Sporty, Spunky, and Speckled: The English Setter Dog Breed

Reading Time: 4 minutes

english setter dog breed llewellin setter lying on beachEnglish Setter dogs got their names from the manner in which these gundogs crouch low to the ground or “set” once they have found birds while on the hunt. This would allow the hunter to throw his net over them over the birds and ensure a good supper for all involved!

The breed later evolved with the advent of the gun to stand and point. These beautiful hounds still hunt today, but they also make the perfect family and companion pet.

A Brief History of the English Setter Dog Breed! 

Developed over centuries from the Spaniel and known as the Setting Spaniel, the English Setter breed was around as far back as the 14th century in Britain. This makes it among the oldest gundog breeds. In the field, the dogs would point out the quarry, and on command would rise and drive the birds into the nets laid by the hunters.

When guns came into play, the dogs came to be known rather as “Setters”. They were the dogs of noblemen who, in the 19th Century, bred and kept various strains and bloodlines of the Setter. These various strains were named after whichever Aristocratic family kept them.

How Did the English Setter as We Know Them Today Come About?

Today’s English Setter arose from the strain developed by Mr. Edward Laverack in the 1800s. Contemporary show English Setters are known as the Laverack-type, thanks to their original breeder. In 1825 Laverack came by his first two dogs which were to become the foundation of the breed.

He got Ponto and Old Moll from Rev. A. Harrison and set out to perfect a companionable and gentle Setter, likely using Pointers and Irish Setters. The outcome was a perfect breed for the show ring which performed less than ideally in field trials.

Richard Purcell Llewellin undertook to improve the Laverack-type dogs in the field, by crossing them with, among others, the Gordon Setters. The result was a working dog with improved speed and scenting ability.

In the late 1800s, both the Laverack and the Llewellin Setters came to America – the former as the foundation for today’s show setters and the latter for the field dogs. Among the dogs used to breed the English Setter are the Spanish Pointer, large Water Spaniel, and English Springer Spaniel.

English Setter vs Llewellin Setter: Are They the Same Breed?

The English Setter is divided into two types: the field or working type and the show type. Llewellin Setters came about during the late 1800s/early 1900s when Richard Purcell Llewellin bred his own strains with the best of Laverack’s Setters and named the resultant bloodline the “Dashing Bondhu” Setters.

Today’s working setter is known as the Llewellin-type. while the show type is recognized as the Lavarack-type. The Llewellin Setter bred for the field is smaller and has less feathering on the tail, legs, and belly. It is recognized in the gundog world as a separate breed to the English Setter.

happy english setter rescue running in field

The Appearance of Working Group Doggos 

This graceful sports dog carries an oval-shaped head proudly on a graceful neck. Their dark brown eyes have a soft expression. Apart from their unique coloring, the coat is without curl or woolliness and lies flat against the body.

The longer fringe of hair on the ears, chest, belly, the underside of the thighs, backs of the legs, and on the tail, are termed “feathering”. This pretty feature is not at all inhibiting in the field!

Average Size and Weight! 

Classed as a large dog breed, the male adult dogs stand at an average height of 25 to 27 inches, and females anywhere from 24 to 25 inches. The rate of growth in English Setters is remarkable over a short time.

Their weight at birth is between 10 and 24 ounces. At 6 months the weight is between 30 and 45 lbs. An 18-month-old will weigh from 60 to 70 lbs and an adult weighs in at between 60 and 80 lbs.

The Coats and Colors of these Speckled Setters!

English Setters have white coats with intermingling darker hairs. This speckled pattern is known as “Belton” and refers only to the coat of the English Setters.

Belton was the preferred village in which Laverack used to hunt. The black and white coat is a blue Belton, the tricolor is a blue Belton with tan patches, the orange Belton is orange and white. The lemon Belton is lemon and white, and the liver Belton is liver and white.

The lemon and the liver Beltons are the rarest among them and are seldom seen.

Temperament and Personality: What to Expect! 

Expect the English Setter to be gentle, kind and affectionate. Being a typical sporting dog, the Setter is energetic but not overly so. Temperament depends largely on breeding, genetics, socialization, and training.

The best pup would be the one who is friendly, curious and playful. Socialization from an early age around various people and situations will help develop a well-rounded dog.

The English Setter can be an independent thinker and will react well to reward. Training a dog by using harsh treatment will only result in a stubborn and unwilling dog.

Patience is required when potty-training your English Setter puppy. Perseverance will, however, bring its rewards.

Compassionate and Kind: Why These Dogs Make Amazing ESAs!

Emotional Support Animals are highly supportive and loving while also being smart enough to know when their support is needed. Their presence is cheering and they are caring by nature.

All these traits are present in abundance in the English Setter. Possibly its most significant attribute as a support dog is that it is intensely friendly and good-natured.

Being highly intelligent, it is obedient and easy to train but can also think independently when required to do so.

old english setter dog sitting outside

The Lifespan of English Setters

This graceful Setter has a life expectancy of twelves years.

4 Potential Health Issues to Be Aware Of! 

The English Setter has much the same health concerns as any large breed dog. Although the breed is not particularly prone to specific disorders, these are among the ailments to keep a watch for:

  1. Hip Dysplasia (HD): A condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint.
  2. Elbow Dysplasia: A condition common to large-breed dogs which may be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog’s elbow.
  3. Hypothyroidism: an abnormally low level of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland.
  4. Deafness: Fairly common and treatable with medication and surgery.

English Setter Puppies for Sale!

Websites for the American Kennel Club Marketplace and the English Setter Association are a good starting place when looking for puppies for sale.

Your vet and local breeder associations will also be in a position to point you in the direction of reputable and quality breeders in your area. Prices will vary according to gender, parentage, and breeder.

english setters two english setter puppies in a basket

Be Sure to Get Your Puppy from a Reputable Breeder! 

Puppy mills are a constant danger when trying to source a pup. Whether you are considering buying from a pet store, a breeder or through a friend, always make sure that the puppy comes from reputable Setter breeders.

A quality breeder will check dogs for genetic diseases and sound temperaments. Puppies that are born and raised in a home situation will be better suited as pets than those who are kennel bred or raised outdoors.

A pup who has never seen the inside of a house will not adapt as easily to your home as one which has spent a fair amount of time inside.

DeCoverly Setter Breeders have been in the business of breeding English Setters for over a century. Selective breeding means their dogs are sure to have natural hunting instincts coupled with scenting ability, intelligence, and pointing instinct.

The DeCoverly Setter is said to be a partner in the field rather than a servant that obeys because it must. That is one of the marks of a reputable breeder. They care about their dogs and are not in it for the cash!

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Find an English Setter Rescue Group! 

People might take on these bird dogs without knowing anything about the breed, or their needs. That, or getting a puppy was an “impulse buy” with zero lifetime commitment.

This is often the reason for Setters and other dogs needing adoption. Perhaps you’ll be fortunate enough to find the perfect dog at your local shelter. There are so many rescues out there! To find one in your area contact the national breed club or a local breed club.

Websites can be found for the following Rescues:

  • Another Chance for English Setters
  • English Setter Association of America
  • Above and Beyond English Setter Rescue
  • English Setter Rescue Association
  • Florida All Setter Rescue Program
  • All Setter Rescue

You would be more likely to find a pot of gold on St Patrick’s Day than to discover a more companionable working dog than this loving bird dog.

Common Questions on the English Setter

If I am in the market for an English Setter as a family pet, which would be my best option between the Llewellin Setter and the Laverack Setter? 

Can I consider an English Setter as an Emotional Support Dog for my mother who suffers from depression? 

Are English Setter puppies easy to house train?

All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.