The standard temperament of the English Setter is best described as a "Gentleman by Nature". The breed can,however, be strong-willed and mischievous, especially if coming from working/field breeding lines. English Setters are energetic, people-oriented dogs that are well suited to families who can give them attention and activity. They are in their element working as the true Gundog, doing the work they were bred to do. They are active dogs that need plenty of exercise. Inside they tend to be easygoing couch potatoes. The breed is described as "intensely friendly," "good natured," and "adores visitors and is particularly happy with children."
About the Breed
The original purpose of the English Setter was to set or point upland game birds. It appears that the English Setter was a trained bird dog in England more than 400 years ago.
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 advance forward to disturb the birds into flight. At that point, the hunter, who had stayed close to the dog, would release hawks to capture the birds.. When netting superseded the use of hawks, setting dogs would still be used to locate the bird. The hunter would, from behind the dog, throw a net over the birds. In the mid-1600s, guns became more readily available and shooting game birds became a popular pastime of the landed gentry.
The scent of game birds is airborne so to pick up this scent the Setter, carries its head well up,. Most setters are born with a natural hunting ability.