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BaxterBoo Blog
March 25, 2013

Meet the Breed: The English Setter

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  • Height: 23"- 27”
  • Weight: 45-80 pounds
  • Historical function: Hunting
  • Modern function: Hunting, companion, show ring
  • AKC classification: Sporting

Physical Characteristics:

The English Setter is a beautiful, graceful dog of medium size. The muzzle is square and the ears dropped. The chest is deep but not wide. There are two versions of this breed, the show or bench line and the field line. The show version is generally bigger and has longer fur and feathering. The field versions also tend to have more distinctive spotting, which makes them easier to see in the field. The shorter fur in the field dog keeps burs from getting caught in the feathering. Coat colors can be tricolor (brown, white, and blue) or white with blue, brown, orange, or lemon spots and speckles.

Field Version of English Setter

History of the Breed:

The English Setter was probably developed from various pointer and spaniel breeds around 400 years ago in England. The name "setter" comes from the unusual behavior of kneeling beside the game to be netted though, with the increased usage of guns, the setting behavior was more or less bred out to do more pointing so that the dog could be more easily spotted in the field. English Setters have had an early and prominent place within the AKC, though their numbers have drastically declined in recent years, potentially due to health problems within the breed and fewer hunters. They were among the first breeds accepted into the American Kennel Club, which was back in 1878.


The English Setter is known to be a gentleman. They are a sensitive and responsive breed and respond best to calm but firm training. If frustrated, the dog can become willful. This is a very gentle, calm dog indoors that is good with children. Outdoors, this dog is active and exuberant, and needs at least a moderate-sized yard. The field types require more exercise than the show types.

  • Best suited for: Active families that can provide this dog with companionship and activities to keep this dog mentally and physically engaged. Has a patient and loving temperament towards children.
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog likes to roam in a large yard. Not suitable for apartments. Good watchdog, hunter, and agility dog.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: The show version requires regular brushing and checks for burrs in their coat. A moderate shedder with seasonal heavy shedding. Bathe or dry shampoo rarely.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk or jog.
  • Life expectancy: 10-12 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, and also thyroid problems. This dog has a high rate of congenital deafness (12.7%.) Has a tendency to overeat. Females have a tendency to have false pregnancy and mast cell tumors.

Breed Club Links: English Setter Association of America Perfect Pairings: UGroom Combo Brush

Have any stories about an English Setter? Please share!

Main photo of bench-style English Setter courtesy of Scarlett2308.

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This entry was posted by Mary.

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