English Setter

Country of origin:
Great Britain
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
tri-color, blue belton, orange belton, lemon belton, liver belton
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:

The English Setter is a beautiful, graceful, athletic hunting dog with a great stamina. It is intelligent, friendly, sociable and sensitive, but can be stubborn. This breed makes a good companion for both hunters and families with children. There are two major varieties of the English Setter: Field (working gundogs) and Bench (has beautiful coats).


The English Setter is a very old breed (around 400 years ago it began to appear in literature and paintings) that was developed in England. In the beginning of the XVI century in France the breed called "Setting Spaniels" was developed from the Spanish pointer and the French pointer. In the early XIX century these dogs were brought to Great Britain where Sir Edward Laverack developed them into the English Setter using early French hunting dogs. The English Setter is sometimes called the Laverack Setter, or simply the Setter. The word "setter" comes from the way the dogs appear to almost be sitting down when they discover game.

Another Englishman, Mr. R. Purcell Llewellin decided continue the breeding. He took the best of Laverack’s dogs and crossed them with a male setter named Duke. These dogs were among the first English Setters imported to America in XIX century. Other breeders began to standardize their dogs based on Laverack's and Llewellin's lines. The English Setter was first shown at a dog show at Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1859. Laverack’s dogs were especially popular in these early shows due to their beauty. The Llewellin’s were especially favoured by American hunters.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1884; the United Kennel Club (UKC) followed it in the early XX century. The English Setters are used for hunting, tracking, retrieving, pointing, watchdog and agility.

There are two varieties of English Setter - Field and Bench – that can have different temperaments, but these differences mainly concern energy level and working drive (Field lines are more energetic and need more work to do). In general, English Setters are very people-oriented and want to be around their owners all of the time. Never leave your dog alone for a long time, as this breed is prone to severe separation anxiety.

The English Setter is an excellent family dog and companion. It is especially gentle with and tolerant of children. Most English Setters are very fond of children, because they give the dog the attention and the playtime it needs. However, don't leave you young English Setter (0-3 years) with very small children as the dog may be a too exuberant and may bowl over a child accidentally.

English Setters are the friendliest of all Setters. Although your dog will prefer the company of those it knows well, it will also meet new people quite eagerly, and see potential friends in them. This breed is not aggressive and definitely won't be a good guard dog. Training is needed to teach your dog to be «less friendly» as it can jump up on guests and lick them. However, the English Setter makes an excellent watchdog that will alert to the approach of any stranger.

The English Setter is not a dominant breed nor it is territorial or possessive. There fore this breed is not normally dog aggressive and even prefers to share its live with another dog. Proper socialization is important for the English Setter but it tends to be very polite and friendly with strange dogs.

The English Setter has some prey drive, but it was bred to locate birds and alert their owner, and never to attack them directly. The unsocialized dog may pursue and attack other animals. However a socialized English Setter will be gentle and good-natured with other pets such as rabbits and cats. It is still not recommended to leave your dog alone with them as it can injure in an attempt to play.
Health Problems
The most common health problems for the English Setter include:

• deafness;
• ear infections;
• canine hip dysplasia;
• elbow dysplasia;
• hypothyroidism;
• food allergies;
• cancer;
• rapid weight gain.

The English Setter requires a regular grooming. You need to comb and brush your dog daily to avoid mats and tangles. Special attention must be paid to the coat near the legs and tail. Bathing must be done at least twice a week (for show dogs even more often). The English Setter is a heavy shedder.

This breed also needs to have its coat trimmed. You can do it yourself, but most owners choose to visit professional groomer. For the Bench variety of English Setter trimming must be done more frequently – every six weeks.

You must pay special attention to dog's drooping ears. To prevent any irritations or infections clean the ears on a regular basis (at least once a week). You also need to clip the nails and brush the teeth.

The English Setter learns relatively quickly, especially to hunt. This breed is quite intelligent, and can learn most tasks that the average dog can do. The English Setter can compete well in obedience and agility competitions. This dog is willing to please but it doesn't live to fulfil your every wish. It can be quite stubborn, and you can't make your dog do something it already decided not to do. However, this breed is not extremely wilful.

The English Setter is a very sensitive breed, therefore and harsh training methods such as yelling usually don't work. Use a lot of positive methods and motivation such as treats and rewards. You also have to remember that this breed will obey only the one it respects. You must establish yourself as a «pack leader» and be in charge all the time.

The English Setter is an extremely active dog that needs regular, vigorous exercise. The Field variety is more energetic than the Bench setter. It is capable of working or playing hard for long hours. The Field Setter needs a long walk and a job at the very least, and several hours to run around in an enclosed area. This variety absolutely needs a yard, and the larger the better.

A Bench variety requires a very long daily walk at the very least, and preferably an opportunity to run around in a secure area. It is not difficult for an active family or an individual to meet the Bench Setter’s needs, but you really need to be an athlete to keep the Field Setter.

If your dog doesn't get enough exercise and training, it will become extremely destructive and excitable, possibly nervous and excessively vocal. This is an ideal breed for hiking, camping or any other outdoor adventures. A properly exercised English Setter tends to be very relaxed indoors and loves to lie on the sofa with its owners.