This breed's standard temperament can be described as friendly and good natured; however, it can also be strong-willed and mischievous. English Setters are energetic, people-oriented dogs, that are well suited to families who can give them attention and activity, or to working with a hunter, where they have a job to do. They are active dogs outside that need plenty of exercise in a good sized fenced in yard. Inside they tend to be lower energy and love to be couch potatoes and lap dogs that love to cuddle. Many are good around children.
English Setters are very intelligent and can be trained to perform about any task another breed can do, with the exception of herding. However, they are not always easy to train, as their natural bird instinct tends to distract them in outdoor environments. Their temperament is considered a soft one. Therefore they are very sensitive to criticism, and could be unwilling to repeat behaviour out of fear to disappoint the trainer. Positive reinforcement training methods therefore work best for English Setters.