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Are English Setters Smart? Answered & Explained!

Each dog is individual regardless of breed and litter, so some dogs within this breed will be smarter than others. Even though this might be the case, much can be done to foster that intelligence from an early age. While they are not the top-most intelligent dog breed, English Setters have many redeeming qualities. But just how smart are English Setters?

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Are English Setters Smart?

English Setters are smart. They are a very smart dog breed that can do almost any task another dog breed can do, with a few exceptions. Historically, the breed has a specific purpose as a hunting breed that makes them naturally smart.

English Setters are smart dogs who can be trained successfully and follow commands. They are smart and learn fast when training or unofficially taught a new trick. It should be noted that the English Setter has a stubborn personality which can go either way regarding training. 

If an English Setter decides they don’t want to learn what’s being taught or want to do something in particular training, it might be not easy. While they are not the top-ranking dogs in intelligence, their ability to be trained and learn new skills is exceptionally high.

Their high intelligence level is one of the reasons why they are so good at hunting. Aside from being a wonderful hunting companion, they are also very smart and make good watch and guard dogs. This trait is not their strongest suit as they are best suited to hunting historically, but they are good nonetheless.

Under the command of an exceptional, effective trainer, the English Setter will thrive in training. It’s required that they have the right trainer, as is the case with most highly intelligent dog breeds. 

This scenario is never truer than a dog like the English Setter with a stubborn streak.

It can be hard to measure the level of smarts for any dog breed as each dog within that breed is an individual like humans. Their level of intelligence as a whole, or in one area or another, can vary for each dog.

Some English Setters will be smarter than others, even within the same litter of puppies. English Setters are smart, alert, and quick to pick up a task if they want to do that.

Parents can do a lot to foster smarts in their English Setter.

How can I help my English Setter puppy be smart?

The best way to help your English Setter puppy be smart is to foster a happy, active life. The puppy should have lots of engaging moments with their loved ones, including conversation and playtime with toys.

An English Setter puppy will also thrive with a good healthy diet that’s nutritious. They will also benefit from a happy home life that has a minimal amount of stress and distractions. Finally, you, as the parent, should engage them in life.

Talk to the English Setter about their home life or life in general. Play games with them and keep them active and moving. Social skills can help any dog be smarter because their interactions with other dogs teach them new things.

Social playdates or trips to the dog park are a great way to foster intelligence passively. The English Setter spends time around various other dogs, learning new things and picking up on behaviors and habits. This situation can foster more smarts.

Training should be the foundation of a dog’s life regarding behavior and personality. In some cases, training can help an English Setter be smarter.

The trick to helping a dog be the best they can be regardless of their breeding is to foster a happy, healthy lifestyle. This foundation of a happy life is a springboard for every adventure and activity they learn.

If an English Setter feels good, they will learn more and easier. This scenario is true for humans and dogs, and providing them with a happy, fulfilling life where they are loved and well cared for will make it easy for them to learn more.

It’s the best an English Setter parent can do; beyond that, it’s up to the dog, their breed background, and who they are as a dog.

Is there anything that makes an English Setter hard to train?

Yes, a few things make an English Setter hard to train. First, the English Setter has a stubborn streak, which can make it hard for some people to train them effectively.

Aside from that, English Setters are hunting dogs. As part of the hunting class of dogs, they have a high prey drive, making them harder to train than other breeds.    This is especially true in outdoor settings where they are easily distracted from the task at hand by birds.

It can easily be reminded in the right environment, preferably indoors or with a skilled trainer who uses various tricks and techniques to get the job done.

Their high level of intelligence is an asset to training an English Setter, but it depends on what is being taught and their personality. English Setters who have a well-adjusted personality easily adapt and learn new things.

Treats can be used as a reward, but as with any dog breed, this should not be the sole motivator or leaned on too heavily. Mixing things up for any dog creates intrigue and interest, and the English Setter is no different here.

Keep the English Setter engaged, and they will easily learn what is being taught. This also works if they are a dog that has a stubborn mindset, and distractions and diversity don’t allow that character trait to set in during training easily.

If my English Setter isn’t used for hunting, will they be less smart?

No, if your English Setter isn’t used for hunting, they will not be less smart. Hunting, and in this case, birding, is what this breed is historically bred to do. That means it’s something they are good at and instinctually know how to do.

Smarts and hunting are not interwoven in that way; if they don’t hunt, they are less smart. It simply means that they are smarter and more capable in this area of life, better at completing this task.

An English Setter who doesn’t hunt will be just as smart as another English Setter but different in what they do. That being said, this trait is a part of their breed background. Therefore, you can take the dog out of the hunt but never the hunt out of the dog.

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