Illustration of English Setter

The English Setter is one of the oldest breeds of Gundog with a history that can be traced back as far as the 14th Century. It was originally developed over the Centuries from the spaniel, the Spanish Pointer and  large water spaniel and is believed to have been originally called the Setting Spaniel or Setting Dogges.  They were used for finding and “setting” birds. Setters hunt by ranging over large distances in a systematic, methodical manner, silently seeking game by scent. When prey is found by scenting the air, the dog will freeze rather than give chase. The dog will stop in a sort of crouch or “set” by freezing in a standing position upon finding their quarry and this distinctive stance is how the term “setter” evolved. Once the dog has indicated where the birds are by freezing on point, on command it would then slowly creep forward to disturb the birds into flight. The Breed was used to hunt game such as quail, pheasant and grouse.

Photo Credit

Breed Development.

Historically, many dogs descending from the same bloodline were referred to by the name of their breeder or owner and the nomenclatures “Laverack Setter” and “LLewellin Setter” describe English Setters bred by Laverack and Llewellin. Horace Lytle, one time gundog editor of Field and Stream author and a well-known gundog trainer, clarified this in the book “How to train your bird dog”, which he wrote in 1928:

Edward Laverack is credited with the foundation stock of the modern English Setter. In 1825, he bought his first two Setters, both of them blue belton in colour, from an estate where they had been carefully bred for about 35 years. From these two, Laverack set about establishing type by a programme of in-breeding and line breeding.

A contemporary of Laverack, Richard Purcell Llewellin used Gordon Setters, Red and White Setters and the now extinct Welsh or Llanidoes Setter to widen the gene pool and added the mix to Laverack blood. From these two breeders came the stock for the modern breed.