History of the English Setter Breed
The oldest known kind of the setter group, the English setter may date back as far as the 14th century. It is believed that the breed was created to track and locate game on the moors. The dog would then stand perfectly still until the hunter arrived. The word "setter" was used because the dog exhibits a sitting position when it locates game. It is said that the English setters were used as bird dogs since the 1500s, and that the first of the setters was developed in France by crossing a Spanish pointer and a French Pointer. But the English setter likely originated from dogs such as the Spanish pointer, the springer spaniel, and the large water spaniel. Around 1825, a gentleman named Edward Laverack began to cultivate this fine breed into the form that all English setters are based on today. Apparently Laverack worked on perfecting this dog for about 35 years. Laverack is credited with coining the term "belton" which describes the roan or ticked flecks of color in the coat. The town of Belton is where Laverack was known to have hunted. Another influence on the English setter was a breeder name Purcell Llewellin. He secured his dogs from Laverack, but decided to breed his English setters for their field capabilities. Llewellin crossed his dogs with other English setters to create wonderful field dogs, which were imported to America. The Laverack setters are the foundation for show dogs, whereas the Llewellin setters are the foundation for the field dogs, as they tend to be faster and have a keener nose. Both types of this breed came to the United States in the late 1800s.
Size and Appearance of the English Setter Breed
An elegant yet athletic hunting dog, the English setter has the ability to run tirelessly. The front legs are straight and parallel, while the hind legs have wide, muscular thighs. The feet face forward and possess closely set toes that are well arched and strong. The well-developed pads are tough. In proportion to the rest of the body, the head of the English setter is long and lean. It features a long, square muzzle with a dark nose and wide, large nostrils. The round, dark eyes are bright and rather large, offering an intelligent, mild expression. The silky ears are moderately long, rounded at the tips, and carried close to the head when the dog is relaxed. Long and graceful, the muscular neck blends smoothly with the shoulders. The back is straight and strong, while the tail tapers to a fine point. The tail is carried straight, level with the back, and features a silky fringe. The gait of the English setter is effortless and enduring. The coat is generally flat and feathering can be found on the ears, chest, stomach, under the thighs, on the back of the legs, and on the tail. The coat of the English setter comes in a variety of colors including orange belton, blue belton (white with black markings), tricolor (blue belton with tan on muzzle, over the eyes and on the legs), lemon belton, and liver belton.
English Setter Temperament
A lively dog that enjoys hunting and running, the English setter is also known to be a gentle, friendly dog. It is excellent with children, and it loves to play with other dogs. It is generally not shy around strangers. This is an affectionate dog that loves to be with its family. It is relatively inactive when inside, but is very energetic when outdoors. Training should start at early age, as this breed is somewhat willful and can be difficult to housebreak. Some may be rather vocal, so discourage nuisance barking from the start. Training should be firm but kind. Some English setters are known to drool. This dog would be a wonderful addition to an active family.
English Setter Recommended Maintenance
Regular brushing is necessary to keep the long coat of the English setter looking its best. Some recommend daily brushing, while others claim that two to three times a week is sufficient. Occasional clipping or trimming is suggested. The dog should be bathed only when necessary. Be sure to trim the hair on the feet and tail on a regular basis to avoid matting. Check the ears regularly for signs of infection. Keep the nails trimmed. It is best to feed this breed two or three smaller meals each day, as it is prone to bloating. The English setter requires daily exercise and lots of it. Plan to spend at least an hour a day of hard exertion. As with many breeds, this dog is happiest when it can live indoors and play outside. This is not a good dog for apartment dwelling, and it needs a good size yard. If the English setter does not get enough daily exercise, it can be difficult to control. This breed is generally easy to train, but it does have a mind of its own.
English Setter Health
Life span: 10 - 14 years
Major concerns: deafness, CHD, elbow dysplasia
Minor concerns: PRA, OCD
Occasionally seen: epilepsy
Suggested tests: hip, elbow, hearing, eye