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Best Dog Foods for Irish Setters: Puppies, Adults & Seniors


Last Updated: May 9, 2024 | 15 min read | Leave a Comment

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Trying to find the best dog food for your Irish Setter? The Irish Setter is a relatively rare dog breed in America, but he is increasing in popularity. Many Irish Setter moms and dads, or expecting Irish parents, need the 101 on Irish Setter nutrition. Unless you have experience with canine nutrition, the world of pet food can be a confusing one! And with so many options, where do you start?

Fear not, because we’ve done all of the hard work so that you don’t have to. This all-encompassing guide takes you through your Setter’s different life stages and his nutritional needs in each.

We will talk you through the importance of good quality nutrition and how to pick a good quality kibble. As well as the ingredients that you should look out for and why. With 15 different kibble options for the Irish Setter, we’ve got you covered at every age range. Let’s jump straight in!

At a Glance: Our Favorite Foods for Irish Setters

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach Formula
Our Rating

Best For Puppies

Victor Puppy Formula

Victor Grain Free Healthy Weight
Our Rating

Best For Adults

Purina Sensitive Stomach

Our Rating

Best For Seniors

Victor Healthy Weight

Irish Setter Puppy Nutrient Needs

At maturity, an Irish Setter will grow into a 60 to 70-pound pup. This means your dog will most likely be a large-sized dog breed. Large breed puppies have unique nutritional needs, so you must feed them a large breed puppy kibble. Bigger puppies have plenty of growing to do, and they grow at a much faster rate than small and medium breeds. Large breed puppy kibble will steady his rapid bone growth, lowering the chances of skeletal problems and joint dysplasia down the line.

Puppyhood is arguably the most important life stage because it sets the foundations for a healthy body and lifestyle. For this reason, feed your Irish Setter puppy the best nutrition that you can afford. They will provide a well-balanced diet for a healthy body and happy mind. And provide him with the puppy growing power that he needs.

Puppy food provides extra omega fatty acids compared to adult food, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). These are found in mothers’ milk, and they are essential for healthy development, cognitive function, and eyesight. Poor quality kibbles rarely supply the right amount of fatty acids and can cause nutritional deficiency and poor growth. Fish, fish and plant oils, meat meals, and flaxseed are great sources to look for.

When it comes to protein, you should look for real meat ingredients that come at the beginning of the ingredients list. Ideally, meat should be the first ingredient. Protein contains amino acids and is essential to his health, growth, and muscle mass. The AAFCO, which is the Association of American Feed Control Officials, recommends that all puppies need a protein content of at least 22%. Meat meals are also a great source of protein to look for.

Adult Irish Setter Nutrient Needs

Between the ages of 12 and 15 months, your Irish Setter pup will now be considered an adult. This means you need to switch him to an adult kibble. You can continue to feed him the same brand that he ate as a pup. Or you can switch him to a different brand.

Irish Setters need less protein during adulthood, and as long as it is above 18%, it is AAFCO compliant. Higher quality kibbles will usually provide a higher content of at least 22%. If your Setter is out hunting with you all day, you might opt for a higher protein content to take care of his hardworking muscle mass.

Just like before, he needs a well-balanced diet that will satisfy all of his nutritional needs. In addition to protein, he will need healthy carbohydrates, prebiotic fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Omega fatty acids are just as important during adulthood, as they will keep his luscious red coat looking healthy and shiny. And support his hardworking joints too.

Senior Irish Setter Nutrient Needs

As your pup reaches the ages of seven or eight years, he will be considered a senior. All dogs achieve seniority status at different rates. If your dog is slowing down or gaining extra weight for no real reason, it is probably time to switch him to a senior kibble. Again, you can feed him the same brand or slowly switch him to another.

Older Irish Setters are less active and have slower metabolisms than they used to. They have different nutritional requirements, including lower fat and energy content. Like us humans, if he eats the same amount and moves less, he will gain weight. Being overweight is linked to a variety of weight-related health issues, and often requires changing diets yet again, to a low-calorie formula. Senior food is less calorific. Plus, it is higher in fiber, which is low in calories and keeps him feeling fuller for longer.

High-quality senior kibbles will also provide glucosamine and chondroitin, which help to support his aging joints. This is super important for active large breeds who are known to suffer from joint problems in their senior years. Ingredients such as meat meals, fish, fish oils, and green mussels are great sources of glucosamine. Extra vitamins and minerals are also needed for his aging immunity.

Best Foods for Irish Setter Puppies

Hungry Irish Setter Puppies Wanting Food
Irish Setter Puppies should eat a puppy food formula until they are around 12 months old.

An Irish Setter pup should be weaned off his mother’s milk around the age of six weeks old. As most puppies come home, they should already be on a specific kibble chosen by the breeder that you are working with.

A responsible breeder will tell you what food they are feeding your pup. You can either continue to feed him this or feed him another kibble depending on your budget and how your dog is responding to the dog food. Below are our favorite dog foods for Irish Setter puppies up through one year of age.

American Journey Large Breed Puppy

  • Budget-friendly.
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Contains DHA for brain health.
  • Nutrient-dense ingredients.
  • Real salmon contains fatty acids.
  • 352 Calories per cup.
  • 32% Protein, 14% Fat, 4.5% Fiber.

Salmon is the first ingredient in this American Journey recipe, followed by chicken meal and turkey meal. Making this a high-quality option providing a protein content of 32%. The trio of meats means that he gets a range of amino acids that will take care of his growing muscles and overall development. Probiotic ingredients are listed for his gut, and dried kelp and blueberries are nutrient-dense for his immunity.

The omega fatty acid content is high in this recipe, thanks to the fish ingredients, which is great for the growing Irish. It means that his cognitive function and eye development are taken care of. Plus, his coat will be nourished from the inside out. This is a grain-free dog food formula containing sweet potatoes and chickpeas, making it a gentler option for those who cannot digest grains well.

We love that this American Journey dog food formula is high quality for the price, which is something that American Journey is now becoming well known for. This makes it a great choice for Setter owners on a tighter budget that don’t want to compromise on quality by picking a cheaper dog food brand.

Purina Pro Puppy Sensitive Stomach

Victor Grain Free Puppy Food
  • Probiotics for sensitive stomachs.
  • Omega fatty acids for skin and coat.
  • DHA for brain development.
  • Antioxidant boost for immune health.
  • Salmon is the first ingredient.
  • 428 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 18% Fat, 3% Fiber.

This Purina Pro recipe is designed specifically for puppies who have sensitive stomachs. This is something that the Purina Pro dog food formulas do tremendously well with. Many Irish Setters find themselves in the sensitive stomach category, so this is a great recipe for puppies at a younger age. The first ingredient is salmon, with fish meal and salmon meal following shortly after. With fish being the sole protein, it is gentle on his stomach to digest.

This formula is rich in Omega fatty acids. That means it’s also rich in DHA and ARA for developmental requirements. Although this isn’t large breed-specific, it checks all the boxes for larger breeds, helping to control rapid bone growth. This is a grain inclusive recipe that uses rice, barley, and gentle oatmeal for his carbohydrate needs. There is a long list of vitamin and mineral supplements to support his developing immune system too.

We love that this formula is specifically designed for pups with sensitive skin and stomachs. So, if this sounds like your pup, this is the best choice.

Science Diet Large Breed Puppy Food

Purina Pro Giant Breed Puppy
  • Veterinarian endorsed brand.
  • Natural DHA from fish oil.
  • Antioxidant-rich for immune health.
  • Made with natural ingredients.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 373 Calories per cup.
  • 24.5% Protein, 12% Fat, 3% Fiber.

Hill’s Science Diet is based on science, hence its name. Vets and canine nutritionists have studied the nutritional needs of large breed dogs and created this formula as a result. So, you can be sure that your Irish pup should do well on this recipe. It is a grain inclusive formula that again uses gentle brown rice. It also lists a variety of vitamins and minerals to strengthen his immunity.

This option has the lowest protein content of 24.5%, but it still exceeds the AAFCO recommendations. Plus, some dogs with a sensitive stomach do better on less meat-rich formula. Puppies will benefit from DHA and ARA thanks to eggs, fish oil, and flaxseed to support his developmental needs. Folic acid and biotin nourish his coat for healthy-looking red locks.

We love that this recipe has one protein source, which is lamb. Lamb is a gentle meat protein to digest. Plus, it is a great alternative to those fussier pups who aren’t fans of commonly used chicken.

Victor Purpose Active Puppy Formula

Purina Pro Sensitive Stomach Adult
  • Made of 77% meat protein.
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Promotes digestibility and gut health.
  • Antioxidants for immune health.
  • Made for active dog breeds.
  • 384 Calories per cup.
  • 33% Protein, 16% Fat, 3.8% Fiber.

This is one of two premium picks, and we have selected this option for the Setter for many reasons. It’s formulated specifically for active dogs, which fits the setter’s personality. It is rich in meat protein thanks to high-quality beef meal. This formula also lists chicken fats, which is a popular ingredient in many dog foods that are rich in glucosamine. Menhaden fish meal tops it off for a DHA boost.

It also lists a wide variety of exotic fruit and vegetables, meaning plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for his immunity. This recipe is also grain-free which is great for puppies with sensitive stomachs, like the Setter. The Victor Pro blend also helps to promote digestion.

We love that this recipe’s high-quality ingredients, and that it’s specifically made for active breeds. It’s gluten-free, and grain-free to cooperate better with sensitive stomachs.

Wellness Core Large Breed Puppy Recipe

Wellness Core Large Breed Adult
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Made with nutrient-dense superfoods.
  • Made with salmon oil for DHA boost.
  • Probiotics encourage gut health.
  • Calcium boost for healthy bones.
  • 387 Calories per cup.
  • 35% Protein, 14% Fat, 5.5% Fiber.

Here is our second premium option for your Irish Setter pup. It has the second-highest protein content at 35%, thanks to deboned chicken and chicken meal. Turkey meal and salmon oil also provide omega fatty acids and glucosamine for his developmental needs. Superfoods such as bananas, spinach, broccoli, and kale provide many vitamins and minerals to strengthen his immune system.

It has a high fiber content of 5.5%, meaning it will regulate his digestive system and promote healthy stools. Plus keeping him feeling fuller for longer if he is a forever hungry youngster. This is ideal if your Irish struggles with his stool health. This kibble is fortified in omega fats, probiotics, antioxidants, and taurine, supporting a healthy heart.

We love that this premium recipe is made with digestibility in mind. Each kibble piece is coated in Wellness’s exclusive acticoat solution. Which is a probiotic solution to promote healthy bacteria in his gut.

Best Dog Foods for Adult Irish Setters

Irish Setter Outdoors in Woods
Adult Setters should eat a large breed adult dog food from around a year of age until they turn six or seven.

Your Irish Setter may not yet be fully mature (in both mind and body!), but between 12 and 15 months, you’ll need to switch him to an adult kibble. If you choose to feed him the same formula as you did as a pup, the recipe will differ slightly. Meaning that you’ll still need to transition him slowly.

Keep in mind that adult dogs typically need a lower calorie intake than puppies. Adult dog food is also less dense in other nutrients because an Adult Irish Setter’s nutritional needs are different than that of a puppy. Below are our favorite foods for dogs aged one year until it’s time to switch to a senior kibble.

American Journey Large Breed Formula

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed
  • Budget-friendly.
  • Grain-free dog food.
  • Contains nutrient-dense fruits and veggies.
  • Salmon provides omega fatty acids.
  • DHA for brain development.
  • 370 Calories per cup.
  • 30% Protein, 12% Fat, 5% Fiber.

We are a big fan of the American Journey range, and this is the adult version of our puppy recommendation. It is a grain-free recipe that is based on sweet potatoes, as well as peas and chickpeas for his slow-release energy needs. His immunity is topped up thanks to nutrient-dense ingredients like dried kelp, blueberries, and carrots. Dried fermentation probiotic ingredients are also listed to assist in regular digestion.

Turkey Meal and Salmon are the first two ingredients, with fish meal also listed further on. With a 30% protein content, you can be sure that his large muscle mass is well cared for in his adult years. Meat meals and fish also provides a high glucosamine content for his large joints. As well as high omega fatty acid content for his locks and cognitive function.

We love that this recipe is budget-friendly while still providing the best nutrition for your Irish’s adult needs.

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach

Victor Hi Pro Dog Food
  • High-protein content.
  • Salmon is the first ingredient.
  • Fortified with probiotics.
  • Prebiotic fiber for digestive health.
  • Made with digestible oatmeal and rice.
  • 467 Calories per cup.
  • 26% Protein, 16% Fat, 4% Fiber.

This is another pick that follows on from the puppy recommendations. Specifically designed for those adults with sensitive skin and stomach, it achieves the optimum balance of rich omega fats and easy-to-digest ingredients. Salmon is the first ingredient on the list, and fish is the sole source of protein. Fish and fish oils will soothe his sensitive skin, as well as improve his overall wellness.

This formula is a grain-inclusive option that uses barley, rice, and oatmeal. It does not use corn, wheat, or soy, which is known to irritate many sensitive dogs. Each kibble piece is fortified with the probiotic ingredient, dried bacillus coagulans fermentation product. Meaning digestive support for sensitive stomachs with every bite. Biotin and folic are also added for extra coat support.

We love that this recipe is specifically created for those dogs with sensitive skin and stomach, which is a common issue in Setters.

Merrick Grain-Free Large Breed Recipe

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken
  • Gluten-free recipe.
  • Balanced protein-fat ratio.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin boost.
  • 80% of protein is from animal sources.
  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient.
  • 382 Calories per cup.
  • 30% Protein, 15% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.

This recipe is designed with large breeds in mind meaning it is ideal for the Irish adult. This is a grain-free option that uses sweet potatoes and peas for his energy needs. Other fruits and veg such as apples and blueberries provide the vitamins and minerals that his immunity needs to remain healthy. Probiotic ingredients support his digestive system, and yucca schidigera extract will reduce stool odor.

With super high levels of glucosamine included, his large joints are supported during adulthood. He will benefit from this in his senior years too. It also has top levels of omega fatty acids thanks to the rich meat meals and animal and plant oils. The protein content is 30%, and the first three ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal.

We love that this formula has leading levels of glucosamine and chondroitin. Making this a great option for those active Irish’s on their paws and joints all day.

Victor Classic Hi-Pro Plus

Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient Basics
  • Budget-friendly formula.
  • Made with 88% meat protein.
  • Ideal for sporting and active breeds.
  • Nutrient-dense antioxidant boost.
  • Crafted for superior digestion.
  • 406 Calories per cup.
  • 30% Protein, 20% Fat, 3.8% Fiber.


Leading on from the premium puppy choice, we have also included this in our adult section. Victor’s classic Hi-Pro Plus formula is packed with nutrients and meat protein. It’s also extremely budget friendly compared to other foods on this list. While it’s not grain-free, it doesn’t contain gluten, wheat, corn, or soy. It’s also pea-free, if your dog struggles with digesting peas or lentils.

Crude protein comes in at 30% on this formula, which is great for active dogs. This formula is specifically formulated for active dogs, similar to Victor’s puppy formula. This recipe is composed of 88% meat protein, which will help support and develop leaner muscle tone. While this food is advertised as suitable for all life stages, it’s a great fit for budget-conscious adult Irish Setter owners.

We love that this recipe has higher protein, fat, and calorie content. Making it a great option for those Setters who work hard hunting with their masters all day long.

Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient Formula

Victor senior
  • Limited ingredient formula.
  • Chicken-free formula.
  • Made with real turkey.
  • Taurine for heart health.
  • Free of beef, corn, wheat, soy, and dairy.
  • 352 Calories per cup.
  • 20% Protein, 12% Fat, 6% Fiber.

Blue Buffalo has several different product lines, and this is their back to basics formula. We have chosen this for the Setter’s sensitive digestive system. Sometimes less is more, and with a minimal amount of ingredients, his stomach will have a much simpler time digesting it. If it’s easier to digest, it often means less gas. So everyone’s a winner.

The protein content is 20%, and the primary meat protein is turkey. Turkey is also lean, meaning he can stay trim. This is a grain inclusive formula that uses gentle brown rice and oatmeal. Canola oil, fish oil, and flaxseed provide the omega fatty acids for his skin and coat. This recipe has a high fiber content of 6%, thanks to dried chicory root and easy to digest pumpkin.

We love the fact that this is a limited ingredient formula that has a few key ingredients, and is completely free of any type of chicken or poultry. Every ingredient has a purpose, and it is simple to digest. It is chicken and egg-free too.

Best Dog Foods for Senior Irish Setters

Senior Age Irish Setter Dog
Senior Irish Setters should eat a senior formula for large breeds at around seven years of age.

In a nutshell, it is all about less fat and energy and more glucosamine and fiber when it comes to senior years. Your Irish Setter will reach his senior years around the age of seven and eight, so be sure to slowly transition him between adult and senior kibbles.

The lower your Irish’s energy levels are, the fewer calories and fats he’ll need in his bowl. Feeding your dog an adult food when their metabolism slows down may result in weight gain. That’s not what you want, and will push your dog to a weight management kibble, which is also not ideal. Below are our favorite well-balanced dog foods for Irish Setters as they enter their senior years.

American Journey Senior Formula

Nutro Healthy Weight
  • Budget-friendly formula.
  • Grain-free recipe.
  • MCT’s for brain health.
  • Antioxidants for immune health.
  • Glucosamine boost for joint health.
  • 329 Calories per cup.
  • 32% Protein, 10% Fat, 7% Fiber.

Here we complete the salmon and sweet potato American Journey recipe with the senior version. If your Irish Setter did well on these during puppy or adulthood, he is bound to do well on this as an adult. Deboned salmon is the first ingredient, providing lots of glucosamine and omega fats to oil up his joints and keep his cardiac and cognitive functioning working well.

This option isn’t specifically for large breeds. But it checks all the boxes for large breeds. It contains extra glucosamine support for his weakening joints. This is a grain-free option, and prebiotic fibers such as sweet potatoes and pumpkin provide healthy carbohydrates. Nutrient-dense ingredients such as dried kelp and microalgae support his aging immune system. Taurine looks after his heart, and coconut oil keeps his skin nourished.

We love that this recipe offers one of the highest protein counts at 32%, thanks to the trio of proteins for his aging needs. While still being one of the lowest on budget.

Merrick Grain-Free Senior Formula

  • Grain-free formula.
  • Made with real deboned chicken.
  • Perfect balance of protein and fats.
  • Glucosamine for joint support.
  • 77% of protein from animal sources.
  • 370 Calories per cup.
  • 30% Protein, 12% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.

Again, this recipe is not designed for large breeds specifically, but it still meets all of the large breed requirements. It has one of the highest glucosamine levels on the market, meaning your Irish’s joints are well and truly cared for. Chicken is the first ingredient, followed by chicken meal. Salmon meal and oil provide an extra boost of omega fatty acids.

This is a grain-free formula that relies on sweet potatoes and peas for fiber and energy. It is a low fiber diet, but some aging dogs do much better on this. Yucca schidigera extract is listed too, which helps to reduce stool odor. In addition to the veg mentioned, apples and blueberries, as well as vitamin and mineral supplements, all support his immune system.

We love that this recipe has lots of dried fermented ingredients that provide his aging gut with probiotic support. Making this a great option for those who need help with digestive regularity.

Blue Buffalo Large Breed Senior

Raw Boost Large Breed
  • Glucosamine boost for joint health.
  • L-Carnitine for muscle retention.
  • No corn, wheat, or soy.
  • No chicken or poultry by-product meals.
  • Omega fatty acids for skin and coat.
  • 344 Calories per cup.
  • 20% Protein, 10% Fat, 7% Fiber.

Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection line focuses on providing a well-balanced diet, and this time for large breed seniors. The protein content is 20%, but again it exceeds AAFCO recommendations. This pick is great for those seniors who find it difficult to digest rich meats. Deboned chicken is still the first ingredient, and chicken meal provides a boost of glucosamine for his joints.

LifeSource Bits are exclusive to Blue Buffalo. They are extra kibble pieces containing vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed in senior years. The fat content is low, and L-carnitine will stimulate his slowing metabolism to prevent senior weight gain. Gentle and wholesome grains are used for slow-release energy.

We love that this dog food formula has the highest fiber content of 7%. This means it’s an ideal pick for less active dogs. This formula also holds up very well against others, at a lower price point.

Victor Purpose Senior Healthy Weight

Victor Puppy Grain-free Formula
  • Nutrient-dense for aging dogs.
  • Glucosamine boost for joint health.
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals.
  • L-Carnitine for muscle retention.
  • Formulated for superior digestion.
  • 360 Calories per cup.
  • 27% Protein, 11.5% Fat, 4.5% Fiber.

If your Irish Setter has performed well with other Victor foods, the Victor Purpose healthy weight will serve your pup well as they enter old age. This dog food formula has a lower calorie count compared to other brands. It also boosts both glucosamine and chondroitin, which are essential for large breed senior dogs.

This Victor formula is also budget-friendly when compared to other premium dog food brands. It contains L-Carnitine to help with muscle retention, and promote lean muscle development. It’s also fortified with vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids to help promote skin and coat health. It’s made with gluten-free grains, which are great for dogs with sensitive stomachs or gluten intolerance.

We love that this premium recipe uses a wide variety of superfoods, while still being calorie-restrictive as your pup starts to enter their golden years. It’s also very budget-friendly.

Wellness Core Grain-Free Senior

  • Grain-free formula.
  • Made with deboned turkey.
  • Fortified with chondroitin and glucosamine.
  • Contains probiotics for gut health.
  • Taurine for brain health.
  • 359 Calories per cup.
  • 32% Protein, 12% Fat, 6.25% Fiber.

This is another premium recipe to make our senior list. Lean deboned turkey and chicken meal are the first two ingredients, shortly followed by turkey meal. Lean meats and an averagely low-fat content mean that it will not be difficult to stay trim and healthy. This is further supported by this food’s higher fiber content to keep him feeling fuller in between meals.

This grain-free formula includes lentils, potatoes, and peas, which is easier on many dogs’ systems. Along with the meat meals, flaxseed and salmon oil nourish his skin and coat. And provide the highest level of glucosamine too. Spinach, broccoli, apples, and blueberries support his immune system, and probiotic ingredients add friendly bacteria to his digestive system.

We love that this senior dog food recipe has the highest protein and glucosamine levels, thanks to the meats, meat meals, and oil ingredients. Meaning it is ideal for active seniors who still need the extra energy boost.

Final Thoughts

And that’s the end of that, folks! We hope you now have a better understanding of the world of Irish Setter nutrition. Whether you’re a first-time Irish Setter mom or dad, or you simply needed a change in diet for your resident doggo, you are now equipped with the best nutritional choices for your pup.

By picking any one of our above recommendations, you can be sure that you are making a fantastic decision for your dog’s nutritional needs and overall health in general. It’s always a good idea to look for the right food formula with the highest quality ingredients while staying within your budget.

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