We assume that you have already done some reading about the English Setter. If not, please do some in-depth research! This page is not intended to be a detailed description about English Setters; rather, it is an overview of our views of life with one. We suggest you visit the English Setter Association of America to get started on your quest for detailed ES info.
English Setters are the best-kept secret in the bird dog world. They are often overlooked by those looking for a great hunting companion that can also be a great family pet. English Setters are intelligent, affectionate, outgoing, great with kids, and generally good in the house. In the field, they are amazing bird-finders, stylish on point, and have the endurance to hunt all day. We raise field-bred Setters. These dogs, unlike their show-dog cousins, have just enough "fluff" to be pretty - feathering on the ears, tail, and legs - but not so much that they require heavy grooming.
There are two types of English Setters – Laverack (“show”) and Llewellin (“field”). We have field setters. The differences between the two types are more than skin-deep. On the surface, they look different. Show setters are generally larger, with a longer, silkier coat, and a very differently shaped head than the field setter. Field setters have much less coat (requiring considerably less grooming), and are smaller in size. Why the difference? Both types of dog are lovely in their own way – show lines are highlighting the beauty of the dog, putting great emphasis on it’s most attractive feature – the lovely, speckled coat. It’s only natural that the coat would eventually become the focal point of the show dog. In the field dog, too much coat is a problem, as the dog would become tangled in briars and burrs. So field dogs naturally evolved to have less coat. Also (this is a personal theory) field dogs need to be more manageable (size-wise) – most professional field-trialers have standard-size travel-crates for their string of dogs. A show-size ES would be a bit cramped in one, but a field ES is quite comfortable. Perhaps necessity was the mother of invention in this situation.
Below the skin, it’s been our experience that the show ES is a bit more relaxed than its field cousin. Field setters are “hard wired” to hunt, hunt, and hunt some more. While many Show setters do quite well in AKC Hunt Tests, very few reach the level of desire and intensity that Field setters attain.
Both Show and Field dogs make wonderful companions – you just need to be clear about what you are getting and why you are getting the dog.
As a whole, English Setters need regular exercise to be happy and healthy. They are not “couch potato” dogs. Ideally, off-lead running in a SAFELY FENCED pasture or field is the best choice. If that is not available, daily walking or ball-throwing is a good alternative. If your English Setter has another active dog to play with, that will take the burden off you considerably, as they will wear each other out!
Although they are very active outdoors, English Setters generally settle down quietly in the house and are usually very good house dogs. We’ve never had trouble with housetraining or overly destructive behavior. We do recommend crate-training, as English Setters are very busy as puppies and take a while to mature.
With all that said, here's our quick run-down of a basic field English Setter:
~Affectionate without being "clingy"
~Independent but still willing to be a team player
~Headstrong as pups
~Never forget a lesson learned - whether good or bad!
~Need firm but fair training - inconsistent, wishy-washy, or pushover owners will pay the price of a disobedient dog!
~Highly active outdoors; somewhat busy indoors - but they do settle down and they make great house dogs!
~Generally good with other dogs
~Excellent hunting dogs
~Can be competitive against all other pointing breeds in the Field Trial venue
~Generally a healthy breed - watch out for hip dysplasia, deafness, and allergies
~Can be readily trained to retrieve; many retrieve naturally
~Enjoy the water
~Need a JOB or they'll drive their owner and themselves CRAZY!
~Enthusiastic about whatever they are doing
~Live "in the moment"
~Generally a happy-go-lucky, friendly dog with strangers
~Good with children who have been taught how to behave around a dog