English Setter

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Get the facts about the  English Setter and see if they're a good match for you.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:
12 years
Size:

Medium

Maintenance Level:

High

Shed Level:

Medium

Temperament:
Social ButterflyAffectionateHigh-Energy
Coat Color:
WhiteOrange BeltonBlue Belton

Best For

English Setters are best for pup parents and families with bustling homes, but you don't need to be the super-active type. They do well with kids and other dogs and are a great choice for first-time pup parents and people with allergies.

English Setter Traits

What makes the English Setter an English Setter? Let's find out how they stack up.

English Setter Temperament

English Setters are happy-go-lucky pups who are gentle and affectionate and great with kids; they think everyone they meet is their best friend. These guys will be your biggest fan, so make sure to invest in a comfy dog bed and put in the center of the action as they’re happiest when surrounded by the love and laughter of their people, both day and night.

These pups are great playmates for kids, and they’re more than happy to join other dogs in the home. While they’re born hunters, they can get along with cats as long as they’re raised with them from puppyhood. But plan on them chasing smaller pets, like rabbits and hamsters.

English Setters are alert and protective and make great watchdogs. They won’t hesitate to sound the alarm when someone unfamiliar approaches, but once settled, they’re just fine—they tend to return to a state of calm pretty quickly too.

How to Care for a English Setter

It’s just a fact that a dog with such a gorgeous and luxurious coat is going to be high maintenance, and the English Setter is true-to-form. While they shed a moderate amount, their coat care, training and exercise needs will require a lot of your attention. But hey—it gives you more time to love on your pup.

English Setter Health

Bred as sporting dogs, English Setters are quite hardy. While they have a life expectancy of 12 years, there are a few health issues and problems that potential English Setter pet parents should be aware of.

  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: With hip and elbow dysplasia, the bones that make up the joints in those areas don’t form correctly, causing pain for your pup. Common symptoms of hip and elbow dysplasia include limping and an unwillingness to play. The good news is these types of dysplasia are treatable. Treatment includes medication, physical therapy and surgery if symptoms persist or worsen.
  • Hypothyroidism: Dogs who suffer from hypothyroidism have an underactive thyroid. This condition can lead to weight gain, lethargy, excessive shedding, hair loss and itching and redness of the skin. While there is no cure for hypothyroidism, the condition can be managed through hormone replacement therapy, likely for the remainder of the dog’s life.
  • Deafness: Deafness is another health condition commonly seen with English Setters. Clearly, this can present a myriad of challenges for both the dog and their family, so patience is key. It’s important to remember that dogs can live full and wonderful lives despite being deaf.
  • Allergies: Environmental and food allergies are also common in English Setters. While environmental allergies (think, mold and pollen) are effectively managed with medication, food allergies may require a little detective work in the form of an elimination diet to determine the exact cause. Your vet can help you identify the culprit and work with you to adjust your dog’s diet accordingly.

English Setter History

The origin of the English Setter goes back centuries where records indicate they were trained bird dogs in England. (The term “setter” refers to the seated or crouched position these dogs assume when they discover game; they lay down quietly or “set.”) However, the history of the modern English Setter begins in the 19th century where the breed was first developed by Englishman Edward Laverack and Welshman R.L. Purcell Llewellin.

At one point, English Setters were referred to as Laverack or Llewellin Setters, a name clearly reflecting their lineage. But eventually, the roads diverged for this breed. The Laverack line became known as the show-dog type, and the Llewellin line was prized for their field qualities.

English Setters were one of the first nine breeds ever registered in America and joined the American Kennel Club when it was founded in 1884. As part of the Sporting group (dogs who work with hunters), English Setters have retained their popularity since their introduction; today, they rank 94 out of 197 dog breeds in the AKC.

While Setters are believed to be a breed that includes English, Irish, and Gordon Setters, these three types of dogs are, in fact, three separate breeds with different traits and characteristics. The English Setter, for example, is slightly smaller than Irish Setters or Gordon Setters, and they are known for being more gentle as well.

If the English Setter is barking for your attention, you can find reputable breeders on AKC Marketplace. The average price for a puppy is around $700 but can go up depending on the pup’s lineage and pedigree. For that price, you’re likely getting a puppy who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. You can also reach out to English Setter rescues to adopt a pup or keep an eye out for the breed at your local shelter.

FAQs

Do English Setters shed?

Yes, English Setters shed moderately, but you can manage their shedding hair with regular brushing and baths. (And keep the vacuum handy.)

How long do English Setters live?

English Setters live on average about 12 years. With exercise, a healthy diet and regular vet visits, you can help your pup live a long and happy life.

When do English Setters get their spots?

Surprise! English Setters don’t get their spots at birth; they’re born solid white, like Dalmatians. Their spots start to appear within days after their birth. What begins as tiny pinpoints of color on their tummies and muzzles eventually turns into larger speckles, ticking or belton.

Are English Setters good family dogs?

Yes, English Setters are great family dogs, and they are never happier than when they’re a part of the hustle and bustle a family offers. These guys love their humans and by your side is where they prefer to be. This breed is good with kids, and with proper socialization and an introduction from an early age, they’re good with cats as well.

Are English Setters easy to train?

English Setters are smart as a whip, so they’re pretty easy to train. However, pet parents may want to keep in mind that while they are intelligent, they think they’re pretty smart, too, and you may find they’re a bit stubborn. But with patience and consistency, you can bring your puppy to your way of seeing things.

What are the most popular English Setter names?

Some of the most popular English Setter names include Maggie, Duke, Duchess, Charlie, Liz, Princess, Prince, Lady, Chase, Daisy, Eddie, Archie, Birdie, Gunner, London, Ozzy, Penny, Summer, Churchill, Hunter, Ranger, Willow and Bolt. Get more dog names here.

What are the most common English Setter mixes?

The most common English Setter mixes are:

  • English Setter-Poodle mix (English Doodle)
  • English Setter-Labrador mix (English Setter Labrador)
  • English Setter-Border Collie mix (English Borsetter Collie)
  • English Setter-Golden Retriever mix (English Setter Golden Retriever)
  • English Setter-Pointer mix (English Setter Pointer)
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Top Takeaways

English Setters are sweet pups who make great companions, workout partners and family dogs. These guys are happiest when they’re with the people they love the most, and they’re pretty tolerant of strangers. A daily walk is often sufficient exercise for these pups, and a weekly brushing should do plenty to maintain their good looks.

Expert input provided by Jamie Freyer, DVM, and Jody Haas Wolfson, CPDT-KA, and owner of Root Dog Training.

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