Discovering the Top Setter Dog Breeds: Which One is Best for You?

Are you interested in knowing which setter dog breed is best? Choosing the ideal setter dog breed for your family might be challenging since various breeds have different traits and qualities. Setter dogs are well-known for outstanding intelligence, loyalty, and pleasant attitude, making them a popular option for families searching for a dedicated companion. Each breed has its characteristics and talents, so it is essential to recognize their temperament, activity demands, and grooming requirements to choose the best breed for your lifestyle.

The four significant subcategories of these amiable dogs are the Gordon Setter, English Setter, Irish Setter, and Irish white and red Setter. In this post, we will look at the many setter dog breeds, their traits, and what makes them unique to help you make an educated choice when choosing the ideal setter dog in your family.

What are Setter Dogs?

Setters are dogs hunters use to hunt birds that dwell mainly on the ground, such as quail and are sometimes known as bird dogs. The canines do not capture the birds, but their ability to smell takes them to the quarry. When they perceive it, they squat and freeze. The crouch also was known as a “set,” and it is from this that the Setter derives its name. Setter dogs are enormous and clever in stature.

Their coats are shiny and silky, with plenty of feathering, and they have energetic and active attitudes and bright, expressive eyes. Even when not in the field, dogs make excellent home pets, but they need plenty of space to exercise and should be walked regularly. There are now four recognized types of setters.

In the field, setter dogs are often employed to hunt birds such as quail, & grouse. When the dog spots a bird, it will come to a halt and “set” by directing its nose & body in the direction of the bird. This alerts the hunter to a game nearby, allowing the hunter to go in and try to kill the bird.

Setter dogs are well-known for their excellent sense of scent, endurance, and ability to collaborate closely with human handlers. They are especially common as family pets because of their loyalty, friendliness, and ability to get along with youngsters. However, they need a lot of activity & mental stimulation to be fit and happy as hunting dogs.

The History of Setter Dogs

Setter dogs may be traced back to the 14th century in Europe when they were designed for hunting purposes. The Spanish Pointer and French Pointer were the first known setters, having been bred in France and Spain. Initially employed for tracking & hunting birds, these dogs were specifically selected for their ability to “set” or stoop down and alert their human hunting companions to the appearance of game birds.

Setters were introduced to England in the eighteenth century and quickly became popular among British hunters. English setters were selectively bred for their capacity to work closely with their human trainers, and they were noted for their field style, elegance, and agility.

Setters were introduced to the United States in the nineteenth century and immediately became popular among American hunters. While the American Setter became significantly taller and more muscular than their European counterparts, they kept the same talent and competence on the field.

Various breeds of setters are available today, including the English Setter, Irish Setter, and white and Red Setter. These breeds are all still commonly employed for hunting, but because of their pleasant attitudes and intelligence, they also are popular as pets.

The Different Types of Setter Dog Breeds

which setter is best

Domestic dog breeds are tough to define since they are constantly developing. This is why certain dog breeds are classified as sub-categories. Setter dog breeds, a gundog category, are one example of this. Setters are classified into four breeds: Gordon Setter, English Setter, Irish Setter, & Irish White and Red Setter. What is the best Setter breed?

🐕Gordon Setter

This black and brown bird dog, named for the Scottish lord Alexander Gordon, was present since the 1600s. This lovely dog is the sole Setter with Scottish ancestors, descended from collies & bloodhounds bred on Duke Gordon’s estate. It is a large dog that reaches 24.5 – 26 inches tall at the shoulder & weights between 56 & 65 pounds. Gohas a beautiful silky and glossy coat, and it also has strong legs & tail.

It has a long nose with brown eyes and tan patterns on both sides of its muzzle and the dog’s neck, legs, chest, and vent. Tans might be mahogany or rich chestnut. The Gordon setter, like other setter dogs, requires plenty of exercises & is much too large and active for an apartment. Since it loves to wander, it requires a fenced-in area to protect it from straying too far.

Despite its beautiful hair, the Gordon setter requires regular brushing and the owner’s attention to smoothing out tangles and eliminating burrs if the dog spends a lot of time within weeds. A regular litter has six to eight pups. Surprisingly, Gordon setter pups develop slower than others and become awkward before reaching maturity. The dog has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years.

🐕English Setter

This lovely bird dog, with its silky, wavy, mottled hair, was created in the 1800s in the United Kingdom. It features a deep chest, a slim, medium-length body, and tiny yet compact feet, in addition to the feathering common in setter breeds. The dog’s feathery tail creates a straight line, including its back when it stands up, and its ears culminate in soft points. This laid-back and friendly dog is between 24 & 27.5 inches tall at the shoulders and weights between 56 & 66 pounds.

It also has the propensity to get fat; therefore, it shouldn’t be overfed. Females are occasionally subjected to fake pregnancies. The English Setter, such as the Gordon setter, is unsuitable for apartment life and requires enough exercise and walks. Its gorgeous coat is simple dog care for if it is combed & brushed regularly. The coat might be white with brown, orange, or blue mottles.

Some dogs have multicolored coats, and the mottling may be mild or thick. The English Setter is a superb setter who is also skilled at retrieving & pointing. It’s also a decent watchdog. When the female gets pregnant, she will give birth to six pups. The dog has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years.

🐕Irish Setter

This silly dog, often known as the red Setter, is known for its lush, deep chestnut red coat or mahogany. It has a lengthy, squarish snout with a pronounced halt where the skull joins the nasal bone between the eyes. Even though the coat covers the majority of the dog’s body, it is shorter on the head and front legs.

The dog is said to have developed in Ireland in the 1700s and derived from the Gordon setter and the Irish waters spaniel. It is almost the same size as the other setters, standing 25 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder & weighing 60 to 70 pounds. It shares the urge for action and a love of family and child life with other setters. If employed for hunting, an Irish setter is a tough dog that can hunt in any weather.

The Irish Setter isn’t an apartment dog and requires a huge yard. If you want your dog to join you on a jog and bike ride, this is the dog to get. The Irish Setter, like the English Setter, is sensitive to bloat. Bloat occurs when there is so much gas in the pet’s stomach that it restricts blood flow. To prevent this, give the Irish Setter many little meals daily rather than one huge meal.

One of the more positive aspects of the Irish Setter is that it lives a little longer than some other setters. This dog has a lifespan of eleven to fifteen years. They also produce huge litters, with a bitch capable of delivering eight to more than twelve pups at a time. The gorgeous coat must be brushed & combed every day, but it only needs considerable maintenance if it is unclean and matted.

🐕White and Red Setter

This dog has an ancestry with the Irish Setter. Indeed, it was known as the Irish Setter and was far more common than the Setter with a solid red coat. Yet, by the Victorian period, the red Setter had become so widespread that the Irish white and red Setter was almost extinct. Due to this, Irish white and red setters can only be traced back to the 1920s. The Irish white and red Setter is a heavy dog than Irish Setter and is recognized for its strength and athleticism.

It has a strongly-muscled back, neck, & hindquarters, as well as a robust jaw, deep chest, and well-sprung ribs. It has to feather on its own tail, front legs, or even between the toes. The coat is finely textured and may be wavy, but it’s not curly. It is white and red spots, with some flecking permitted around the face, feet, and lower legs. The dog is between 23 & 27 inches tall at the shoulder & weighs between 60 and 70 pounds. The smooth coat requires simply a daily brushing and combing.

Despite its tough exterior, the white and red Setter is friendly and excellent with youngsters. Since it is such an active dog, it needs both physical and mental activity to be happy, and it’s not an apartment dog, as are other setters. It, such as the Irish Setter, has a lengthy lifespan for a big dog, between eleven and fifteen years. It produces 6 to 12 pups every litter.

Setter Dogs General Characteristics

which setter is best

Setters are recognized for their hunting abilities since they are gundogs. These are especially pointing dogs. Pointing dogs are distinguished by their distinctive position when they see possible prey. This signals their human counterparts who are looking for a game.

Setters are often seen to be exceptionally bright and nobility dogs but also incredibly loving. As a result, they are both suitable as working dogs or companion animals. They are known to be obstinate; thus, they must be thoroughly schooled to guarantee good behavior.

Setters are athletic dogs with exquisite body forms. They move with their heads up high and can propel themselves quickly with their rear limbs. Even within breeds, their size is very stable. Males stand 52-68 cm tall at the withers, while females stand 57-65 cm tall. Their weight fluctuates between 20 and 32 kilograms (44-70 lbs).

Blue color eyes, low set ears on both sides of their heads, and a strong muscular neck are further traits all Setter breed varieties share. They have thin yet deep chests and ribs that can be seen beneath their skin. Setters have thick hair on their ears, tummy, back legs, and tail. Depending on the breed, their hair might be straight or wavy. The color of the Setter’s coat will differ according to the breed.

How to Choose the Best Setter Dog Breeds

Your unique demands and lifestyle will determine the perfect setter dog for you. But here are some basic considerations when selecting a setter dog:


Setter dogs are known for being friendly, loving, and clever, making them excellent family companions. But, some setters are more high-strung than others, so it’s crucial to understand the temperament of the particular breed or personal dog to ensure it’s a suitable fit for your lifestyle.


Setters range in size from the little English Setter to the bigger Irish Setter. Assess the room you have now in your house and yard and the amount of activity the dog will require.

⚪Level of energy

Setters are an energetic breed that needs regular activity, so it’s critical to match your energy level & lifestyle with a dog. A more high-energy setting may be a suitable choice if you’re energetic and like hiking or jogging. A calmer setter might be better if you want a quieter lifestyle.


Setters, like other dogs, are susceptible to specific health concerns. It is important to examine the breed’s frequent health concerns and to inquire about any health problems the dog may have with the breeder and rescue group.


Setters are very trainable and react well to reinforcement techniques of training. Some dogs are more obstinate than others, so consider how much time and work you’re ready to invest into teaching your dog.


Setters have long silky coats that must be groomed regularly to avoid matting and tangles. Evaluate if you have enough time and money to groom the dog regularly or prefer a breed with a shorter coat.

Finally, your unique wants and tastes will determine the finest setter dog. You may locate the right Setter for your household by researching the breeds, meeting particular dogs, & working with reputable breeders or rescue groups.

Facts About Setter Dogs

Setter dogs are hunting dogs that first appeared in the seventeenth century in Europe. These are some Setter dog facts.


This breed combines beauty, intelligence, and birds sense; early setter breeds are said to have been produced in the UK as early as the 15th century. Modern setters’ forebears most likely originated in Spain & then were bred through spaniel stock. Subsequently, these dogs were transferred to France and England, where their breeds evolved into the variations we know today.

They are quick, sleek match dogs with a distinct history and development devoted only to pursuing game birds. “There is also at this moment among us a new sort of doggie come out of Fraunce, & they bee mottled throughout with white & black, which combined colors approximate to a marble blewe,” writes Dr. Johannes Caius in 1576. Argue hypothesizes that this characterizes a blue Belton color seen in English setters.


A setter hunts quietly by smell; hunting is done carefully and methodically. Whenever prey is found, the dog stops moving rather than pursuing the game. Setters derive their name from their peculiar attitude when they discover their target; a type of crouch or “set.” After the dog has signaled the location of the birds by staying on point, those birds are flushed so that the following guns may fire. Before the invention of firearms, birds were captured using a net.

Since the game bird smell is airborne, the Setter should keep its head up and never follow leg scent. Many setters were born with an innate hunting instinct. Dogs that show joy and interest in birds are classified as “birdy,” and trainers hunt for pups who exhibit this feature. Training is normally done using quail or tamed pigeons as a first option.

➩Field Trials and Early Shows

The first official dog showing in the United Kingdom was held in Newcastle-on-Tyne in June 1859, and admission was limited to setters and pointers. There have been 36 setters & 23-pointers in the competition. John Shorthose & William Pape organized the event. Dandy, Mr. Jobling’s Black & Tan Setter, took first place in the setter class. Mr. Jobling assessed the pointer class and handed the prize toward a pointer kept by Mr. Brailsford, who also helped evaluate the setters. This sparked considerable controversy.

Before the beginning of the season, it was unclear how setters would indeed be classed. In 1862, three courses were regularly arranged, with setters divided into three classifications: English, Black or Tan, and Irish. When The Kennel Club was created in 1873, they became official breed classifications. Setters were sold in the United Kingdom in 1806. A black setter bitch named Peg went for 41 guineas, while setter dogs named Punch, Bob, Brush, Bell, Bounce, and Sam ranged in price from 17 to 32 guineas. The canines’ colors were not mentioned.

The first known field trial in the United Kingdom was placed in April 1865 on Samuel Whitbread’s farm in Southill, Bedfordshire. Setters and pointers were the only ones who could use it. All of the setters that competed were black and brown (Gordons). The Western Hemisphere had its first documented concert in 1879. This also applied just to setters & pointers. Four years later, the very initial American Field trials were placed.


The Kennel Club designated a handful of British native breeds as ‘Sensitive Native Breeds’ in January 2006 after identifying breeds that register 300 or fewer pups yearly. The Irish White, Red Setter, and Gordon Setter were on the list. However, Gordons were rehabilitated as feasible in January 2007 following consultation with breed associations. In 2012, English Setters were included for the first period.

To provide an idea of how registrations in the UK have evolved, in 2002, there were 568 English Setter registration, 250 Gordon registrations, and 99 Irish Red and White registrations, but Irish registrations totaled 1,225. Nevertheless, by 2011, English Setters had reduced to 234 puppy registrations, Gordons had increased to 306, Irish Red & Whites had dropped to 83, & Irish had dropped to 869 dog registrations.

In contrast, the American Kennel Club remarked on registration data and famous breed rankings that 2011 was the “season of the setters, with all 4 making substantial leaps over the last year.” English Setters were rated 101 in 2010 but raised to 87 in 2011; Irish were ranked 77 in 2010 but climbed to 70 in 2011; Irish Red & Whites were 150 in 2010 & 147 throughout 2011; while Gordons advanced from 98 to 94 on 2010.

The Irish Red & White Setter got certified for American Kennel Club certification on January 1, 2009, and was thereafter authorized to participate in the Sports Group at its events.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which of the setters is the largest?

Gordons setters are the biggest and most powerful setters. A large guy, maybe 27 inches tall, and weighed Eighty pounds. The gleaming black coat is accented with brown markings and long blonde hair on the ears, stomach, legs, chest, & tail. The tan dots look smart and willing over the brilliant brown eyes.

Is a setter a good breed of dog?

Training. English Setters are thoughtful, good-natured, and loyal friends. Since they are very vulnerable and take reprimands personally, educating them via positive attention rather than punishment is advisable.

Do Setters make excellent home pets?

English Setters were originally developed as hunting dogs in bird hunting, but because of their mild and friendly personalities, they are already widely employed as companion animals. As long as they get proper care, these dogs may live happily in the majority of families.

Are Setters a barky breed?

They are often referred to as English Setters. They bark at almost anything, only when someone pays attention to them.

How intelligent are setters?

While they are independent & mischievous, Irish Setters are renowned for their intelligence. It will take a lot of time and effort to train them. Because of this breed’s slow maturation, you’ll have a fully developed dog with such puppy energy and activity levels for several years.

Final Thoughts

The ideal setter dog for you will depend on your unique requirements and interests, including your lifestyle, the size of your living area, and the activities you want to engage in with your dog. Each breed has distinctive characteristics, such as temperament, degree of activity, and aptitude for hunting. Finding the right Setter breed for you and your way of life requires study and consultation with reliable breeders or rescue groups. Whatever Setter breed you decide on, they may all become fantastic and devoted friends with the right training, socialization, and care. Do you want to know what kind of dog is an irish setter? Click Here!