Difference Between Irish Setter, English Setter And Gordon Setter

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Updated on 12 October 2022

Do you know the difference between an Irish Setter, English Setter and a Gordon Setter?

These are three of the most popular types of Setters but they’re all individual dog breeds.

The Irish Setter is the most common and most popular of the Setter types, placing no71 in the AKC’s breed popularity ranking.

They’ve got a trademark red coat that makes these high-spirited dog easy to identify.

In this article, we’re going to take a close look at the difference between an Irish Setter, an English Setter and a Gordon Setter.

So let’s get started on our Irish Setter vs English Setter vs Gordon Setter article.

What Is An Irish Setter?

Irish Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Irish Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Irish Setter is an active, sweet-natured and outgoing dog beed that are a member of the American Kennel Club’s Sporting Group. They’ve been recognised by the AKC since 1878. They’re the 71st most-popular dog breed in the USA.

What Is An English Setter?

English Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

English Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The English Setter is considered a friendly, mellow and merry dog breed that are also a member of the AKC’s Sporting Group. They were granted breed status by the AKC since 1878. The English Setter is the 98th most-popular dog breed in the USA.

What Is A Gordon Setter?

Gordon Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Gordon Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Gordon Setter is usually described as being a confident, affectionate and bold dog breed that is part of the Sporting Group in the AKC. Like the Irish Setter and Gordon Setter, they were accepted into the AKC in 1878. At the time of writing, they’re the 113th most-popular dog in the USA.

Where Do Irish Setter Come From?

Irish Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Irish Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Irish Setter was used by Irish huntsmen since the 1800s. Looking to develop a sleek and rangy dog that could move with ease and grace, Irish Setters were used in the countryside to flush and retrieve game. The AKC write that the Irish Setter quickly earned a reputation for being energetic but efficient when it came to hunting birds. The Irish Setter is thought to have been bred and developed based upon the English Setter, Spaniel, Pointer and Gordon Setter breeds. Their early ancestors were red and white before the solid Irish Red Setter became popular.

Where Do English Setter Come From?

English Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

English Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The English Setter can trace back their history nearly 500 years so the breed predates the Irish Setter. The AKC write online that the English Setter is thought to have been developed by using the Pointer and Spanish Spaniel. The word Setter originates from their hunting style where they would lie down quietly and set when they spotted game birds. They’re known for having a sensitive nose used to locate game birds. As we touched upon above, the English Setter is thought to have played a role in the creation of the Irish Setter. Edward Laverack is credited with developing the English Setter in the 1820s.

Where Do Gordon Setter Come From?

Gordon Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Gordon Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Gordon Setter has been around longer than the Irish Setter but isn’t quite as old as the English Setter. The Gordon Setter is slightly heavier with a square frame than the other setters. As their breed names suggests, Gordon Setters were traditionally located in Scotland where they were used to hunt game in the highlands. Alexander Gordon, the Fourth Duke of Gordon, is credited by the AKC as having played a major role in the Gordon Setter’s development. Gordon used the English Setter as is thought to have incorporated the Bloodhound, Pointers and black Setters to develop the Gordon Setter. Having made their way to the USA in 1842, they were originally called the black and tan setter. However, the breed’s name was changed to the Gordon Setter and accepted by the AKC in 1924.

Irish Setter vs English Setter vs Gordon Setter: Size

The Irish Setter will usually grow to a height between 25 and 27 inches and weigh from 60 to 70 pounds.

The English Setter can be from 23 to 27 inches and weigh from 45 to 80 pounds.

The Gordon Setter has a similar range to the English Setter, ranging from 23 to 27 inches tall and weighing from 45 to 80 pounds.

Irish Setter vs English Setter vs Gordon Setter: Appearance

Irish Setters, English Setter and Gordon Setters (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Irish Setters, English Setter and Gordon Setters (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Irish Setter is known for their rich red coloured-coat. They’ve got a glossy coat that is longer on their ears, chest, tail and back of their legs. Their elegant coat makes the Irish Setter one of the most beautiful of all dogs.

The English Setter is flat-coated with feathering on their ears, chest, abdomen, underside of the thighs, back of all legs and the tail to promote their swift appearance. They’ve got a white coat with a mix of dark hairs and dark markings which can range from flecking to shading. The speckled coat pattern is described as “belton”, which is unique to the English Setter breed. The colour of these specks are liver, lemon and orange.

The Gordon Setter is a black and tan dog that should be well-muscled with plenty of bone and substance. The AKC breed standard explains that their head is heavy and chiseled. The Gordon Setter’s coat should have clear colours with a straight or slightly wavy coat.

Irish Setter vs English Setter vs Gordon Setter: Temperament

The Irish Setter should have a charming personality with a sweet nature. They’re affectionate and loving dogs that can have a silly side. They’ll enjoy having the chance to play with their fellow family members, enjoying a chance to play a game of fetch or run around the garden. The AKC describe the Irish Setter as being a “big kid at heart”. While they will strive to please their dog owners, Irish Setters do require consistent and persistent training because they can be distracted and goofy.

Much like the Irish Setter, the English Setter has a kind and loving temperament. While the Boston Terrier is often described as the Gentleman’s dog, the AKC claim that the English Setter has a reputation for being a gentleman of the dog world. Continuing a trend amongst Setters, the English version are usually full of life with a tendency to be rambunctious. They’re a social dog breed that will enjoy meeting new people and new dogs.

The Gordon Setter is also a happy-go-lucky breed like the Irish Setter and English Setter. They’ve got cheery personalities that want to please their dog owners. The Gordon Setter is accustomed to seeking out birds in the rugged terrain of Scotland so it’s no surprise that they’re brave, confident and intelligent. Just like the English Setter and Irish Setter, Gordon Setter are dedicated to their owners and display a affectionate side with their fellow family members. The Gordon Setter is a strong-minded and strong-willed dog that will benefit from training.

Irish Setter vs English Setter vs Gordon Setter: Exercise

Irish Setter requires regular daily exercise whether that’s a walk at a local park or a jog on a trail. With upbeat personalities, they’ll relish the chance to play in the garden with their family. With superb noses, they can excel at alternative exercise formats that involve scent work.

It’s a similar situation with an English Setter that will need a daily walk, a runaround at the dog park or goofing around in the back garden. English Setters, like the Irish Setter and Gordon Setter, will happily go for a run alongside their owner who could be running or on a bike. Once they’ve stretched their legs, the AKC write that the breed will be happy to take a long nap

Gordon Setters will also require daily exercise so you’ll need to be prepared to get out and exercise these dogs. They enjoy doing activities with their owners, whether that’s a run, tug-of-war in the garden or figuring out a dog toy puzzle. They’ll enjoy having a proper sniff on their walk or at the dog park.

Wag Walking suggest 90 minutes of exercise for an Irish Red Setter but 60 minutes for an English Setter and Gordon Setter.

Irish Setter vs English Setter vs Gordon Setter: Hypoallergenic

Gordon Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Gordon Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Neither the Irish Setter, English Setter nor Gordon Setter are hypoallergenic so they’re not suitable for dog owners who struggle with allergies to dogs.

Irish Setter vs English Setter vs Gordon Setter: Shedding

Irish Setters are moderate shedders that will need a daily brush to maintain the striking appearance of their silky coat. Their feathering around their ears, tail and legs will require special attention to make sure there’s no debris or dirt stuck in their hair.

The English Setter is an average shedder with a coat that requires regular attention. Owners will need to use a long-toothed metal dog comb to untangle their hair and make sure there’s no matting in the areas where feathering occurs.

Just like the Irish and English Setter, the Gordon Setter will need a weekly brush to prevent their coat from becoming matted, which could lead to further issues. With all three breeds, their nails will need to be trimmed. Setter owners need to pay special attention to their ears, tail and teeth to make sure everything looks healthy.

Irish Setter vs English Setter vs Gordon Setter: Price

Irish Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Irish Setter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Irish Setters have an average price range of $1,200 (£1100) and $2,500 (£2270) but you may end up paying more for your Irish Setter puppy depending on the breeder and their lineage.

The average cost of an English Setter puppy is $1,000 (£900) but the price of one of these dogs will usually range from $600 (£550) to $1,500 (£1350).

The Gordon Setter will usually cost between $1,000 (£900) and $2,000 (£1900).

Irish Setter vs English Setter vs Gordon Setter: Life Expectancy

Irish Setter has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years, English Setters have a life expectancy of 12 years and Gordon Setters will usually live to an age between 12 and 13 years.

The Difference Between Irish Setter, English Setter And Gordon Setter

The main difference between the Irish Setter, the English Setter and the Gordon Setter is their appearance. The Irish Setter and the English Setter have a similar sleek build but the Irish Setter has a ruby red coat or a red and white coat, while the English Setter has a white coat with specks. The Gordon Setter is a more dense dog than the Irish and English Setter with a broader head. The AKC describe the Gordon Setter as the most substantial of the Setters. They’ve got a black and tan coat.

The Similarities Between Irish Setter, English Setter And Gordon Setter

Seeing as all three breeders are Setters, it’s not a surprise that they’ve got lots of traits in common. They’re usually confident, cheerful and energetic dogs that are affectionate, eager-to-please and loyal with their fellow family members. Accustomed to helping in hunts for game birds, these three Setters will enjoy regular exercise and a chance to put their highly-tuned noses to good use.

Irish Setter vs English Setter vs Gordon Setter – In Conclusion

We’ve reached the end of our article on the difference between an Irish Setter, an English Setter and a Gordon Setter.

The English Setter was the first of the three breeds to appear before the English Setter and some other breeds were used to create the Gordon Setter and then the Irish Setter.

All three breeds are happy, friendly and playful dogs who can make excellent family pets if you’re thinking about adding one of these Setters to a family home.

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