English Setter

Other names: Laverack, Llewellin Setter

English 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

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Playful Hunter

Size :

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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

FCI Group

Group 7 - Pointing Dogs


Section 2 : British and Irish Pointers and Setters

Physical characteristics of the English Setter

  • English Setter
    English Setter
  • English Setter
    English Setter
  • English Setter
    English Setter
  • English Setter
    English Setter
  • English Setter
    English Setter
  • English Setter
    English Setter

    Adult size

    Female : Between 24 and 26 in

    Male : Between 26 and 27 in


    Female : Between 44 and 55 lb

    Male : Between 44 and 55 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    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.


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      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.

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      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.

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      His calm demeanour conceals, in reality, a very active and athletic dog who requires heaps of exercise and attention to remain fully content.

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      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.

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      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).

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      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.

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      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

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        Tolerates solitude

        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.

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        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.

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        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.

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        Tendency to run away

        A born tracker, if he detects an interesting scent, this wonderful English hunting dog could in fact run away without much consideration for his owner. In this sense, teaching the dog how to be hailed as well as learning to say no to him are essential. 
        If he lives in a garden, the fencing will have to be foolproof in order to guarantee the dog's security and stop him from being tempted to escape. Hunting dogs who run away often put themselves in dangerous situations because, hypnotically drawn towards smells and tracking, they are sometimes oblivious to their surroundings (roads, cars, etc.).

        A medallion/tag with the contact details of the owner will facilitate searching for the dog if ever he goes missing.

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        Despite his good character, this dog is not of the calm breed. He is particularly animated, especially when still a pup, and more so when he has not had enough exercise.

        This could then lead to some destruction on his part, especially if this English dog gets bored, or if he grows tired of being alone or isolated for too long a time.

        Having said that, if all his needs are met, his owners' attitude is coherent and he has been taught to manage his frustrations well, this dog can become considerably more docile.

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        This British dog is not a big eater but will never renounce to the pleasure of a reward snack for good behaviour, for example. This will also be very useful during training sessions even if, without the added benefit of snacks, this dog is generally cooperative if the trainer's attitude is respectful.

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        Guard dog

        Particularly sociable and friendly, this dog is not a good watchdog. His sensitivity would sooner make him flee fear-inducing situations. He is not a very valiant dog who will face danger head on in order to protect his kin.

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        First dog

        In addition to being particularly gifted in his area, this English hunting dog is a great day-to-day companion. He is the source of joy to many a household, and his good nature makes interactions very pleasant. Even novice owners will take pleasure in rearing this dog and evolving alongside him, because he has a lot to give, oftentimes more than what he receives in exchange.

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          English Setter in a flat

          Even if he could become accustomed to city life, the English Setter is not made for being confined in a flat. He needs space and life in the countryside- a house with a gated garden would be to his biggest liking.

          No matter what his residential situation is, this hunting dog needs daily outdoor walks to feel good in his skin.

          He appreciates the comforts of being inside, but can absolutely live outside if the weather is not too extreme.

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          Very active and dynamic, it is vital to be able to channel this dog's large stores of energy if you want to stop behavioural trouble from emerging. This implies meeting his expenditure needs with sufficient respect.

          Daily walks in wide open spaces will be the greatest source of joy to this English hunting dog, and will allow him to expend his stores of energy but also to stimulate his sense of smell, which is particularly evolved.

          Owners of the English Setter will have to be both available and in shape to best meet this dog's needs. Bicycle trips and canicross activities will be particularly appreciated.

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          The manageable size of this dog will facilitate transport but sufficient training and socialisation work is necessary for him to be able to seamlessly adapt to various environments.

          A transport crate adapted to his size will be indispensable for car travel. In a plane, he will have travel in the hold; on the train, he will have to be held on a leash and muzzled (like all dogs of similar size).


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            English Setter and cats

            A good relationship with feline fellows will be possible, especially so if he has been exposed to them from the youngest age. However, keep an eye on the marked instinct this hunting dog has, which could take over in certain situations.

            The pointer aspect of this dog will often be an obstacle between him and cats. This behaviour is not to be reinforced and must absolutely be worked around, especially with a family cats.

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            English Setter and dogs

            Remarkably sociable, this dog generally gets along well with all dogs, irrelevant of their breed, gender or size. Nevertheless, this inborn quality should not justify insufficient effort put into socialising the English Setter pup during the growing phase.

            Positive, regular and supervised encounters will have to be set up for the dog to develop, maintain and reinforce his canine codes of conduct, and to seamlessly communicate with his fellow canines.

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            English Setter and children

            Gentle, attentive, affectionate and attached to his social group, this pointing  dog is particularly adapted to family life involving children. This does nevertheless not replace the need to implement some rules of conduct so as to ensure that cohabitation is healthy and safe.

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            English Setter and the elderly

            This dog's bountiful energy, coupled with his almost primordial need to run, be active and stimulated both physically and mentally, are not compatible with the pace of elderly quotidian life, which is tends to be sedentary.



            The price of an English Setter varies depending on its origins, age, and gender. You have to count an average of £915 for dogs subscribed to the Kennel Club. 

            With regards to the monthly budget required for a dog of this size, including both quality nutrition and basic yearly care (vaccines, deworming, etc.), it is estimated at around £45.


            The maintenance of this dog may seem complicated on account of his long hair and feathering, but is, in reality, quite straightforward. Weekly brushes/detangling will be necessary.

            Every now and again, the fringes can be trimmed a bit to avoid parasites and fungi from developing within the coat.

            Grooming will occasionally be necessary, especially after this water-loving dog takes a dip. You will have to be sure to thoroughly dry him after every swim.

            Special attention should be given to the ears, which are vulnerable to various infections, not least because of them being folded over.


            Hair loss is significant during moulting seasons. During autumn and spring, the brushes will have to be more frequent and carried out on a daily basis in order to remove dead hair.

            Nutrition of the English Setter

            The English setter is not difficult to feed. He of course greatly appreciates homemade food (meat, carbohydrates and vegetables) but can be equally satisfied by quality kibbles bought in specialised shops.

            Being such an active dog, daily rations will have to be adapted to his activities, the shape he's in, his age and his health. It is recommended to have veterinary supervision throughout the pup's growth.

            Two meals a day are advised, one in the morning (lighter) and one in the evening (more substantial). Beware of gastric torsion given how active this particular dog is! At least an hour prior to and after the meal, he will have to be at rest. By the same token, self-service is not an option.

            Health of the English Setter

            Life expectancy

            Life expectancy is estimated at 12 years.

            Strong / robust

            As is the case of many respectable active dogs, the english setter is of robust constitution but remains more fragile than a dog that has only minimal expenditure needs.

            Withstand heat

            He can tolerate heat but be careful not to have him be too physically active in hot weather, as his fierce determination might lead to him not being able to restrict himself. Fresh water and a spot in the shade must be made available to him.

            Withstand cold

            This pointing dog is lucky to have an undercoat which develops during winter when temperatures drop. Having said that, do note that extreme weather conditions are not greatly appreciated by this european pointing dog.

            Tendency to put on weight

            If coupled with a quality nutritional regimen, the constant activity of this dog make this him relatively resistant to excess weight. If he gets his share of required exercise, he is not afflicted by obesity.

            Common illnesses

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