Are Irish Setters Smart? The Breed’s Intelligence

Are you planning to adopt a dog and wondering if are Irish Setters smart? The freewheeling nature and rocket-launcher enthusiasm of this lovely Irish redhead are well-known. But are Irish Setters smart? In order to get an idea of a dog’s intelligence, we can look at obedience & working trials. In these types of competitions, dogs must complete tasks that demonstrate their abilities to learn and follow commands.

This post will explore how well Irish Setters do in obedience and working trials and some of the breed’s other notable traits that might give you a clue as to their intelligence.

Irish Setter History and Origin 

Irish Setters Smart

The Irish Setter is a beautiful breed of dog popular among many people. Despite its red coat, the Irish setter is a native of Ireland. Prior to the invention of firearms, these dog breed was established in Ireland to help bird hunters.

Irish Setter is a dog breed group that uses Setters, a group of dog breeds that utilize its excellent ability to smell to spot birds and then “set”—that is, assume a low stance with its body almost dragging on the ground. The hunters execute the shot after the bird has been startled from its hiding place, and these dogs excitedly collect the bird.

It’s no wonder that these dogs spread quickly throughout the United States and Britain, given their eager-to-please nature and dazzling good features. Although the Irish setter was just introduced at the beginning of the century, it was among the original 9 breeds to be recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1878.

Nowadays, the breed is not as popular as it once was, but the Irish Setter remains one of the most beautiful dogs you will ever see. It is also a friendly companion that loves being around people.

Irish Setter Overview

Bred forRetrieving, bird setting
Coat Medium length with feathers on tail, legs, chest, and ears
Coat Color Copper, red
FeaturesNatural Floppy Ears
Energy LevelVery Energetic
Exercise Requirements At least 40 minutes every day
Attention Needs/SocialsHigh
Life Span12 up to 15 years
TemperamentSweet-tempered, gentle, athletic, intelligent, affectionate

Irish setters are medium-sized dog breeds with long necks and legs. The ears are dangling, and the snout is modest with a noticeable forehead. The breed is characterized by a coat of rich, deep red. The double coat insulates the dog and protects it from harsh weather conditions.

The Irish Setter is a very friendly breed that loves attention and being around people. They are also very active dogs that need plenty of exercise every day. The coat, which might vary from a brighter red to deeper mahogany, is the Irish setter’s crowning glory.

The breed’s coat is a moderate length and generally straight and flat (with a little curve). The long hair may be seen on the back sides of their chests, legs, and tail. The breed also has a silky fringe on its ears.

The overall appearance of the Irish setter is that of a well-proportioned, graceful, and strong dog.

Are Irish Setters Smart?

So, are Irish Setters smart? Well, yes, they are among the smartest breeds. Irish Setter Dogs receive a four out of five rating from dog experts on an intelligent scale of dog breeds. Compared to other dog breeds, the Irish Setter is rated #35 in terms of intelligence. These dog breeds are fun-loving, intelligent, and eager-to-please dogs that are easy to train if you start early and use the right techniques. While it’s natural for dog owners to believe that their dogs are the smartest in the area, an intelligent dog may manifest in many ways.

Indeed, dogs are not all created equal when it comes to intelligence. Just like people, some are smarter than others. And while there are different ways to measure a dog’s intelligence (e.g., obedience, working/problem-solving), the bottom line is that some dogs are simply easier to train than others. And Irish Setters? They are definitely a smart dog breed that is also easy to train.

Signs That Your Irish Setter Is Smart

Are Irish Setters Smart?

There are many signs that your Irish Setter is smart, and below are some of them:

🐾Recalls a Command Even Without Practice

If you’ve only taught your dog a command once, and he recalls it even without practice, that’s a sign of intelligence. Dogs who are not that intelligent may need to be reminded several times before they finally get it.

🐾Easily Learns New Command Quickly

If your Irish Setter can quickly learn new commands, that’s another sign of intelligence. Dogs who are not as intelligent may take longer to learn new tricks or commands.

🐾Pays Attention and Understands What You’re Saying

Smart dogs are usually the ones who pay attention to what you’re saying. They also can understand what you’re saying. It is why it’s essential to choose your words carefully when talking to your dog.

🐾Responds Well to Training

Intelligent dogs are usually the ones who respond well to training. It is because they can understand what you’re trying to teach them. Dogs who are not as intelligent may not be as responsive to training.

🐾Solve Problems Quickly

Irish Setter that is born to be intelligent will quickly solve problems. If you are consistent with your commands, they will understand and remember what you have taught them. However, they are also less likely to get bored with training because they catch on quickly.

How Smart is your Irish Setter? The IQ Test for Irish Setter

So how do you know if your Irish Setter is smart? One way to find out is to give them an IQ test. An IQ test for dogs is a series of exercises and tasks designed to test a dog’s intelligence and problem-solving abilities. While there are different types of IQ tests for dogs, they all aim to measure the same thing: how well your dog can think and learn.

Below are some examples of tasks you can try to test your dog’s IQ:

Task 1: Arrange Three Empty Containers in a Row, Upside Down

Place a treat beneath one of the containers and distract your Irish Setter for a few seconds prior to actually allowing them to find the treat. It will test the Irish breed’s potential to understand and assimilate information.

  • Give 1 point if your Irish Setter inspects all empty containers before deciding on the best cup.
  • Then 2 points if your Irish Setter looks through one empty cup before finding the appropriate one.
  • Give 3 points if your Irish Setter immediately goes to the appropriate cup.

Task 2: Place a Huge Towel or Blanket on Top of Your Irish Setter’s Head

A towel or blanket placed over their head is a new experience for your Irish Setter, and they will have to use their problem-solving skills to figure out how to remove it. This task will test your dog’s ability to adapt to new situations, think on its feet, and determine the Irish Setter’s problem-solving abilities.

  • Give 1 point In less than 30 seconds if your Irish Setter figures it out.
  • Then 2 points if your Irish Setter has figured it out in less than 15-30 seconds.
  • Give 3 points if 15 seconds and below; your Irish Setter has figured it out.

Task 3: Go for a Walk With Your Irish Setter Dog

Pick a time when you wouldn’t normally walk your Irish Setter dog and grab its leash as it is watching. It would assess its ability to recall and establish connections.

  • Give 1 point if your Irish Setter doesn’t appear to understand what’s going on.
  • Then 2 points if you need to go towards the door for your Irish Setter to understand.
  • Give 3 points if they catch on right away and become captivated.

Scoring the Results

👉5 points and below

Your Irish Setter is not the sharpest tool in the shed. It’s not that they’re dumb; they just don’t seem to have the same quick wit as other dogs.

👉5 to 8 points

Your Irish Setter could need assistance understanding certain things and doing some tasks.

👉8 to 10 points

Your Irish Setter is definitely a smart dog but not the smartest! They can manage to understand things and do tasks with a little help.

👉10 to 12 points

Your Irish Setter is one of the smartest dogs around! They can understand things very quickly and don’t need much assistance in doing tasks.

👉12 points and above

Your Irish Setter is a genius! They can understand things almost immediately and don’t need any assistance in doing tasks.

So, are Irish Setters smart? Yes, they are a smart breed of dog! And while they may not be the smartest breed around, they are still easy to train and are definitely a good choice for anyone looking for a new furry friend.

Tips to Keep Your Irish Setter Smart

Just like people, dogs can get bored too. And when they’re bored, they’re not likely to be very motivated to learn new things or do problem-solving tasks. So, one of the best ways to keep your Irish Setter smart is to keep them stimulated. Here are some ideas:

✔️Give Them Plenty of Toys to Play With, Both Inside and Outside

Your Irish Setter must have plenty of toys to play with, both inside and outside. It will help to keep their minds active and engaged.

✔️Take Them on New and Exciting Adventures

Another great way to keep your Irish Setter’s mind sharp is to take them on new and exciting adventures. It could be anything from a new hiking trail to a different park or even just a new route on your daily walk.

✔️Play Interactive Games With Them Like Fetch

Playing games with your Irish Setter is also a great way to keep their minds active. Games like fetch are perfect for this. They are fun, but they also require your dog to think and use problem-solving skills.

✔️Socialize Them Early and Often

Socialization is essential for all dogs, but it’s especially important for Irish Setters. They are a social breed and need to be around people and other animals to stay happy and healthy. Also, it helps prevent Irish Setters behavioral problems in the future.

✔️Enroll Them in Training Classes

Enrolling your Irish Setter in training classes is also a great way to keep their minds active and engaged. They will learn new things, but they’ll also get to socialize with other dogs.

List of Intelligent Dog Breeds Aside From Irish Setters

⬤Border Collie

It is one of the most well-known and intelligent dog breeds in the world. The Border Collie is a medium-sized breed with a pleasant demeanor originally bred as a herding dog due to its obedience and intelligence. These dog breeds are considered to be the smartest of them all. They can understand and obey commands quickly.

⬤German Shepherd

It is the 2nd most popular dog breed due to its intelligence, confidence, and courage. These breeds are superb all-around workers who are utilized as assistance dogs or police dogs in various situations.


Poodles are not just smart but also confident, energetic dogs with the additional virtue of being hypoallergenic. Poodles may be readily taught to obey, retrieve, hunt, and track due to their high intelligence.


Rottweilers are one of the oldest herding breeds. This dog is intelligent, fearless, and has an instinct to protect its family and home. They are used as police dogs, assistance dogs, and guard dogs.

⬤Golden Retriever 

It is one of the most popular family dogs due to its high intelligence and trainability. They are gentle, kindhearted dogs that are also proficient hunting companions and service dogs.

So, there you have it! A list of some of the most intelligent dog breeds. As you can see, Irish Setters are definitely up there in terms of intelligence. So, if you’re looking for a smart and obedient dog, then an Irish Setter is a great choice for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I tell if my dog is intelligent? 

There are a few ways to tell if your dog is intelligent. One way is to see how quickly they learn new commands and tricks. Another way is to see how well they do in obedience trials or other competitions. Also, some dogs are just naturally more curious and have a higher level of energy, which are both signs of intelligence.

Q: Do intelligent dogs require more exercise? 

Not necessarily. All dogs need exercise, but the amount will vary depending on the individual dog’s breed, age, and health. Intelligent dogs may require more mental stimulation than other breeds since they tend to get bored more easily.

Q: Are there any disadvantages to having an intelligent dog? 

One potential disadvantage is that intelligent dogs may require more training and socialization than other breeds. They are often quick learners and can get into mischief if they’re not properly trained. Also, since they tend to get bored easily, they may become destructive if they don’t have enough to do.

Q: What are Irish Setters famous for?

Irish Setters are famous for their beautiful red coats, so they are also sometimes called “Red Setters.” They are also well-known for being friendly, outgoing, and energetic dogs.

Q: Is it easy to train an Irish Setter?

Yes, Irish Setters are relatively easy to train. They are intelligent dogs that are quick learners. However, like all dogs, they will require patience and consistency when training.

Final Thoughts

All in all, Irish Setters are smart dogs. They are easy to train, obedient, and make great family pets. So, if you’re looking for an intelligent dog breed, then the Irish Setter is an excellent choice for you. Also, by taking the IQ test mentioned above, you can get a more accurate idea of how smart Irish Setters really are.