Other names: Laverack, Llewellin Setter
The English Setter is a pointing dog of medium size that, by all accounts, could be considered the perfect dog. He excels in hunting and proves himself to be a very good companion dog for the whole family. Gentle, attentive, docile and affectionate, with his enthusiasm and social competence, he brings much joy to both little and bigs one alike. Very active, he is best suited to available and fit owners who will be able to meet the dog's many needs for expenditure, which are not to be underestimated.
Key facts about the English Setter
Origins and history
This dog has very old roots. He is probably a descendant of the ancient Spaniel, also known as the German Spaniel, which was one of the incarnations of the primitive Canis Familiaris Intermedius. The Breed had been established in 1860 by Edward Laverack and would have to wait another twenty years before spreading outside of England. It is one of the most commonly used pointing dogs for hunting.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 7 - Pointing Dogs
Section 2 : British and Irish Pointers and Setters
Physical characteristics of the English Setter
Female : Between 24 and 26 in
Male : Between 26 and 27 in
Female : Between 44 and 55 lb
Male : Between 44 and 55 lb
The coat can be a variety of colours :
- Blue belton (black and white)
- Lemon belton (lemon and white)
- Liver belton (brown and white)
- Tricolour (white, black, tan or brown, white and tan)
- Orange belton (Orange and white)
The term 'belton' was first coined by Edward Laverack- the breeder who contributed to the construction of the race- and designates the flyspeck (or speckled patching) of the dog's coat. Belton is a village in Northumberland (a county in the north of England).
Type of coat
The hair is long.
The hair is slightly wavy without ever forming into full curls. It is long all over, (2 to 2,5 inches) and silky. Feathering (fringes) can be found around the neck, in the brisket region, on the side of the hind limbs, on the buttocks and on the tail. The undercoat is only abundant in the wintertime.
The eyes are hazel, as dark as possible (slightly less dark in white and tan individuals).
The English setter is the most beautiful of all pointing dogs. It is mesomorphic, with a rather rectangular-shape torso. The head is long, well-defined, light. The length of the skull is equal to that of the muzzle. The skullcap is slightly domed. The stop is pronounced but not abrupt. The eyes are big and expressive.The ears are set low, hanging, adjacent to the cheeks. The back is straight, the kidneys muscular and quite arched. The limbs are perfectly straight. The tail is set high: big and robust at its base, it thins down towards the tip. It is worn rather low, slightly curved outwards like a reversed saber.
Good to know
As the English Setter is a particularly handsome breed and also highly sought after as a companion dog, certain unscrupulous breeders have contented themselves with selecting lineages for their aesthetic qualities, with little regard for their personalities or hunting predispositions. Actually, in England, the breeding of show dog Setters and hunting Setters has become distinctly separated, as if it were concerned with two different breeds, which is a reprehensible mistake.
Gentle, cheerful and attentive, faithful and very friendly- be it to members of his own social group or even towards his fellow canines- the English Setter is a dog that could easily be deemed perfect, such is the extent to which his character is good and held in high esteem.
Enthusiastic and active, playtime will be a great source of joy to this dog who loves spending time with members of his social group, and with children in particular.
Be careful to play fetching games in moderation with this dog, so as not to overly reinforce the dog's retrieving instinct- especially if he only ever functions as a family dog and never as a hunter.
His calm demeanour conceals, in reality, a very active and athletic dog who requires heaps of exercise and attention to remain fully content.
This english dog is intelligent, whether it be while hunting or in training. He quickly grasps what is required from him and takes huge pride in pleasing his owners.
This dog has a very sharpened sense for hunting, he is an outstanding pointing dog who can be a precious asset to his leader.
His advanced skills places him amongst the most commonly used Pointers in England. Moreover, he represents more than half of the workforce involved in field-trial (trials aimed at selecting the best hunting dogs).
Fearful / wary of strangers
Very sociable, the English Setter has a rather balanced personality which allows him to sniff the difference out between guests and trespassers remarkably well. Never resorting to aggressivity, if he is suspicious towards someone, he will just ignore them and avoid contact. On the flipside, once he starts trusting, it is very easy to get along with him.
Certain more suspicious breed selections produce very wary dogs. The latter personality trait is absolutely not desirable.
This dog is generally completely devoted to his owner and family. He needs attention and affection to feel good in his skin. The Laverack Setter (its breeder's namesake) would be particularly miserable if he were to be excluded from family and social life.
Behaviour of the English Setter
At times very sensitive, and exceptionally attached to his social group, the setter is not a big loner, he tends to be rather miserable during his owners' absences.
A gradual and positive conditioning to staying alone is necessary and must be implemented at home from the Setter pup's youngest age.
The absences must never be extended as this active dog could become explicit about his disapproval of the situation (barking, destruction, etc.).
Therefore, both prior to and right after his owners' absences, this English dog has to be well spent (outdoor walks) in order to have his fun and expend the large stores of energy he has. Actually, when he is home alone, some toys could be provided to keep him busy and stop him from getting bored.
Easy to train / obedience
As with all good work dogs, the training process is pleasant if it has been initiated early enough, so as to stop any bad habits from developing, and in order to maintain a degree of coherence throughout the dog’s life.
Particularly sensitive, positive reinforcement must be prioritised as this dog will not tolerate any form of brutality or unfounded reprimands, which would only serve to sully the master-dog relationship.
In addition to being precocious, coherent and fair, the training will have to be coupled with an approach that is as firm as it is gentle. This will ensure the best results with this pooch.
The priority is to train hailing which, contrary to what might be expected, will not be that difficult to implement with this English hunting dog. In fact, pointers are often more malleable and docile than hounds, for instance.
The English Setter's vocal manifestations are indeed present but remain nevertheless moderate, easily reined in if need be.
He can prove to be loud if he perceives imminent danger, if he is overly excited, if he does not receive all the attention that he solicits or if he is left alone for too long, for example.
At any rate, these are situations that can easily be solved if a coherent attitude is adopted by the owners, and if they meet all the dog's needs.