English Setter Breed Guide

English Setters are medium-sized dogs with silky, speckled hair that grows long on the chest, ears, and tail. Their coat is feathered and colored white with an intermingling of orange or blue (called "belton), or tricolored. The coat is flat. These dogs have a long and square muzzle, dark nose, dark brown eyes, and a deep chest. They measure 24 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 45 to 80 pounds. With proper care, these dogs can live up to 12 years.

English Setters are highly intelligent, but they are slow to mature and need gentle training with plenty of consistency and positive reinforcement.

These dogs are amiable and easygoing. They get along great with children and other dogs, but they need a lot of exercise to remain healthy and happy. Walking them every day or giving them free time in a secure yard will go a long way toward meeting their exercise needs.

Some English Setters tend to drool, sometimes excessively. This is especially true if they're waiting for a food reward or watching their human family members eat. While it can be pretty gross, it is harmless.

These affectionate, gentle, and easygoing dogs love spending time with their human family. They make excellent companions for adults and children, and they get along well with other household pets. English Setters are energetic but mellow, and are friendly while still making decent watchdogs.

The breed is well mannered and adaptable and does well in most settings. However, these dogs tend to be on the sensitive side and may feel left out or unloved if left alone for long periods or not given enough attention and affection. They need regular interaction from their humans to be truly satisfied.

Because they are so athletic and active when outdoors, English Setters make great jogging partners. They need vigorous, daily exercise in the form of leash walks, free play, or structured activity. Ideally, these dogs will live indoors and play outdoors in a securely fenced yard or similar setting. They are not well suited to living outside full time.

English Setters are fairly healthy dogs, but this does not mean the breed is guaranteed to remain healthy throughout life. Choosing a dog from a healthy family line and routine veterinary care go a long way toward keeping these dogs healthy.

This breed is more prone than some other breeds to developing certain health conditions that may negatively affect life, including congenital hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, OCD, and epilepsy. Additionally, English Setters are known to be affected by hypothyroidism, lysosomal storage disease, allergies, and congenital deafness. If any of these disorders are present, a veterinarian can help with symptom management and treatment options.

Regular exercise, proper nutrition, routine health care, and timely vaccinations help ensure English Setters live a full, active life of 10 to 12 years.

English Setters are highly intelligent, but they are slow to mature and need gentle training with plenty of consistency and positive reinforcement. Harsh techniques and corrections do not work well with this breed. They have an excellent memory and don't forget things learned during training or elsewhere. The independence that serves them well in the field may make them difficult to manage at home. A professional trainer can assist with these dogs.

Because they were bred to run and hunt, these dogs have a difficult time resisting the urge to act out these behaviors in the backyard or on the street. Training and regular exercise are necessary to minimize these behaviors and keep these dogs safe. When not on a leash, a securely fenced yard is necessary to keep them safe.

English Setters should be socialized early in life to ensure they develop into tolerant, gentle dogs that are accepting of children and other animals. They must be introduced to a variety of sights, sounds, and people from a young age for the best possible temperament later in life.

English Setters require more grooming than many other dog breeds due to the tendency of their feathered coat to become matted and tangled. Brushing and clipping is a big part of caring for these dogs, and anyone without time for these activities should reconsider the decision to purchase or adopt one of these dogs.

Combing several times each week will remove and prevent tangles and mats, and bathing every month or so will keep the coat and skin clean and healthy. If the white coat becomes stained or dull, shampoos and other products are available to improve its appearance. Trimming and clipping should be done every month or two to create a neater appearance and help reduce tangles.

The nails need trimming every few weeks to keep them a healthy length, and the teeth should be brushed every day to prevent tartar build-up, tooth decay, and gum disease. The use of dental chews and water additives can help protect the teeth when brushing is not possible. To prevent ear infections, a weekly ear cleaning and examination is necessary. Signs of infection, such as pain, redness, discharge, or odor, should be reported to a veterinarian right away.

The English Setter is one of the earliest gundog breeds and was developed in England more than four centuries ago. These dogs developed from Spaniel stock and were originally called Setting Spaniels. Before firearms were used in hunting, these dogs would locate birds and then "set" down on their front legs, allowing hunters to throw a net over their prize. After guns entered widespread use, an upright pointing stance was bred into these dogs.

The English Setter's ancestors likely included the Springer Spaniel, Spanish Pointer, and Water Spaniel. The breed was beloved for its hunting abilities for hundreds of years.

Today, English Setters are kept primarily as companion animals and are cherished for their beauty and good nature. This breed excels in obedience, agility, and show, and it is impressive in the field. Their popularity continues to increase as more and more people learn about the impressive appearance and personality of the breed.

The American Kennel Club officially recognized the English Setter in 1884.