This large and elegant breed is of both a symmetrical and substantial build. They are the epitome of strength, grace and stamina. English Setters' long, flat coats are silky and well feathered. The term 'belton' (flecked) is used to describe the English Setter's coat colour. The ground colour is always white with black (blue belton), or with lemon (lemon belton), or with orange (orange belton), or with liver (liver belton) or tricolour (a mix of blue belton with either liver or tan belton and tan). Adult males measure 65-69cm and weigh about 28.5kg; adult females are 61-65cm and 27kg.
The English Setter dog breed's origins go back to the 1500s when it was known to be an effective bird dog. There are different variations on the breed's exact history. Some suggest the breed is an offshoot of various Spanish land spaniels. Another theory is that the breed was created by crossings of the old Water Spaniel, the old Spanish Pointer and early Springer types. The earliest known text that speaks of the setter breeds is a translation, ('Of Englishe Dogges' by Dr Johannes Caius) from Latin in 1576, but even this is not absolutely clear on whether the writings refer to the ancestors of the modern-day setter. The first breed show to include English Setters took place in 1859 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the north-east of England.
English Setters are friendly, good-natured dogs that bond well with their families. They are lively, sociable dogs that will announce the arrival of visitors and then treat them as if they have known them all their lives! They are good with children and have a great tolerance level - although this should not be taken advantage of. They are naturally happy with other dogs and household animals.
As with many breeds, the English Setter can suffer from various hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important. Deafness may also occur as an inherited disorder and can be tested for from a young age.
This breed needs quite a lot of exercise – about two-plus hours daily will be needed for a fit adult. They do have a tendency to wander, so make sure your garden is well fenced.
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. The English Setter is prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.
English Setters do need a reasonable amount of grooming and trimming to keep them looking at their best. Regular trimming of the hair between their pads and under their ears is a must. Air must be allowed into their ears to prevent infections. The feathering will need attention now and again. If showing this breed considerably more attention will be required.