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  • Temperament: Friendly, Mellow, Merry
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 94 of 193
  • 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 AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

English Setter sitting in three-quarter view
English Setter standing facing left.
English Setter head facing left
English Setter coat detail
English Setter

Find a Puppy: English Setter

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

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 topline. 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.

HEAD

Size and proportion in harmony with body. Long and lean with a well defined stop. When viewed from the side, head planes (top of muzzle, top of skull and bottom of lower jaw) are parallel. Skull-oval when viewed from above, of medium width, without coarseness, and only slightly wider at the earset than at the brow. Moderately defined occipital protuberance. Length of skull from occiput to stop equal in length of muzzle. Eyes-dark brown, the darker the better. Bright, and spaced to give a mild and intelligent expression. Nearly round, fairly large, neither deepset nor protruding. Eyelid rims dark and fully pigmented. Lids fit tightly so that haw is not exposed. Ears-set well back and low, even with or below eye level. When relaxed carried close to the head. Of moderate length, slightly rounded at the ends, moderately thin leather, and covered with silky hair.

NECK AND BODY

Neck is long and graceful, muscular and lean. Arched at the crest and cleancut where it joins the head at the base of the skull. Larger and more muscular toward the shoulders, with the base of the neck flowing smoothly into the shoulders. Not too throaty. Topline-in motion or standing appears level or sloping slightly downward without sway or drop from withers to tail forming a graceful outline of medium length. Forechest-well developed, point of sternum projecting slightly in front of point of shoulder/upper arm joint. Chest-deep, but not so wide or round as to interfere with the action of the forelegs. Brisket deep enough to reach the level of the elbow. Ribs-long, springing gradually to the middle of the body, then tapering as they approach the end of the chest cavity. Back-straight and strong at its junction with loin. Loin-strong, moderate in length, slightly arched. Tuck up moderate. Hips-croup nearly flat. Hip bones wide apart, hips rounded and blending smoothly into hind legs.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulder-shoulder blade well laid back. Upper arm equal in length to and forming a nearly right angle with the shoulder blade. Shoulders fairly close together at the tips. Shoulder blades lie flat and meld smoothly with contours of body. Forelegs- from front or side, forelegs straight and parallel. Elbows have no tendency to turn in or out when standing or gaiting. Arm flat and muscular. Bone substantial but not coarse and muscles hard and devoid of flabbiness. Pasterns-short, strong and nearly round with the slope deviating very slightly forward from the perpendicular. Feet-face directly forward. Toes closely set, strong and well arched. Pads well developed and tough. Dewclaws may be removed.

HINDQUARTERS

Wide, muscular thighs and well developed lower thighs. Pelvis equal in length to and forming a nearly right angle with upper thigh. In balance with forequarter assembly. Stifle well bent and strong. Lower thigh only slightly longer than upper thigh. Hock joint well bent and strong. Rear pastern short, strong, nearly round and perpendicular to the ground. Hind legs, when seen from the rear, straight and parallel to each other. Hock joints have no tendency to turn in or out when standing or gaiting.

COAT

Flat without curl or wooliness. Feathering on ears, chest, abdomen, underside of thighs, back of all legs and on the tail of good length but not so excessive as to hide true lines and movement or to affect the dog’s appearance or function as a sporting dog.

TAIL

A smooth continuation of the topline. Tapering to a fine point with only sufficient length to reach the hock joint or slightly less. Carried straight and level with the back. Feathering straight and silky, hanging loosely in a fringe.

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About the English Setter

English Setters are elegant but solid dogs of beauty and charm. The word “belton,” unique to the breed, describes the speckled coat patterns of colors 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.”

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country. The English Setter Association of America, Inc. is the official AKC Parent Club representing the English Setter in the US.
English Setter

Find a Puppy: English Setter

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find English Setter Puppies

Care

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 behavior. 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.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Regularly

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.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

English Setters are sensible, good-natured, 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.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Easy Training

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

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:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • BAER Testing
  • Thyroid Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

English Setter standing in three-quarter view.
English Setter
English Setter
English Setter
English Setter
English Setter

History

The English Setter’s history goes back some 400-500 years. Early authorities say the breed precedes the Pointer in development. Evidence in sportsmen’s writings suggest the English Setter was originally produced from crosses of the Spanish pointer, the large water spaniel, and the Springer Spaniel.

The Setter was developed to lay down quietly, or “set,” when they located game birds. This style of hunting at the time would then require the hunter to cast a net in the area, sometimes covering the dog as well, and flush and harvest the birds that were ensnared. This low-lying method was ideal for net hunting as a standing dog on point would be much more easily tangled in the net. Any breed that “set” was branded a setter, but ultimately, the Setting Spaniel’s keen nose and superiority in finding birds made it the best choice in the selective breeding that developed dogs for this particular purpose. In the 18th century, firearms replaced the nets and further selective breeding developed an upright point in Setters, the better to see the dog from a distance. The 19th century saw a divergence of Setters into different breeds, evolving based on their location and the terrain in which they hunted.

Considerable credit for the development of the modern Setter goes to Edward Laverack of England, who, in 1825, obtained “Ponto” and “Old Moll,” products of a 35-year-old English Setter line. Another prominent figure in this breed’s development was R. LL. Purcell Llewellyn of Wales. Though he had bought his dogs from Laverack, Llewellyn’s focus was on field performance, unlike Laverack, who is mostly associated with the show Setter. Once the breed was exported to America in the 19th century, C.N. Myers of Blue Bar Kennels in Pennsylvania played a major role in the development of the English Setter in the states.

Did You Know?

English Setters were one of the first 9 breeds registered in America in 1878, and were recognized by the AKC when it was founded in 1884.
English Setters were trained bird dogs in England more than 400 years ago.
The first show for English Setters was held at Newcastle-On-Tyne on January 28, 1859.
The English Setter has retained its popularity since its introduction into the US due to its usefulness and beauty.
An English Setter named Adonis was the very first dog to be recorded in the AKC's stud book.
Considered by many as the best English Setter of all time, Ch. Rock Falls Colonel won 101 Bests in Show in the 1950s, though the top prize at Westminster eluded him.
Contrary to popular belief, the three setters - English, Gordon, and Irish - are not merely representatives of different colors or varieties within one "setter" heading, but are in fact three separate breeds.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

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 topline. 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.

HEAD

Size and proportion in harmony with body. Long and lean with a well defined stop. When viewed from the side, head planes (top of muzzle, top of skull and bottom of lower jaw) are parallel. Skull-oval when viewed from above, of medium width, without coarseness, and only slightly wider at the earset than at the brow. Moderately defined occipital protuberance. Length of skull from occiput to stop equal in length of muzzle. Eyes-dark brown, the darker the better. Bright, and spaced to give a mild and intelligent expression. Nearly round, fairly large, neither deepset nor protruding. Eyelid rims dark and fully pigmented. Lids fit tightly so that haw is not exposed. Ears-set well back and low, even with or below eye level. When relaxed carried close to the head. Of moderate length, slightly rounded at the ends, moderately thin leather, and covered with silky hair.

NECK AND BODY

Neck is long and graceful, muscular and lean. Arched at the crest and cleancut where it joins the head at the base of the skull. Larger and more muscular toward the shoulders, with the base of the neck flowing smoothly into the shoulders. Not too throaty. Topline-in motion or standing appears level or sloping slightly downward without sway or drop from withers to tail forming a graceful outline of medium length. Forechest-well developed, point of sternum projecting slightly in front of point of shoulder/upper arm joint. Chest-deep, but not so wide or round as to interfere with the action of the forelegs. Brisket deep enough to reach the level of the elbow. Ribs-long, springing gradually to the middle of the body, then tapering as they approach the end of the chest cavity. Back-straight and strong at its junction with loin. Loin-strong, moderate in length, slightly arched. Tuck up moderate. Hips-croup nearly flat. Hip bones wide apart, hips rounded and blending smoothly into hind legs.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulder-shoulder blade well laid back. Upper arm equal in length to and forming a nearly right angle with the shoulder blade. Shoulders fairly close together at the tips. Shoulder blades lie flat and meld smoothly with contours of body. Forelegs- from front or side, forelegs straight and parallel. Elbows have no tendency to turn in or out when standing or gaiting. Arm flat and muscular. Bone substantial but not coarse and muscles hard and devoid of flabbiness. Pasterns-short, strong and nearly round with the slope deviating very slightly forward from the perpendicular. Feet-face directly forward. Toes closely set, strong and well arched. Pads well developed and tough. Dewclaws may be removed.

HINDQUARTERS

Wide, muscular thighs and well developed lower thighs. Pelvis equal in length to and forming a nearly right angle with upper thigh. In balance with forequarter assembly. Stifle well bent and strong. Lower thigh only slightly longer than upper thigh. Hock joint well bent and strong. Rear pastern short, strong, nearly round and perpendicular to the ground. Hind legs, when seen from the rear, straight and parallel to each other. Hock joints have no tendency to turn in or out when standing or gaiting.

COAT

Flat without curl or wooliness. Feathering on ears, chest, abdomen, underside of thighs, back of all legs and on the tail of good length but not so excessive as to hide true lines and movement or to affect the dog’s appearance or function as a sporting dog.

TAIL

A smooth continuation of the topline. Tapering to a fine point with only sufficient length to reach the hock joint or slightly less. Carried straight and level with the back. Feathering straight and silky, hanging loosely in a fringe.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Blue Belton Check Mark For Standard Color 046
Blue Belton & Tan (Tri-Color) Check Mark For Standard Color 351
Lemon Belton Check Mark For Standard Color 116
Liver Belton Check Mark For Standard Color 381
Orange Belton Check Mark For Standard Color 135
White 199
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