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Pointer Dog Breeds Vs Setter Dog Breeds

Ever wonder what the differences are between a pointer and a setter dog breed?  Of course, you have, you are here, aren’t you? Well, you are in luck because we are going to take a look at the pointer dog breed vs the setter dog breed.

We will look at the differences between their hunting styles, coats, body, temperaments ext. The most distinctive difference between the two are their coats. The Setters have a long and shiny coat, while the Pointers have a short and coarse coat.


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We will also look into the group these two breeds are in. That being said, let’s take a quick and brief look at those groups, shall we?.


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Dog Breed Group Types

  • Sporting Group 
  • Hound Group
  • Working Group 
  • Terrier Group
  • Toy Group
  • Non-Sporting Group
  • Herding Group

Short Description of Dog Breed Group Types

Sporting Group

Dogs in the sporting group are breeds that hunt.  These breeds go out on a hunt with their hunter who is likely armed with a gun, or a net (pre-gun). Working with the hunter, these dogs increase the hunter’s abilities by searching and locating birds, as well as strategically moving birds and capturing them.

There are different ways that a sporting dog will let their hunter know that they have located prey.

  • Freeze in place and point in direction of birds
  • Range back and forth flushing game for the hunter to shot 
  • Retrieve game

All breeds in this group are excellent hunters. 

Hound Group

The Hound group is the oldest of the groups.  The wonderful canines assisting their human in pursuing and catching their hunt.  The dogs in this group are leaders and do not typically wait for direction from the hunter. Therefore, they go off and get the job done.

Hounds hunt by sigh or hound, and some even both. Sighthounds are usually very fast runners like the greyhound, while on the other hand, the scent hounds are more sturdy and slow like the bloodhound.

Working Group

Brave, strong and intelligent, the working group is the ultimate service dog for humans.  These great powerful canines are able to do so many things for us. Here is a list of the many great things these dogs do. 

  • Protect
  • Guard
  • Sledding (for long hauls)
  • Carting
  • Search and Rescue 

Terrier Group 

The good old terrier group. The name of the group pretty much sums it up.  Hence, this is where you will find the terriers. The Terrier was originally used to catch and kill rats and vermin on the farm. You will find breeds like the Yorkie, and Jack Russell in this group of wonderful canines.

Toy Group

This group belongs to all the little guys out there.  Quite a few of them very old, and used mostly for companionship. You’ll find dogs like the Affenpinscher and the miniature schnauzer in this group.

Non-Sporting Group 

Known as the companion group, this is where the dogs that don’t fit into the other group are categorized. Dog breeds in this category are said to have been bred strictly for companionship.

Herding Group 

The dogs in this group are the ones that are able to control another group of animals.  Herding canines are used to herd sheep and cattle mostly. Dogs in the group are known to nip at the feet, bark, stalk or stare their livestock into moving them to where they need to be.

Okay, so we dug a little in the dog groups.  Can you guess which group the pointer and setter are in?  If you guessed sporting, then you are correct. 

Both the Pointer and the Setter dog breed are hunters. But what we really want to know is the differences between the two.   Are there any differences? Yes, there are, and we are about to let you in on those differences. 

Although these two breeds may be in the same group, they are different in their own way. 


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Let’s take a look at the Pointer. 

Pointer Dog Breed

The Pointer date back to the seventeenth century. These dogs were used to point at birds and given the name Gun Dog.  However, the English Pointer was able to point at hare as well, and the German Wirehaired liked to hunt mammals along with birds. We’ll get int the breeds in just a bit.

Once this dog located the prey, it stopped mid-walk and would point its entire body in the direction of the prey, so that the hunter could sneak up and shot the prey, or toss a net on it (if it was pre gun times)


Their coat is short, dense and glossy.  The coat comes in many different colors like white with lemon, orange, black, and markings. The pointer’s coat can have solid coloring in any of these shades, however, white with markings are most common on the English Pointer.

Temperament of a Pointer

Pointers are very easy going, kindred and even though they may be on the large size, these canines make excellent family pets. However, they need lots of exercise due to their high energy nature. So be prepared to take them on longs walks, or make sure your yard is properly secured for fun and games.

These canines are smart, loving, extremely loyal, and they like to keep clean.  They are not known to be an aggressive dog breed and they can live harmoniously with other dogs and even cats.

Pointers do great with children and mix in well with family life.  These dogs are not much of a guard dog, however, they will bark if they feel something is off. 


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Even though these great dogs are born hunters and love being outside getting exercise all day, they will, however, love to join you on the couch and couch potato it out for a while. 

General Appearance of a Pointer

This dog is powerful, lean, and muscular all while being graceful as well.  They are extremely athletic and their expression is intelligent and alert.

Pointer Dog Breeds 

  • English Pointer
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • German Wirehaired Pointer

Setter Dog Breed

The oldest setter breed the English Setter dates back to the 1300s followed by the Gordon Setter in the 1600s and then the Irish Red and White Setter and the Irish Setter in the 1700s.  These dogs were bred for hunting game birds just like the Pointer. However, the Setters were also retrievers.

When looking at the Pointer Dog Breeds Vs The Setter Dog breeds, they are very different in their appearance.  The Pointer dog breed has very short dense hair, while the setters have long shiny coats with feathering at the tail and hind legs. 

The Setter dog will let the hunter know it has located prey by pointing its entire body in the direction of the game.  This is where the Pointer and Setter share the same characteristic.  Both dogs also like to swim.


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As mentioned the Setter has a long and shiny coat, that feathers at the tail, legs, and chest. This coat does need daily brushing to keep it healthy and free of mats.

This coat comes in a few different colors based on the breed of dog.

  • English Setter – white with black, liver, orange or lemon markings
  • Gordon Setter – black and tan
  • Irish red and white Setter- white with solid red patches
  • Irish Setter- mahogany or rich chestnut

Temperament Of A Setter

The Setters are a very affectionate and loving breed just like the Pointers. These dogs are good with children, other dogs, and people. These dogs just like the Pointers need lots of daily exercise. They do quite well with dog sports, so you may want to look into that. Dog sports are great for you and your dog to get daily exercise and meet new friends.

Setters are not an aggressive dog, but they do not like strangers and can be very protective of their human family.

The Setter family is very intelligent and can be trained, however, these canines have a mind of their own. So training may take a little extra patience and love. Remember to keep treats at the ready and reward your pup at all training sessions.

General Appearance of a Setter

The Setter dog breeds are all beautiful and graceful, yet strong and muscular. They are a medium-sized dog. Their expression is gentle and intelligent.

Setter Dog Breeds

  • English Setter
  • Irish Red And White Setter
  • Gordon Setter
  • Irish Setter

Conclusion of Pointer Dogs Vs Setter Dogs

There you have it. Pointer Dog Breeds Vs. Setter Dog Breeds. They were both bred as gun dogs for hunting game birds. Both sets of dogs are highly intelligent and get along just fine with other dogs, children, and people making them excellent family dogs. The Setters and Pointers alert their hunters the same way by freezing mid-step and pointing their entire bodies in the direction of the game they have located.

The most distinctive difference is in their coats. Their coats are totally different with the Pointers being short and dense, while the Setter is long and shiny and soft.

Both types are great dogs if you are looking for a game hunting partner or a family dog. It is all up to you, one which one you think will fit best with your family. Keep in mind that both these types of canines need a lot of daily exercise. If they do not get the physical exercise they need, then the can become bored and be a little destructive in the home. These dogs are best with a very active family.

I hope this article has given you some good information and that you feel more informed about the Pointer vs the Setter dog breeds.

Until next time, be safe and take care of one another.

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