English Setter

English Setter Image courtesy of Łukasz Rawa

Welcome to our article on the English Setter! In this article, we will dive into the fascinating world of this breed, exploring its history, characteristics, temperament, and more. Whether you’re considering adding an English Setter to your family or simply curious about this remarkable dog, we’ve got you covered. From their origins to notable dogs from this breed, join us on an exciting journey into the world of the English Setter. Let’s get started!

History and Origins of the Breed

The English Setter is a breed with a rich and storied history. To truly understand and appreciate this remarkable dog, it’s important to explore its origins and how it came to be.

Origins of the English Setter

The English Setter is believed to have originated in England during the 19th century. It is thought to be a descendant of the Spanish Pointer, which was brought to England by the Romans. The breed was developed primarily for the purpose of hunting game birds, particularly grouse, partridge, and pheasant.

Early Development and Influences

The early development of the English Setter involved crossing various breeds to achieve the desired qualities. It is believed that the Spanish Pointer was crossed with the Water Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, and possibly the English Spring Spaniel. These crosses aimed to create a dog with a keen sense of smell, exceptional hunting skills, and a stylish and elegant appearance.

The Influence of Edward Laverack and R. Purcell Llewellin

Two influential figures in the development of the English Setter were Edward Laverack and R. Purcell Llewellin. Laverack, an Englishman, is credited with establishing the breed’s distinctive physical characteristics and elegant appearance. He focused on breeding dogs with specific traits and qualities, and his dogs became known as Laverack Setters.

On the other hand, R. Purcell Llewellin, an Irishman, played a significant role in enhancing the breed’s hunting abilities. He focused on breeding dogs with exceptional hunting instincts, stamina, and intelligence. Llewellin Setters, as they came to be known, were highly sought after by avid hunters.

Recognition and Breed Standard

The English Setter was officially recognized by the Kennel Club in England in 1873, solidifying its place as a distinct and recognized breed. The breed standard was established, outlining the specific characteristics and traits that define an English Setter.

Throughout the years, the breed has gained popularity not only as a hunting dog but also as a beloved companion and show dog. Its striking appearance and gentle nature have made it a favorite among dog enthusiasts around the world.

Modern Status and Popularity

Today, the English Setter remains a beloved breed, cherished for its beauty, athleticism, and friendly disposition. While it is still used for hunting purposes, it has also found success in various dog sports, such as obedience, agility, and rally.

The English Setter’s popularity continues to grow, with dedicated breeders and enthusiasts working to preserve its unique qualities and promote responsible ownership. Whether as a working dog or a cherished family pet, the English Setter continues to capture the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.

In the next section, we will delve into the size and appearance characteristics of the English Setter.


English Setter Image courtesy of Tima Miroshnichenko


Size and Appearance Characteristics

The English Setter is a breed known for its elegance and grace. In this section, we will explore the size and appearance characteristics that define this remarkable dog.


The English Setter is a medium to large-sized breed. According to the breed standard, males typically stand between 24 to 27 inches (61 to 69 cm) at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, ranging from 23 to 26 inches (58 to 66 cm) in height. In terms of weight, adult males usually weigh between 60 to 80 pounds (27 to 36 kg), while females weigh slightly less, ranging from 45 to 70 pounds (20 to 32 kg).

Body Structure

The English Setter has a well-balanced and athletic build. Its body is slightly longer than it is tall, giving it a rectangular appearance. The chest is deep and the ribs are well-sprung, allowing for ample lung capacity and endurance during physical activities.

Coat and Colors

One of the most distinctive features of the English Setter is its beautiful and silky coat. The breed has a medium-length, feathered coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in optimal condition. The coat is known for its luxurious texture and glossy appearance.

English Setters come in various colors and patterns. The most common color combination is the “blue belton,” which consists of a white base coat with black flecks or ticking. Other color combinations include orange belton (white with orange flecks), lemon belton (white with pale yellow flecks), tricolor (white with black and tan markings), and liver belton (white with liver (brown) flecks).

Head and Facial Features

The English Setter has a refined and noble head that is proportionate to its body. The skull is oval-shaped and slightly rounded, with a well-defined stop. The breed has a long and square-shaped muzzle, with a black or liver-colored nose depending on the coat color.

The English Setter’s eyes are expressive and typically dark brown or hazel in color. They are set moderately apart and have a gentle and intelligent expression. The breed’s ears are long, pendant-shaped, and set low on the head, framing the face beautifully.

Tail and Limbs

The English Setter has a moderately long tail that is carried level with the back or slightly raised. The tail is well-feathered, adding to the breed’s elegant appearance. The limbs are straight and muscular, providing the dog with a strong and balanced gait.

Overall Appearance

The English Setter exudes an air of elegance and athleticism. Its well-proportioned body, silky coat, and graceful movement make it a striking and eye-catching breed. Whether in the field or in the show ring, the English Setter’s appearance never fails to captivate.

In the next section, we will explore the life expectancy of the English Setter and factors that can influence their lifespan.


English Setter Image courtesy of Ray Bilcliff


Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of an English Setter is an important consideration for potential owners. In this section, we will discuss the typical lifespan of the breed and factors that can influence their longevity.

Average Lifespan

On average, English Setters have a lifespan of around 10 to 12 years. However, it’s important to note that individual dogs may vary, and some may live longer while others may have a shorter lifespan. Several factors can influence the overall life expectancy of an English Setter.

Factors Affecting Lifespan

  1. Genetics: Like all living beings, genetics play a significant role in determining the lifespan of an English Setter. Responsible breeders strive to produce healthy puppies by selecting breeding pairs with good genetic backgrounds, reducing the likelihood of inherited health issues that can impact longevity.
  2. Health Care: Regular veterinary care, including vaccinations, dental cleanings, and preventive measures for parasites, can help maintain the overall health and well-being of an English Setter. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of any health issues that may arise can also contribute to a longer lifespan.
  3. Diet and Nutrition: Providing a well-balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for the overall health of an English Setter. A diet that meets their nutritional needs, including appropriate levels of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, can help support their immune system, promote healthy organ function, and contribute to longevity.
  4. Exercise and Activity: Regular exercise is essential for keeping an English Setter physically fit and mentally stimulated. Engaging in activities such as walks, runs, playtime, and training sessions can help maintain a healthy weight, strengthen muscles and joints, and prevent obesity-related health issues.
  5. Environmental Factors: The environment in which an English Setter lives can also impact their lifespan. Providing a safe and secure living space, protection from extreme weather conditions, and minimizing exposure to toxins or hazardous substances can all contribute to their overall well-being and longevity.

Quality of Life in Senior Years

As English Setters age, their needs may change, and they may require additional care and attention. It is important to provide them with a comfortable and supportive environment, including appropriate bedding, regular veterinary check-ups, and any necessary modifications to their diet or exercise routine.

Additionally, senior English Setters may benefit from mental stimulation and companionship to prevent boredom and loneliness. Providing gentle exercise, such as short walks or low-impact activities, can help keep them active and maintain their mobility.

By addressing these factors and providing the necessary care and attention, owners can help ensure that their English Setters lead long, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

In the next section, we will explore the temperament of the English Setter, shedding light on their personality traits and behavior.


The temperament of the English Setter is one of its most endearing qualities. Known for their friendly and gentle nature, English Setters make excellent companions and family pets. In this section, we will delve into the temperament traits that define this breed.

Friendly and Sociable

English Setters are renowned for their friendly and sociable nature. They are typically good-natured and enjoy being around people, making them excellent family dogs. They tend to get along well with children and can be patient and tolerant with their playful antics. Their sociable nature also extends to other animals, including other dogs and pets, making them a great addition to multi-pet households.

Intelligent and Eager to Please

English Setters are intelligent dogs that are known for their quick learning abilities. They are eager to please their owners and are generally responsive to training. This intelligence, combined with their willingness to learn, makes them highly trainable dogs. With proper guidance and positive reinforcement techniques, English Setters can excel in obedience training and other dog sports.

Affectionate and Loving

English Setters thrive on human companionship and form strong bonds with their owners. They are known to be affectionate and loving, often seeking attention and affection from their family members. Their loyal and devoted nature makes them excellent companions who are always ready to provide comfort and companionship.

Energetic and Active

As a sporting breed, English Setters have a moderate to high energy level. They require regular exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Engaging in activities such as brisk walks, jogging, or playtime in a securely fenced area can help fulfill their exercise needs. English Setters also excel in activities like agility and field trials, where they can utilize their natural instincts and energy.

Gentle and Patient

English Setters are known for their gentle and patient disposition. They generally have a calm and relaxed demeanor, which makes them well-suited for households with children or elderly individuals. Their patient nature allows them to tolerate handling and can make them suitable therapy dogs or companions for those in need.

Potential for Separation Anxiety

English Setters form strong bonds with their owners and can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. They thrive on human companionship and can become distressed or exhibit unwanted behaviors when separated from their loved ones. It is important for owners to provide proper training, gradual desensitization, and mental stimulation to help alleviate separation anxiety in English Setters.

Understanding the temperament traits of the English Setter is essential for potential owners to ensure a harmonious and fulfilling relationship with this breed. With their friendly, intelligent, and affectionate nature, English Setters make wonderful companions for individuals and families alike.

In the next section, we will explore the trainability and adaptability of the English Setter, shedding light on their ability to learn and adapt to different environments and situations.


English Setter Image courtesy of eni_bilderschnipsel


Trainability and Adaptability

The trainability and adaptability of the English Setter are important factors to consider when bringing this breed into your home. In this section, we will explore their trainability, ability to learn new tasks, and how well they adapt to different environments and lifestyles.


English Setters are generally highly trainable dogs. They possess intelligence, a desire to please, and a cooperative nature, which makes them receptive to training. With consistent and positive reinforcement methods, English Setters can excel in obedience training, agility, and other dog sports. Their natural instincts as hunting dogs may also make them inclined to learn and follow commands related to scent work or tracking.

It is important to note that English Setters may have a slightly independent streak, which means they may occasionally test boundaries or display selective listening. Patience, consistency, and using rewards-based training techniques are key to achieving successful training outcomes with this breed.


Proper socialization is crucial for English Setters to develop into well-rounded and confident dogs. Early and ongoing socialization should expose them to various people, animals, sounds, and environments. This helps them learn appropriate behavior, build confidence, and reduce the likelihood of developing fear or aggression issues. Engaging in puppy socialization classes, supervised playdates, and introducing them to different situations gradually can greatly contribute to their adaptability and overall temperament.

Adaptability to Living Environments

English Setters are adaptable dogs that can thrive in various living environments, provided their exercise and mental stimulation needs are met. They can adapt well to both urban and rural settings, as long as they receive sufficient exercise and mental enrichment. However, it’s important to note that their moderate to high energy levels may require a larger living space or access to a secure outdoor area where they can burn off their energy.

While English Setters are adaptable to different living environments, they thrive best in homes where they receive ample attention, companionship, and exercise. They are not well-suited to a lifestyle where they are left alone for long periods or lack social interaction.

Compatibility with Different Lifestyles

English Setters can be a good fit for various lifestyles, but they are best suited for active individuals or families who can provide them with the physical and mental stimulation they require. They enjoy participating in outdoor activities, such as hiking, running, or playing fetch. Their sociable nature also makes them good candidates for families with children or individuals who desire a loyal and affectionate companion.

It’s important to consider your own lifestyle and ensure that you can meet the exercise, training, and socialization needs of an English Setter before bringing one into your home. By providing them with a suitable environment and the necessary mental and physical outlets, English Setters can adapt well and thrive in a variety of lifestyles.

In the next section, we will explore the exercise requirements and energy level of the English Setter, shedding light on their need for physical activity and mental stimulation.

Exercise Requirements and Energy Level

The English Setter is an energetic and athletic breed that requires regular exercise and mental stimulation to thrive. In this section, we will discuss their exercise requirements and energy level, helping you understand how to keep your English Setter happy, healthy, and well-balanced.

Exercise Requirements

English Setters are considered a medium to high-energy breed, and they benefit from regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Engaging in daily exercise helps prevent boredom, provides an outlet for their energy, and promotes good overall health. A lack of exercise can lead to behavioral issues or the development of destructive habits.

To meet the exercise needs of an English Setter, aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. This can include brisk walks, jogging, running, playing fetch, or participating in activities like agility or flyball. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as puzzle toys or scent work, can also help keep their minds sharp and prevent boredom.

Mental Stimulation

In addition to physical exercise, English Setters require mental stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored or restless. This can be achieved through interactive play, training sessions, or engaging in activities that tap into their natural instincts, such as scent work or tracking. Puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, or hide-and-seek games can also provide mental stimulation and keep them entertained.

Energy Level

English Setters have a moderate to high energy level, especially during their younger years. They are bred for endurance and have a natural inclination for activities such as hunting and retrieving. However, as they mature, their energy levels may decrease slightly.

It’s important to note that the energy level of an English Setter can vary from dog to dog. Some individuals may have a higher energy drive and require more exercise and mental stimulation, while others may be more laid-back. Understanding your specific dog’s energy level and adjusting their exercise routine accordingly is crucial for their overall well-being.

Age and Exercise

As English Setters age, their exercise requirements may change. Puppies and younger English Setters may have more energy and require more frequent exercise sessions to burn off their excess energy. As they reach adulthood, their exercise needs can be maintained at a consistent level. However, it is important to adjust the intensity and duration of exercise as they enter their senior years to accommodate any age-related changes or physical limitations.

Weather Considerations

English Setters have a fine and feathered coat, which may make them more sensitive to extreme weather conditions. During hot weather, it is advisable to exercise them during the cooler parts of the day and provide access to shade and fresh water to prevent overheating. During cold weather, it’s important to protect them from extreme cold temperatures and provide them with appropriate outerwear if necessary.

By providing your English Setter with regular exercise and mental stimulation, you can help channel their energy in a positive way, prevent behavioral issues, and ensure their overall well-being.

In the next section, we will explore the grooming requirements of the English Setter, shedding light on how to maintain their beautiful coat and overall grooming needs.

Grooming Requirements

The English Setter has a beautiful, silky coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in optimal condition. In this section, we will explore the grooming requirements of the English Setter, including coat care, bathing, and other grooming needs.

Coat Care

The English Setter has a medium-length, feathered coat that requires regular brushing to prevent matting and tangling. A thorough brushing session two to three times per week is recommended to remove loose hair, debris, and prevent the formation of mats. Pay extra attention to areas such as the ears, chest, and tail, as these areas are more prone to tangling.

Using a slicker brush or a medium-toothed comb can help effectively remove tangles and keep the coat looking neat and healthy. Additionally, regular brushing also helps distribute the natural oils throughout the coat, promoting a shiny and healthy appearance.


English Setters do not require frequent bathing, as over-bathing can strip the coat of its natural oils and lead to dryness and skin irritation. Generally, bathing every two to three months or as needed is sufficient for most English Setters. However, if your dog gets excessively dirty or smelly, a bath may be necessary.

When bathing your English Setter, use a mild dog shampoo that is specifically formulated for their coat type. Thoroughly rinse the coat to ensure all shampoo residue is removed. It is also important to keep the ears dry during bathing to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to ear infections.

Ear Care

The long and pendant-shaped ears of the English Setter require regular attention to prevent ear infections and maintain good ear health. Check the ears regularly for signs of redness, inflammation, or a foul odor, which may indicate an infection. Clean the ears using a veterinarian-recommended ear cleaning solution and cotton balls, being careful not to insert anything into the ear canal.

Trimming the hair around the ears can also help promote airflow and reduce the risk of moisture buildup. If you are not comfortable trimming the hair yourself, seek the assistance of a professional groomer.

Nail Care

Regular nail trims are essential for the English Setter to prevent overgrowth, discomfort, and potential injury. Trim the nails every few weeks or as needed, being cautious not to cut too close to the quick, which can cause bleeding and pain. If you are unsure about trimming your dog’s nails, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian for guidance.

Dental Care

Proper dental care is important for the overall health of your English Setter. Regularly brushing their teeth using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste can help prevent dental issues such as tartar buildup and gum disease. Additionally, providing dental chews or treats approved by your veterinarian can help promote good oral hygiene.

Professional Grooming

While regular brushing and maintenance can keep the coat looking good, occasional visits to a professional groomer may be necessary for a more thorough grooming session. Professional groomers can help with tasks such as trimming the hair around the paws, underbelly, and face, as well as providing a more precise haircut if desired.

By following a regular grooming routine and providing proper coat care, you can help your English Setter maintain a healthy and beautiful appearance.

In the next section, we will explore the common health issues that may affect the English Setter, as well as steps that can be taken to promote their overall health and well-being.

Health Issues

Like all dog breeds, the English Setter is susceptible to certain health issues. In this section, we will explore some common health issues that may affect the English Setter and discuss steps that can be taken to promote their overall health and well-being.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic condition that can affect English Setters. It is a hereditary condition where the hip joint does not develop properly, leading to joint instability and potential pain and lameness. To reduce the risk of hip dysplasia, it is important to obtain English Setters from reputable breeders who perform hip evaluations on their breeding stock. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can also help support joint health in English Setters.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy is an inherited eye disorder that can lead to progressive vision loss and eventual blindness. Responsible breeders will have their breeding dogs screened for PRA to reduce the risk of passing on this condition. Regular eye examinations by a veterinary ophthalmologist can help detect and manage any eye issues in English Setters.


Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. Symptoms can include weight gain, skin issues, hair loss, and lethargy. Regular veterinary check-ups and blood tests can help monitor thyroid function, and if diagnosed, hypothyroidism can often be managed through medication and proper veterinary care.

Canine Epilepsy

English Setters are known to be prone to canine epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. While the exact cause of epilepsy is often unknown, it is believed to have a genetic component. If your English Setter experiences seizures, it is important to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and management.

Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus)

Bloat is a life-threatening condition that can occur in deep-chested breeds like the English Setter. It involves the stomach filling with gas and twisting, leading to a potentially fatal situation. Feeding smaller, frequent meals, avoiding exercise immediately after meals, and using a slow feeder bowl can help reduce the risk of bloat. If you suspect bloat, it is considered a medical emergency, and immediate veterinary attention is necessary.

Other Health Considerations

English Setters may also be prone to other health issues such as allergies, ear infections, and certain types of cancers. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, proper exercise, and preventive measures like vaccinations and regular parasite control can help promote their overall health and well-being.

It is important to note that not all English Setters will experience these health issues, and responsible breeding practices can help reduce the likelihood of hereditary conditions. When considering adding an English Setter to your family, research reputable breeders who prioritize health testing and strive to produce healthy puppies.

In the final section of this guide, we will explore comparable breeds to the English Setter, highlighting some alternative options for those seeking similar traits and characteristics.

Comparable Breeds

While the English Setter is a unique and wonderful breed, there are other breeds that share similar traits and characteristics. In this section, we will explore some comparable breeds to the English Setter, providing alternative options for those seeking dogs with similar qualities.

Irish Setter

The Irish Setter is a close relative of the English Setter and shares many similarities in terms of appearance and temperament. They are both elegant, energetic, and friendly breeds that excel in hunting and make excellent family companions. The main difference between the two lies in their coat color, with Irish Setters having a rich chestnut or mahogany coat.

Gordon Setter

The Gordon Setter is another breed that shares ancestry with the English Setter. Like the English Setter, Gordon Setters are medium to large-sized hunting breeds with a noble and elegant appearance. They are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and gentle nature. The main distinction between the two breeds is the coat color, as Gordon Setters have a distinctive black coat with tan markings.

English Springer Spaniel

The English Springer Spaniel is a sporting breed that shares some similarities with the English Setter. Both breeds are active, agile, and intelligent. While English Setters are primarily bred for pointing and setting game birds, English Springer Spaniels are bred for flushing and retrieving game. They are both friendly and make great family pets, but English Springer Spaniels tend to have a more compact and sturdy build compared to the elegant English Setter.

Brittany Spaniel

The Brittany Spaniel, also known as the Brittany or Brittany Spaniel, is a versatile and energetic breed that shares some traits with the English Setter. They are both active hunting breeds with a friendly and gentle nature. Brittanys are known for their intelligence, trainability, and enthusiasm for outdoor activities. They have a smaller build compared to the English Setter but possess a similar zest for life and a desire to please their owners.


The Vizsla is another breed that can be comparable to the English Setter in terms of energy level and affectionate nature. Vizslas are known for their athleticism, loyalty, and friendly disposition. They are versatile hunting dogs and make excellent family companions. While the Vizsla has a shorter coat compared to the English Setter, they both require regular exercise and mental stimulation to thrive.

These are just a few examples of breeds that share some similarities with the English Setter. When considering a comparable breed, it is important to research and evaluate each breed’s specific traits, exercise needs, and temperament to ensure they align with your lifestyle and preferences.

In conclusion, the English Setter is a unique and remarkable breed, but there are other breeds that may also meet your needs and preferences. By exploring the characteristics of different breeds, you can find the perfect companion that suits your lifestyle and fulfills your desires in a furry friend.

Notable Dogs from This Breed

Throughout history, there have been several notable English Setters that have left their mark on the breed and the world of dogs in general. In this final section, we will highlight some of the most notable dogs from the English Setter breed.

Champion Rock Falls Colonel

Champion Rock Falls Colonel, also known as Colonel, was a legendary English Setter who made a significant impact on the breed. Born in 1906, Colonel was a highly accomplished show dog, earning numerous titles and accolades. He was known for his exceptional conformation, beautiful movement, and striking presence in the show ring. Colonel’s success helped solidify the English Setter’s reputation as a top-notch show dog and set a high standard for future generations.

Champion Lighthouse II

Champion Lighthouse II, also known as Lighthouse, was another influential English Setter who made a lasting impression in the dog show world. Born in 1942, Lighthouse was a multiple Best in Show winner and a top-winning English Setter of his time. He possessed a balanced and elegant structure, combined with a beautiful flowing coat and a captivating presence. Lighthouse’s success contributed to the popularity and recognition of the English Setter breed in the mid-20th century.

Dual Champion Tekoa Mountain Sunrise

Dual Champion Tekoa Mountain Sunrise, often referred to as Sunrise, was a remarkable English Setter who excelled in both the show ring and the field. Born in 1973, Sunrise earned his show championship title as well as his field championship title, showcasing his versatility and exceptional abilities in both arenas. He epitomized the breed standard, with a well-balanced structure, excellent hunting instincts, and an affectionate and gentle temperament.

Champion Set’R Ridge’s Solid Gold

Champion Set’R Ridge’s Solid Gold, commonly known as Goldie, was an English Setter who made history as the first female English Setter to win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Her momentous win in 1985 helped shine a spotlight on the breed and paved the way for future female English Setters to compete and excel in the show ring.

These notable English Setters, along with many others, have contributed to the legacy and recognition of the breed. Their achievements and qualities have helped shape the English Setter into the remarkable and beloved dog that it is today.

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