Meet the English Setter Dog Breed: "Gentlemen of the Dog World"

English setters' active, loyal and playful antics have earned them generations of enthusiasts. Find out why.

Updated December 12, 2023

Renowned for their boundless energy, English setters thrive in dynamic environments, making them perfect for active individuals or families. With a charming and sweet demeanor, English Setters quickly form strong bonds and their playful nature and endearing antics provide constant amusement to any loving household. But what else makes English setters so unique? I've pulled 16 fast facts that anyone considering sweet, "gentlemanly" dogs should know.

English Setters Are Called "Gentlemen of the Dog World"

English setters are commonly referred to as the "gentlemen of the dog world." They're deeply loyal and love being close to their owners, often following them around and enjoying their company.

Plus, they're charming with their speckled coats and expressive eyes. English setters are the perfect blend of good looks, a loving personality, and gentle behavior, embodying the true essence of a "gentlemanly dog."

English Setter Puppies Are Born Colorless

Similar to dalmatians, newborn English setters aren't born with their distinctive spots. While there might be slight hints of color at birth, it takes a few weeks for their characteristic spots to fully develop and become visible.

They're Known as the "Forever Puppy"

You don't have to worry about your English setter puppies growing out of that puppy stage. These cuties are often described as 'forever puppies.' They tend to retain their puppy-like behavior throughout their lives. This means they're endlessly playful and youthful in spirit, which can be incredibly charming and endearing. 

Need to Know

This perpetual puppyhood also means they're always full of energy and may require a lot of attention and activity. Make sure you puppy-proof your home and plan lots of boredom busters.

They Have Awkward Sleeping Habits

English setters are abnormal sleepers. This could be due to the flexibility hunting (their original "job") requires. But even so, walking in to see the odd way they fell asleep can give you a good chuckle.

English Setter Lifespan is Pretty Average

English setters typically live around 10 to 12 years, but with proper care, they might live even longer. Providing them with nutritious food is key to their health. They also need regular exercise, like walks and playtime, to stay fit. And don't skip those yearly vet checkups — they're essential for catching any health issues early.

English Setter vs Irish Setter

Of course, these pups are not to be confused with the Irish setter. There are a few key differences between the English setter and the Irish setter, including:

  • The Irish setter is larger than the English setter
  • The English setter is recommended for dog lovers with allergies
  • The English setter is more likely to bark excessively than the Irish setter
  • The Irish setter tends to be more playful

Both the English and Irish setters are ideal for lively families with kids and other pets, thanks to their friendly and energetic personalities. They're great for active households, loving to play and interact, which makes them excellent companions for children seeking a fun and loyal pet. These breeds are also social with other dogs, enhancing family life.

English Setters Have a Stealth Mode

English setters are particularly known for their distinctive "setting" behavior during hunting. This involves crouching close to the ground, almost in stealth mode, when they detect game birds. 

Need to Know

Their crouching stance, or "setting," is to indicate the location of birds without disturbing them.

They Also Have a Unique Coat Pattern

English setters are known for their beautiful speckled coat patterns, called 'belton,' which can be orange, blue, lemon, liver, or tricolor.

Their Weight Varies & They Can be Prone to Obesity

The English setter's weight varies considerably — ranging from 45 to 80 pounds. If you have the opportunity, take a look at the puppy parents to get a sense of how large they will become.

Need to Know

Keep an eye on your setter's weight to make sure it's healthy for their body style — they're prone to obesity.

English Setters Can Make Great Therapy Dogs

While every dog is an individual, English setters are often ideal as therapy dogs thanks to their affectionate and gentle nature. They excel at providing comfort and emotional support and displaying empathy and understanding, which are key for therapy work.

Their calm and patient manner allows them to be effective in diverse therapeutic settings, including hospitals and schools. They're especially helpful for individuals dealing with anxiety, depression, or stressful medical conditions, offering a comforting and reassuring presence.

Housetraining Can Be Challenging

While these guys have many great qualities, one challenging aspect can be housetraining. They sometimes show a stubborn streak and can be quite independent, traits often seen in highly intelligent dogs. They're like a roller coaster — clingy then distant — at least if they don't want to listen at that moment. 

Need to Know

This breed is very sensitive, so it's important to be gentle and patient during training sessions.

English Setters Can Be Prone to Separation Anxiety

English setters tend to form very strong attachments and thrive in a family setting where someone is usually around. They don't do well with being left alone for long periods, as they can easily develop separation anxiety.

Be Prepared That Their Mouth Touches Everything

English setters love touching nearly everything with their mouths. If you train them properly, you can get this under control at a young age. But if not, you may end up with a destructive chewer.

They Were Originally Bred for Hunting

The English setter is renowned for their impressive hunting abilities, particularly in bird retrieval for hunters. These skills make them excellent companions for hunting enthusiasts (and can be why they're so mouthy). If you're looking for a hunting dog, English setters are more easily desensitized to the sound of gunshots, allowing them to efficiently flush out game birds for their hunting partners. This trait makes them highly valuable in hunting scenarios, as they learn to work in environments with loud noises without getting startled or distracted.

Rescue an English Setter

A quick online search for English setter rescues reveals numerous dogs waiting for their forever homes. If you're considering getting an English setter, you'll find a range of rescue organizations and shelters housing English setters of various ages and stories, all seeking a loving family. Please consider adoption first. Your new canine companion will thank you for it.

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Meet the English Setter Dog Breed: "Gentlemen of the Dog World"