English Setter

Temperament: Friendly, Mellow, Merry

  • Height: 25-27 inches (male), 23-25 inches (female)
  • Weight: 65-80 pounds (male), 45-55 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12 years
  • Group: Sporting Group 

The English Setter is a medium-sized sporting dog of sweet temper and show-stopping good looks. It is one of the AKC’s four British setters created to work on the distinctly different terrains of England, Ireland, and Scotland.


An elegant, substantial and symmetrical gun dog suggesting the ideal blend of strength, stamina, grace, and style. Flat-coated with feathering of good length. Gaiting freely and smoothly with long forward reach, strong rear drive and firm top-line. Males decidedly masculine without coarseness. Females decidedly feminine without over-refinement. Overall appearance, balance, gait, and purpose to be given more emphasis than any component part. Above all, extremes of anything distort type and must be faulted.

About the English Setter

English Setters are elegant but solid dogs of beauty and charm. The word “belt-on,” unique to the breed, describes the speckled coat patterns of colours that sound good enough to eat: liver, lemon, and orange among them. Under the showy coat is a well-balanced hunter standing about 25 inches at the shoulder.

A graceful neck carries a long, oval-shaped head proudly, and dark brown eyes convey a soft expression. The merry English Setter is known as the gentleman of the dog world but is game and boisterous at play. English Setters get on well with other dogs and people. A veteran all-breed dog handler says, “As a breed to share one’s life and living space with, no other breed gives me more pleasure than the English Setter.”

NUTRITION English Setter puppies should be fed small amounts three times a day. Once the dog is a year old, feeding a good-quality dog food twice a day is ideal. Keep in mind that English Setters can easily overeat and become obese, so you’ll need to monitor your dog’s diet his entire life to make sure he maintains a healthy weight. And the breed loves to “counter surf”—try to not leave tempting food items within reach, and use positive training to discourage the behaviour. An English Setter’s nose can lead him to food anywhere: Some have been known to get into the dishwasher following the scent of a morsel left on a plate!

GROOMING To keep their long, silky coats beautiful, English Setters need to be brushed at least once a week with a soft bristle brush. A long-toothed metal dog comb can also come in handy for gently working through areas where tangles may be beginning to form. Left unattended, tangles and mats are uncomfortable for your dog and can cause skin problems to develop. Regular trimming around the face, feet, and other areas can keep your English Setter looking neat. Nails should be trimmed once a month, and a bath every four to six weeks keeps the English Setter’s coat and skin clean and healthy.

EXERCISE An English Setter needs regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. Ideally this could be a daily vigorous run or play session in a large, securely fenced area. Many owners don’t have access to such an area, however, so they may ride a bicycle with their English Setter alongside on a leash, jog with him, or take him for long walks or hikes. Because their bones and joints may not reach mature strength until two years of age, it’s best to avoid very strenuous or high-impact activity with puppies and young dogs. Even though they are energetic athletes when outdoors, English Setters will usually settle right down as quiet companions in the home after their daily run or walk.

TRAINING English Setters are sensible, good-nature, and devoted companions. They are very sensitive and take reprimands to heart, so it’s best to teach them with positive reinforcement rather than punishment. Their keen nose and prey drive can lead them to follow their instincts—but this can get them into trouble, so it’s important to start training early and be consistent. As puppies they’re especially curious about everything, so remember to keep valuable or dangerous items out of reach. When given the attention, training, and exercise he needs, an English Setter is wonderfully companionable and pleasantly manageable in the home.

HEALTH English Setters are generally healthy dogs. Responsible breeders screen their breeding stock for health concerns such as elbow and hip dysplasia and deafness. The breed can experience bloat, a sudden, life-threatening stomach condition, and owners should learn what signs to look out for and what to do should it occur. The ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  1. Hip Evaluation
  2. Elbow Evaluation
  3. BAER Testing
  4. Thyroid Evaluation

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