The English Setter, also known as the Lawerack or the Laverack, is a breed of dog in the Sporting Group. This beautiful and graceful breed is known for their agility, intelligence, and athletic feats, but they are also famous for their extremely sweet and gentle temperaments. The English Setter was recognized by the AKC in 1884 and AKC approved in 1986.
The English setter is an elegant and athletic hunting dog with the ability to run tirelessly at a good pace. Its trot is ground-covering and effortless, with the head held proudly and a lively tail. The coat is flat, with feathering on the ears, underside, backs of legs, underside of thighs, and tail. Its markings are distinctive, consisting of flecks of color, sometimes with patches, on a white background. The combination of good looks and hunting ability make the English setter a perfect gentleman’s hunting companion. The Laveracks tend to be larger, carry more feathering, often have deeper muzzles and usually hold their tails nearly level when on point. The Llewellins tend to be smaller and faster, with less coat and often larger patches of color. They tend to hold their tails straight up when on point.
Bred to cover a lot of area when hunting, the English setter is a lively dog that loves to hunt and run. This is especially true of dogs from field lines. If not given sufficient exercise, they can be overly lively inside. With daily exertion, however, they are calm and tractable house dogs. Those from conformation lines are particularly laid-back and gentle and excel with children and less active adults. This is an amiable, easygoing breed that gets along well with children, strangers and other dogs.
- English Setters can become nuisance barkers, so discourage this habit when they are young.
- English Setters gain weight easily, so measure their food and cut back some if they appear to be getting pudgy.
- A fenced yard is essential; English Setters can’t be trusted to stay in a yard without fencing.
- English Setters have great digging and jumping abilities, make sure they have a secure fence.
- They can be difficult to potty train, so start early and be consistent.
Other Quick Facts
- The English Setter’s coat is white with intermingling darker hairs, a pattern known as belton. The coat can be blue belton (black and white), tricolor (blue belton with tan patches), orange belton (orange and white), lemon belton (lemon and white), and liver belton (liver and white). Lemon and liver are not often seen.
- Some English Setters have a tendency to drool, especially if they’re watching you eat or waiting for a treat.
AKC group: Sporting
UKC group: Gun Dog
Average lifespan: 11 to 15 years
Average size: 45 to 80 pounds
Coat appearance: short to medium length, lies flat and has a silky texture
Coloration: Blue Belton, Blue Belton & Tan (Tri-Color), Lemon Belton, Liver Belton, Orange Belton
Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards, rural/farm areas
Setters as a type of hunting dog were known in England as long as 400 years ago. They were probably a cross of several types of hunting dogs, including pointers and spaniels. The modern English Setter was developed in the 19th century by Englishman Edward Laverack and Welshman R.L. Purcell Llewellin.
Laverack purchased his first two dogs, Ponto and Old Moll
, from Rev. A. Harrison in 1825, and they became the foundation of the breed. Laverack concentrated on developing a Setter that was gentle and companionable. He probably added Pointer
and Irish Setter
to his lines and produced dogs that did well in the show ring but poorly in field trials.
Llewellin started with Laverack-type dogs but worked to improve their performance in the field. He crossed them with Gordon Setters
and other breeds to improve their scenting ability and speed.
|Rodfield’s Pride, an English Setter from the Llewellin bloodline
Both types of English Setters came to America in the late 1800s. Laverack’s line became the foundation for the show setters of today and Llewellin’s line for the field dogs.
Setters today have a unique appearance, with their sculpted heads, athletic bodies, and long feathery tails. The show dogs tend to be a bit larger than the field dogs. They have a more luxurious coat and differ slightly in coat pattern.
Patches of color are often seen in field English Setters, but they aren’t desirable for show dogs. Of course, they don’t make a bit of difference if your English Setter is a family companion. The show dogs are capable of hunting, but the field dogs tend to have a keener nose and greater speed.
English Setters are rare, ranking 98th among the breeds registered by the American Kennel Club, so if you’d like to share your life with one of these happy, lively dogs, be prepared to spend some time on a waiting list before a puppy is available.
The English Setter is a true family dog.
Mild-mannered and sweet, the English Setter loves people of all ages and can be trusted around children. They have a knack for remembering things and people, often greeting someone they haven’t seen in a long time as if they were old friends. English Setters are sociable creatures
who crave the company of humans. They will want to be included in all family activities, are small enough to travel well in the car, and athletic enough to keep up on jogs and hikes. English Setters love all people and are far too laid back to be a reliable guard dog.
A relatively healthy dog that is simply prone to a few problems relating to large dogs – such as hip dysplasia – this dog doesn’t really suffer from many genetic or hereditary diseases.
The English Setter should be kept inside with access to the outdoors. To rid its coat of dead hair, comb it once every two or three days. Its daily exercise routine should be about one hour in length.
Not recommended for apartment living and does best with at least an average-sized yard.
English Setters may love people, but they are more stubborn than you might think. The desire to please isn’t strong in them. They are actually quite manipulative, and consistency is key to raising an obedient Setter. A gentle hand is also important when training, as they are sensitive dogs with long memories. They will not forget someone who treats them poorly. Their long memory also means that it can be hard to break English Setters of bad behavior, so early training is very important to keep bad habits from becoming permanent.
With plenty to do and a task at hand, the English Setter is at home. You can walk them, but you might find that this isn’t enough – they make excellent play companions who love to get out in the open.
The English Setter has a long coat with feathering on the ears, chest, belly, back of the legs, and tail. Plan on combing it out at least a couple of times a week or any time your dog has been in the field to remove tangles. A bath every two to three weeks will keep him clean. Unless you show your dog, you can always trim his coat for easier upkeep. English Setters shed moderately, but regular brushing will help keep loose hair from floating onto your floor, furniture, and clothing.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every few weeks. Brush the teeth frequently for good overall health and fresh breath.
It’s often more common to need to protect an adult English Setter from children than the other way around. He’s tolerant and mellow and will put up with a lot — although he shouldn’t have to!
Because puppies and toddlers are both in the process of being civilized, they need close supervision to prevent any ear pulling or tail tugging on the part of either party. Many breeders prefer to sell puppies to homes where children are at least six years old and more able to control their actions. They recommend adult English Setters for homes with younger children.
Whatever your situation, always teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
English Setters can do well with other dogs and animals, especially if they are raised with them. They are birdy, however, and you should protect pet birds until you’re sure your Setter understands they’re off limits. Some dogs can learn that fact, if they’re taught from puppyhood, but don’t assume that it will happen with every dog. You may always need to keep the two separated, if only so your Setter doesn’t pull your parakeet’s tail or your parrot take a bite out of your Setter’s sensitive nose.
Is the English Setter the Right Breed for you?
Moderate Maintenance: Regular grooming is required to keep its fur in good shape. Professional trimming or stripping needed.
Moderate Shedding: Routine brushing will help. Be prepared to vacuum often!
Moderately Easy Training:
The English Setter is average when it comes to training. Results will come gradually.
Very Active: It will need daily exercise to maintain its shape. Committed and active owners will enjoy performing fitness activities with this breed.
Good for New Owners: This breed is well suited for those who have little experience with dog ownership.
Good with Kids: This is a suitable breed for kids and is known to be playful, energetic, and affectionate around them.
Did You Know?
The English Setter is smaller than the Irish Setter and the Gordon Setter.