CKC Breed Vs English Cocker Spaniel Vs. Irish Setter Main

English Cocker Spaniel vs. Irish Setter: Can You Tell Them Apart?

In the last comparison blog, we discussed the Miniature Pinscher versus the Manchester Terrier. This time, we will consider the similarities and differences between the English Cocker Spaniel and the Irish Setter. Let’s take a look!

Brief History

The English Cocker Spaniel has a long history with roots in Spain and England. Like many modern-day Spaniels, the English Cocker Spaniel descended from the original old Spaniel dogs of England, whose heritages can be traced back to the famous Spanish bird dogs of old. Before the 1600s, a Spaniel performed the function of flushing fowl into a net. After the invention of the gun, a Spaniel could flush fowl into the line of fire. In 1882, the Kennel Club of England officially separated the Spaniels into three varieties based on size and usage: the Field Spaniel, the Springer Spaniel, and the Cocker Spaniel.

Brief History

Irish Setters are also known as the Irish Red Setter. Bred to hunt game birds, they were trained for netting, a process where the dog seeks game, crouches before the quarry, and waits for the hunter to cast a net, covering the prey and the dog. As the sporting gun was added to the field, the Irish Setter’s purpose transformed into pointing game by quartering (where the dog zigzags across an area in front of the hunter). 

Some estimates mark the Irish Setter’s appearance in early to mid-1700s Ireland, according to written records. However, at its first conception, the Irish Setter resembled the Irish Red and White Setter with a mainly white coat bearing red areas. In the nineteenth century, selective breeding created the modern Irish Setter’s striking solid red coat ranging from chestnut red to mahogany.


These breeds share a similar breed group of Gun Dog breeds, although their sub-groups differ, with English Cocker Spaniels being part of the flushing dog’s group and Irish Setters being part of the Setters group. 

Both have good temperaments and were made to work and hunt. Proper training should begin as soon as possible to keep these dogs out of trouble and from developing destructive habits out of boredom.


One difference between these breeds is in coat colors. English Cocker Spaniels can be the solid colors of black, liver, and any shade of cream to red, including yellow, lemon, golden, and tan to dark mahogany. They can also be black or liver with tan points, or sable, or any of the above-listed colors or patterns with white, ticked, or roan markings. They can also be parti-color which is any of the above-listed colors and patterns with approximately equal parts of white, ticked, or roan coat markings. 

Irish Setters are typically red or red and white as standard. The red coat color variety is any solid shade of red, chestnut, or mahogany with small amounts of white hairs on the chest, throat, chin, muzzle, skull, or toes. The color of the red and white coat is any solid shade of red, chestnut, or mahogany, all with varying degrees of clear white markings. 

The Irish Setter is the larger of the two breeds. Irish Setter males weigh 70 to 75 pounds and stand 23 to 27 inches in height. Females weigh 50 to 65 pounds and stand 21 to 25 inches in height. English Cocker Spaniel males weigh 26 to 35 pounds and stand 15 to 18 inches in height. Females weigh 24 to 33 pounds and stand 15 to 17 inches in height.


Both of these breeds make for great hunting companions. English Cocker Spaniels are affectionate and energetic, ready to get a job done! Irish Setters are a beauty in the dog world and, even though loyal and devoted to family, these dogs can be stubborn. Training and keeping these dogs busy – especially working their senses for what they were bred for – will help them excel.

Click here for the complete English Cocker Spaniel breed standard.

Click here for the complete Irish Setter breed standard.

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