English Setters are medium-sized, eye-catching hunting dogs. Their sweet and totally gentle temperament make them a perfect family companion. It is one of the four British setters created around XVIII century to help humans point and retrieve bird game.
The English Setter was formally established as a breed around 400 years ago thanks to hard and passionate work of two gentlemen named Laverack and Llewellin, who strived to achieve an elegant and powerful medium sized hunting dog by crossing old spaniels and pointers.
The name "setter" comes out of a very characteristic trait of “setting,” when the dog located game. The term "belton”, used uniquely in this breed, describes the spotted markings on English Setter coats. Belton is a village in Northumberlad, England, and the term was used for the first time and later on became popular after publishing a book abut English Setters by Edward Laverack.
The three breeds: English, Gordon and Irish Setters seem to be very similar in looks and despite popular beliefs they are are not a colour variety of one "setter" breed but in fact completely separate breeds.
English Setters are powerful, athletic but very elegant dogs that stand out with their beauty. They come in 4 colors: liver, lemon, orange and blue belton. Apart from that, blue and liver can come in tricolor version - with light brown tan around ears, eyes and paws.Here you can view all of the english setter markings on photos.
The English Setter is known as the gentleman of the dog world - moving gracefully, with a long neck, highly positioned head, strong back and beautiful coat around the ears, belly, legs and the tail. Their eyes are round, beautifully rimmed and bright - always full of love.
This breed gets on well with other dogs and people. English Setters were bred to be a totally aggression free breed - that makes them a perfect family companion. Whith their sweet and mild character, they are certainly not good guard dogs. Being extremely gentle and affectionate these dogs are perfect even for families with kids. Nevertheless, you should remember to never leave your setter unattended with a child.
English Setters will make everyone smile. They act as children pretty much all the time. Just take a look at Nela and Misia playing! Don't be surprised that your adult English Setter might come up with an idea to steal your socks and play like a pup!
They crave human company, so leaving them for long periods of time alone can be hard for them. We strongly encourage families to include their dog in all sorts of activities that can be done together: travelling, jogs, hikes or swimming!
A bored setter, left alone with no activity, may develop destructive behaviours. However, we crate train all our dogs to be calm during our absence. Properly trained and physically tired dogs will sleep patietly until you come back home. Read more about crate training your dog here.
English Setters are very intelligent. In the past, they were supposed to present a certain level of independent thinking while working in the field. Their desire to please everyone makes them quite easy to train. They are nevertheless quite stubborn, but consequence and repetition can result in an obedient English Setter. Males can be more "bossy" at a certain age and need a firm hand - but that's not a rule.
Please remember most setters are very gentle. They require calm but firm guidance as they will not forget someone who treated them badly. Early training is crucial to ensure your dog will be a problem free and reliable companion. We teach our puppies basic commands as soon as they start to move and wiggle around!
In order to be happy and healthy, an English Setter needs regular activity. Ideally this could be a daily stroll in the fields, play session in a large, fenced area, jogging or cycling.
After their portion of exercise they will settle down calmly at home.
English Setters are an eye-catching breed thanks to their wonderful long and silky coat. To keep it healthy and beautiful, owners need to find around 30 minutes 2 to 3 times a week to brush all the long feathering on the chest, abdomen, legs and tail. The ears and eyes should be checked for any signs of infection. For basic grooming you will need a long-toothed metal dog comb and a hack trimming knife for the wooly coat on the neck, withers and back. To keep the face, feet and neck elegant, you may shave these parts once or twice a month. Under no circumstances should you shave the entire dog. It may result in overheating in summer and catching a cold during colder seasons.
When left unattended, the coat will soon tangle and develop hard to handle mats. These are uncomfortable for the dog and can cause skin irritation or even infections.
Basic grooming kit to keep your English Setter clean and neat (from left): shaver, hack trimming knife, "poodle type" brush, metal comb.
To keep the coat healthy and beautiful, owners need to find around 30 minutes 2 to 3 times a week to brush all the long feathering. A bath at least every four weeks keeps the English Setter’s coat and skin clean and healthy and also delays tangling and matting.
English Setters were bred for hundreds of years as hunting dogs. Long runs in search for bird scent is in their nature and they need regular physical activity to stay happy and healthy.
This breed is ideal for people who enjoy day-to-day exercise - be it daily jogging, cycling or long walks in the countryside. Setters will also be happy to play with other dogs in a large, securely fenced area. This does not mean that owning a garden makes you a perfect setter owner. Without an activity setters get bored very easily - even in the biggest yard. This breed loves to actively participate in their family activities, that's why only providing a fenced area is in our opinion not sufficient. A bored setter will "take care" of your garden or even try to escape and roam. Please don't believe that a big fenced yard is a sufficient way to exercise you dog.
Despite being very energetic when outdoors, English Setters will usually calm down once at home and be a quiet and calm companion. An English Setter may live happily in a villa with a garden as well as in a smaller apartment in the city as long as you know how to "use" his energy.
Please be aware that very strenuous or high-impact activities such as long runs, plays, jumping and stair climbing must be restricted for young setters (until 15-20th month of age).
English Setters are not often seen at the vet office. It is a generally healthy breed. However no breed is free from hereditary diseases and cases of deafness, hip or elbow dysplasia, thyroid disorders are sometimes reported among some setters. Responsible breeders screen dogs before mating to minimise the risk of bringing to life puppies with disorders.
Setters at Penkivil are screened towards: hip and elbow dysplasia (HD, ED), deafness (BAER test) and progressive retinal atrophy (pro rcd4).
English Setters are also on the list of breeds prone to bloat - a sudden, life-threatening stomach condition, occurring usually after feeding and strenuous exercise shortly after.
Where to buy an English Setter?
Breeders vs "breeders"
So... you decided. You want a dog. A pedigree dog that looks like the one you see on breed photos. You grab your phone/tablet/laptop (choose any) and google:
"(breed name here) puppies (your city/regoion)"
You see thousands (if the breed is a popular one) or hundreds (if it is a less known one) puppy advertisements. You open and read couple of them and most people get caught in a trap at this stage already.
Why? You know and see only the part the advertiser wants you to see and know about. Sweet pups, hugged by even sweeter children, sparkling clean dog-beds, a perfectly written kennel description, everything just waiting for you to grab the phone and schedule the time of puppy delivery. Maybe you were lucky and it's not a trap. But very very often it is.
Internet is full of "breeders". Who are they compared to true Breeders?
- usually knows very little or nothing about dogs and breeding
- puppies are treated as a product that needs to be sold quickly, possibly without any complications, to maximise the profits (the puppies are not vaccinated, often ill, malnourished and with parasites)
- cares about money, not animal welfare - very often the puppies are born and raised in extremely dirty, unheated, unlit barns or basements, fed with slaughter waste or the cheapest supermarket dog food available.
- dogs kept in the kennel are not family members but are kept solely for "production". They are fully utilized to produce puppies until they die out of weakness or untreated diseases.
- bitches are pregnant as often as possible, no matter their health status (no genetic testing) or age. They give birth in tragic conditions, more often than not produce genetically faulty puppies. After giving birth a couple (some even dozen!!) of times they just... die.
"Breeders" are no fun. They can easily delude people by pretending everything is OK. Washing the dirty pup before your arrival, arranging your meeting in a different place the puppies are raised, some even deliver puppies free of charge (to be sure nobody sees where they come from)... After the purchase is made, they disappear in thin air. If the unfortunate puppy is diagnosed with a severe genetic condition you can count only on yourself.
OK. You have the picture. Who is a true Breeder then?
A true Breeder:
- runs a legal kennel, which means he or she is a member of a national club that unites breeders. Moreover, he ought to have a registered kennel name, protected worldwide. In Europe, the oldest and biggest organisation that unites dog breeders is FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale). In Poland, the only organisation recognised by FCI is Zwiazek Kynologiczny w Polsce. If you have concerns whether a breeder is a "real" one, check up his kennel name in the international directory of FCI kennel names.
- obeys and is obliged to breed in accordance with the Breeding Regulations of his club, which state (among many others) that females and males must meet special age, show and health requirements in order to be bred. Every breeder's litter is assessed by the Board of Breeding Commitee after 6 weeks of age at the breeders place. The assessment is made not only to pinpoint the possible disorders of the puppies but also to make sure the puppies are well fed and kept in clean and safe environment.
- never hides the truth about the puppies, their parents, or their relatives. They are open to meet prospective owners at the kennel grounds to show the parents of the litter and prove the dogs are kept in good condition and environment.
- runs health tests on all their dogs and is completely honest about possible genetic problems that might occur (nobody, even the best breeder, is a fortune-teller to predict genetic disorders)
- has a genuine interest towards dogs and wants to share their knowledge with anyone willing to learn
- produces puppies only after careful research and never for profit
- treats all puppies that leave the kennel as their legacy and a part of their heart. If anything goes wrong the puppy can be rehomed to the breeder or (in special cases) a refund may be granted.
A dedicated Breeder is willing to help all prospective owners with their experience. He or she spends countless hours on planning, mating and eventually raising a well socialised and healthy puppy, making sure it finds a forever loving family.
Please do not buy puppies (of any breed) from unknown or unscreened sources. Support true Breeders who often dedicate a huge part of their life for the dogs' welfare.
Below you will find chosen English Setter Clubs from around the world. These are places where breed specialists will help you find a trusted breeder.