English Setter Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard for the English Setter General Appearance: An elegant, substantial and symmetrical gun dog suggesting the ideal blend of strength, stamina, grace, and style. Flat-coated with feathering of good length. Gaiting freely and smoothly with long forward reach, strong rear drive and firm topline. Males decidedly masculine without coarseness. Females decidedly feminine without over-refinement. Overall appearance, balance, gait, and purpose to be given more emphasis than any component part. Above all, extremes of anything distort type and must be faulted. Head: Size and proportion in harmony with body. Long and lean with a well defined stop. When viewed from the side, head planes (top of muzzle, top of skull and bottom of lower jaw) are parallel. Skull -oval when viewed from above, of medium width, without coarseness, and only slightly wider at the earset than at the brow. Moderately defined occipital protuberance. Length of skull from occiput to stop equal in length of muzzle. Muzzle - long and square when viewed from the side, of good depth with flews squared and fairly pendant. Width in harmony with width of skull and equal at nose and stop. Level from eyes to tip of nose. Nose-black or dark brown, fully pigmented. Nostrils wide apart and large. Foreface-skeletal structure under the eyes well chiseled with no suggestion of fullness. Cheeks present a smooth and clean-cut appearance. Teeth-close scissors bite preferred. Even bite acceptable. Eyes -dark brown, the darker the better. Bright, and spaced to give a mild and intelligent expression. Nearly round, fairly large, neither deepset nor protruding. Eyelid rims dark and fully pigmented. Lids fit tightly so that haw is not exposed. Ears -set well back and low, even with or below eye level. When relaxed carried close to the head. Of moderate length, slightly rounded at the ends, moderately thin leather, and covered with silky hair. Neck and Body: Neck -long and graceful, muscular and lean. Arched at the crest and cleancut where it joins the head at the base of the skull. Larger and more muscular toward the shoulders, with the base of the neck flowing smoothly into the shoulders. Not too throaty. Topline -in motion or standing appears level or sloping slightly downward without sway or drop from withers to tail forming a graceful outline of medium length. Forechest-well developed, point of sternum projecting slightly in front of point of shoulder/upper arm joint. Chest-deep, but not so wide or round as to interfere with the action of the forelegs. Brisket deep enough to reach the level of the elbow. Ribs-long, springing gradually to the middle of the body, then tapering as they approach the end of the chest cavity. Back-straight and strong at its junction with loin. Loin- strong, moderate in length, slightly arched. Tuck up moderate. Hips-croup nearly flat. Hip bones wide apart, hips rounded and blending smoothly into hind legs. Tail -a smooth continuation of the topline. Tapering to a fine point with only sufficient length to reach the hock joint or slightly less. Carried straight and level with the back. Feathering straight and silky, hanging loosely in a fringe. Forequarters: Shoulder-shoulder blade well laid back. Upper arm equal in length to and forming a nearly right angle with the shoulder blade. Shoulders fairly close together at the tips. Shoulder blades lie flat and meld smoothly with contours of body. Forelegs- from front or side,
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forelegs straight and parallel. Elbows have no tendency to turn in or out when standing or gaiting. Arm flat and muscular. Bone substantial but not coarse and muscles hard and devoid of flabbiness. Pasterns-short, strong and nearly round with the slope deviating very slightly forward from the perpendicular. Feet-face directly forward. Toes closely set, strong and well arched. Pads well developed and tough. Dewclaws may be removed. Hindquarters: Wide, muscular thighs and well developed lower thighs. Pelvis equal in length to and forming a nearly right angle with upper thigh. In balance with forequarter assembly. Stifle well bent and strong. Lower thigh only slightly longer than upper thigh. Hock joint well bent and strong. Rear pastern short, strong, nearly round and perpendicular to the ground. Hind legs, when seen from the rear, straight and parallel to each other. Hock joints have no tendency to turn in or out when standing or gaiting. Coat: Flat without curl or wooliness. Feathering on ears, chest, abdomen, underside of thighs, back of all legs and on the tail of good length but not so excessive as to hide true lines and movement or to affect the dog's appearance or function as a sporting dog. Markings and Color: Markings-white ground color with intermingling of darker hairs resulting in belton markings varying in degree from clear distinct flecking to roan shading, but flecked all over preferred. Head and ear patches acceptable, heavy patches of color on the body undesirable. Color-orange belton, blue belton (white with black markings), tricolor (blue belton with tan on muzzle, over the eyes and on the legs), lemon belton, liver belton . Movement and Carriage: An effortless graceful movement demonstrating endurance while covering ground efficiently. Long forward reach and strong rear drive with a lively tail and a proud head carriage. Head may be carried slightly lower when moving to allow for greater reach of forelegs. The back strong, firm, and free of roll. When moving at a trot, as speed increases, the legs tend to converge toward a line representing the center of gravity. Size: Dogs about 25 inches; bitches about 24 inches. Temperament: Gentle, affectionate, friendly, without shyness, fear or viciousness.
Approved November 11, 1986
Snapshots Of ENGLISH SETTER HISTORY By Carl Sillman
T he development of the modern “show” English Setter began in earnest with the founding of the English Setter Association (the forerunner to today’s English Setter Association of America) in 1931. Th e history of the English Setter in the show ring is rich with stories of famous dogs and great accomplishments. Here are a few highlights.
Ch. Blue Dan of Happy Valley, who denied Rummey his championship in the show ring, fizzled as a stud dog, siring only three champions. Perhaps one of the most interesting English Setter stories of is that of Ch. Daro of Maridor, who remains the only English Setter to win Best in Show at Westminster. Daro was just shy of eleven months old when he took the world of canine sport by storm by winning his way out of the classes to go Best in Show at the 1938 Westminster show. Th is was the first time he had been shown. Afterwards, he disappeared from the show scene with no explanation. Later, it was disclosed that he had been ill with distemper, which nearly killed him. It was thought for a time that Daro’s show career had ended. But he recovered and resumed showing. Daro won the 1940 and 1941 English Setter Association specialties. When Daro won the breed (and Group 2) at Westminster in 1942, a wire service reporter wrote, “(Daro’s) present return to top form after much illness is considered one of the most striking come–backs in the history of the canine sport.” Th e period from the 1930s through the 1950’s was the era of the large kennel. Th ere was no kennel larger in size and importance to the English Setter than C.N. Myers’ Blue Bar Kennels in Hanover, Pa. Myers’ kennel operation lasted for over twenty years, closing in 1957. At
Rummey Stagboro (Spiron Jagersbo x Selkirk Snooksie) Whelped August 31, 1929. Breeder/Owner H. F. Steigerwald - Sire of 33 champions
Th e most famous English Setter to not finish an AKC championship was Rummey Stagboro, who was born in 1929. He simply could not beat the great Ch. Blue Dan of Happy Valley in the show ring. Eventually, he was withdrawn from competition. Instead of show glory, Rummey built his reputation as a top–producing sire by producing 33 champions; a truly remarkable total for the time. Th is list of champions contains
some very well known, big winning English Setters. One of these was Ch. Sturdy Max, who was considered by many to be the English Setter who best typified the breed ideal. Rummey Stagboro became truly revered by English Setter breeders of the day and he had great influence on the breed for many years. Ironically,
Ch. Sturdy Max (Rummey Stagboro x Rummey Girl of Stagboro) b. 1932
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Dual Ch. Am/Can Ch. Set’r Ridge’s Solid Gold CDX MH HDX CGC. “Hadji”
Daro of Maridor in the ring with his handler Charles Palmer at Westminster in 1938.
times, there were as many as 400 English Setters were housed there. Between 1934 and 1959, at least 125 Blue Bar English Setters finished their AKC championships. Myers’ English Setters won eight ESA/ ESAA specialties between 1939 and 1957. It is a rare English Setter today that does not have a Blue Bar dog in its pedigree. Myers could be considered to be one of the finest sportsmen in canine sport. He became involved in breeding and exhibiting English Setters after he had become unbeatable at breeding and
showing poultry. In 1934, towards the end of an eight year run of sweeping all of the major prizes at the New York Poultry Show at the Madison Square Garden (Yes, there were poultry shows at the Garden!) he converted his poultry barns to kennels and began acquiring and breeding English Setters. As Arthur Fredrick Jones wrote of Myers in 1939, “(Mr. Myers) believes that sport lies in the thought and e ff ort required to accomplish results. He cannot see wherein there is sport when the result is a forgone conclusion.” Th us, having
outclassed his competition, he abandoned poultry showing and launched his Blue Bar Kennels. The kennel name was a reference to Myers’ famed Barred Plymouth Rock chickens. Th e biggest–winning English Setter of all time was the immortal Am./Can./ Cuban Ch. Rock Falls Colonel, who was born in 1948. Th e Colonel’s show career is the stu ff of legend. He became an AKC champion of record in May of 1950 and won his first Best in Show on September 16, 1950. By the time he was finished in 1957, he had won 100 AKC Bests in Show, a Cuban BIS and a Canadian BIS out of 186 times shown. He was handled his entire career by his “amateur” handler, breeder/owner Bill Holt. Th ere was more to Colonel than his incredible show record
Am./Can./ Ch. Kaska’s Isadora with owner Lindsey Kuhn
Am./Can./Cuban. Ch. Rock Falls Colonel and breeder/owner Bill Holt
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Blue Bar’s C.N. Myers relaxing at the kennel with his most famous champion, Ch. Rip of Blue Bar, with two of his offspring.
Ch. Esthete’s Splendor In The Grass RN (Ch. Set’r Ridge’s Solid Gold x Ch. Esthete’s She Stoops to Conquer), winner of 27 Bests in Specialty with breeder/owner Jill Warren
and his prowess as a sire. He was perhaps the breed’s best ambassador. A number of breeders got involved with English Setters after seeing him compete. It was common for a group of people to gather around the
Colonel after a win in the ring and Mr. Holt would let anyone who asked hold Colonel’s leash. On one such occasion, a young boy asked to hold the leash and Bill complied. Minutes later, the boy and the Colonel were gone. A frantic search found them both outside of the building. Th e youngster was walking the
or a National Specialty. In addition to his accomplishments, Hadji is remembered as an amazingly striking example of the breed and for having a great disposition. When it comes to show glory, English Setter bitches were late to the party. Before the 1960s, it was not common to see bitch “specials” in the show ring. Breeders finished their bitches then took them home to breed. For example, when Ch. Mary of Blue Bar went Best of Breed (and Group 3) at the 1949 Morris and Essex show, she was the only bitch to win BOB at either Westminster or Morris and Essex for 25 years from 1931 (the inception of the ESA) until 1956. Today, English Setter bitches hold the breed records for most Group wins, most Best in Specialty wins, and most National Specialty wins. Th e Best in Specialty Show wins record stands at 29 and is held by Am./Can. Ch. Kaska’s Isadora, who was handled by her owner Lindsey Kuhn. Lindsey and “Izzy” began their special partnership in 2004 when Lindsay was a 15 year-old junior and Izzy was two years old and not yet an AKC champion. By the time their record-breaking run was over in 2008, dog and handler had grown up together in the sport and theirs will become known as one of the greatest dog/handler partnerships in the history of the breed.
Colonel home, firm in the belief that the Colonel had been given to him as a pet! Th e most accomplished English Setter was Dual Ch. Am/Can Ch. Set’r Ridge’s Solid Gold CDX MH HDX CGC. “Hadji” is the top-producing English Setter sire of all time, producing 139 AKC champions to date. He is also the first bench English Setter to be successfully bred using frozen semen. Hadji won the 1988 ESAA Futurity, the 1993 ESAA National Specialty, eight All Breed Bests In Show, and ten Bests in Specialty overall– all owner handled. He finished his field trial championship at nine years of age to become the eighth Dual Champion in the breed’s history. He is the only Dual Ch. English Setter to win a Best in Show
PIC7 Ch. Honeygait ‘N Lamplighter Fever, winner of 40 All-Breed Bests in Show, a breed record for bitches
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BY ANN YUHASZ Th ank you to the editors of ShowSight Magazine for highlighting the English Setter, a breed close and dear to my heart! I have been asked to comment from a judges’ perspective on ES. I found as I was assembling the following that I was more or less quoting the standard. My daughter, who now handles all the breeding, exhibiting and choosing of bitches and sires, asked why I was repeating the standard. Well, to answer her question, I believe that as a judge, one is required to judge to the standard. Yes, there is interpretation that varies from judge to judge, but it is the standard that we must adhere to. So please keep this in mind. English Setter judging the
T o evaluate the English Setter, one must first understand the sim- ilarities and differences in the four Setters. These differences arise from the purpose of each breed and why they were devel- oped as individual breeds. All Setters were bred as upland gun dogs (birds that are either pointed or flushed on land) versus ducks or water birds. All Setters originally were accompanied by the hunter on foot, so they worked the bird field fairly close and within shot range. Originally the dogs would find the birds and “set” or crouch and the hunters threw nets over the quarry and the dogs—thus the term “Setters.” This concept is really important as you can imagine these dogs need to get down between their shoulder blades. The breed differences come mainly from country of origin and the terrain they hunted over as well as the breeds and breeders who developed each. The Irish and the Red and White, (think Ireland) come from rolling ground, the Gordon (think Scotland) from rugged craggy ground, and the English (think England) over moderate terrain. All these dogs represent their owners and breeders as well; the Irish and Red and White with a rollicking personality, the Gordon with a more dour outlook and the English with a serious, dignified way. So if you start by thinking Setter in general then you can begin to understand each breed. For the purpose of this article we will concentrate on the English. We know that there were Irish-English crosses in the mid 1800s. By the late 1800s there were two distinct strains of English Setters, the Lavarack and the Llewellyn, both named after the gentlemen who developed them; the first as the bench type or show dog, the second as the field type. Today, the modern Lavarack English is further away from that original dog than perhaps in the early 1900s as we see a more stylish, trimmed animal that to the eye stands out in the ring. We will concentrate on this modern dog, but do remember they both can hunt and they originally came from the same genetic stock. The ES is a well-balanced, moderate, elegant gun dog, but with no part to show exaggera- tion. There should be no part out of balance—no necks like Giraffes or heads plopped straight onto shoulders, no bodies a mile long, no legs too short or too long, no straight front and over-angulated rears—I am sure you get the picture! His head is not as lean as the Irish, nor as deep and wide as the Gordon, but shows parallel planes as the others. He has a definite stop and occiput and a lovely dark, almost round eye, well-set. Full pigmentation of the eye and lips is important as it is essential in creating that wonderful, soft expression. The head should be in balance with the rest of the dog and neither underdone nor overdone. These are scenting animals so it is important to have good noses and straight nasal bones.
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A lean, arched neck should lead into well laid- back shoulders. Front and back assembly must match if this dog is to be well-balanced and good angulation front and back is ideal, but often lack- ing. Abrupt, steep shoulders create a pounding movement that is far from effortless. The same can be said for short upper arms. I find this to be a common problem in most Sporting dogs. I am thrilled when I find a correctly assembled front and rear and as a fellow Setter judge just com- mented to me, “If you find that run to the table and throw them every ribbon you have!” A chest with fill in the front and depth to the elbow will provide the lung room needed for a dog who is hunting hard all day. Ribs should be well-sprung, but not barreled. The ribs need to be carried back with a short loin for the efficiency of movement. This correct assembly should result in an oval look when viewed from the top. A wide thigh is a plus. Our standard does not give any height to length measurements, but balance is key—too short or too long in body will distort just as legs too short or long. I need to caution you not to dwell on pieces and parts, but judge the whole dog. Yet, the summation of the pieces and parts are what makes the dog. Might I mention again that it is impor- tant to reward animals with correct assembly. We ask for medium bone, good feet essential for hunting, and nice short hocks that will propel him with ease. Tails are extensions of the spine and should be straight off the back and lively. They should be long enough to only reach the hock and taper from the set. This does not mean a flag flying in the breeze nor a tail pointing to the head. Incorrect tails have become the norm. If the croup is correct it would be almost impossible to have an incorrect tail carriage. Look at the dogs in the accompanied pictures—those tails could not be elevated. If the dog is well-balanced, he will move with ease, effortlessly, with good reach and drive, down and back, and around. Coming and going should show good flexion of the hocks with no weaving or crossing of legs or feet. From the side it is essential that the back be quiet and firm indicating balance fore and aft. Movement is a test of the construc- tion. Remember we are not to select the best mov- er, but the best type who moves well. The ES is a single-coated dog with a straight to slightly wavy coat. He should exhibit a top-coat of some length which protects the body in the field and feathering in all the usual places. It is permis- sible to use a clipper on the face, top of the ears and under the neck down to the point of chest, but never on the back. Soft, wooly coat is incorrect as is excessive length which is not in keeping with the purpose of the ES. This is basically a hunting dog and emphasis is on such. If you have a choice of two equal dogs, I would not let exquisite groom- ing or length of coat make my decision; but rather his suitability to get the job done. The ES is basi- cally a white dog with ticking in various degree of orange (brown), blue (black), lemon, liver and
If the dog is well-balanced, he will move with ease, e ff ortlessly, with good reach and drive, down and back, and around.
The author with CH. OLawdy’s Time Out of Hemlock Lane at the AKC Centennial Show under breeder judge Warren Brewbaker.
AM/CAN CH Ludar of Blue Bar
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tricolor (black, tan and white). These degrees can range from very white to very dark (roan). There is NO preference in colors when judging although dark patches are not preferred anywhere other than the head. I personally caution you to remember that color is only a part of your evaluation of the dog and one of the most wonderful things about this breed is the variety of those permitted colors. There has been discus- sion about body patches and my personal recommendation is that patching has always been inherent in the breed, espe- cially in the field variety, so please fault accordingly. I feel personally involved in the color issue as I did have a dark, tri male with some patching who had a head and wonder- ful body to die for. I was reluctant to use him because he was so very dark and would have preferred to use his open tri brother. Alas, the open tri dog never could sire a litter. When we then used the dark tri he produced the most won- derful heads and bodies—yes—that darkness and patching did occasionally show up, but I wouldn’t trade anything for what he gave the breed. Personally I can’t think of a breeder who has deliberately bred for patching. I also hope that no one would eliminate a patched dog with wonderful attributes from their breeding program. Though the breed has been around for a long time, you may have trouble finding English Setters to view. (We share a low number on the list of popularity; usually around 65.) We don’t mind this, but as you can imagine it can present a challenge for new judges. It is important to attend special- ties to see good examples in numbers. We do have dedicated breeders, but our litters tend to be small and puppies are usu- ally pretty fragile in the beginning which is odd from a large dog. The reproduction rate is not always a given and I find that A-I’s either frozen or extended do not work very well. Our health issues include deafness, hip and elbow issues and thyroid, but basically our dogs live a long life to 13 or 15. We have an active health committee and work hard at addressing the above issues. In summation, the English Setter should greet you with a soft wag of his tail and extend his head into your hand. He is a sweet, loving companion who will curl upon the sofa after a hard day of hunting. He should never be aggressive, shy or exhibit any temperament other than that of a wonderful, friendly dog. He is loving of children and makes a wonderful family dog. He is most often exhibited by his inexperienced owner-handler so please be forgiving and encouraging of those as we want their experiences to be positive. I hope this helps you in your evaluations of our wonderful breed and that you enjoy your time in the ring with him!
CH Ike of Blue Bar
CH Rock Falls Cavalier
CH Sturdy Max 2nd There are other important English Setters, but these representatives share the same dog, Rummey Stagboro, as a grandfather and, in one case, he is the great-grandfather. He was the greatest sire of his time and traces back to the Mallwyd Strain (Welsh) on the sire side with Swedish bloodline on the dam.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ann Yuhasz is a second generation breeder-judge of English Setters. Her mother, Nancy Frey, raised the breed in the 50s and 60s and was a judge of Sporting and Herding dogs. Ann has been raising ES since the early 60s though she has finally given up and left her breeding program in the hands of her daughter, Rebecca Smith. Ann also raised Flat-Coated Retrievers and was involved in English Cocker Spaniels. She is approved to judge the Sporting, Herding and Terrier Groups as well as Poodles. She has judged worldwide and at many National Specialties and most major shows in the US, including twice at the prestigious Westminster KC. She feels that dogs have been a thrilling ride and the most wonderful of sports! Ann and her husband now split their time between Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Key Largo, Florida, with one very spoiled Norfolk Terrier.
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by MELISSA NEWMAN
T he English Setter is an upland bird hunting dog. Although they originated, in England they became popular in the U.S. as an important hunting dog in the South and later a competition field trial dog. In addition, there were dogs imported to be shown as well. The English Setter has been a great upland bird dog originating in England. It is extremely important when judging this breed that we remember they were bred to be hunting dog and they should retain these qualities.
The word Setters comes from the word Set. English Setters were bred to ‘set’ birds. To ‘set’ means to crouch down on point (pointing at a bird). Con- sequently, structure is important not only for endurance but also for crouch- ing down for long periods of time. A dog often will stand on point for twenty minutes while the hunter works their way up to flush the bird that is being pointed. The balance of a pointing/hunting dog is of utmost importance as they must cover vast terrain in pursuit of game (birds). Balance in structure
help reduce fatigue and break down of joints and muscles. Often you will see a less angulated dog be quicker for short periods of time, but not be able to outlast the endurance of a dog with proper angulations and balance. Cor- rect balance and angulations create effortless movement. In addition, you will gain much more effective move- ment with correct muscling. It is important that they have good rib spring to be able to breathe, as a great hunting dog may hunt for eight hours a day for weeks at a time. Their movement should be easy, effortless,
“THE BALANCE OF A POINTING/ HUNTING DOG IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE AS THEY MUST COVER VAST TERRAIN IN PURSUIT OF GAME (BIRDS).”
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“HOCKS NEED TO BE STABLE WITHOUT WOBBLING. IF THEY WOBBLE, THE DOG WILL BREAK DOWN AFTER HUNTING FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME.”
not heavy or pounding. With no hack- ing, sickle-hocks, over reaching or rolling as all of these things will break down the body rapidly and cause inju- ries, aches and pains. The toes tight, arched and not flat. If their toes are flat, they are at risk of sores and injuries. Type is pertinent for this breed. Eng- lish Setters are a moderate gun dog, smaller than the Irish and Gordon Set- ters. They are of good bone and size without being slight, weedy or massive. Head planes should be level, the muzzle and skull should have a brick like appearance. Flews should be square, not pendulous. A must in this breed is the soft sweet expression in the eyes and face with no harshness. Dog A —Represents the greatest bal- ance of the three dogs. Not only are the length of the bones important but where they are seated on the vertebrae. As a straight scapula or upper arm will cause the dog to be off balance and make extra effort and motion that is not only unnecessary but will cause the body to break down quickly. This dog is not only the most balanced in bone length, but also in length of body to height. Average measurements: 26 ¼ " x 26 ½ ". Length of back is extremely impor- tant as well, as a setter can not reach and drive properly with a back that is
too short or with a back that is too long and dipping or reaching. Dog B —Uses himself beautifully moving unless he moved too fast. If he moved too fast, the length of his stifle would over reach his front foot. In addi- tion he was less angulated in the front assembly than Dog A. Because dog B is more angulated in the rear than the front, the slightly extra length in body help to prevent him from over reach- ing the majority of the time. With his back being slightly shorter it gave him strength to carry the overall extra ½ inch of length in his body. Dog C —Is balanced in length to height but he has a shorter scapula which restricted him to having as free and easy of a side gait. When judging the English Setter, you can measure the length of bone but it wouldn’t be necessary as you should be able to tell what their balance is like when you watch them go around the ring. Although coming and going move- ment is important it doesn’t override correct side gait balance. You can have a dog that is perfect coming and going slowly, but isn’t balanced at all on the side or doesn’t exhibit good reach and drive. An interesting observation that I have made is a Setter that is set extremely close in the shoulder often
has trouble setting (pointing, crouch- ing) low to the ground. I by no mat- ters am advocating wide shoulders. However, I do believe the two finger width might be too close together. Of course much of that depends on the layer of the scapula onto the spine and the muscles. Muscles carry a big factor in this cre- ation. They hold the bones in and help carry the dog across the ground. Mus- cles take all tension off the bones and help the dog move with ease. Hocks need to be stable without wobbling. If they wobble, the dog will break down after hunting for a long period of time. Shorter hocks give bal- ance and drive than long hocks do. Tails should come off the back with a slightly sloping croup to almost level. Often if the crop gets too level then the tail is carried higher. The tail should be carried straight off of the back, not elevated above the topline. As a whole, an English Setter should be slightly smaller than the Irish and Gordon Setters. Balanced both front to rear and height to length as well as scapula to upper arm and upper thigh to lower thigh. Hocks should be short and solid without wobbling when mov- ing. When moving, the dog should look so smooth that you could imagine put- ting a glass of wine on their back and not fall.
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BY B.J. PARSONS, DVM, AND JILL WARREN, PHD ENGLISH— THE MODERATE SETTER
A n English Setter is often described as moderate. In fact, our standard specifically states, “Extremes of anything distort type.” The hallmarks of the English Setter can be found in the first sentence of the standard under General Appearance: “An elegant, substantial and symmetrical gun dog suggesting the ideal blend of strength, stamina, grace, and style.” Elegant, substan- tial, and symmetrical are key words, but what do those italicized words mean? “Elegance” indicates there should be some “pretty” to the dog. A long, lean head lead- ing into a long, lean, graceful neck blend- ing smoothly into the shoulders help to give the impression of elegance. To be typey, the head should have level, parallel planes and a squared-off flew with a well-defined stop, and a moderately defined occiput. A dark, large, nearly round eye with dark pigment and a soft expression complete that look of elegance. When in motion, the dog should be light of foot with efficiency of gait. Prancing, while pretty, is incorrect, as are mincing steps. “Substantial” indicates the English Setter has enough bone and body to hold up well in the field. Given their job as a gentleman’s hunt- ing companion, they should be able to cover ground in search of upland game birds for the better part of the day. They were developed to hunt in English fields, so there was no need for heavy bone as in the Gordon Setter who works in heavy cover, or lighter bone as needed by the Irish and the Irish Red and White Setters who work in Irish terrain. The body should have enough heart and lung room (depth of chest to the elbow, and rib spring) to carry the long- distance runner through the day. Starting to see how this all comes together? “Symmetrical” indicates a dog that is bal- anced front and rear, with the front angle approaching 90-degrees and a rear that match- es the front. A straight front causing extra lift to the front legs with diminished reach,
An example of a typey English Setter head. This is an Orange Belton bitch.
A Blue Belton show dog on point, showing correct coat texture, even flecking all over, and great intensity.
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ENGLISH: THE MODERATE SETTER
coupled with a long, over-angulated rear that lacks drive will cause the dog to soon tire at his job. While this combination can present a striking picture in the show ring, it is not a correct English Setter. The proper front construction also helps with the “set” (the position a Setter tends to use to indicate game) versus a Point- er who indicates birds with an upright stance. Both breeds have intensity, but a Setter often crouches to indicate the location of the bird; a throwback to when they were hunted over with nets instead of guns. Before the introduction of fire arms, hunters used large nets, which they threw over the place where the birds were— including over the dog—to reap the birds. When the hunter flushed the birds, they took flight and became caught in the net and were easily harvested. If the dog did not crouch, or “set,” it could become entangled in the net. A high tail carriage could cause the tail to get caught in the net, but a tail carried level with the back did not interfere with the net. The reproduction of the painting by Percival Rous- seau shows how an English Setter sets to indicate a bird. This photo also illustrates how form follows function because a dog must have good angulation front and rear in order to assume the setting position. This position often needs to be maintained for several minutes while the hunter approaches and prepares to harvest the bird. When firearms began to be used to hunt birds, selective breeding of English Setters allowed for a more upright stance for the dog to indicate birds because the dog was easier to see from a distance when standing upright. But the tendency to set is hard-wired in their DNA, and it comes naturally to many of them. ACCEPTABLE MARKINGS AND COLOR Color helps to define breed type in English Setters and is one of the traits that distinguishes the English from the other Setters. There are no disqualifications in the English Setter standard, including for color. All English Setters have a white base coat covered with varying degrees of orange, black or liver fleck- ing known as Belton. (Named for the English town of Belton where the dogs so marked were first seen.) Eng- lish Setters flecked with black are called Blue Beltons. Lemon Belton (dilute orange) and Liver Belton (dilute blue) are also acceptable colors, but have become rare. If in doubt whether a dog is Lemon or Orange Belton, check eye color, as the lemons have lighter-colored eyes and lighter pigment than the oranges. It is geneti- cally impossible for a Lemon or Liver Belton English Setter to have very dark eyes, so a lighter-colored eye is acceptable in those colors. Dogs with tan points are called tricolors. Tri-markings can occur in all colors, but they are harder to see in the oranges, lemons, and livers than in the blues. The tricolor marking is a spe- cific gene pattern. All colors listed in the standard are equally acceptable, and there is no preference given to any of them. There can be little ticking, so that the dog appears almost totally white, through all gradations to very heavy ticking so as to appear almost solid in color (known as roan). Evenly flecked all over is preferred. Patches may occur, especially on the head and neck;
English Setters On Point , 1918, by Percival Rousseau. The very open marked dog in front is almost in a set. A true set would have the rear as flexed as the front and almost on the ground. The dog behind is in an upright point.
Liver Belton is a rare, but perfectly acceptable, color in English Setters. This Liver dog won a major award at the National.
An example of a field bred English Setter
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these also being acceptable. Occasionally, patches occur else- where, such as on the body, a leg, or base of the tail. Body patch- es are often areas where the soft, solid-colored undercoat (for warmth) is not covered by top coat (for weather proofing). Body patches are undesirable because the dog is more quickly wet to the skin in rainy weather on areas not protected by topcoat. While not preferred, remember it is only color, and the confor- mation and temperament should always be considered first. You would only consider color or markings when comparing two equal specimens—and looking for a tie breaker. In that case, the dog with the more preferred coloration may break the tie. SHOW VERSUS FIELD The show dog should be synonymous with the field dog. The field is where the dog proves that he can perform the function he was developed to perform, and the show dog reflects this athletic ability. While a well-built field dog can do his job, we require that the show dog adhere to the written breed standard and also be pretty. Excessive coat is a detriment in the field and it can also hide the dog’s true lines in the show ring. Creative grooming can make a dog look different than how he is actually built. To know for sure what’s under that coat, you must get your hands on the dog. The feathering on an English Setter is there to help protect the dog as he runs through the brush in search of birds. Too little and he is no longer protected. Too much and it can be a nightmare entangled in briars, twigs, burrs, etc. Coat texture is also a huge factor in allowing the dog to perform its hunting function. A correct, silky coat combs out easily whereas a soft, cottony coat takes hours to remove debris from the field, pulling a lot of coat in the brushing process. Ideally, a dog should be able to go into the field one day and be competitive in the show ring the next day. Realistically, this is difficult because the cur- rent fad for a profuse coat is very prevalent in the ring. A dog in moderate coat may not be as dramatic as a dog with extremely long coat, but the moderate coat is far better for the true hunt- er, and is more correct. The standard calls for “good” but not excessive length. The show dog should cover ground efficiently, without any high action or fancy stepping. Fluid movement is essential to an efficient, ground-covering gait. The tail should be level with the back, although the excitement of the ring may cause an other- wise correct tail carriage to be a little high. An examination of the croup will tell whether the high tail is a structural fault or the result of high emotion. Tail carriage is best evaluated on the last go-around, to allow the dogs to settle in and relax. There should be no flag waving in the wind. The topline should be level when moving (and standing still), indicating strength and grace, and carrying the rest of the body with it. There is a variety of English Setters, bred mainly for the field, with very different goals than conformation breeders have. The goal for field bred dogs is to run very big in field trials, so they are lighter and leaner than their conformation cousins. Field bred dogs tend to have a more triangular head, viewed both from the side and from the top. While their angles front and rear tend to match, always the tail is carried “Terrier high.” This flag helps to find the dog when afield, since they are gener- ally at a far distance from the handler when on point. These dogs are usually much smaller than dogs bred for conformation (the AKC standard calls for males to be about 25 inches at the withers and bitches about 24 inches, though there is no DQ for size), often with more body patches, little feathering, and much less bone. The eye may be dark, but many have quite light eyes.
English Setters make great family dogs and are wonderful with kids.
The temperament is the same sweet gentleness that is the trademark of the English Setter, whether bred for the show ring or strictly for the field. All are great family dogs because of their gentle nature and their patience. English Setters have been around a long time—at least 400 years. Their type was defined and refined in the 1800s by breeders Edward Laverack and R. Purcell Llewellin. Some field English Setters today are known as Llewellin Setters, but they are actually a sub-branch of English Setters. We in the US are proud of the fact that the very first dog in the AKC stud book was an English Setter named Adonis. Whichever color, whether open-marked or roan, this elegant, substantial, symmetrical gun dog is a very handsome member of the Sporting Group.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS B.J. Parsons is a conformation and hunt test breeder-judge of English Setters, breeding under the BJ prefix in partnership with her daughter, Kristen Apodaca (Festivity English Setters). Breeding for over 40 years, BJ has competed in conformation, obedience, rally, tracking, hunt tests, and field trials. Her family was raised with English Setters, and both daughter and son continue the tradition. Jill Warren is a breeder-judge, breeding under the Esthete prefix. Jill strives for a complete dog with beauty, brains, soundness, and trainability that can compete successfully in many different venues, including conformation, hunting, agility, obedience, and rally. The trademark English Setter temperament—gentle, affectionate, friendly— is very important to her. Jill has bred Best in Show, specialty-winning (including the National), nationally ranked dogs over a breeding career that has spanned more than 40 years. She acquired her first English Setter in 1983 and bred her first litter in 1991.
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ENGLISH SETTERS TODAY O ne of the oldest gundog breeds, English Setters date back to at least the 16th century where they elbow dysplasia list. Most breeders have these x-rays done (or use Penn-Hip rat- ings) when the dogs are two years old, so there is good participation. by ENGLISH SETTER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
The breed standard calls for a dog that is elegant, substantial, and symmet- rical. Ideally, English Setters should be strong with stamina, grace, and style. They should be flat-coated with feather- ing of good length. When gaiting they should move freely and smoothly with good forward reach and strong rear drive. The topline should remain firm even when they are moving. Extremes in the breed should be avoided. Mod- eration and balance are virtues. Judges examining the breed should consider the total dog. Both breed type and movement are both important. The English Setter has a white base coat with belton markings that makes them easy to see in the field. Belton markings can be orange, blue (white with black markings), tricolor (blue bel- ton with tan points), lemon, and liver. All colors are equally acceptable. Many owners today enjoy field work with their English Setters. Whether they are aiming for an amateur field trial or they are happy with hunt tests and earning a Junior Hunter (JH) title, more and more owners are spending time in the field with their dogs. The dogs seem to love it and their hunting instincts are still strong. English Setters are versatile dogs and they can excel at other dog sports such as agility and rally. They make ideal therapy dogs and they can do well at obedience training. The English Setter is generally a healthy breed. However, like all dogs, they can be prone to a few health issues. One of the issues that can occur in the breed is deafness. Puppies should be BAER-tested (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) as early as 5 to 7 weeks to determine if they are deaf in either ear. The occurrence of deafness in the breed has diminished since BAER testing became more common in the last 20-30 years. Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia can occur in English Setters. English Setters currently rank #65 on the OFA hip dysplasia list; and #24 on the OFA
are described in the first English book about dogs published in 1570. They are probably descended from older Land Spaniels in Britain. At that time Setters indicated where birds were located by crouching or “setting” in the field and lifting a paw. The gamekeeper then tossed a net over both the dog and the birds to catch them. Setters were also used to hunt with falcons at this time and you can still find some falconers today who hunt using this method. Once guns became popular, the English Setter was adapted to hunting with a more upright stance in the field. Many dogs still crouch to indicate the pres- ence of birds since it’s a natural instinct with them. We owe our modern English Setters to the 19th century British sportsman and breeder Edward Laverack. Accord- ing to his writings, he maintained his own line of English Setters for some 35 years. Many of his dogs formed the basis of our bench dogs today in the U.S. Fel- low breeder Purcell Llewellin, starting with dogs from Laverack, bred many outstanding English Setters for the field. Many of Llewellin’s dogs were also imported to the U.S. The English Setter was one of the original nine breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1884. The first dog regis- tered by the AKC was an English Setter named Adonis. When judging the English Setter in the show ring, it’s always important to keep in mind the breed’s original pur- pose as a working gundog. The original breed standard is based largely on the writings of Edward Laverack and other sportsmen-breeders in the 19th centu- ry. It has been changed very little since that time. Paintings and photographs from the 19th century show English Set- ters that look very much like our dogs today once you allow for slight differ- ences in grooming.
Low thyroid in the breed is a con- cern and there is currently research being done regarding this condition in English Setters. Breeders are encour- aged to have their dogs tested. English Setters are currently ranked #1 for thy- roid in the OFA database with nearly 1,300 dogs evaluated. For all their beauty and other good traits, owners will usually say that it’s the English Setter’s temperament that makes them stand out from other dogs. They are gentle, affectionate, friendly dogs devoted to their owners and their families. They love children and normal- ly get along well with other pets. They make the perfect playmate for a child who wants to have a tea party or put a tiara on their head. Or, if you would like to do more outdoorsy things, your English Setter is perfectly willing to go for a hike or hang around the barn with you. They are easygoing, happy dogs who just want to spend time with you, no matter what you’re doing. Although, if that includes sleeping on the sofa and getting a bite of your sandwich, they like that even better. It has to be said that English Setters do enjoy comfort and luxury. They are also notorious counter surfers. Are they the perfect dog for every- one? No, of course not. They do require plenty of regular exercise and you have to take care of their coat. Your Eng- lish Setter probably won’t make a very good guard dog since they usually like everyone—even burglars. Some people might find that an English Setter wants to be together with them too much. You’ll never take a trip to the bathroom alone again. But if you want a friend who looks noble and acts like a goof— one who will stay right by your side, you should probably get to know the English Setter.
320 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J ANUARY 2019
! he English Setter is one of the oldest of the vari- ous breeds of gundogs. History dates them back to the 14th century where they were origi- nally called the “setting spaniel.” Th ese dogs hunted the moorland, quartering the ground in front of the hunter searching for birds. Th e old 16th century name for the setter was “index” where they were used for partridge and quail. Th e hunters were anxious to get as many birds as possible so they used a net. Th e dog was trained to lie down or “set” so as not to scare the birds. By the end of the 19th century the net had been abandoned and the setters were now standing on point. Th e actual source of modern English Setter is questionable, but by the close of the 19th century several distinct lines originated from the old style setting dog. Sir Edward Laverack is often referred to as the father of today’s English Set- ter. He was an ardent hunter and very involved in breeding setters. Around 1825 he obtained a pair of setters from a cler- gyman in Carlisle, England. Practicing a principle of inbreeding with his setters, his success soon became clear. Laverack exported several English Setters to the US, where dogs of his breeding showed all-around excellence in the field. Th ese setters had unusual stamina and could hunt a field from dawn to dusk. Purcell Llewellin was a friend of Lav- erack and began his own breeding pro- gram based on Laverack’s setters in 1880. He achieved great things with his breed- ing program and his setters became very sought after, especially in the USA. Llewellin’s line of English Setters are often referred to as the field type setter, they are smaller and a racier version the Laverack English setters.
An English Setter was the first dog reg- istered with the American Kennel Club in 1876. Th e dog, called Adonis, was owned by George Delano of Massachusetts. Beginning on the west coast Mallwyd and Crombie lines of English setters were the first English Setter show dogs. Since 1876, hundreds of dedicated Eng- lish Setter breeders in the US have created a wonderful and very versatile companion dog. “ Th e Gentleman’s Gentleman.” Th e English Setter is wonderful addition to a family as a faithful friend. Th ese days more and more folks are doing a lot of di ff erent activities with their English Setters. Bird Hunters are still using the English Setters as an upland game hunter; oth- ers are entering AKC’s field trials. In this authors opinion, AKC Field Trial judges are biased against the larger show type set- ter with it’s straight o ff the back tail point and favor the smaller field type setter that points with a 12 o’clock tail straight up in the air. Th is is likely the reason there are only 12 English Setter Dual Champi- ons. Many folks who are trying to com- pete with their bench style English Setters shave the hair so as not to look so much like a “foo foo show dog”. Because of this bias, many who are interested in testing the hunting ability of their English Setters are turning to hunt tests. At hunt tests, dogs are not in com- petition against other dogs, but to a series of skill levels, where they earn the title of Junior Hunter, Senior Hunter and the newest title Advanced Master Hunter. Although, English Setters are not known as “water retrievers” they can be such ardent hunters that getting wet is not a problem when birds of any sort are involved. Even in the icy waters of Michigan. Not a hunter? Well owners are find- ing that the English Setter is a very will- ing competitor in agility, rally, scent work,
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