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English Setter Breed: Origin and Characteristics

Updated on February 27, 2014

Sporting Dogs

English Setter in Foreground
English Setter in Foreground | Source

English Setters: Origin and Characteristics

The story goes that this breed originated in France. People bred French and Spanish Pointers around 500 years ago. According to Encyclopedia Britannica the breed has been a gun dog used in England for 400 years. The distinctive traits were refined by Edward Lavarack and R.L. Purcell Llewellin in the 19th century. Laverack got two dogs from Reverend A. Harrison named Ponto and Old Moll. For 35 years, Harrison had maintained the breeds purity. Laverack cultivated the characteristics for flawless show dogs: exquisite and classy.

Llewellin obtained some of Laverack's dogs.Their field execution disappointed him, so he introduced Gordan Setters to his line. He concentrated on mastery of field abilities and hunting prowess. He developed the consummate bird dog.

At first, setters were taught to crouch, or sit in front of the upland game birds. This let the hunter throw a net over the bird. When shooting the game birds became popular, the setters were taught to point.

English Setter Hunting


The English Setter breed has characteristics that make him a good dog to be around children. He is sweet-tempered and friendly. The AKC explains that he is best suited to be around the family a lot. His temperament doesn't do well in solitude of the yard or kennel without plenty of interaction with his people.

Physical Characteristics

The English Setter weight for a male is between sixty to eighty pounds and for the female between fifty to sixty pounds.


The feathered coat is like silk and medium in length and it lays close to the dog's body. It can be wavy. Belton is the white coloring speckled with either orange, lemon, liver, black or blue. The coat might be tan, black or white. The tricolor has lots of patches and ticking.

English Setter Shedding

The English Setter sheds an average amount, but he sheds a lot more during the shedding seasons of fall and spring. Brush him each day during shedding season, otherwise do it three or four times each week.


Dampen the coat by spraying water on it or using a conditioner prior to brushing out the mats and tangles. This prevents a dry coat from being torn. He needs brushing twice each week. Dogs that run through the woods will need brushing more frequently. Brushing the fur on the body using a bristle brush works well. Use a comb on his feathering. A wide-tooth comb is used initially, then switch to a fine-tooth comb.

The feather-like fur on his paws also requires combing. When this fur mats between the toes and pads it causes a situation that fosters skin irritations and fungus.


The English Setter's gait is harmonious and flowing. It pictures vitality and covers ground effectively. The dog's forward strut is long; its hind legs picture mighty rear drive.

The English Setter is a good breed for game bird hunters and those that want him for a show dog. He makes a good family pet.


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