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Perhaps overshadowed by the more ebullient Irish Red Setter, and less physically imposing than the Gordon Setter from Scotland, the English Setter tends to give the impression of being a little reserved and aloof – although rather like the nation for which they are named, they can be extremely friendly once they get to know you!

It is said that the English Setter was produced by crossing the now extinct English Water Spaniel, the Springer Spaniel and the Spanish Pointer, with the breed itself being more than 400 years old. The English Setter started out as an all-round hunting dog, with the ability to point and flush game, as well as retrieve downed quarry. They are intelligent, and enjoy their work, so if you keep a setter as a pet, expect a lot of daily exercise, and don’t let them become bored. They can accept a role as a family pet, and are exceptionally loyal. The English Setter is classified in the ‘Sporting’ group by the American Kennel Club, and in the ‘Gundog’ group by the Kennel Club (UK).

Modern English Setters are becoming divided into two distinct ‘strains’, (the Laverack and the Llewellyn Setter) those used in the field, and those intended for the show ring. There are certain physical characteristics (longer, silkier coat, longer ears) which can mitigate an animal’s performance as a gundog. It may be that, just as there are distinct, recognised bloodlines amongst English Setters bred in the United States and the U.K., eventually, two distinct breed standards (and breed names) will be recognised.

English Setters shed their coat, but not excessively so. A daily brushing of their wavy, silky coat will ease this problem. They do suffer some health problems, amongst which are hip dysplasia, deafness, and thyroid problems, including hypothyroidism. As with all dogs that have pendulous ears, English Setters are subject to attacks of ear canker, and a close watch should be kept for dogs which persistently shake their heads.

Here we can see a splendid example of an English Setter, who I met at an air show. His coat is especially noteworthy, as it is of the type known as a ‘tricolour belton’. Setters with white coats and spots of colour are known as ‘beltons’, and the following combinations are known – white with orange, ‘orange belton’; white with liver, ‘liver belton’; white with black, ‘blue belton’; white with orange plus a lighter ‘lemon’ nose, ‘lemon belton’; and white with either liver or black plus tan flecks on nose, chest and legs is a ‘tricolour’. Confusing but colourful!

Originally posted to shortfinals on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:45 AM PST.

Also republished by PWB Peeps.

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Comment Preferences

  •  my mother's father (8+ / 0-)

    liked Llewellyn setters. Since that was quite a while back - he's been dead more than 50 years - they were probably not quite the same as the ones now.

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:52:09 AM PST

    •  Breed standards alter with time... (6+ / 0-)

      ...look what is happening to the English Bulldog, right now!

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:05:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Llewellyn Setter, liver and white @ 1960s (7+ / 0-)

      Her papers documented 300 years of bloodline, and she was far smaller than the Laverack black and white ticked we saw.

      She "set" which in briar would tear her underside up, and irritated the hell out of Field Trialers who'd want to kick her underside.  UP GODDAMNIT!!!
      To their physical peril.

      "Wayyy out here in the woods, and you want to kick my dog for doing her job?"
      Setters "set".  Upon closure with a game bird, they'd assume a belly-crawl crouch until within inches of the bird.

      The common method for a Parker to supply the larder was to use a weighted throw net to capture the gamebird, and a club or wringing of the bird's neck for the kill.  Guns were for the Gentry, not the Crofters, nor the Hirelings.

      A dog which stood, like a Pointer, or Spaniel, would yield a netful of air, or dog's arse.  Thus Setters "set" and you could train them to hold fast, lunge-to-flush, or pursue.  Some dogs would do all three, some were pre-determined to one discipline, others would work a given game bird in a given style.
      Pursue and flush towards you, running birds like a Pheasant, while holding fast on setting birds such as Woodcock.

      Treed Grouse1 would irritate our setter to no end, and she'd have the bird half-plucked before you'd get it away from her.

      1 Grouse which when detected, would fly up into an evergreen tree to avoid the dog's close.  They'd often flush when you walked by, requiring a quick over-shoulder shot, before the side-to-side cast began.
      Alternatively, one gunner stayed 20 feet behind the other and the dog, and would have an easy shot as the bird exited the tree.

  •  OK-why do they call it gundog? (6+ / 0-)

    Um, Ross, you mightt have come up with a little more politically correct dog, just saying

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:53:18 AM PST

    •  If you think THIS isn't PC.. (8+ / 0-)

      ...wait until I get to the Gordon Setter ! :)

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:06:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Youre the person to ask (5+ / 0-)

        The British people have some kind of relationship with guns which is now being loudly debated in other places. I'm not asking you for any political statement, just wondering what your experience with guns was growing up, what the average Brit knows.
        Not trying to put you on the spot, just trying to gain perspective. Say as much or little as you want.

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:13:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Difficult to summarise, since there are MANY. (7+ / 0-)

          ...experiences, AND it is all bound up with CLASS.

          Looking back over the 20 century (and yes, I was born in the first half of it) the average member of the working class never even SAW a gun, unless they 'joined the colours'. Despite the fact that you could walk (prior to WW1) into a number of high street stores and buy, say, a C96 Broom-handle Mauser (as young Winston Churchill did, and used it in the last British cavalry charge at the Battle of Omdurman), the simple fact was you could not AFFORD a gun!

          Shotguns were, and are, a working tool on a UK farm. Much more than that, a fine Holland & Holland 12 bore indicates class, money and power! You were a landowner, owned massive acreages of grouse moor, woods full of pheasants and meadows where hares ran. SO, access to guns was restricted by both class and money.

          Rifles? Unless you were a rich aristocrat in Scotland and could hunt the red deer - no need of them (save for HIGHLY organised, and class-ridden shooting competitions at places such as Bisley)

          The criminals? They had a few guns, but they were not common.

          Why this indifference? Britain is an OLD country, there is NO wild frontier, or large open spaces. The last wolf in Scotland was killed in the 17th century, and the last brown bear even earlier. There are NO big cats. So..a tamed land, with settled boundaries, and no disputes..and had been for a THOUSAND years.

          I have direct experience with (and decent ratings on) the Enfield L1A1 SLR 7.62mm rifle, the 9mm Browning L9A1 automatic pistol and a slew of other weapons...I think you can guess how I got that!

          I know guns, have used guns, and have laid them down, because I no longer need that kind of firepower. This AGAIN is a typically British reaction.

          We have had our Sandy Hook - see Dunblane, Scotland (also the appalling incident at Hungerford, when I was living at Swindon). These occured in what was basically, an 'unarmed' nation with LIMITED access to both long guns and hand weapons.

          After these tragedies, the Government of the day decided NOT to make it easier to get weapons (armed guards in schools, etc) but to swing the pendulum the other way - mostly REMOVE weapons from a society where they were not common, anyway.

          Basically, it worked. This is because the average Brit only sees a weapon when he/she goes to an airport!

          It would NOT work in a country where there are as many guns as people, nor where there are wild places, nor where there is not a strong CLASS/wealth barrier to obtaining guns, nor where the criminals (prior to the rise of drug gangs) are not armed (neither are most of the Police)

          I am sorry, if I have gone on rather a long while, but I thought it important to show the differences between the society in  a 'young & big' country, versus that in a 'small & old' one!

          'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

          by shortfinals on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 12:14:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks a lot (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shortfinals, KenBee, Joy of Fishes

            I respect your views, just wanted to get your opinion

            Happy just to be alive

            by exlrrp on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:25:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No problem! It is a VERY complex.. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KenBee, Joy of Fishes, exlrrp

              ....situation. Each country has their own - peculiar - set of problems, with their own solution. What works in Australia doesn't work in the U.K., what works in the U.K. doesn't work in the U.S.A.

              It is strange how much is determined by geography and biology - not politics (wide open spaces, predators in the food chain, etc)

              'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

              by shortfinals on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:40:22 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I grew up with guns in the house (3+ / 0-)

                My father had several, including an M1 Carbine, a .45 Model 1911, a Luger and a P38 that he'd gotten in WWII. (I have these now) He was an infantry  officer, ultimately a company commander, in europe, coming in right after the Bttle of the Bulge.
                A Texan, guns just caame naturally to him. We never were allowed o go into his gun cabinet. he showd us basic gun safety and taught us how. Later, when I Was in the Boy Scouts, we learned more about gun safety nd got more prcctice.
                I would say this was not untypical for a boy of my generation---almost everybody I knew's dad was in the service.  I always knew I'd be a soldier, it was Rites of PAssage in America when I was growing up.
                While in the Army for 3 years, 1 year in Vietnam I was exposed to w whole variety of guns. Later in the lrrps, I was exposed to a variety of exotic guns---you'll know what it is and I believe this is historic:  may be the only photo of a Vietnam GI you'll ever see holding one.
                I'm not going to tell you what we used it for, but we did use it.
                I'm sure you can tell there's a wide variety of opinion on guns and the military here.  American go the whole spectrum from Guns are Great to Absolutely not.
                I personally am quite cynical about the 2d Amendment---think its an anachronism and probably not the best thing for America. But it is there and while its there, I take advantage of it.  No sense letteing the conservatives be theones with all the gunss, say I.
                I'm collecting WWI bolt action rifles, just got an SMLE in great condition.

                Happy just to be alive

                by exlrrp on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:04:42 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Know exactly what it'll never need .. (0+ / 0-)

                  ...eardefenders on the range, just MASSES of 9mm. I've shot its twin...not saying where.....Kosmail coming!

                  Hope you got either a British or Australian SMLE, although likely you picked up a Savage-built. More details in the Kosmail



                  'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

                  by shortfinals on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 09:03:01 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Fixed (6+ / 0-)
    Perhaps overshadowed by the more ebullient dingy Irish Red Setter
    At least in my experience

    Hobbs: "How come we play war and not peace?" Calvin: "Too few role models."

    by BOHICA on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:00:10 AM PST

  •  Can it be strapped to the roof of the car ...? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shortfinals, BOHICA, Otteray Scribe

    unlike the Irish Setter without causing a political firestorm?

    There may be one secret DK reader who wants to know.

  •  As a former English Setter owner (8+ / 0-)


    I had spent many years raising and showing Irish Setters before Cedric, an English Setter, came to live and work with us. He was very different than the Irish Setters.

    Thanks for the background.

  •  Verryy Interesting SF (4+ / 0-)

    but at this stage of my life i'm much more into lap dogs....  Mostly Pugs..

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:35:12 AM PST

  •  Cutest dog scene I ever saw: adult Setter carrying (5+ / 0-)

    a thick stick in her mouth--trailed by a puppy carrying a twig.

    Fiscal conservative: a Republican ready to spend $5 to save a dime--especially if that dime is helping a non-donor.

    by Mayfly on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 01:50:11 PM PST

  •  Excellent work as usual. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you.

    Give blood. Play hockey.

    by flycaster on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 10:31:51 AM PST

  •  Thank you, shortfinals. I've recently returned to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the DKos Community.  Loved your diary on the Black Lab a couple of weeks ago.  Setters--absolutely lovely dogs.  (Don't see too many in my neck of the woods.  As family pets, that is.)

    You make mention of an upcoming diary on the Gordon Setter (haven't seen but one of them--huge, and a great big baby!).

    Anyway, is this a regular column or diary?  If so, how often do you publish?  

    My schedule does not allow me to blog daily, but avid dog lover that I am (and "Mom" to a 'gun dog breed' dog--our second English Springer), I don't want to miss your diaries.

    I'll 'keep my eyes peeled' for your diaries, from now on.  Thanks for this one.  Greatly enjoyed it.


    “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

    by musiccitymollie on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 05:34:39 PM PST

    •  I generally aim to generate 'one a day', ... (0+ / 0-)

      ...just like vitamins (or, as I would say, 'vit-a-mins'!')

      So far, I have managed this, sometimes more, but a LOT of them are on aircraft (50/60%) due to my background. However, there are castles, rivers, buildings, invasive species, preserved railways, gardens, churches and many other subjects covered - including dogs.

      Thank you for your kind words.....I shall do my best to keep you entertained!


      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:03:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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