English Setter

  • Overview

    English Setters are large, athletic dogs who show plenty of affection and adoring devotion to their owners and their families. They enjoy vigorous outdoor activity, but once they burn off energy they become calm, mellow companions. English Setters are gentle, devoted and caring family companions. They are happiest spending time in the home or outdoors surrounded by their family. Theses athletic dogs are well-suited to family life because they enjoy constant attention and activity from people.

  • Personality

    English Setters are not easily rattled. They are mild-mannered, mellow dogs, especially indoors, where they aren't easily perturbed by rambunctious children, loud noises or even new visitors. They just aren't bothered by much. Outdoors, it is hard to throw them off course. English Setters are athletic and diligent in the field, where they appreciate lots of free-range play in a fenced-in yard and energetic fetching, tracking and hiking sessions with their owners. Tiring them out outdoors will create a relaxed, contented dog indoors.

    Like all good hunting dogs, English Setters are used to relying on their independent decision-making skills. As a result, they can be a little stubborn if they don't agree with their owners. If you begin training these obedient, eager dogs as puppies, they will soon strive to please and learn to follow commands quickly. If not, they develop bad habits and impolite manners somewhat easily. Still, English Setters are responsive to their owners and sensitive to their owners' tones of voice. They will not respond well if they perceive that their owner is angry with them or if they are being treated harshly, so make sure that training uses positive reinforcement.

  • Coat Care

    The English Setter's beautiful coat is his defining feature. Their long coats are feathered throughout the ears, underbelly and backs of their legs. The roan pattern, with flecks and patches of color set off against a white background, are known as Belton markings. They are named after the English Setter's home hunting grounds in England. English Setters were created by two passionate hunters and breeders, Edward Laverack and Purcell Llewellin. As Laverack bred his dogs, he placed upmost importance on their beautiful flecked and feathered coats. He is responsible for developing and naming the distinct Belton pattern. These dogs are popular in the show ring because they have more extensively feathered coats and deeper muzzles.

    Llewellin crossed his hunting dogs with Laverack's beautiful show dogs to create a smaller, more alert and faster dog who was prized in the field. These dogs have larger patches of color and hold their tail straight up when they are working. Today, the show and field types are named after their respective champions and are trained to excel either in the show ring or in the field as hunters.

Brushing

Getting his hair brushed is a big part of the English Setter's life. Brushing, with a metal comb and a large bristle brush, should be a thrice-weekly occurrence for the English Setter, whose long, lustrous coat requires plenty of attention to maintain its distinguished appearance. Brushing removes tangles and debris, which English Setters tend to attract outdoors.

Bathing

With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but it's generally best to bathe dogs with silky coats more often. The coat should end up fresh smelling, light and shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry.

Hair Clipping

The coat should be trimmed and clipped about every six weeks to stay short enough so that the English Setter can move effortlessly and comfortably in the field. When trimming the coat, pay special attention to the area around the feet and ears and make sure the feathered hair behind the legs and under the stomach stays at a manageable length.

Nails

Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

Eyes / Ears

Check your English Setter's long, soft ears routinely for infection and debris. Wash them out gently with a cotton swab and keep hair around the face trimmed to help your dog stay clean.

Teeth

Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.