Irish Setters and Golden Retrievers: A Breed Comparison

Do you want to know how well a Golden Retriever or an Irish Setter would better fit you? Both kinds have outstanding features that make them ideal companions; however, a few crucial differences that will assist you in deciding which breed is perfect for you! The Irish Setter and the Golden Retriever are two of the world’s most popular dog breeds. Both species have warm and friendly attitudes, making them ideal family pets.

Although the two breeds share certain traits regarding look and temperament, they also have substantial distinctions. Although they may seem similar initially, the Irish Setter and golden retriever have significant variances. These two dog breeds are incredibly popular for several reasons, but what differentiates them and makes them special?

To help you understand how to distinguish between golden retrievers and Irish Setters, we will contrast and compare all of their distinctions in this post. We’ll go into the behavioral variations amongst them as well as the reasons these canines were initially bred. Start now and discover all there is to know about these two dog breeds!

Irish Setter and Golden Retriever History

irish setter and golden retriever

Two of the world’s most well-known and adored dog breeds today are the Irish Setters and the Golden Retriever. Each breed has made an enduring impression on the world of dog ownership & breeding throughout their long, intriguing histories.

⌛Irish Setter History

A setter is a breed of dog developed to use its strong sense of smell to find game birds. The setter “sets” down on his belly to demonstrate to the hunter that he has located birds. Before the development of firearms, setters collaborated with the trained squad and net-based hunters. Today’s setters work alongside a hunter carrying a rifle as gundogs.

To better travel over the open, flat terrain of the Emerald Isle, Irish huntsmen of the 18th century developed their sleek, rangy “Red Setters” to freely move & quickly. The Gordon Setter, a Scottish relative of the Irish Setter, has a larger build and travels more slowly because it was bred to flush & retrieve game on harsh terrain. In the bird fields, the Irish Setter developed a reputation as a hard-working yet effective worker.

From the sport’s inception in the 1870s, the breed has also had great success in the show ring because of its alluring appearance and elegant movement. Eleven Irish dogs have won the Westminster Kennel Club show’s Sports Group class over the years. Yet, the most well-known Irish Setter of all time was a fictitious creation—Big Red, the protagonist of Jim Kjelgaard’s 1945 book. King Timahoe, the Irish Setter owned by President Richard Nixon, was named after a little hamlet in Ireland, the country of the president’s ancestry.

⌛Golden Retriever History

The golden retrievers started in Scottish Highlands, where they had been largely employed as hunting dogs. Since their hunting grounds included several ponds and marshes, the Scottish estate owners wanted a dog to recover birds in the water and on land. Retrievers needed just to be capable of bringing back birds from greater distances as weapons became better.

Dudley Marjoribanks, Lord of Tweedmouth, mixed a yellow retriever with a Tweed water spaniel to create the ultimate retriever. The four puppies were then utilized in further breedings with breeds such as the Irish Setter, St. John’s Water Dog, Bloodhound, & Black Retriever. The objective was to create a dog with a soft jaw for retrieving the game but one that was still powerful and energetic. He maintained meticulous records during the latter years of the nineteenth century to demonstrate this. The Kennel Club of England officially recognized the breed in 1911 as it gained popularity in that country.

Golden retrievers were brought to North America in the early twentieth century to serve as both hunt dogs and just a companion. The American Kennel Club first recognized the golden retriever in 1925. The first three dogs to receive the title of AKC Obedience Champion when the title was introduced by the AKC in 1977 were golden retrievers. Golden retrievers owned by former presidents Gerald R. Ford & Ronald Reagan are examples.

Overview of Breeds

Golden retrievers have a lot of energy and are energetic and affectionate. They are a little under two feet tall, with long, gorgeous double coats and fluff tails almost constantly wagging with eagerness! They were first developed in Scotland more than 150 years ago to rescue shot-down birds. While they are still employed for hunting nowadays, you are more likely to see them wandering around hospitals as service dogs and assisting people as service animals.

If you’re searching for a family dog, a Golden Retriever is tough to beat. They are intelligent and perform best with plenty of training. The majestic Irish Setter has a stunning red coat. They are excellent for active persons looking for an active companion since they are enthusiastic, sweet-tempered, and hyperactive. Irish Setters average 27 inches for males & 25 inches for females, making them somewhat taller than Golden Retrievers.

They were bred as hunting dogs, much like Golden Retrievers, and their courageous personalities and limitless endurance still make them a perfect option for this sport today. For those who can control their energy levels and keep them amused, they make wonderful family pets since they are athletic and affectionate. Let’s go into the specifics regarding how these two canines compare today.

Major Differences Between Irish Setters and Golden Retrievers

irish setter and golden retriever

Irish Setters & golden retrievers vary significantly in several important ways. The longevity of an Irish Setter is greater than that of a golden retriever on average. Irish Setters appear taller than golden retrievers, although on average, golden retrievers weigh 5 pounds more than Irish Setters. Lastly, the Irish Setter is more clever and boisterous than the friendly and laid-back golden retriever. Now let’s go into further depth about each of these distinctions.


While they are both huge dog breeds, there are some hazy variances in their sizes. Golden retrievers, for instance, are heavier than Irish Setters but smaller in height and size. This suggests that golden retrievers are likely not as slim as Irish Setters. Now let’s examine these numbers in further depth.

Depending on the gender, the typical weight of an Irish Setter ranges from 50 – 70 pounds, whereas that of a golden retriever ranges from fifty-five to seventy-five pounds. The usual height of an Irish Setter is between twenty-three and twenty-seven inches, but the average height of a golden retriever is 20 to 24 inches, and they seldom get taller than 2 feet.


Although it could take some time to distinguish between the Irish Setter & golden retrievers’ outward characteristics, you can detect several things immediately. On the other hand, Irish Setters are infamous for having red and rusty brown skin tones, whereas golden retrievers respect their moniker and only come in cream, yellow, and red hues.

The Irish Setter often has longer ears than a golden retriever. While these two dogs have long, silky coats that need regular care and grooming, the Irish Setter’s coat is longer than a golden retriever’s. In contrast to golden retrievers, Irish Setters often experience mating or clumping of their hair, which requires continual upkeep and care.


Compared to golden retrievers, the Irish Setter behaves differently in a few minor ways. The golden retriever is much more laid-back than the typical Irish Setter, even though both dogs are quite energetic and need a lot of physical activity to avoid separation anxiety & destructive behavior.

Both of these dog breeds get along well with children and family members. However, the Irish Setter is often more boisterous than the golden retriever. The golden retriever is much more prone to slumber at the end of a long day, but this makes the Irish Setter a humorous dog.


Irish Setters & golden retrievers were both originally bred for comparable reasons. The golden retriever focuses on waterfowl recovery, but Irish Setters use their exceptional and potent sense of smell to search for other animals. These two dog breeds are excellent hunting and gun dogs.

Golden retrievers are now relaxed and comfortable household pets, but Irish Setters are still more as hunting dogs. While they will both need plenty of activity, particularly given their hunting dog heritage, both dog types make excellent companions for several family groupings.

🐕Energy Level

Because of their high activity level, golden retrievers need an hour or 2 of exercise daily. They may obtain the necessary activity by going on walks, playing fetch and tug of war, going to the park, or training. Irish Setters are also incredibly energetic dogs that need a lot of exercises daily. Long walks, play, and dog sports that enable them to socialize with their owners are excellent alternatives since they love spending time with people.

Even though both breeds have a hunting heritage, Irish Setters are more often used as hunting dogs. Because of their high-energy origins, they are typically more willing to engage in vigorous activity.


Dogs with golden retrievers are very clever. They are an excellent option for first-dog owners unfamiliar with training since they are quick to pick things up and eager to please. They respond to instruction that is rewarding and pleasant well. Furthermore intelligent and eager to please their owners, Irish Setters. They are thus good scholars and easily pick up new skills.

Irish Setters & Golden Retrievers are bright dogs who desire to please their owners, making them both reasonably simple to teach. The ideal method for teaching these breeds is positive, incentive-based training.


The disposition of a golden retriever is lovely, devoted, affectionate, and silly. They are excellent family dogs because of this. Irish Setters are affectionate, lively dogs, much like Golden Retrievers. They are generous, dependable, nice with children, and a fantastic outdoor adventure partner. It isn’t easy to find a finer dog for a friend than any of these breeds since they are both sweet-natured.


The length of the dogs’ lives is the ultimate distinction between Irish Setters & golden retrievers. Irish Setters often live much longer than golden retrievers, particularly in light of new research showing a declining lifetime for Golden Retrievers. Yet, based on the quality of care they get at home, these dog breeds can live long and fulfilling lives.

Golden retrievers live between 10 and 12 years, whereas Irish Setters often live 12 to 15 years. Of course, in the end, this is dependent on the exercise and food regimens. These dogs follow at-home and ethical breeding methods.

Are Golden Retrievers And Irish Setters Related?

irish setter and golden retriever

Due to their historical crossbreeding, Irish Setters & Golden Retrievers are linked and have many characteristics in common. The Golden Irish is a hybrid dog breed of Golden Retriever & Irish Setter, yet it is distinct from its origins. The Retriever and the Water Spaniel were historically crossed to create the Golden Retriever. After being coupled, they have crossed again with Irish Setter puppies, other Retrievers, St. John’s Water Dog puppies, and Bloodhound puppies.

They are connected because of the crossover that brought them to the Golden Retriever. In error, the Irish Setter would be connected to the Golden Retriever. The Gordon Setter, Gordon Spaniel, English Setter, and Pointer are said to have contributed to the Irish Setter’s historical ancestry. This breed predated the Golden Retriever and was initially shown in 1876 as opposed to the Golden Retriever’s debut in 1908.

Significant personality, physical, and mental similarities exist between the Golden Retriever and its historical cross, the Irish Setter. To begin with, both breeds weigh similarly, with Irish Setters normally weighing between fifty and seventy pounds, depending on whether they are male and female.

Again depending on gender, golden retrievers weigh between fifty-five and seventy-five pounds. The Golden Retriever is significantly shorter regardless of gender, and their height differences are much bigger. They have long, whispy hair, adorable floppy ears, and similar-colored fur. Also, Irish Setters live around a few years more than Golden Retrievers do. These dog breeds were developed for hunting, particularly waterfowl and sports.

Irish Setters and Golden Retrievers Grooming

Owning a dog requires regular grooming. Due to their double coats and medium-to-long hair, Irish Setters & Golden Retrievers need regular brushing to keep their coats from being unkempt. Irish Setters should have their nails cut and brushed several times a week to keep them quickly from growing too long. As often as 4 times a week may be necessary to brush their coat. Your Irish Setter’s coat will grow unhealthy, tangle, and shed everywhere if you’re not ready to do this.

Golden retrievers need routine nail clipping and two to three weekly brushings. Please pay close attention to their quicks (the front portion of the nail) to ensure they don’t grow too long. A Golden’s quickness will increase and become more difficult to control if its nails grow out of control. There may be pain and suffering as a result.

Irish Setters and Golden Retrievers Health Issues

Atopic dermatitis, hip & elbow dysplasia, cancer, hypothyroidism, as well as many other lesser coat and skin health issues, including hot spots, are all common in golden retrievers. Irish Setters are predisposed to hemophilia, OCD, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, and megaesophagus. Moreover, this breed is prone to malignancy and panosteitis.

You should only buy one of these breeds from competent breeders. If you get your dog from a reputable breeder, you will be far less likely to be forced to worry about significant health concerns with your dog. This is among the most important things you can do to protect your pet from serious health issues.

Irish Setters and Golden Retrievers Friendliness

irish setter and golden retriever

These breeds are friendly, joyful, and affectionate. They often enjoy getting along with other dogs in the home, adore other humans, and show kindness to animals like cats. They are all-purpose family dogs relied upon to be willing to rise to any obstacle in life and emerge smiling and amiable. You won’t have any issues with these dogs becoming aggressive while off-leash or being nasty to other pets at the dog park.

With good reason, golden retrievers & Irish setters are two of the most well-liked breeds of family dogs. You’ll discover that they rank among the top options for most folks with young children and other pets in the home who may need to get along better with a large dog. Some breeds, like Labradors, are excellent with kids, but due to their high activity levels and occasionally obstinate attitudes. These dogs are only sometimes the best choice for families.

One of the major advantages of choosing any of these breeds is their friendliness. However, some people believe this is negated by their high energy requirements and demanding grooming requirements. You’ll discover that the affection these dogs can provide to your family generally outweighs the few hairs on the furniture as well as the hours spent playing and exercising a puppy.

Furthermore, remember that you don’t always have to buy a puppy, as homes are sometimes available for older dogs. If you’re anxious about getting the dog started in its training, you may choose this option since many dog breeders will also teach your dog for a certain amount of time before you arrive to acquire it.

Irish Setters and Golden Retrievers: Which is Best For You?

If you are attempting to select between the Golden Retriever and the Irish Setter breeds, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to make the best option for your family. You’ll like each of these dogs for similar reasons, and you could choose the best dog depending on the breed’s look or coat color. You might also pick the dog based on the Irish Setter’s greater drive.

There is nothing not to like about any of these dog breeds, so you’ll be making a wise decision if you choose between these two dog breeds. Few breeds are as suited for families as these two, and you will most likely fall in love with either dog. The two breeds’ activity levels and the colors of their long & silky coats will be the most noticeable differences. You can anticipate a full, happy, and wonderful life with any breed, and this article will assist you in choosing the appropriate dog for your specific requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Irish Setter the same as the Golden Retriever?

The Irish Setter is more boisterous and clever than the amiable and laid-back golden retriever. Both of these canines are giant dog breeds. However, there are some minor size variances between them. Golden retrievers, for example, weigh much as Irish Setters but are shorter in size and height.

What is the name of an Irish Setter Golden Retriever mix?

The Golden Irish is a lively and friendly cross between the lovable Golden Retriever & the nimble Irish Setter. This breed is not renowned for barking excessively, but he demands a household willing to deal with his high activity level.

Do Irish Setters get along with other dogs?

Irish setters are extroverted and amiable dogs that get along well with humans and other dogs. Since they are hunters, they must be introduced with care to other smaller house pets. Considerable socialization to overcome the breed’s shyness.

Are golden retrievers rare?

With their kind nature and extreme loyalty, golden retrievers are excellent family pets. These traits contribute to Goldens’ ranking as the country’s fourth most common dog breed.

Are Golden Retrievers and Irish Setters simple to train?

Although Irish Setters are often more independent and need a little more tenacity and patience in the training process. Golden Retrievers are well renowned for being extremely trainable & eager to please. Both breeds using consistent training methods and positive reinforcement strategies.

How much exercise do Golden Retrievers and Irish Setters require?

Both breeds are energetic and need exercise daily to keep healthy and content. Due to their reputation for being very spirited, Irish Setters could need more exercise than Golden Retrievers. Both breeds are often advised to participate in regular walks or runs, playing, and other activities.

Final Thoughts

These are two wonderful dog breeds with similar temperaments that make loving, devoted canine friends. The Irish Setter could be a better choice if you’re searching for a moderate size dog with long, silky hair and long, drooping ears that is also very energetic and keen to explore. However, they do need a little more grooming and activity than Golden Retrievers do.

The final decision between an Irish Setter or a Golden Retriever will be based on the owner’s particular requirements and preferences. Both breeds need a lot of exercise and socializing and a devoted and caring owner capable of offering them the love and care they deserve. Regardless of the breed one chooses, Irish Setter & Golden Retriever make excellent companions for individuals who value their distinctive personalities and devoted nature.