English Setter

AKC Sporting Group


Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

An English breeder, Sir Edward Laverack, developed the English Setter from early French hunting dogs in the early 1800s. Laverack was so instrumental in establishing the breed that the English Setter is often called the Laverack Setter. Laverack’s dogs were known for their great beauty, and are foundation stock for many of today’s top show dogs. Another English breeder, Llewellin, created a second famous hunting strain of English Setters. These are often called Llewellin Setters. The word “setter” comes from the almost “sitting” position the dog exhibits when he has discovered game. The English Setter is a vigorous, quick, and very quiet worker with an excellent nose. His coat keeps the dog comfortable in both hot and cold weather. The sweet personality of the English Setter and his gentleness with children make him a fine family companion dog.


The English Setter is a beautiful, elegant, slim setter with a unique speckled coat. The long hair is flat, silky, and a bit wavy. The coat comes in white with black (“blue”), orange or, rarely, liver or lemon speckling. Some dogs are tricolor (black, white, and tan). The head is long, with a pronounced stop. The muzzle is approximately half the total length of the head, and is fairly square with somewhat pendant flews. The eyes and nose are dark. The moderately long pendant ears have a velvety tip. The topline is level or slightly sloping to the rear. The tail is straight and tapers to a small point. The chest is quite deep, but not wide. The tail, ears, legs, and underside are all heavily fringed.

Key Facts

  • Height:  Averages 25 in. (male); averages 24 in. (female)
  • Size:  Large
  • Weight:  60 to 70 lbs. (male); 50 to 60 lbs. (female)
  • Availability:  Difficult to find
  • Talents:  Hunting, tracking, retrieving, pointing, watchdog, and agility


Beware of hip dysplasia. Buy only from stock with OFA, PennHIP, or another national hip-dysplasia clearance. Deafness is a concern; puppies should be BAER tested for hearing. Take care not to overfeed as this breed puts on weight easily. Can be difficult to housebreak. Likes to roam. A digger and good jumper. There are two types of English Setter: field and show. The field types are generally a bit smaller and lighter, with less coat, and are very active. They need more exercise than the show types. Both types need daily exercise to stay healthy and happy and must have a fenced yard. The English Setter tends to be quite vocal and can be a nuisance barker if not discouraged early in life. The coat needs regular grooming. Puppies are born white except for color patches; flecking comes in later.


A very gentle, placid, friendly dog. Mild mannered and sensitive. Loves affection. Enthusiastic and lively outdoors. Somewhat willful. Should be trained early to prevent development of bad habits, but should never be harshly treated. Needs lots of companionship. Enjoys playing with other dogs.


  • Children:  Excellent with children
  • Friendliness:  Loves everyone
  • Trainability:  Slightly difficult to train
  • Independence:  Needs people a lot
  • Dominance:  Low
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise:  Likes to bark
  • Indoors:  Relatively inactive indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  Skilled trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Feathered coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Exercise:  Vigorous daily exercise needed
  • Jogging:  An excellent jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Not recommended for apartments
  • Outdoor Space:  Best with at least an average-size yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Average (10 to 12 years)

Useful Links

AKC® English Setter Breed Standard


English Setter Breed Club


Search for a Breeder


Rescue Organizations


Books about the English Setter


English Setter Gifts