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English Setter

English Setter

The English Setter is a large yet elegant breed, symmetrical and substantial in build. Epitomising grace, strength and stamina, their coats are long, flat, silky and well feathered.

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys walking more than two hours a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Quiet dog
  • Not a guard dog
  • Great with other pets
  • Great family dog

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Weight:  27 – 36kg
Height:  61 – 69cm
Colours:  The rather old term ‘belton’ is used to describe their flecked colour patterning,
which can be lemon, orange, liver or blue (black), or tricolour
(a mix of blue belton and liver, or tan belton and tan) over a white background 
Size:  Large
UK Kennel Club Groups: Gundog

Ratings

Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 3/5
Tolerates being alone: 1/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 3/5
Two white English setters looking at owner.

Personality

The English Setter is a friendly, amiable natured dog that bonds well with family, though is likely to be a little more reserved with strangers. Less enthusiastic or exuberant than some of the Setter family, they are easy going with other dogs and household pets.  

They are slow to mature and care should be taken to socialise and habituate sensitively, and never overwhelm them or take their tolerant nature for granted.

English Setter lying on the ground.

History and Origins

Country of Origin: England

The English Setter’s roots go back to the 1500s, when references to bird dogs that probably resemble the modern English Setter in some way were recorded. There was however, much competition and rivalry between landowners to develop their own specific Setter, and so the exact history is unclear with many variations!  

It’s likely the Setters are an offshoot of the various land spaniels brought over from Spain, with the possible addition of water spaniel, pointer and springer spaniel types. 

It’s generally agreed that Sir Edward Lavarack was the most instrumental in establishing the English Setter as a distinct and recognised breed. 

The English Setters original function was ‘setting’, crouching to indicate where birds were hidden, then either remaining in position whilst nets were thrown, or being asked to move on and push birds into the air to meet the hunter’s hawks (later guns, as falconry fell out of favour).

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • Even amongst litters of show bred puppies, their freezing crouching behaviour can be seen almost as soon as puppies can walk!
  • ‘Belton’ is a very old term for the flecked colour pattern the English Setters coat displays. It’s also seen on Welsh Cobs and Clydesdale horses. 
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt owned around seven dogs while he was in the White House, one was an English Setter called Winks. 
  • The English Setter was once used as a status symbol and it was illegal for commoners to own one in the early 17th century, the nobles believed this was the best way to prevent the breed from becoming weak stock. 
  • English Setter’s are quite an old breed and can be traced back at least 400 years.
Dog with red collar looking out the window
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