Complete Guide To The English Setter: Care, Health, Grooming and More

Bred to be athletic and help hunters spot and retrieve birds, the English Setter is a medium-sized, sweet, yet majestic dog. The English Setter has a loving personality and is often described as the sweetest of the Setter breeds, having less energy than the active Irish Setter and more loving than the standoffish Gordon Setter.

At my veterinary practice, we actually have a few English Setters and they’re great. While I haven’t commonly come across this breed in over 30 years of working with dogs, I do agree with the reputation they’ve earned. This is a breed that any potential dog owner should consider.

How Big Do English Setters Get?

Male35-27″ at the shoulder65-80 lbs
Female23-25″ at the shoulder45-55 lbs

What Do English Setters Look Like?

One of the most notable attributes of the English Setter is their beautiful coat. The long, soft fur is very identifiable and features a speckled pattern. Acceptable coat coloration for the English Setter recognized by kennel clubs includes Orange, Lemon, and Liver on a white background. 

What Is The Personality of a English Setter?

While the English Setter is happy to romp and play, it can also be very mannered and polite. This dog is a sweet breed of good-natured dog, devoted to his family, and very sensitive. The dog is relatively easy to train because, at its heart, it is a people-pleaser. It is important to remember how sensitive this dog is when it comes to training. All corrections and reprimands will be taken to heart, so keep training positive, upbeat, and consistent. Using plenty of treats and praise is critical when it comes to training your English Setter.  

Because the English Setter is so easy-going and eager to please, this is an excellent dog for a first-time dog owner. The dog has minimal exercise needs, and it is happy just to be next to his family. The dog is excellent with other dogs and is pleased to live with a single adult, large family, or children. He is social and friendly toward strangers and is athletic enough to enjoy time spent adventuring outdoors.

How Much Grooming Do English Setters Need?

The English Setter is a medium to high shedder, so be prepared to keep up with regular grooming requirements. To keep the coat silky and soft, try to brush your English Setter about once per week. This grooming will help keep the coat oiled, and it will eliminate tangles and knots, leading to irritation and matting. Make sure to keep the ears clean and the nails trimmed short if they are not naturally worn down by walking on rough surfaces during exercise. This dog is relatively clean, but to keep him looking his best, a bath about every six weeks is recommended.  

How Much Exercise Does A English Setter Need?

Although this dog is in the Setter family, it does not need quite as much exercise as other high-energy Setters. The dog is happy to have an hour of vigorous play once per day. Be sure to keep your English Setter in a well-fenced area to avoid him running off, chasing birds, and other distractions. The English Setter is happy to chase after a ball, play a good game of tug-of-war, or simply run and roam as he sees fit. Not one to shy away from exercise, the English Setter is also happy to run alongside his owner, who may be jogging or riding a bike. With enough daily activity, the English Setter will be glad to relax at home in the evening, peacefully sleeping at your feet.  

This breed of dog is highly athletic and intelligent and performs well in agility competitions. Not only do these competitions help to keep your dog’s mind active and engaged, but it helps to keep him physically fit and exercised. Canine sporting events, like agility and rally, are great ways to allow you to bond with your pet. Because this dog breed is attracted to birds, Birders may also enjoy the company of an English Setter who will politely point a paw toward a bird in the bush.  

What Kind Of Dog Food Is Best For English Setters?

Before we start with the food lists, just know that grain-free dog foods are a myth. There’s zero science showing that they are helpful. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that it’s causing issues in certain breeds of dogs. Food allergies are the only reason to even consider a grain-free diet but only choose one with the help of your veterinarian.

Best Puppy Food For English Setters:

Best Adult Food For English Setters:

How Long Do English Setters Live?

12-16 years based on information from the AKC

What Health Problems Do English Setters Have?

English Setters have the typical health problems that most dog breeds have. There isn’t anything in particular that this type of dog is more prone to than any other breed.

If they’re not being used for hunting or some other type of official sport, then obesity will be a concern as they age. Larger dogs like the English Setter can also have dental problems, allergies, and arthritis. Having an English Setter doesn’t mean you’re not going to face health issues, it hopefully means that this breed hasn’t been overbred to the point where it’s likely that your dog will have health issues.

Where Can I Find an English Setter?

When it comes to dogs, the English Setter is pretty rare and can be challenging to find. There are breeders available, though, to find an English Setter puppy. Before choosing a puppy, make sure you fully vet the breeder asking plenty of questions about the dog, their practices, and about the breed in general. If possible, try to meet all the puppies in the litter. You will want to choose a puppy that is sweet, active, and approachable. Never select an English Setter puppy that is aggressive or withdrawn.  

Of course, it is also possible to rescue an English Setter from a group specializing in this breed. There are several English Setter rescues in the United States, so it may be possible to find a rescue in your local area. Some great rescues to begin your search include Above and Beyond English Setter RescueAnother Chance for English Setters, and the English Setter Association of America.  

Where Can I Find Out More About English Setters?

English Setter Association of America

AKC Breed Page

Fun Facts About the English Setter

  • Due to their sweet disposition and high intelligence, the English Setter can make an excellent therapy dog. The dog is happy to sit with patients and give them comfort. The English Setter can easily be trusted with adults and children alike.  
  • There are typically two primary varieties of the English Setter, including one intended for hunting and one designed for the show ring. Hunting English Setters are usually smaller than the show ring Setters and have shorter fur with less feathering. These features make it easier for the dog to pursue his prey in the bush without tangles and brambles catching his fur.  
  • As one of the older breeds of dogs, the English Setter worked in England as early as the 17th century. These original English Setters were likely bred with other pointers and spaniels to get the English Setter we know today. The modern dog was finally certified and developed in the 1800s by Edward Laverack and R.L. Purcell Llewellin.  
  • Although the English Setter has plenty of great attributes and qualities, this is a relatively rare breed of dog, ranking only 98 out of 155 possible recognized dog breeds in popularity.