Of the eighty recognized dog breeds in the world, the Setter has always been one of the most well liked. However, of all the Setters, it is the English Setter that has proven to be the most popular. Refined but never above being the class clown, a number of hunters and families have come to love the breed's many charms. Unsurprisingly, owners of an English Setter always have an amusing or heartwarming tale of stellar loyalty, strength and sensitivity. While this often inspires others to take an interest in the breed, many still wonder what the differences are between the English Setter and it cousins, the Gordon Setter and the Irish Setter.
While all three share an origin in the British Isles, the Gordon Setter has its beginnings in Scotland, the Irish Setter in Ireland and the English Setter right in the UK. The English Setter often has a feathered, white and speckled coat that can consist of anything from black to blue to orange spots. The Irish Setter is famous for their long haired, deep red coat; and the Gordon Setter's wavy coat is jet black with rich brown markings on the paws, chest, muzzle and face. Though somewhat similar in body shape, the Gordon Setter is the most solid, weighing in at approximately eighty pounds. At twenty seven inches, the Irish Setter is the tallest of the Setters and the English Setter is the leanest of the three.
When describing the temperament of a Gordon Setter, the words calm, alert and solid often come into play. True to Setter standard, they are loyal to their owner, make excellent gundogs and enjoy being outdoors; however, they are the slowest to mature into adulthood. The Irish Setter also has the standard Setter temperament but they are considered to be the most lively of the three, requiring plenty of space to roam. Though the English Setter is a gundog as well, it is more noted for being the most gentle of the Setters. This understandably explains their popularity for families with children.
While the English Setter can adapt to apartment life with an adequate amount of exercise every day, this is not recommended for the Gordon or Irish Setter. The Irish Setter will simply not be able to adjust to such a small living space. The Gordon Setter, which exhibits puppylike tendencies well into its first few years, needs plenty of room to exercise and work out its energy. Out of all three, it is the English Setter that makes the smoothest transitions from outdoor to indoor settings. No matter what type of Setter one chooses, each will do best with an individual or family that stays active and intends to include their Setter in activities.