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English Setter

 Photo of English Setter
Photo: Sheree Hale

English Setter Books

Group: Gundog - Breed Standard

History

The English Setter was originally bred to set or point upland game birds. From the best available information, it appears that the English Setter was a trained bird dog in England more than 400 years ago. There is evidence that the English Setter originated in crosses of the Spanish Pointer, large Water Spaniel, and Springer Spaniel, which combined to produce an excellent bird dog with a high degree of proficiency in finding and pointing game in open country. The modern English Setter owes its appearance to Mr. Edward Laverack (1800-1877), who developed his own strain of the breed by careful inbreeding during the 19th century in England and to another Englishman, Mr. R. Purcell Llewellin (1840-1925), who based his strain upon Laverack's and developed the working Setter. Today, you still hear the term Llewellin Setter, but this is not a separate breed. Instead, it is often used as an alternate name for a field-bred English Setter.

With time, Laverack inbred successfully to produce beautiful representatives of the breed. The first show for English Setters was held in 1859 at Newcastle-on-Tyne. The breed's popularity soared across England as shows became more and more widespread. Not long after, the first English Setters were brought to North America, including those that began the now-famous Llewellin strain recorded in the writing of Dr. William A Burette. From this group of dogs came the foundation of the field-trial setter in America, "Count Noble," who is currently mounted in the Carnegie Museum at Pittsburgh. At present, the English is one of the most popular and elegant sporting breeds, often grouped with its cousins, the Irish and Gordon Setters.

Description

Height: dogs: 65-69 cms (25½-27 ins); bitches: 61-65 cms (24-25½ ins).

The English Setter is a gun dog, bred for a mix of endurance and athleticism. The coat is flat with light feathering of long length. They have a long, flowing coat that requires regular grooming.

The various speckled coat colors when occurring in English Setters are referred to as belton; valid combinations are white with black flecks (blue belton) or with orange flecks (orange belton, depending on the intensity of the color, they might be lemon belton or liver belton), or white with black and tan flecks (tricolour belton).

Character/Temperament

This breed's standard temperament can be described as friendly and good natured; however, it can also be strong-willed and mischievous. English Setters are energetic, people-oriented dogs, that are well suited to families who can give them attention and activity, or to working with a hunter, where they have a job to do. Many are good around children.

Breed Health

English Setters can be prone to Hip Dysplasia so all breeding stock should be hip-scored prior to being bred from. Life expectancy is between 10-12 years.

Exercise

They are active dogs outside that need plenty of exercise and a good sized fenced in garden.

Training

English Setters are very intelligent and can be trained to perform about any task another breed can do, with the exception of herding. However, they are not always easy to train, as their natural bird instinct tends to distract them in outdoor environments. Their temperament is considered a soft one. Therefore they are very sensitive to criticism, and could be unwilling to repeat a behavior out of fear to disappoint the trainer. Positive reinforcement training methods therefore work best for English Setters. See our books on training


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Last link added: 12 Mar, 2008