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About English Setters

Author: Robert Leighton

In some form or other English Setters are to be found wherever guns are in frequent use and irrespective of the precise class of work they have to perform; but their proper sphere is either on the moors, when the red grouse are in quest, or on the stubbles and amongst the root crops, when September comes in, and the partridge season commences.


Though Setters are divided into three distinct varieties,--The English setter, the Irish and the Gordon, or Black and Tan--there can be no doubt that all have a common origin, though it is scarcely probable, in view of their dissimilarity, that the same individual ancestors can be supposed to be their original progenitors.

Few dogs are more admired than English Setters, and those who are looked upon as professional exhibitors have not been slow to recognise the fact that when a really good young dog makes its appearance it is a formidable rival amongst all other breeds when the special prizes come to be allotted.

Doubtless the English Setter Club has done much since its institution in 1890 to encourage this breed of dog, and has proved the usefulness of the club by providing two very valuable trophies, the Exhibitors' Challenge Cup and the Field Trial Challenge Cup, for competition amongst its members, besides having liberally supported all the leading shows; hence it has rightly come to be regarded as the only authority from which an acceptable and official dictum for the guidance of others can emanate. Back to English Setter top

English setter breed description

The following is the standard of points issued by the English Setter Club:--

HEAD--The head should be long and lean, with well-defined stop. The skull oval from ear to ear, showing plenty of brain room, and with a well-defined occipital protuberance. The muzzle moderately deep and fairly square; from the stop to the point of the nose should be long, the nostrils wide, and the jaws of nearly equal length; flews not too pendulous.

The colour of the nose should be black, or dark, or light liver, according to the colour of the coat. The eyes should be bright, mild, and intelligent, and of a dark hazel colour, the darker the better. The ears of moderate length, set on low and hanging in neat folds close to the cheek; the tip should be velvety, the upper part clothed with fine silky hair.

NECK--The neck should be rather long, muscular, and lean, slightly arched at the crest, and clean cut where it joins the head; towards the shoulder it should be larger, and very muscular, not throaty with any pendulosity below the throat, but elegant and bloodlike in appearance.

BODY--The body should be of moderate length, with shoulders well set back or oblique; back short and level; loins wide, slightly arched, strong and muscular. Chest deep in the brisket, with good round widely-sprung ribs, deep in the back ribs--that is, well ribbed up.

LEGS AND FEET--The stifles should be well bent and ragged, thighs long from hip to hock. The forearm big and very muscular, the elbow well let down. Pasterns short, muscular, and straight. The feet very close and compact, and well protected by hair between the toes.

TAIL--The tail should be set on almost in a line with the back; medium length, not curly or ropy, to be slightly curved or scimitar-shaped, but with no tendency to turn upwards; the flag or feather hanging in long, pendant flakes; the feather should not commence at the root, but slightly below, and increase in length to the middle, then gradually taper off towards the end; and the hair long, bright, soft and silky, wavy but not curly.

COAT AND FEATHERING--The coat from the back of the head in a line with the ears ought to be slightly wavy, long, and silky, which should be the case with the coat generally; the breeches and fore-legs, nearly down to the feet, should be well feathered.

COLOUR AND MARKINGS--The colour may be either black and white, lemon and white, liver and white, or tricolour--that is, black, white, and tan; those without heavy patches of colour on the body, but flecked all over preferred. Back to English Setter top