What Is the Difference Between an Irish Red & White Setter & a Welsh Springer Spaniel?

Although the red and white Irish setter and the Welsh springer spaniel somewhat resemble each other, once you're familiar with the particulars of these hunting breeds, it's not hard to tell them apart. One thing they have in common is they both have names similar to better-known breeds.

Often Mistaken For ...

If you think of an Irish setter as a solid red dog, just be aware that's not the only type of Irish setter. The red and white Irish setter is a separate breed, actually older than his red cousin but much smaller in number. By the same token, the Welsh springer spaniel is not a variant of the more popular English springer spaniel, but a different dog entirely. In physical appearance, the red and white Irish setter and the Welsh springer spaniel resemble each other more than the breeds whose names sound like their own.

Temperament Differences

If you don't hunt, both of these breeds still make good family pets. If you're looking for a dog that sticks to you like glue -- or Velcro, as the saying goes -- the Welsh springer spaniel might make the better choice. The red and white Irish setter, while friendly, is a bit more independent. Both breeds require a fair amount of exercise, with the setter overall displaying more energy than the spaniel. However, the Welsh springer spaniel tends toward the stubborn, with training a bit more difficult than the red and white Irish setter.

Size Differences

The Welsh springer spaniel and red and white Irish setter differ considerably in size, with the latter considerably taller. At maturity, male Welsh springer spaniels stand 18 to 19 inches tall at the shoulder, while females range between 17 and 18 inches. The full grown male red and white Irish setter stands between 26 to 24 1/2 inches tall, while the female ranges from 22 1/2 to 24 inches in height.

Coat and Colors

The red and white Irish setter sports a white base coat, with patches of solid red. He's more "spotted" than the Welsh springer spaniel, whose red and white coat consists of larger sections of red. Ticking -- or small red spots within the white coat -- is acceptable in both breeds. Feathering, or long, silky hair, occurs in both breeds but is more prominent in the red and white Irish setter. That's especially true of the setter's heavily feathered tail.