We are one of the oldest of all gun dog breeds and yet, despite being one of the most admired, we are worryingly close to the point of extinction! Our history can be traced back to France in the 1500s, where we were probably the result of crossing pointers from Spain and France. These early setters would have been called “Setting Spaniels” after the way they would crouch down around their pray to allow the hunter to throw a net over it. In the early 1800s we were introduced into Great Britain. From there a chap named Sir Edward Laverack (or ‘Sir Lav’ as we know him) developed us into the English Setter that you find today. In fact, in some circles we’re called the Laverack Setter. Our modern breed is a combination of pointers and spaniels, being deliberately mixed with breeds that would maximise our intelligence and hunting prowess. He also bred out the trait of crouching down more to an almost sitting stance making us more visible for the hunters, who by now carried guns! However in 2011 only 234 English Setter puppies were registered in the U.K. – a drop of 33 per cent on 2010. Sadly numbers have been declining steadily over the last decade.
What do I look like?
We’re a very elegant breed with smooth lines and a superb gait. Our head is long with a moderately long skull and muzzle. We’re generally a wonderful mix of colours, which adds to our appeal. Typically we will be black-and-white (known as the blue belton), orange-and-white (orange belton), lemon-and-white (lemon belton), liver-and-white (yes you guessed it – liver belton) and tricolour. Dependent upon colour, our nose will be either black or liver and our eyes as similar shade of brown. Our ears are quite long and hang in folds, whilst our lively tail is of medium length.
What do I need from you?
A breed is deemed to be at risk of extinction when it numbers less than 300 puppy registrations each year. As such, we’re now one of 25 species on the U.K. Kennel Club’s Native Vulnerable Breeds list. So as much attention towards our breed as possible would be really helpful. Our idea of fun is outside either doing work or just going for a nice scamp in the woods. We are a naturally talented gun dog but equally happy to just run and play. Bear in mind that we will always be receptive to our hunting tendencies. After a day in the field, we’ll obviously need a bit of coat care as our coat is fairly long and wavy. Like many dogs we can become a nuisance barker if we’re left out in the backyard for long periods of time. In terms of health, be on the look out for canine hip dysplasia and false pregnancies. Also be careful not to overfeed us as we can gain weight more easily than most dogs.
What I will give in return
Most owners would agree that we are a very gentle and calm dog. Particular qualities are our friendliness and excellence with children as well as our easy going and loving nature. Out of doors, we’re a whole different animal – exuberant and vivacious! With meek owners we will become wilful so firm but fair authority is required. We can be difficult to housebreak. We are sensitive to the tone of the human voice and will not listen if we sense the person is not strong minded. I should add that some English Setters may be light droolers, although this is not excessive!
How big will I get?
We’ll grow to around 24in-27in (61cm-68cm) and weigh from 56lb-66lb (25kg-30kg).
How long should I be around for?
Typical lifespan is 10-12 years.
How big is our litter?
6 puppies would be around average for us.
None that we know of – any would be really appreciated!
Disclaimer: the views expressed on this page and any comments below are only a guide to typical traits and views on the breed. Individual circumstance and traits will always vary so we can be in no way responsible for any of the information provided.