Showsight Presents the English Setter

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! 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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246 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2014

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