish Setter to lose weight is by starting with short walks. Begin by walking your dog around the block, considering that your dog’s weight and fitness level may require limitations on how long you can walk. However, long walks are not always necessary; even short walks around the neighborhood help burn calories, and a healthy diet will provide great results.


Swimming is a great way for dogs to burn calories and stay active while putting less strain on their joints than running or playing fetch. If you have a pool, introduce your furry friend to swimming. If not, look for a dog-friendly beach, lake, or river for your dog to swim in. Swimming is a fun way for your Irish Setter to exercise and helps build strong muscles.

✅Play Fetch or Frisbee

Fetch and Frisbee’s games provide a fantastic opportunity for your furry friend to work off some energy while having fun. However, before playing these games, it is best to ensure your overweight dog is ready and physically fit enough to do so. Start slowly and gradually increase the duration and speed of the game. Playing these games will help to keep your dog active, happy, and engaged.


Hiking is an excellent way to burn calories, allowing you and your dog to bond while getting fresh air. Start with short hikes and gradually increase the distance and duration of the hike. Ensure your furry friend brings a leash and harness, and pack water and snacks for you and the dog.

✅Treadmill Workouts

If you have access to a treadmill, you can engage your Irish Setter in controlled workouts that are safe for their muscles and joints. Start by setting the pace slowly and comfortably, and gradually increase this over time. Treadmill workouts are useful if you need more outdoor space or if it’s raining or snowing outside.

✅Enroll In Dog Training Classes

Enrolling your Irish Setter in dog training classes provides an opportunity to exercise while learning new skills, building endurance, and socializing with other dogs. Training classes such as agility or obedience will improve your dog’s overall health and provide your furry friend with a sense of accomplishment.


Start slow, stay consistent, and enjoy playing and bonding with your Irish Setter.

Meal Plans to Help Your Irish Setter Lose Weight

Consulting with a veterinarian to develop a meal plan is important in helping your overweight Irish Setter lose weight. They can help you create a diet that takes into account your individual medical needs and lifestyle. However, below are some suggested meal plans to help you get started:

1: Choose High-Quality Protein Sources

Irish Setters need protein to maintain strong muscles and stay healthy. When choosing protein sources, ensure they are lean and provide essential vitamins and minerals. Chicken, fish, and turkey are excellent protein sources, and their leaner cuts are perfect for your dog’s weight-loss diet. Avoid fatty meats and processed foods that are high in calories and offer little nutritional value.

2: Limit Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are an essential energy source for dogs, but too many can lead to weight gain. Limiting the number of carbohydrates in your Irish Setter’s meals is essential when trying to lose weight. Instead, choose high-fiber carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, and leafy greens. These will give your pet the energy they need while stabilizing their blood sugar levels.

3: Choose Low-Calorie Snacks

Choose low-calorie snacks instead of high-fat, high-calorie ones. Some good options include baby carrots, small pieces of cooked chicken, and apple slices. These options will satisfy your dog’s cravings without adding extra calories.

4: Feed Smaller, More Frequent Meals

Feeding smaller, more frequent meals is an excellent way to satisfy your Irish Setter without overeating. If you feed your dog once or twice a day, divide their meals into three or four smaller meals spread throughout the day. It will help keep their metabolism up and prevent overeating during any meal.

5: Discuss Supplements with Your Vet

Your veterinarian may recommend specific dietary supplements to help support your Irish Setter’s weight loss efforts. Omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, other joint health products, and probiotics are just a few of the options that can provide additional nutritional benefits while helping your pet slim down.

Take note that when trying to help your Irish Setter lose weight, it’s important to keep in mind that these changes should be slow and gradual. Try to make drastic dietary changes slowly; instead, start small and stick with it.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is My Irish Setter Overweight or Fat?

A body condition score chart is the best way to determine if your dog is overweight. A body condition score chart is a visual guide that rates your dog’s body condition on a scale from 1 to 9, with 5 being ideal. You can use this chart to determine whether your Irish Setter is underweight, overweight, or at an ideal weight. If your dog has more than a slight covering of fat over the ribs and spine, then your dog is likely overweight. If your dog has a lot of fat covering these areas, then your dog is likely obese.

What is the Fastest Way for an Irish Setter to Lose Weight?

The fastest way for an Irish Setter to lose weight is by adjusting their diet and increasing their exercise. Start by reducing your dog’s calories by about 10-20%, but don’t reduce it too much or fast, as it can harm your dog’s health. Add more fiber to your dog’s diet to make them feel fuller for longer. You can also feed your dog smaller meals throughout the day instead of two big meals. Increase your dog’s exercise by adding outdoor adventures such as hiking, walking, or swimming.

What Are Irish Setters Prone To?

Irish Setters are prone to a variety of health problems, such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cancer, and bloat. It’s essential to keep your dog at a healthy weight to lessen the risk of these health problems. Irish Setters are also prone to ear infections, so it’s important to clean their ears regularly to avoid any infections.

How Many Times a Day Should an Irish Setter Eat?

An Irish Setter should eat two meals a day, one in the morning and one at night. You can also feed them smaller meals throughout the day, but ensure you’re not overfeeding them. If you need help with how much to feed your dog, consult with your veterinarian. Always make sure that your dog has access to fresh water.

Can an Irish Setter Lose Weight in 2 Weeks?

An Irish Setter can lose weight in 2 weeks, but it depends on how much weight they need to lose. Losing too much weight too quickly can harm your dog’s health, so taking things slow and steady is essential. Your Irish Setter can take up to 6 months to reach its ideal weight. Always talk to your vet before drastically changing your dog’s diet or exercise routine.

Final Words

Now that you know how to tell if your Irish Setter is overweight and what to do to help them lose weight, you can start making changes today. Remember that it is important to be patient with your Irish Setter puppies and make sure that the changes you implement are gradual. Consult with your veterinarian about your Irish Setter’s diet and exercise plan to ensure their health and safety during their weight loss journey. With the right care, your Irish Setter can be at their ideal weight in no time.