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English Setter: Pictures, Care, Traits & More

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on February 28, 2024 by Dogster Team

black and white English setter in a field and sunshine

English Setter: Pictures, Care, Traits & More

If you’re looking for a dog lovely in both looks and personality, look no further than the English Setter! This medium-sized dog breed has a long, beautiful coat and is known for being super friendly, affectionate, and playful. Overall, they make fantastic pets, particularly for families.

However, before running out to adopt one, you should learn all you can about the breed. That’s why we’ve gathered all the relevant information you’ll need about these pups. Below, you’ll learn more about the breed’s temperament, nutritional needs, how much exercise they require, and more. Keep reading!

Height: 23–27 inches
Weight: 45–80 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Colors: White, orange belton, lemon belton, liver belton, blue belton, tri-color
Suitable for: Active families, active singles, those with backyards
Temperament: Friendly, energetic, playful

The English Setter is an older breed developed in the United Kingdom as a hunting dog. Country gentlemen bred them on their estates, mixing pointer breeds with the old spaniel to make a canine that would sit (or “set”) when they found game. It didn’t take long for the English Setter’s popularity to grow in the UK, at which point the breed made their way to the United States.

English Setter Characteristics


English Setter Puppies

Young male English Setter puppy outdoor
Image Credit: tsik, Shutterstock

When you decide you’re ready to get an English Setter puppy, you’ll probably have to go through a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder will have raised your puppy with their mother and siblings and be willing to tell you the results of any health checks done on the parents. Going through a breeder will be a bit pricey, though.

You might be able to locate a puppy through a rescue organization, as there are several organizations around. However, a rescue organization may be more likely to have older dogs rather than puppies. Adopting a dog from a rescue means helping a dog in need, though!

Having an English Setter puppy in your home means having an extremely friendly and playful pup who is loyal to their family and fantastic with kids. Although this breed can certainly be energetic, they’re also big on receiving cuddles. These dogs are highly intelligent, too, so training them on basic commands should be easy enough.

Black and white English Setter
Image Credit: Anna Pozzi – Zoophotos, Shutterstock

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Temperament & Intelligence of the English Setter

The English Setter is an extremely beautiful canine, but that isn’t all this dog has going for it. This breed boasts high intelligence, incredible loyalty, and extreme friendliness, making them a delight to be around. These pups are affectionate with their loved ones and always up for a quick nap or snuggle. They’re also highly energetic. That energy means they need an active family to keep up with them. If the English Setter doesn’t get enough exercise throughout the day, they can end up becoming bored and engage in mischievous behavior.

Because the breed is an intelligent sporting dog, they’re quick to pick up on commands and take great joy in learning new things. That intelligence and desire to learn means you’ll need to keep them mentally stimulated, though; like with the lack of physical exercise, a lack of mental stimulation can equal a bored pup!

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The English Setter is a wonderful pet for families! However, they need to be with a family who has the time to give them the exercise they need each day and a yard they can run around in; apartment life won’t suit these pups. English Setters are great with children of any age, as they’re fairly laid back. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t monitor children while playing with this dog, though, as accidents can happen.

This breed is sometimes prone to separation anxiety, too, so they’ll do better in homes where someone is there more often than not.

English setter with brown spots on wheat field
Image Credit: LN team, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

English Setters get along quite well with other animals. They’ll love playing with dogs of all sizes and can even get along with felines. However, this breed has a history as hunting dogs, so they have a prey drive that could cause them to “hunt” pets smaller than them. Early socialization is key to having your English Setter and smaller animals get along. You also should never leave these canines alone with smaller animals, like birds or rabbits, just in case they can’t resist their instincts.

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Things to Know When Owning an English Setter:

What else should you know about owning an English Setter? Plenty! Owning a dog is a large responsibility, and you’ll need to know what to feed them, how to groom them, and what kinds of health issues they may face in the future.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

As with all dogs, the English Setter will need a diet of high-quality dog food that has the protein and calories required to keep up with their energy needs. However, this breed can be prone to obesity, as they have a tendency to overeat. Talking with your vet about how much food to give your pup is advisable. It isn’t just dog food this breed will eat, though; English Setters enjoy sneaking crumbs and food off countertops and have even been known to try stealing morsels left on plates. You’ll want to ensure you train them out of their tendency to hunt down food wherever it may be hiding!

The English Setter breed can also be prone to food allergies, so watch for any signs of allergic reactions, such as itchiness or digestive trouble.

Exercise 🐕

English Setters have a lot of energy, but they don’t have as much as some other sporting breeds. You’ll want to aim for over an hour of exercise each day for these canines, divided into more than one exercise session. You can take your pup on long walks, let them accompany you on hikes, bring them to the dog park, or play a game of tag or fetch in the backyard.

Because this is a sporting breed, they are quite athletic; between that athleticism and their intelligence, you’ll find the English Setter is great at sports competitions. You may want to sign them up for a training course for this sort of thing or just set up an agility course in the backyard.

beautiful fun crazy young english setter dog running
Image Credit: Best dog photo, Shutterstock

Training 🎾

Because of their intelligence and history as hunting dogs, English Setters are relatively easy to train, as they can pick up new things quickly. They’re a sensitive breed, though, so be sure to only use positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement during training. Also, be aware that their prey drive and excellent sense of smell can lead these canines to go with their instincts, so you’ll want to begin training these dogs early on to ensure they don’t get into trouble because of this.

Don’t forget the early socialization, either! Socialization is vital for any breed, but it’s especially important with this one if you have a multi-pet home that includes small animals. Because of their hunting instincts, the English Setter may be tempted to chase after smaller pets, but early socialization can help curb these instincts.

Grooming ✂️

This breed has a beautiful coat, but as their hair is on the longer side, you should brush them at least once a week, if not more. A soft-bristled brush is an excellent choice, but you might also want to invest in a metal comb with long teeth, as it can help work through tangled areas. The English Setter has feathering in their coat around the ears, feet, and legs that will do well with regular trimmings to keep your pup looking neat.

You should check your dog’s ears regularly to ensure they are clean, and baths should be given every 4–6 weeks. Nails should be kept trimmed, and teeth should be brushed a few times a week to help prevent dental issues.

english setter sit in grass
Image Credit: Baevskiy Dmitry, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions 🏥

This breed is relatively healthy, but like all breeds, the English Setter has a few health conditions it is more likely to develop.

Minor Conditions
  • Allergies
  • Hypothyroidism
Serious Conditions
  • Bloat
  • Deafness
  • Lysosomal storage disease

Male vs Female

Personality-wise, male and female English Setters should be quite similar (although each dog is an individual and will have their own quirks). The only significant difference between the sexes will be their size, as males are a few pounds heavier and a couple of inches taller. Besides that, the other difference between the sexes will be the cost of having them fixed, as spaying is more expensive than neutering.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the English Setter

There’s much more to learn about this fabulous dog breed, so here are a few extra facts you might not have known.

1. The English Setter is extremely lovely for a reason.

These canines might have been hunting dogs, but in the 19th century, people became more interested in their looks and decided to enhance their beauty via breeding.

2. The word to describe an English Setter’s coloring is unique to them.

The word is “belton,” and it describes the flecks of color on an English Setter’s coat. If you look at the coat colors listed above, you’ll see there are several belton variations.

Cute blue belton English Setter dog
Image Credit: Dorottya Mathe, Shutterstock

3. The English Setter is one of the oldest gun dog breeds.

You can find dogs that resemble this breed in artwork going back to the 15th century!

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Final Thoughts

The English Setter is an absolutely fantastic pet for almost anybody on the more active side. As long as you have a nice yard for them to play in and the energy required to keep up with them, the English Setter will be one happy pup! These dogs can even do well in homes with multiple pets (though you will need to watch them around smaller animals). If you don’t think you can exercise one of these dogs as needed due to lack of time or other reasons, though, consider another breed that looks similar but has less energy.


Featured Image Credit: zoyas2222, Shitterstock

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