With nearly seven hundred years of development under its belt, the English Setter remains one of the most popular gundogs in the history of hunting. Not only are their physical traits perfect in the field, their temperament is also ideal. This wonderful blend also comes with natural instincts for pointing, retrieving and forming a solid working relationship with their owner. It is not uncommon to find hunters who stick with this breed and nothing else for many years. On top of their superb instincts, the English Setter is a breed that makes a memorable companion. They know when it's time to work and they know when it's time to have fun.
These days, the breed is divided into bench Setters and field Setters. Field Setters may also be referred to as Llewellin Setters. While each has their subtle differences, it is the field setter with its shorter coat that is most used for hunting. Even for the English Setter kept as a family pet, the hunting instincts that have been bred into this variety of dog will still likely be very observable. In the days when firearms were not yet widely used, it was the English Setter that would point out or chase gamebirds into nets. However, as soon as firearms became the norm, their stance evolved into the modern set and point that the breed is now famous for.
Breeders who offer English Setters for hunting frequently begin teaching pups the basics very early on. Once a dog is paired with an owner, a more in depth training style can be established. The English Setter is one that loves to please and many find a hunting style based on cooperation works best. When training this breed out in the field, a gentle but firm and consistent manner will be required. The Setter is inherently trusting and heavy handed tactics tend to inhibit the breed from performing as successfully as it could. Owners must also be trained to watch their dog's cues as the Setter has an amazing stamina, never alluding to fatigue or injury.
In general, the English Setter is still widely trained as an upland bird hunter. Though mostly used for private hunting, there are a number of dogs that now demonstrate their skills in events such as field trials. These trials are offered by a number of organizations and can be easily found by joining a local gundog group or going online. Divisions ranging from amateur to youth to women's categories can be found where hunters routinely display their dog's skills for cash and prizes. Because of their natural abilities, the English Setter is a breed often seen not only participating in field trials, but taking home the grand prize.