English Setter

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Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a English Setter
Average Cost to keep/care for a English Setter

Key Breed Facts

Popularity #123 out of 238 Dog Breeds.

The English Setter breed is also commonly known by the names Setter, Lawerack, Laverack Llewellin (or Llewellyn) Setter.
9 - 15 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Gundog Group
Males 65 - 69 cm
Females 61 - 65 cm at the withers
Males 25 - 36 kg
Females 20 - 23 kg
Health Tests Available
BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme
Average Price (More Info)
£805 for KC Registered
£900 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics


English Setters remain one of the most popular choices with families and for good reason. These lovely, elegant and stylish dogs boast kind, gentle and placid natures making the ideal choice for first time owners and people with young families. The English Setter is also known to be a dog that attracts a lot of attention thanks to their good looks, but it's their kind, sweet and intelligent natures which makes them stand out in a crowd. In short, English Setters are easy to train and become valued members of a household.


The English Setter is one of the oldest breeds of gundog in the world with records of these elegant dogs dating as far back as the 14th century. They were developed into the dogs we see today over hundreds of years and boast having various spaniels in their ancestry. They were original known as Setting Spaniels and were bred to work on rough, challenging moorlands where they would track down wild fowl for the masters. Once a bird was found, these spaniels would "set", remaining motionless while at the same time lifting a paw to indicate the location of the bird to the hunters. Once nets had been laid, the dogs were then given the command to drive the birds into them which they did with great care and skill.

However, the use of nets became outdated late in the 18th century when hunters started to use guns as a preferred method of hunting. As such these spaniels were no longer referred to as "Setting Spaniels" and became known as Setters instead. The first dogs of this type were owned by the upper classes and nobles of the day, but there are no records of just where the spaniels first came from. With this said, some people believe the dogs were bought to England from Europe or Asia when armies returned from wars they fought in various regions where these dogs originally came from.

It was not until the 19th century that the various Setters were classed as definite breeds in their own right although the aristocrats of the day often named their Setters using their family names. This led to various strains being created namely the Laverack Setters and the Llewellin Setters. Today, these lovely looking and elegant dogs are still a firm favourite with families in the UK and elsewhere in the world all thanks to their kind, placid and gentle natures.


Height at the withers: Males 65 - 69 cm, Females 61 - 65 cm

Average weight: Males 25 - 36 kg, Females 20 - 23 kg

The English Setter is an elegant, glamorous dog that epitomises grace, stamina and strength. They boast a very clean profile with working setters having a slightly lighter build. They carry heads high which adds to their elegant appearance and their heads are long and lean boasting a very definite stop. They have oval shaped skulls with moderately deep, square muzzles. Their noses are either black or liver, but this depends on the colour of a dog’s coat.

English Setters have bright and very expressive, oval eyes that can be anything from hazel to a dark brown. However, the darker their eyes are the better. The only time a lighter eye is acceptable is in liver beltons. Their ears are moderately long and set low on a dog's head and they hang neatly close to a dog's cheeks. The tips are velvety to the touch whereas the upper part is covered in silky, fine hair.

Their mouths are strong with dogs boasting a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. The English Setter has a long, lean and muscular neck which dogs hold slightly arched. Their shoulders are well laid back or oblique and dogs have a deep chest with lots of width in between their shoulder blades. Front legs are long, straight, well-developed and extremely muscular.

Their body is moderately long with dogs boasting quite a short, level back and well-rounded ribs. The English Setter has wide, slightly arched loins and very muscular strong back legs with well-developed second thighs. Their feet are tight and nicely padded with arched toes protected by hair that grows in-between them. Their tail is set in line with their back and is moderately long which dog's carry curved showing off any feathering found on the underside of it. Their tails are thicker at the base but they taper towards the tip.

When it comes to their coat, the English Setter boasts a slightly wavy one that's made up of silky, long hair. They have breeches and their front legs are well feathered all the way down to a dog's feet. They come in a variety of colours which includes the following:

  • Black and white - blue belton
  • Orange and white - orange belton
  • Lemon and white - lemon belton
  • Liver and white - liver belton
  • Tricolour - blue belton with tan or liver belton and tan

Dogs should have flecked coats rather than heavy markings or patches which is more acceptable as a breed standard.


English Setters have a very keen look about them, but they are extremely good natured and affectionate dogs. They are renowned for being placid and calm which is why they make such wonderful family pets. They tend to get on with everyone and everything which includes other pets and animals. They are a great choice for first time owners as long as they live in a house that boasts lots of space because English Setters are large dogs. Ideally, owners need to have a secure garden for dogs to run around in which is where they can let off steam as often as possible.

However, English Setters are high-energy dogs which means they need to be given lots of exercise and being such intelligent characters, they also need to be given enough mental stimulation to prevent boredom setting in. They are the ideal choice for families that spend a of time at home and in particular in the great outdoors.

Intelligence / Trainability

The English Setter is a very intelligent dog and therefore they respond well to the right sort of positive reinforcement training. However, their education needs to start when dogs are still young in order to lay the ground rules down and to reduce the risk of a dog's natural instincts taking over which invariably sees these dogs running off to explore their environment whenever the mood takes them. It's a good idea to enrol a young dog into obedience classes as soon as they have been fully vaccinated which English Setters thoroughly enjoy. In the long run, attending these classes the efforts can pay dividends with the result being a much more obedient dog.

Children and Other Pets

English Setters have an affinity with children of all ages, but they form very strong bonds with everyone in a household. Their tolerance level is high when it comes to the kids which is just one of the reasons they have remained such a popular choice for people with young families here in the UK and elsewhere in the world.

English Setters also get on well with other animals and this includes the family cat as long as they have been well socialised and introduced to them at a young age. They rarely show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards other pets or dogs they meet in the park either. However, as with any other breed, it pays to introduce new animals to them carefully to make sure things go smoothly.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.

English Setter Health

The average life expectancy of an English Setter is between 9 to 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

Like many other pure breeds, they are known to suffer from a few breed-specific health issues which are worth knowing about if you are hoping to share your home with one of these elegant, lively dogs. The health concerns that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:

  • Skin problems and ‘hot spots’
  • Blindness due to the deterioration of the retinas
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia - DNA test available
  • Thyroid problems

Caring for a English Setter

As with any other breed, English Setters need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


English Setters are high maintenance in the grooming department all thanks to their long and silky, fine coats. They need to be groomed on a regular basis to ensure no matts or tangles develop which can make brushing them that much harder. Dogs with very long feathers may need to go to a grooming parlour to have them trimmed to a more manageable length. It's also important to keep an eye on the feathers that grow in a dog's ears because these tend to get a bit dirty when dogs eat or drink.

English Setters have a lot of hair between their toes which needs to be kept clean and free of any mud or debris and the same can be said of between their paw pads. If too much is allowed to build up in these areas, it can make life very uncomfortable for a dog. It's a good idea to check an English Setter's feet every time they come back from a walk, especially if they have been running around in the park or through the countryside in wet or muddy conditions.

It also pays to take an English Setter to be professionally groomed at least 3 to 4 times a year which makes keeping their coats and skin in good condition that much easier in between visits to the parlour. Just like other dogs, they tend to shed more during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming would be needed to keep on top of things.


English Setters are high-energy dogs and they need to be given the correct amount of exercise to be truly, happy well-rounded characters. This means walking a dog for a minimum of 2 hours a day and ideally if they can run around a secure garden to let off steam as often as possible, all the better. They are the perfect choice for people who lead active outdoor lives. They are not a good choice for people who lead more sedentary, indoor lives.


If you get an English Setter puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean they can be feed a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Average Cost to keep/care for a English Setter

If you are looking to buy an English Setter, you would need to pay anything from £450 to over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old English Setter in northern England would be £21.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £47.37 a month (quote as of March 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with an English Setter and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for an English Setter would be between £80 to £120 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.

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