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English Setter

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Friendly, loyal and smart, English setters are appealing dogs with elegant looks. They are easy to love but not so easy to care for as they require plenty of exercise, constant mental stimulation, and extensive grooming. They are fabulous pets for active people with time on their hands but can chew furniture and dig up gardens!

Which breed group is the English setter in?

Breed group: Gundog

English setter breed history

Records of this breed date back to the 14th century. The English setter is one of the oldest gundog breeds in the world and it was evolved from a variety of spaniels, some of which may have been imported from Europe. These dogs were bred to work on challenging terrain, tracking wild fowl. Once a bird was found, the dogs would “set” which involved remaining motionless while lifting a poor to indicate the location of the prey to hunters. The dogs would then drive the bird towards the nets of the hunters. The practice of trapping with nets died out but English setters remain popular due to their placid natures.

English setter breed characteristics

Elegant and graceful, English setters boast impressive looks together with amazing stamina. Their long, lean heads enhance the elegance of their appearance and they have deep, square muzzles. Their eyes are oval and can be hazel or brown. Their moderately long ears hang neatly next to the dogs’ cheeks. English setters are muscular dogs with level backs, deep chests and slightly arched loins. Their feet feature arched toes and their tails taper towards the tips. Coats are silky and slightly wavy. The accepted colours include black & white, black, white & tan, blue belton, lemon & white, liver & white, orange & white and orange belton.

These dogs are friendly and affectionate souls which get on well with dogs and other animals. They are also intelligent and so excel at canine sports. They can be excellent family pets but place significant demands on their owners’ time.

  • Lifespan: 9-15 years
  • Height: up to 69cm
  • Weight: up to 36kg
  • Graceful
  • Impressive stamina
  • Long heads
  • Square muzzles
  • Oval eyes
  • Muscular
  • Level backs
  • Wavy coats in a variety of colours
  • Friendly
  • Affectionate
  • Intelligent
  • Good with dogs and other animals

Health issues with the English setter

English setters are generally robust and healthy dogs but can suffer from the following conditions:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Congenital deafness
  • Dead Tail
  • Injuries to occiputs
  • Hot spots
  • Seasonal canine illness

What is the English setter bred for?

English setters were originally bred to track wild fowl for hunters.

What sort of owners does the English setter suit?

These friendly dogs are very smart and are easy to train. They are good with children of all ages and can live happily with other pets. They are excellent choices for first-time owners but require regular grooming. They also need plenty of exercise and can drool around the home. Puppies tend to chew copiously, and English setters love to dig up gardens. Their ideal owners would be active people who live in the countryside and spend a lot of time outdoors. These dogs need constant mental stimulation and are high-maintenance and so are only suitable pets for those who can devote much of the day to keeping them exercised and entertained.


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