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Breed Standards : Gun Dog Group : English Setter


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Official UKC Breed Standard
@Copyright 1991, United Kennel Club, Inc.

The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.

Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.

Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


As the name implies, the breed originated in England and may have been a trained bird dog for 400 years. The spaniel is considered the root stock of the breed. The breed has evolved into two distinct types: one for show and one for field work. Seldom is either type competitive in the other's arena. The bench, or show, dog is usually larger, and heavier boned, with a larger and more square muzzle. The normal tail position of the bench dog when pointing game is level with its back. A stylish field-bred dog's tail is above the level of the back to "12 o'clock" or straight up. A purist of either type usually has very little good to say about the other type. There are only a few breeders who cross breed the two types for the purpose of having a good-looking, stylish hunting dog.

The English Setter was recognized by the United Kennel Club in the early 1900's.


Depending on the type, bench or field, the appearance is very different, including size, weight and length of coat. The ears are natural, as well as the tail. The normal size of the bench type is 25% larger than the field type (or 25 inches at the shoulders and 55 to 70 pounds). The color varies from white to tri-colored and includes white and orange ticked, white and blue ticked to tri-colored.


The temperament of the two types can vary greatly. The field-bred dog is usually much more active and requires more exercise. The disposition should be people oriented in either type.


In the bench type, the head is long and lean with a well-defined stop. The skull is oval from ear to ear and of medium width, with a moderately defined occipital protuberance. The muzzle is long and square, with a width in harmony with that of the skull. One of the biggest differences of the two types is the shape of the head. The field type head has a more snipey muzzle. The lips are square and fairly pendant.

TEETH - A full complement of strong, white teeth meet In a scissors bite.

EYES - Should be bright, mild, intelligent and dark brown in color.

NOSE - Is black or dark liver in color, except in white, orange and white, or liver and white, when it may be lighter colored.

EARS - Should be carried close to thehead, well back and set low, of moderate length and level with the eye.


Not too throaty, should be long and lean and arched at the crest.


The shoulder blade should be laid back to approach the ideal angle of 45 degrees from the vertical. They should be fairly close together at the tips, but with sufficient width between the blades to allow the dog to easily lower its head to the ground.

FORELEGS - The upper foreleg should be equal in length to the shoulder blade and form a 90-degree angle with the shoulder blade. This enables the elbow to be placed directly under the back edge of the shoulder blade and brings the heel pad directly under the pivot point of the shoulder, thus giving a maximum length of stride. When viewed from the front or side, the forelegs should be straight and parallel. The pastern should be short, strong, and nearly round, with the slope from the pastern joint to the foot deviating very slightly from the perpendicular.


The chest should be deep, but not so wide or round as to interfere with the action of the forelegs. The back should be strong and straight and sloping very slightly from the withers to the tail. Loins should be strong and of moderate length.


The length of the croup determines the tail set. The pelvis should slope at an angle of 30 degrees from the horizontal. The length of the upper thigh should be equal with the pelvis to provide balance.

HIND LEGS - The upper thigh should be muscular, with well-developed lower thighs. It should have a well-bent stifle. Hocks should be wide and flat. When viewed from the rear the legs should be straight and parallel.


Should be closely set and strong; pads well developed and tough; toes well arched and protected with short, thick hair.


Tail should be straight and taper to a point and reach to the hock joint. It should not curl above the level of the back. (Note: the hunting-type English tail should be higher than the level of the back to having a 12 o'clock tail, which is considered very stylish when on point. The tail of the hunting type should have a cracking action like a buggy whip while running and searching for game.) In either the bench or hunting type the tail should be straight and not sickle.


Should be flat and of good length without curl, not soft or woolly. The feather on the legs should be moderately thin and regular. It should be adequately feathered on the ears, the chest, belly and the underside of the thighs, the back of all legs and on the tail.


Black, white and tan; black and white; blue belton; lemon and white; lemon belton; orange and white; orange belton; liver and white; liver belton; and solid white. Dogs without heavy patches of color on the body, but flecked all over, are preferred.

Disqualification: Albinism.


Bench type; about 25 inches and 55 to 70 pounds for males, about 24 inches and 50 to 60 pounds for females. The hunting type is usually smaller in height and weight than the bench type.


An effortless graceful movement demonstrating speed and endurance while covering the ground efficiently. When moving at a trot, the properly balanced dog will have a tendency to converge toward a line representing the center of gravity of the dog. *Note to breeders: The English Setter has become two distinct types. It should be the goal of all English Setter breeders to adopt and promote the U.K.C. philosophy of the "total dog," that is, to have a dog that is a good example of the breed standard and can do a good job for which it was created, to hunt.


(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation event, and must be reported to UKC.)
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Viciousness or extreme shyness. Albinism.