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English Setter dog breed profile

Plan for weekly brushing with these hairy dogs.

Whether your dog is a purebred English Setter or an English Setter mix, learning about the breed can explain a lot about your pet's personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you're looking to adopt an English Setter and want to do a bit of research first — we can help with that.

English Setters make great family dogs as long as their mental and physical needs are met. Keep reading to learn how to keep your pup happy and healthy.

What do English Setters look like? 

English Setters are slender, medium-to-large-sized dogs. Typically, females weigh between 45 and 55 pounds, while males weigh 65 to 80 pounds, Dr. Emily Singler, VMD, Fetch's on-staff veterinarian, shares. 

These pups have medium-length, double-coated hair that grows in different textures. It’s straight and silky along their back, but feathers on their legs, chest, underside and tail, Dr. Singer says. And their hair grows in different colors, too. 

“Their colors are blue belton, liver belton, lemon belton, blue belton and tan and orange belton on white,” Dr. Singler explains. “‘Belton refers to the pattern of colored spots surrounded by white.”

To keep an English Setter’s coat looking and feeling healthy, Dr. Singler recommends brushing them once a week using a soft brush (especially in the feathered areas) to avoid their hair from matting. It’s also a good idea to bathe them every 4 to 6 weeks and have their nails trimmed regularly

English Setter temperament

These dogs do best with ample room to run around, and likely won’t thrive in apartment living, Dr. Singler says. Even though they’ve been described as family-friendly, mellow pups, they need daily, high-level exercise and even more mental stimulation. So encourage your family members to play with them a lot.

Dr. Singler recommends starting your English Setter off with socialization and training (which includes positive reinforcement) early and setting aside time every day for mental and physical activities. 

“As English Setters can be fairly independent, parents should always plan to have them on a leash when outside unless they’re in an enclosed yard,” Dr. Singler adds. “They should also keep in mind that they tend to be alarm barkers, too.”

RELATED: Weimaraner dog breed profile

What health issues do English Setters face?

Certain health issues affect English Setters more than other breeds. Even though it might seem overwhelming, talking about these conditions early on will help you prepare for them. Here’s what you should ask your veterinarian about at your pup’s first or next vet visit.

Developmental diseases

Elbow and hip dysplasia and patellar luxation are hereditary developmental diseases to keep an eye out for. You can spot these conditions if your pup has mobility problems, including limping, pain or changes in how they move around, Dr. Singler says. 

Your veterinarian might recommend surgery or anti-inflammatory medications, supplements, a quality diet and maintaining a healthy weight as treatment options. 

Mammary cancer

If you feel one or more lumps or swellings on your pup’s chest or belly (near a nipple), that could be a sign of mammary cancer. However, a biopsy will likely be needed to decide if it’s malignant (cancerous) or benign. 

“Treatment can include surgery and/or chemotherapy,” Dr. Singler shares. “Some malignant mammary tumors can spread to other parts of the body, particularly the lungs.”

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)

OCD can be a genetic disease that often occurs in young male pups (it can also occur in females, but less frequently). Pain and limping are two signs that a dog has OCD. 

“It results from diseased cartilage in a joint separation from the bone it covers and possibly completely breaking off into the joint space,” Dr. Singler explains. 

Sometimes rest and medication will help the area to heal, while some pups need arthroscopic surgery to get rid of the damaged cartilage. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is also crucial when managing OCD.


Hypothyroidism occurs when a dog’s body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, which is responsible for maintaining their metabolism. The symptoms include low energy, sluggishness, weight gain, hair loss and skin problems, Dr. Singler says. 

“Hypothyroidism is typically treated with oral synthetic thyroid hormones that a dog will need to continue to take throughout their lives,” Dr. Singler adds. 

Allergic dermatitis

Any allergies that affect the skin — including environmental, food and contact — can cause this allergic dermatitis. And unfortunately, it’s a super common condition among all dog breeds. You can spot allergic dermatitis if your pup is itchy, which might appear as licking, scratching, biting or rubbing an affected area. 

Because of the constant itching, dogs’ skin can become red, irritated, swollen and sometimes infected. 

“Treatments will depend on the underlying cause and the dogs’ needs,” Dr. Singler shares. For example, environmental allergies might require allergy testing and immunotherapy, while food allergies call for a specific diet. 

Dogs with allergic dermatitis might also benefit from medication to treat itchiness, treatment for secondary infections, medicated shampoos, topical treatments, supplements, regular grooming appointments, or it might be helpful to see a veterinary dermatologist, Dr. Singler adds. 

English Setter rescue

Are you interested in adopting an English Setter, English Setter mix, or any pet at all? Check out our shelter partners to find your new best friend. 

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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