A medium-sized breed of hunting dog, the English Setter is part of the Setter family, together with Irish Setters, black-and-tan Gordon Setters and Irish Red and White Setters. It has a medium-length main white body coat, with long silky fringes under its belly, on the back of its legs and on its tail. The coat also features flecks of color, but there are those referred to as belton that have different color varieties. A gentle, but strong- willed and sometimes mischievous, bird dog, it is bred for a mix of athleticism and endurance.
Trainability & Hunting Style
Stanley Coren’s “The Intelligence of Dogs” ranked the English Setter 37th, being above average in obedience and working intelligence. As you may know, this hunting dog is very intelligent that it can be trained to perform virtually any task other hunting dogs can do, aside from herding. However, take note that not all English Setters are easy to train, as their natural instinct to hunt birds would distract them in outdoor environments. As for hunting, the English Setter executes it by covering large distances in a methodical manner and silently seeks game by scent. When it finds its prey, it will freeze, instead of giving it a chase, crouching or setting itself in a standing position, which is the root of its name, “setter”. Once it is set, it would then slowly creep forward on your command to disturb the birds into flight.
A medium-sized bird dog has an elegant overall appearance, the English Setter’s size can reach up to 79 pounds for males and 70 pounds for females. For the hunting type, its build and construction can be finer than those from show or bench lines. Its head is slightly domed with a muzzle of good depth and has chiseling under the eyes, which have a dark color with a gentle and kind expression. Its ears are positioned in line with its eyes, lying in an elegant fold. It has well-angled shoulders, long muscular neck, well-deepened brisket, body with moderate length that is proportionate to its height and powerful hindquarters. Moreover, English Setters usually carry their tails (which are naturally long enough to reach their hocks) in line with their backs.
As standard, the English Setter’s temperament is described as “gentleman by nature”, but these hunting dogs can also be strong-willed and mischievous, particularly those from field or working lines. It is naturally people-oriented and energetic, making it perfect for families who can give it attention and activity and, of course, for hunters. This bird dog can also be highly sensitive to criticism, which entails the need of positive reinforcement methods in training.
Depending on its size and phase of life, an English Setter should be fed a formula that suit its unique digestive needs. Though the type of food will be your choice, it is best to consult a breeder or veterinarian to determine how frequent the bird dog is fed. When it comes to grooming, you need to regularly brush its medium-long coats with a comb and slicker brush to avoid matting and ensure good condition. You should also need to regularly trim its nails with a clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth and cracking, as well as check its ears to avoid wax and debris build-up which can lead to infection. While the hunting type requires less grooming as it has a shorter coat, it is a different story for a bench or show type as it has a long and flowing coat. The English Setter is an active hunting dog, it needs plenty of exercise of up to 2 hours daily as recommended by bird dog experts.
As with other hunting dogs, both pedigree and cross-breeds, the English Setter can be affected by genetic problems, such as congenital deafness, which is common in this bird dog. Other diseases it can also have are autoimmune thyroiditis, canine hypothyroidism, hip and elbow dysplasia and allergies. Some English Setters may even have cancer, which is a common killer among these hunting dogs according to the Kennel Club. But like other hunting dogs, English Setters are generally healthy and solidly built, with an average life span of 11-12 years.
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