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About the Breed: English Setter


The English Setter is a loving family pet, with a strong instinct to find birds. With regular exercise, they are an affectionate, gentle companion in the home.


Today’s English Setter is generally agreed upon as beginning with two British men, Edward Laverack (1800-1877), who developed the larger, longer haired “bench” setter, and Purcell Llewellin (1840-1925), who developed the smaller, shorter haired “field setter.”


Mr. Llewellin began exporting some of his field setters to the United States in the early part of the 20th century. Some consider the “Llewellin” a different breed of setter, however they are simply a line of English Field Setters that can be traced back to Purcell Llewellin’s setters.


Today there are field setters with Llewellin lines, Laverack lines, and also a well-known line of setters known as “Ryman Setters,” developed by George H. Rymanin out of Shohola Falls, Prince Edward Island, in 1916.

Most field setters, including the Llewellin, are registered with Field Dog Stud Book and not with AKC.

Here at SPDR, we rarely see bench setters that need rescuing, but do see field setters in need.


English Setters love people! They love to socialize. Most setters like to go with you and travel well in a car to a dog park, or a place to socialize with people and other dogs. They are very affectionate, quite gentle, and want to be around their people most of the time.

English Setters love to run! They need daily exercise to feel their best. If you give them a chance to run every day, they will reward you with a gentle calmness.

The setter is a bird dog, obsessed with birds. They will freeze and set/point a bird anytime they see one. They will spend hours with their nose to the ground and in the air looking for birds, and other creatures.


  • Very sweet and social, love their people

  • Usually setters are good travelers, and will relax in your car

  • Very sensitive and Intune to the environment

  • Active and athletic


  • Some are escape artists and can run fast

  • They do not do well when they cannot get exercise

  • Sometimes if left alone, they can have separation anxiety

Best With

  • A home that values their dog and treats it like anyone else in the family as much as possible.

  • A home with a large yard and a tall solid fence. Many Setters will self-exercise if they have a large enough yard to run around in.

  • Living indoors, but getting to go outside a lot!

Not For

  • People who live in an apartment or have no yard.

  • People who need to leave their dog alone all day.

  • Every home with cats: some setters have a high prey drive and are not good with cats, while others will be friends with cats.

  • Every home with toddlers and young kids: if children are not supervised and careful, Setters are very sensitive and may bite to protect themselves if they are being hurt.




Females:  Average 25-27 inches at the shoulder, and roughly 35-50 pounds.

Males:  Average 27-29 inches at the shoulder, and roughly 45-60 pounds.



Almost all colors can be seen in this breed. Variety is normal. Some are tricolored, some mostly white with some “lemon” or light brown flecking, some are black and white. Often born mostly white with some or with some black patches, they develop flecking of different colors as they grow up.

Energy Level:


Very active.

Life Expectancy:

On average, 12-16 years.



Setters need a gentle, kind hand, so children who are rough are not a good match.

Other Animals:


English Setters often like other dogs, but they can also be quite independent.



Setters are a sporting breed—a dog with a job—and that job is to hunt birds. Many are very good at this. It does not matter if the person they are hunting with has a gun and shoots the bird, they just want to find the birds.

All that being said, it is very sad to see a setter that cannot be with their humans most of the time.



The Setter’s coat is medium to long and usually requires regular brushing.


Because Setters have floppy ears, they can be prone to ear infections. It is important to check their ears regularly and clean if needed.

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