Posted on 1 Comment

English Setter

English Setters are native to Britain, assisting hunters for many years. Now, they are classed as a Vulnerable Native Breed. Read on below to learn all about this canine!

English Setter Breed Standards:

Kennel Club Member?: Yes

English Setter Lifespan: Approximately 12 years

English Setter Exercise: 2 and a half hours per day

Height: 23-27 inches

Weight: 20-36 kilograms

Hypoallergenic: No


The English Setter temperament is ideal for those looking for a family pet! They’re friendly and energetic which makes them fantastic playmates for children. Whilst the English Setter is known for its tolerance, play should always be supervised.

A natural watchdog, the English Setter dog will bark to alert owners to strangers approaching their territory. Since they aren’t guard dogs, barking is the most they will do. English Setters will happily greet strangers into their homes. 

Due to the breed’s strong prey drive, they shouldn’t be kept with cats, unless reared together. Stay away from small animals! Dogs on the other hand can live alongside the English Setter. The breed enjoys socializing with other canines when out and about! 

English Setters are highly intelligent and make excellent working dogs. They have a strong prey drive thanks to their hunting background and are still used for this type of work to this day. Strong-willed yet gentle, this mischievous pooch will make a great addition to a family.


Learn about the positive and negative characteristics of the English Setter.


  • All-round family-friendly pooch
  • Playful & energetic, great for kids
  • Very intelligent
  • Dog friendly


  • Strong prey drive
  • High wanderlust potential
  • Fairly prone to gaining weight
  • Likes to bark

This medium-sized breed is white with a speckled coat. The speckles can be found in blue, orange, liver, black, and tri-colour. Their coat is long and silky but typically straight. Some English Setters may have a slight wave to their fur, but it should never be curly. 


Dating back over 500 years, the English Setter is one of Britain’s oldest gundogs! They were used to hunt upland game and can be found in artwork as early as the 15th century. The old term for Setters was ‘Setting Dogues’.  

It is believed they originated from the Spanish Pointer, English Springer Spaniel, and the large Water Spaniel. This mix provided the English Setter with a set of skills perfect for hunting upland game such as grouse and pheasant!

The modern English Setter dog we know today owes tribute to Edward Laverack. In the early 19th century he carefully bred litters, thus creating his own strain. R. Purcell Llewellin began outcrossing Laverack’s litters looking to further benefit the bloodlines. 

In 2012, English Setters were listed as a Vulnerable Native Breed by the Kennel Club. Only 234 English Setter puppy registrations were noted that year. They were later removed from this list after registration numbers increased but unfortunately returned in 2016.   

In America, one English Setter became particularly famous. He is known as Jim the Wonder Dog! This special pooch could apparently predict the gender of unborn babies! He made such an impact so in his honour, a bronze statue was erected in a memorial garden in Marshall, Missouri. 

Exercise & Care 

English Setters need a great deal of exercise. The Kennel Club recommend more than two hours each day. Any potential owner must be able to devote this level of time. Without the right activity level, English Setters will become destructive and could develop behaviour issues. 

As an intelligent, working breed, the English Setter can become bored rather quickly. Some form of mental stimulation will need to be factored into their daily routine. English Setters love their human companions and don’t like being left alone for long periods. 

Potential owners should also have time to dedicate to their canines grooming needs. The breed’s long, silky coat will need a weekly brush. English Setters are moderate shedders so grooming will help prevent fur from covering your home!

English Setter puppies should be introduced to grooming as early as possible. This will allow them to feel comfortable and relaxed during the grooming process. Baths should be given every 3 weeks unless you have a show dog who requires more frequent bathing.

Occasionally, the English Setters coat will need a trim. Thinning scissors can be used for this. Trim only the outline of the coat, maintaining its natural appearance. Coats should never be shaven down unless there’s a medical issue.

Health Issues

Its important owners are aware of the potential health conditions typically seen in the English Setter. These can be found below:

Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid will cause a dogs body functions to slow. This is known as hypothyroidism. Obesity, lack of activity, dull coats, and excessive shedding are all common symptoms. 

Elbow Dysplasia: This common condition is caused by the varying growth rates of the bones in the elbow. It will cause joint laxity leading to lameness and eventually arthritis. Your vet may be able to recommend medication for the discomfort. Some dogs may benefit from a surgical procedure.

Hip Dysplasia: Another condition caused by differentiating bone growth rates is hip dysplasia. This health issue commonly affects large breed dogs. Affected dogs will experience pain, inflammation, and lameness, eventually followed by arthritis. 

English Setter Training

First-time owners will struggle to train the English Setter. They need an experienced owner, particularly one with gundog knowledge. Harsh training is a big no no for the English Setter. This kind-hearted dog will switch off, sometimes a harsh tone is all it takes to upset this sensitive canine.

Basic commands and housebreaking won’t be difficult for an English Setter. They’re deeply intelligent so aim to begin training as early as possible. Potential working English Setters must adhere to recall and basic commands before being allowed into the field. 

These impressive canines will hunt by nature. The hunting techniques used have been embedded in the breed for centuries. Unlike Spaniels, this breed will venture up to 300 yards away from its owner, on the hunt for upland game.

English Setter Breed Facts

  • English Setters are the oldest gundog breed still around today! Their history dates back as early as the 14th century!
  • In Italy, English Setters are still widely popular as working dogs. There were 14,501 English Setter puppy registrations in Italy in 2011!
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a proud owner of an English Setter named Winks. 
  • In the 17th century, English Setters were only allowed to be owned by Nobles. It was illegal for a commoner to own this breed. 
  • Three English Setters have won Best in Show at Crufts 1964,1977 and, 1988. Only one English Setter, Daro, won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show back in 1938.

1 thought on “English Setter

  1. […] Learn about the English Setter, a Vulnerable Native […]

Leave a Reply