Is an English Setter for You?

One of the most common questions I’m asked is: Do you think I would be a good English Setter owner? It’s not a crazy question. Adding an English Setter (or two) to your home is not like adding a Labrador retriever to your household. English Setters are like Thoroughbreds and it’s an entire lifestyle change. Let’s find out if an English Setter is for you!

Get to know the breed:

  • Male Height: 24-27 inches
  • Male Weight: 55-80 lbs.
  • Female Height: 23-26 in.
  • Female Weight: 40-70 lbs.
  • Hair Length: Medium
  • Shedding: Moderate
  • Color: Primarily white with overlays of black, orange, lemon, tan, tricolor
  • Life Span: 10-12 Years
  • Health Concerns: Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Hypothyroidism, Congenital Deafness, Skin Diseases

Can you provide the following to your English Setter?

  1. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

English Setters are extremely energetic, outdoorsy dogs whose joy is entirely dependent on if their energy has been depleted. English Setters are extremely active dogs who regular consistent and regular exercise to keep them happy. Walking a setter on a leash for an hour barely scrapes the surface of their energy reserves. They require off leash exercise if possible. Depending on the recall of your dog, off leash hikes, walks, or runs are super beneficial, visits to the dog park, active play in a fenced-in yard will help immensely. English Setters are also wonderful couch potatoes, but that comes after their need for exercise has been satisfied.

  1. Brain Drain

Another form of exercise is draining your English Setter mentally through training and games. We have found our weekly training class mentally exhausts Ivy. We also enjoy using active toys that force the dog to solve a puzzle or work around a problem to reach the treat.  Practicing your training or playing a game such as “Where’s mom?” for 15 minutes a few times a day helps expend this energy as well.

  1. You’re Not Gone Too Long

Leave them alone for too long, and destruction will occur. Setters are such a friendly dog and are one of the more needy dogs when it comes to human beings. They can’t be left alone too long without becoming destructive. If you withdrawal affection or yell, raise your voice, setters can be extremely sensitive to it and become upset.

  1. Grooming

English Setters should be combed and brushed daily. Because setters grow long “feathers” on their legs, ears, and tail, they often collect burrs, dirt, leaves, and knots in their fur. I’ve learned starting the habit of daily brushing when they’re puppies helps your dog become accustomed to the routine. Shampooing and bathing once or twice a week keeps your dog clean and smelling nice. Trimming their toenails and cleaning their ears are also part of our grooming routine.

  1. Training

We do not use our English Setters for hunting. They are strictly our dogs to be our companions and for us to love on. Training is important and should begin as early as possible to adapt your English Setter to house breaking, socialization, obeying commands such as “come,” “stay,” and “sit.” Positive reinforcement training is extremely important for setters so they do not regress in their learning. One of the biggest struggles in training setters is recall and adapting them to your household animals, such as cats.

  1. Patience and Love

Winston and Ivy try to test us daily. They will pretend not to hear a command, absolutely refuse to get up from the couch when I KNOW they have to use the bathroom, bark relentlessly at squirrels despite my command to come inside, and try to counter surf when we are not looking. The key is to always remember patience and love. They are absolutely gorgeous dogs bred for their intelligence and elegance. If you can provide these few ingredients, your pup will be the perfect companion for you.


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