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As it is with most Sporting Dogs, the English Setter is highly intelligent, eager to please, loyal and affectionate. This combination makes for the perfect companion with one caveat; you must allow him the space to dispel his energy. They are not typically large dogs weighing between 45 to 70 pounds which can be misleading and make someone think they may make a great indoor dog but that is not usually the case with an English Setter.
History of The English Setter
The English Setter, originally called a Setting Spaniel dates back to the 14th century. Officially recognized by the AKC in 1884. English Setters would work out in front of the hunter freely covering the grounds and looking for birds. Once a bird was found they would crouch like a cat and remain motionless often lifting their paw in the direction of the birds, historically this was called setting, hence the original name, Setting Spaniel. The hunters would then lay nets so that the dogs could drive the birds into the nets. Later when the gun replaced the net the name Setting Spaniel was replaced with Setter. Because the original Setters were owned by rich families of English nobility the setters were bred and honed to suit these “spoiled” hunters. Fortunately for us, because of their diligence and persistence through the years breeders have been able to keep the exceptional blood lines in tact.
English Setters make the perfect family dog. Often having a quiet gentle way with very young children. English Setters are so mellow and gentle that they can even be trusted with a baby. Many owners’ claim that their Setter is in more danger around a toddler than the toddler is around the dog, often being too tolerant of children and allowing the child to hurt them.
English Setters make excellent upland hunting dogs. Their most popular hunting use is for grouse and woodcock. However, their upland skills have been proven over and over again on almost every species of game bird. Because of the English Setter’s high spirits and high energy he will need a dedicated trainer. They usually are very responsive to training collars and will learn very quickly what he’s supposed to do. Yelling and using harsh corrections will often have the opposite effect. They are not typically known as being the most obedient hunting dogs out there, but they excel when properly trained and are known to make the right decision in a situation where you aren’t right there to tell them what to do. Hunting comes rather natural to the English Setter so training him to actually hunt isn’t usually even necessary, teaching him the commands might give you a challenge, but the hunting he can do all on his own.
Who Should Consider An English Setter?
The only real issue with properly trained English Setters is their need for space. They just do not make good kennel dogs.They are not typically large dogs weighing between 45 and 70 pounds which can be misleading and make some owners think they are small dogs and that small dogs need little space. However, they need a place to run every single day and do well in fenced in yards. Nevertheless, they love the freedom of the open countryside and will thrive when able to burn off excess energy at their leisure. It is not impossible to have a healthy English Setter that dwells in confinement, but it is absolutely necessary for you to allow him to run every day.
The English Setter has that beautiful “sporting dog” elegance that includes a soft shiny coat. Their silky hair is fairly easy to take care of, but does require regular grooming. If left unkempt their fur will form mats and knots and can lead to skin problems. Given the grooming requirements a English Setter is not the best dog for someone who doesn’t enjoy frequent brushing.
The typical lifespan of an English Setter is around 12 years of age. They don’t usually start slowing down until about 9 years old so you can expect an pretty active dog for quite awhile. So the energetic puppy stage that many dog owners look forward to winding down, will not wind down for a long time.