Compare an English Setter to a Springer Spaniel

by Mary Lougee
"How about fish instead of fowl tonight?"

"How about fish instead of fowl tonight?"

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The English setter and the English springer spaniel are both in the American Kennel Club's sporting group of dogs; they're also commonly known as gun dogs. The two breeds have some distinct differences in comparison to each other and also share some common traits of temperament, such as being gentle, friendly and eager to please.

Height and Weight

English setter males' average adult height is between 24 and 27 inches; females average 23 to 26 inches. English springer spaniels are shorter, adult males about 19 to 21 inches tall and females 18 to 20 inches. Adult English setter males weigh between 55 and 80 pounds, and females between 45 and 70 pounds. English springer spaniels are closer in weight between males and females, partly because of their slighter height difference. An average male weighs 45 to 55 pounds, an average female weighs 40 to 50 pounds.

Ears Differ

English setters have moderately long ears that are slightly round at the tips and covered in long, silky hair. The ears are set far back on the head and are below the eye level on each side of the head. When an English setter is relaxed, the ears lie close to the head, though they extend outward when alert. English springer spaniel ears are long and wide; they hang close to the cheeks and do not stand up or angle outward. The ear leather is thin. If you stretch the ear forward, it is long enough to reach the nose tip. Ears are level with the eyes and are not placed to the rear of the skull.

Coats and Colors

English setter coats are flat without curls, but they include long feathering underneath the thighs and on the chest, the ears, the abdomen, the backs of the legs and especially the tail. Coats are white with flecks of darker colors in the Belton pattern. The American Kennel Club accepts orange, blue, lemon and liver Belton as well as tricolor with tan markings over the eyes, on the legs and muzzle. An English springer spaniel is double-coated -- a thick, dense undercoat and an outer coat in medium length that is wavy or flat. English springer spaniels have the same feathering pattern as the English setters; coats may be blue roan or liver roan, liver or black with white markings, or mostly white with liver or tan markings. The American Kennel Club also accepts a tricolor pattern.

Interesting Facts

It is always interesting learning how a distinct dog breed received its name. When English setters spot game on land, they sneak up on it and crouch or sit, while looking at it to alert the hunter to the location for capture. The English springer spaniel is a hunting dog who flushes out game, such as birds, then springs on it to help a hunter capture it.

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