English Setters


English Setters

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Breed Notes

The English Setter has been used to hunt birds in England for more than 400 years. The larger gundogs were taught to point at their quarry and "set" them until the hunter could capture the birds, thus the name "setter." The English setter is believed to have been developed from land spaniels of Spain and developed from a cross of the Spanish Pointer, Water Spaniel and Springer Spaniel. It was introduced to the United States in the 1870s.
The English Setter has a mild, sweet disposition. He has an aristocratic appearance which ideally blends stamina, strength, grace and style. He is a rugged, active outdoor dog who is an ideal companion but requires exercise.
The head planes of the English Setter, when viewed from the side, should be parallel from top of skull to the eyes and from the eyes to the end of the muzzle. The skull is of medium width. The muzzle is equal in length to the length of the skull from the top to the eyes. The English Setter has a scissors bite, although an even bite is acceptable. The ears are set at eye level or below and carried close to the head, rounded at the tips, and covered with silky hair. The neck is long, lean and graceful. The brisket is deep, reaching to level with the chest. The legs are straight and parallel. The English setter should move with an effortless, graceful, ground covering stride. The topline slopes slightly from the withers to the croup. The tail is tapered to a point and reaches to the hocks. It is carried straight and level with the back. Straight, silky hair hangs loosely from the tail in a fringe. The coat of the English Setter is flat without curl. It is lengthy on the ears, chest, abdomen, tail and back of the legs but should not be excessive enough to hide the body lines of the dog or his ability to function as a sporting dog. Coat color is based on a white ground color intermingled with orange, black, or liver, preferably in a flecked pattern. The average size of the English Setter is 25 inches for dogs and 24 inches for bitches.


pennysuebarlett@aol.com of Centerville, OH writes:

Our favorite breed.
After owning Poodles, Maltese, Bichon Frise, and Beagles we acquired an English Setter. We found a reputable breeder and chose a fourteen-month-old with proven hunting aptitude. He is by far the most loving and gentle breed we've had. He gets along well with our Bichon Frise. Even with the company of another dog, he has had a difficult time with separation anxiety when we are away from home. He especially likes Longaberger baskets! Those who collect these baskets know just what an expensive appetite that can be. We wouldn't trade him for anything. We tell all our friends that he has helped us recover from empty-nest syndrome and made our house a home!


NICH7788@aol.com of New York writes:

Wonderful, intelligent animals.
I just lost my twelve-year-old English Setter to lymphoma; I miss him greatly. English Setters are wonderful dogs, but the first eighteen months of puppyhood are a real challenge. For the first year I was unable to leave him unsupervised even for just a few seconds. He was amazing in his ability to find my favorite belongs and tear them apart within seconds. I spent hundreds of dollars replacing belongings, including a sofa. It took a lot of love and a firm commitment to make it through puppyhood. We had to transform our dining room and build a large solid wood kennel to survive this time period. His intelligence continued to be a challenge throughout his lifetime. He had no problem opening up the refrigerator and emptying it out if I forgot to lock it. Cupboards, toaster-ovens, etc., was no problem for him at all. He would use his paws like hands to pull objects toward him and open doors. He was truly amazing. He had a very independent personality and was strong-willed. He was gentle and friendly with everyone while at the same time appreciating personal space. Overall, he was a very calm and well-behaved dog in his adult years and he seemed perfectly okay spending the day sleeping in my rocking chair and waiting for my return from work. We had a very close bond. I am getting ready to bring home my next English Setter puppy.


Exception2Rules@AOL.com of New Hampshire writes:

Only dog I'm ever going to own.
I had never really heard of an English Setter until I was looking for a puppy and my friend's dog had a litter due soon. We picked out the most mellow of the females, and figured we had a sweet, quiet puppy on our hands. She was that was for about three days. Now she has two speeds, full speed and dead stop, but I wouldn't have her any other way. She plays hard and then insists on sleeping on my lap even though she's about 50 pounds now (at ten months). She's a field type so she doesn't have as much hair as the bench types, but she still sheds a lot. She does suffer from separation anxiety and ate a hole through the kitchen wall until I got a job where she could come to work with me. She's a gorgeous dog (unfortunately she knows this). We're always getting complimented on how good she looks. She loves being around people, children especially. She's a little bit stubborn, but is willing to please. She's the perfect jogging companion, and I'm looking into getting her into agility classes which I think she'll love. She's my baby and I couldn't love her any more. I think this dog is great for families, and even for first time owners if they understand that this dog HAS to be a part of the family.


Name withheld by request of Maine writes:

The best and sweetest dogs!
I've had so many dogs, but my English Setter is the best dog in the world. He is a very laid-back, sweet, calm, and sometimes perky, Setter. He loves playing with our Pug. If you are thinking of getting an English Setter, remember to train them at an early age because they can get very stubborn. Overall, these are great dogs.


lcsmythe@hotmail.com of Ontario, Canada writes:

Excellent temperament, plays hard, serious napper.
We have had the joy of having two English Setters as family members. There is no other breed quite like them. We recently lost our first Setter at the age of twelve to cancer. We couldn't imagine not having an English Setter so another one joined our family seven weeks ago. She is now fifteen weeks old and full of the same energy and mischief we experienced with our first one. English Setter puppies are a handful! What is amazing is how time, patience and training transforms an English Setter puppy into such a gentle, loving and reliable adult ( approximately two years). They are great with children, other dogs (we also have a nine-year-old yellow Lab), and once they settle down, with cats. I would highly recommend this breed to a family that has the time to give lots of love, attention, walks and training.


Name withheld by request of Maryland writes:

Wow, how amazing!
This is such a wonderful breed, excellent temperament, beauty, and so mellow ... what else can you ask for? They are easy to housebreak.


moverstek@aol.com of Clayton, NC writes:

English Setters are A-1 housedogs.
The breed is fairly low maintenance. Ears must be cleaned or they get vicious infections, and they need occasional brushing and bathing as any dog does. If you work away a lot, you may have problems with separation anxiety &shyp; they do get extremely attached.


ElephantLover@PeoplePC.com of New Mexico writes:

Excellent companion breed for families or individuals.
I love this breed. I've had five English Setters, and they are physically beautiful, striking to people who see them when I am out walking them. They have an extremely sweet, gentle expression and soft eyes. We who own English Setters often refer to them as "California mellow deadheads." These charming dogs love their owners and strangers, too; they are good with children and other pets. They are like any puppies &shyp; energetic and excitable &shyp; but as they grow up, they calm down and love to be with their humans. Be forewarned: They are not guard dogs, although they may bark when the doorbell rings or when someone approaches the yard. They make excellent therapy dogs (hospital visitors) and their unusual and beautiful coloring and markings always draw wonderful comments from patients, visitors, and hospital staff. This is without a doubt a most gorgeous, striking, and pleasant breed of dog!


Name withheld by request of California writes on 5/16/00:

A wonderful companion and gentle soul,
I adopted my English Setter through rescue about 9 months ago. There are a lot of field setters that could be rescued - many more than bench (show) setters. I have only met a few other people who owned setters, but it's uncanny how similar our experiences are. These are just the sweetest most gentle dogs. Mine has spent time with my two small nieces since nearly the first week I had him. He has such enthusiasm and heart. When I take him out to the off-leash park, people literally stop in their tracks to watch him execute his 'moves' as a setting, pointing bird dog. Although I do not hunt, to watch him move in stealth and grace to flush a bird is a genuine delight. I hope you will decide to rescue a field English Setter - you will have a trusted, trusting friend for many years.


marshajeanne@mindspring.com of Seekonk, MA writes on 4/27/00:

The best of the Setters!
I have owned English Setters all of my life. My father was a trainer of hunting dogs and the breed we owned personally was the English. I had a little field Setter for 18 years who passed away recently. These are extremely affectionate dogs with a great need to be with their family twenty-four/seven. This is not a dog that should be left alone for long stretches of time as they can become bored and suffer seperation anxiety and then become destructive. They are gentle with children and are not a watch dog. Although, they will bark at strangers. Their coat needs some care and their feathers can get tangled. This is not a dog for a first time dog owner! They can be stubborn in training and difficult to housebreak. They usually enjoy good health as they have not been over bred. You should only buy from a reputable breeder and never a pet shop or mill. A truly five star dog all the way around! A loving and faithful companion.


alli_e@yahoo.com of Newfoundland, Canada writes on 4/21/00:

Companionship, loyalty and a great family pet!
I adopted my English Setter. The vet thinks she is approximately 1 1/2 years old. I couldn't have asked for a better dog. There is a lot of work involved but for the serious dog owner this becomes routine and not work at all. This breed needs to be brushed at least three times a week and bathed every second week. I take my dog for two brisk walks a day with some light jogging in between. My dog suffers from separation anxiety but she is getting used to the idea of me returning now. She has chewed up three things so far. One of my shoes which I now keep tucked away in my closet, the corner of a vinyl blind on my side door and a dinner candle with a dried flower wreath. I am over this now. I have leather furniture but she hasn't chewed that at all. I'll keep my fingers crossed. The key is to have a lot of toys and rawhide bones for her to chew on. She is a real jumper and can jump up on my window ledge like a cat. She is 46lbs. This is a very affectionate breed but also likes to have their own space. In other words they don't need constant attention but like knowing you are in the same room with them. They moderately shed but with the proper brushing, this is reduced. She is not vicious in any way and gets along well with other dogs. Obedience training may be necessary in the first couple of years. The problems I am having are; a little hyper at the beginning of her walks, jumping up and play nipping when I arrive home. She is great in the car, and going to the vet. Be prepared to take care of your pet. Medical care, food, shampoo and treats are just a few of the things you will have to fund. This goes for all dogs! This dog makes a great family pet but you have to be willing to do your part too. After a long walk there will be a lot of napping indoors! Keep a fresh supply of water on hand at all times. A fenced in yard is a must but be careful because this breed can scale a six foot fence so chaining them on is still recommended! Definitely a five star breed!


Name withheld by request of Sarnia, Canaca writes on 4/5/00:

I love this breed.
I've owned a lot of dogs. But none compare to the English Setter. My dog is gentle and loving and always by my side. She loves to cuddle and give me kisses. I love her companionship.


JRomer7065@aol.com of Huntington, NY writes on 2/4/00:

Great family breed but requires patience the first two years.
A dog of with great beauty, gorgeous coats, friendly personalities, and love to spare. Not a breed for everyone. The first two years require patience. Puppies are like toddlers and require training but with a gentle touch. No shock collars or harsh corrections here. After the terrible twos they are a joy to all. Gentle when necessary but ready to run and play when that is the plan for the day. A fenced yard is a necessity, unless you are prepared to do a lot of running and walking EVERY day. Health concerns are few but hip dysplasia and OFA clearances should be discussed with any breeder before purchasing. Do your homework and deal with a reputable breeder not one who does this for the money. English Setter breeders are very protective of the breed and will question you throughly before agreeing to sell you one of their babies. Often you will have to reserve a pupy from an upcoming breeding. Puppies go to there new homes at around nine weeks of age. Use that time to prepare for the new arrival. Purchase a crate - this is a puppies playpen and time out room. Get a videoe or book on basic dog care and training. Then get ready for ading a new family member to your home - an English Setter - The Better Setter.


mjcole@integrityonline.com of Boise, ID write on 11/3/99:

A faithful friend known for its beauty and grace.
We own and show in conformation three English Setters. We own the type known as Llewellin Setters - they are showier than the field type(Laverak) and are more sedate. You will never find a more willing dog to do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it. They are happy hunting, playing, showing, or simply sitting beside us. If you want to go, they'll go, if you want to stay, they will take a nap. The English Setter is very unassuming and would rather you tell it what to do than have to think for itself. Although extremely willing to please the English Setter has a tendency to forget what it was it was doing and "daydream". This makes training a challange and requires patience and the understanding that your dog is not disobeying out of biligerence but simply forgot what it was you asked! As a puppy a English Setter needs plenty of exercise and attention. As it ages (2-3 years old)the tendency to be hyperactive wanes and your adult dog will be a pleasure to be with! The English Setter requires a lot of time grooming--a full wash and dry needs to be done at least every 2 weeks and you will need to learn the proper way to groom your setter to maintain its beautiful coat. This is not a wash and go dog! The long coat tangles and breaks easily and improper grooming can destroy the beautiful trademark of the breed. English Setters are good with other dogs of all breeds and cats and they love children! They have a inborn insticnt to be gentle around young animals. Loyalty is hard to measure due to the easygoing attitude of the breed but never doubt that your English Setter will miss you when you leave or recognize you in a crowd! The light that glows in their eyes when they catch sight of you after a long or short absence will erase any
doubt that you are their sole reason for living! This is not a hunting dog to be brought out only during hunting season, to do so will only cause misery for the dog and unbeliveable frustration for you. The instinct to hunt is very strong and time spent in the house with the family will not ruin it. They soak attention up like a sponge, ignor any faults you have, and will adore you with all of their soul! They are known as the "classy" setter and will prove it everyday of their lives!


engckr@bellsouth.net of Alabama writes on 9/25/01:

Excellent family dogs for an "active" family.
English Setters are one of the "clown breeds" of the species. They are funny and smart and sometimes too clever for their own good (which belies their sometimes goofy appearance and devil-may-care outlook on life). Our English Setter quickly learned to open the refrigerator door and choose her own snacks before we learned to bungie the door closed! (Who trained who?)
Although a little harder in some ways to train than some breeds, once they've "got it" they never forget. Some setters seem a little more inclined to "hunt" smaller animals such as cats and other housepets, so I wouldn't suggest bringing an English Setter into a home filled with cats or other small housepets unless I was willing to work at teaching them to get along together.
Excellent hunters, they're equally at home curled up on your bed or beside your recliner, making them the perfect hunting partner for the person who believes that a hunting dog should also double as the family pet. Although their activity level is sometimes a bit high, especially during adolescence, there is no better companion than a well-trained English Setter.


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