English Setter Temperament – a Friendly Energetic Companion.

The English Setter temperament is basically energetic and friendly. They are very active when outdoors, and enjoy a good run. But when they get back inside afterwards, they will settle down quickly, and love being in a family atmosphere.

The English Setter dog belongs to the Setter group of dogs, which includes the Irish Setter, the Red-and-White Irish setter, and the black and tan Gordon Setter. They also belong to the Medium Size dog breeds group, and the Sporting Dog breeds group.

The body coat is mainly white, with black flecks, with long silky hair also now as “feathered”.

A white and black English Setter, the color known as “Blue Belton”.

English Setter Temperament

The English Setter dog was bred to hunt game such as quail, pheasant and grouse. They are capable of covering a lot of territory in their hunt. They have a “gentleman’s nature”, and are observant, intelligent and inquisitive.

They are intensely friendly, and love being in a family group indoors.

Setters have been bred to hunt by scent, ranging over large distances with their heads up, scenting the air. When they detect birds, they do not chase, but freeze, or “set”, indicating the direction and distance of the game.

Once they have set, a verbal command will tell them to advance slowly towards the game, to flush them out cause them to take flight. Hundreds of years ago, the hunters would then release hawks to capture the game birds.

More recently, the hunters would use nets to capture the birds. After the advent of the reliable gun, hunters would shoot the birds, requiring the English Setter dog to be “steady to shot”, which means the dog must not be startled by a shotgun noise.

A puppy, with coat markings developing

English Setter Temperament  РHistory

The English Setter dog breed goes back several hundred years. It is thought to have been a mix of Spanish Pointer, Large Water Spaniel and the Springer Spaniel.

In the early dys, the Setter was bred to detect small game birds in undergrowth by scent, and then “set”, which involved lying down while pointing in the direction of the game. The hunters could then cast a net over the area to catch the birds.

This style of “setting” by lying down meant that the hunters had a clearer area to throw their net over, as opposed to a standard pointer breed, which would remain standing.

As time passed, the Setting Spaniel became the breed of choice in the breeding process to improve the Setter’s hunting ability. With the advent of guns, the Setter was bred to set standing up rather than lying down, so that the hunters could see the dog more clearly from a distance.

In the 19th century the English Setter dog breed was developed along 2 lines. The first was for the show ring, lead by Edward Laverick in England. The other was by Purcell Llewellyn in Wales, who was more interested in developing the breed’s field and hunting capabilities – ie he was more interested in the English Setter temperament.

The English Setter reached the USA in the 1870’s, and was first registered by the American Kennel Club in 1884.

English Setter Temperament – ease of training

The English Setter is a sensitive breed, and does not respond well to reprimands or raised voices. They have a gentle nature, and learn much more quickly if rewarded for good behavior. Their very sensitive nose and inbred instinct to follow game can make them appear wilful, if they decide to take off after an interesting smell, so it’s important to start training early to control this urge.

The Setter will learn house rules quickly, and be a pleasure to have around the home. They will require exercise each day, although as puppies they should not be walkd too far. From 12 months old they can be taken out for moderate walks and short runs, but their bones have only matured after 24 months, so it’s only after 2 years of age that you should start the vigorous runs.

Vital Statistics

Height 25″ to 27″ (male),  23″ to 25″ (female).

Weight 65lbs to 80lbs (male), 45lbs to 55lbs (female).

Color;  Speckled patterns of colors known as “Belton”, in Liver, Lemon Orange and Black/Grey, known as Blue Belton.

Liver Belton coat color. Image courtesy AKC

English Setter Temperament – Grooming

Their beautiful long, silky coats can become matted quite quickly, and so it’s important to brush your Setter 2 or 3 times a week with a soft brush. It’s handy to have a long-toothed steel comb as well, to get through any areas that have started to mat. You can also lightly trim the coat in the longest growth areas, to reduce tangles.

The AKC recommends bathing this breed every 4 to 6 weeks, to keep the coat clean. More often may be necessary if your dog is out in the countryside getting muddy! This breed does shed hair regularly, but regular grooming will minimize the amount of dog hair in your home.

FURminator deShedding Tool

We have found that the absolute best way of grooming any long haired dog breed is to use the FURminator grooming tool! We highly recommend this unique brush from Amazon to keep your dog in tip top shape. Click on the image below to find out more…

FURminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool for Dogs

English Setter Temperament – Protection

The English Setter temperament is friendly and trusting, and although they may bark to alert their owner of a visitor, they are unlikely to offer much protection. Their physical size, particularly the male dog, may be enough to deter a casual intruder, but after that the dog is more likely to stage a grand welcome!

If you are looking for a dog that can provide some protection, you should look at another breed. The English Setter temperament is simply too soft!

English Setter Temperament – Health considerations

The Setter breed is generally very healthy, without many of the possible problems that affect other breeds. However they may suffer from:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Bloat
  • Possible thyroid problems.

Bloat is also called gastric volvulus, and may be caused by eating too much too quickly. The best ways of preventing this are to feed the dog in 2 or 3 smaller meals over the day rather than one big meal; and to use an anti-gulping bowl to slow down how fast the dog can eat.

Anti gulping bowl

Fun Feeder Go Slow Anti-Gulping Dog Bowl

  • Encourages eating and drinking at a slower pace
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Encourages pet to eat or drink at a slower pace preventing indigestion, vomiting and bloating
  • Suitable for wet or dry food; Great solution for dogs who eat and drink quickly


Famous English Setters

I wasn’t able to find any famous English Setters in Art, literature or real life – please tell me if you know of one! Thank you.

Here is a link the the AKC page on the English Setter dog breed.

1 thought on “English Setter Temperament – a Friendly Energetic Companion.”

  1. My English Spaniel mix definitely has those qualities. She is silly and goofy with a great memory. Sweet and good natured.

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