Everything You Need to Know About the English Setter


English Setters are bred as hunting dogs for small game such as grouse, pheasant, and quail. The English Setter that we recognize today was developed in Great Britain by breeding French hunting dogs and “Setting Spaniels,” which originated in France. English Setters are known for their skills in hunting, tracking, retrieving, watching and guarding. After finding a scent, these dogs will “set,” which is sort of a crouch, rather than point or chase game.


The English Setter is a medium-sized dog with a short to medium length coat. Their coats have what is called feathering, which looks like fringes on their ears, tails, legs, and bellies. A hunting setter usually has a shorter coat so that it does not get tangled or caught while in the field. Males range from 55 to 80 pounds and 24 to 27 inches long, while females are slightly smaller at 45 to 70 pounds and 23 to 26 inches long. English Setters are seen in tricolors of blue, white and brown, or white with blue, yellow, brown, or orange.

Health Concerns

As with most medium to large breed pure-bred dogs, English Setters are prone to hip dysplasia. Present in the breed as well are some genetic problems such as deafness, hypothyroidism, and elbow dysplasia. It is not uncommon to have an English Setter who exhibits food or skin allergies as well. Cancer is common, but usually only presents itself in mature dogs.


The English Setter is an energetic yet gentle dog. They are intelligent and active, which means that they need plenty of exercise — more than an hour a day is recommended. These setters can be difficult to train, so they are not recommended for first-time dog owners. Housebreaking tends to take a little more time and patience with English Setters. They need constant reinforcement and an experienced trainer to keep them on task and to prevent the development of bad habits. English Setters make good family dogs; they are low-key when indoors and usually get along well with children.

Care and Grooming

English Setters needs daily exercise. They enjoy a long walk or time outside in an enclosed area. They tend to do better in homes with a good-sized yard rather than an apartment setting. English Setters do not need frequent baths, however, regular brushings are required to keep their coats tangle-free. Nails should be kept neat and trimmed, as should the hair on the bottom of their feet.

Photo credit: Thinkstock