English Setter

Type: Gun Dog

Height: Females: 24 - 25 inches; Males: 25 - 27 inches.

Weight: 40 - 70 lbs.

Life Span: 10 - 14 years.

Litter Size: 6 - 8 puppies.

Country of Origin: England

Activity: Indoors - Low. Outdoors - Very High.

Watch-dog: High

Guard-dog: Low

Description: The English Setter is one of the oldest breeds of gun dogs and has been a treasured bird retriever for the last four hundred years, at least. English Setters are a large, graceful dog with a lively sprit who will have unconditional devotion to their whole family. They have beautiful flowing coats with a glossy, aristocratic touch. Their bodies are leanly muscled, all white and with heavy ticking. They have dark brown eyes, long feathering fur and a long tail to add to their elegance. Newborn puppies are born white and after the first week begin to change in color. English Setters thrive on human companionship or with other dogs. They are very loyal, affectionate and slightly self-willed. They are good at "setting" when they see their prey. English Setters are good with children and can adapt to single family or kennel living. This breed needs a lot of exercise, but are mild and calm inside. They are active dogs, however, and the field version of the English Setter is slightly more active than the show version. English Setters are good at what they do, and love the outdoors. English Setters come in two varieties: show dogs and field dogs. The show dogs are about 25% larger than the field dog, carries the tail lower and has a more square muzzle.

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Colors: Black and white, orange and white, orange Belton, blue Belton, lemon and white, lemon Belton, liver and white, liver Belton, or tri-colored (blue Belton and tan or liver Belton and tan), those without heavy patches of color but flecked all over are preferred. Some are all white. Belton is characterized by light or dark ticking or roaning.

Coat: Short, straight and dense.

Temperament: English Setters are responsive and friendly. They are trainable, but with difficulty. The English Setter may have a mind of its own, but is very loyal and dedicated to family. They get along with everyone, including children. English Setters love the outdoors, and can adapt to living with a family or living in a kennel. They are quite sensitive, and do not respond well to harsh training. This breed may not obey in fear that they will disappoint you if they do it wrong. They are affectionate, good-natured and mild.

With Children: Yes, but may be too exuberant for small children.

With Pets: Yes, good rapport with other animals.

Special Skills: Field sports dog and family pet.

Care and Training: Daily brushing of their silky coat. Extra grooming is needed when English Setters shed. Bathe or dry shampoo when necessary. Trim hair on feet and tails, check ears for any signs of infection. English Setters require long daily walks or free space to run. English Setters are a good companion to run along side a bicycle. Feed two or three small meals a day, as they are prone to bloating. Consistent training and strenuous exercise is needed for a good-natured dog. They are moderately easy to train, but do have a mind of their own. Harsh training is not acceptable with this breed, as they are very sensitive. They may not obey a command they understand because they are in fear of disappointing or failing their master. Positive reinforcement is the best method for this breed.

Learning Rate: Low. Obedience - Medium. Problem Solving - High.

Living Environment: A home with a fenced yard is essential as the English Setter has a tendency to wander, and they need lots of exercise. Best in a home with affectionate owners who will take time to give them tasks such as hunting, agility work or tracking. The English Setter would do best to be with an active owner living in a rural or suburban setting.

Health Issues: Unfortunately, English Setters are prone to an inherited tendency of blindness. The whiter variety has more risk of developing allergies, skin conditions, and hip and elbow dysplasia. Other health concerns include hypothyroidism and deafness.

History: Mentioned in European literature in the 14th century, the English Setter has been a registered breed by the Kennel Club in London since 1873. They have existed for at least 400 years in England. Descended from a variety of Spanish spaniels and pointers, they have also been known as the Laverack Setter or Llewellin Setters. These names come straight from the English Setter's origins; Laverack and Llewellin were men who maintained and fostered the breed for specific purposes, mostly for their performance in the field. The name "setter" is actually the result of how they sit down, or "set", when they see their prey. They often crawl up closer to their prey, "army trench style". Edward Laverack of the 1850s decided to buy a pair of Setters from a reverend who had owned and bred them for 35 years. Laverack spent many resources and years of his life dedicated to producing a Setter to his ideal. The strain of Setter he created became popular worldwide, and many were exported to other countries, including America. In 1873 the British Kennel Club recognized the breed Laverack had created. He wrote, "this breed is but a Spaniel improved". Whether an improved Spaniel or not, Laverack unfortunately went on to inbreed his dogs, which resulted in some strains having distemper problems and infertility. Nonetheless, the breed did not lose popularity and another man came into the story, Purcell Llewellin. Llewellin bought a few of Laverack's dogs and worked on them himself. He chose females with good field skills and high energy. He then mixed these setters with his own Gordon Setters and Irish Setters, creating what is known as the Dukes-Rhoebes strain. Soon after his dogs were competing in trials and the Llewellin strain became the well-known breed. To this day there are some who still believe the "Llewellin Setter" is a breed separate from others, while in actuality it is simply the English Setter. After this, Llewellin began degenerating the line by inbreeding as well. The English Setter's popularity was soon replaced by the English Pointer. Today the breed has two lines that have developed from these: one for working, and one for show.

First Registered by the AKC: 1878

AKC Group: Sporting Group

Class: Gundog

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 7), KC(GB), UKC