English Setter Health

The English Setter Association and the other English Setter breed clubs are aware that the continued health of the breed is of major importance to all owners of English Setters.

We are extremely fortunate that English Setters in general are a happy, healthy, long-lived breed. This is demonstrated by the fact that our breed is not required by the Kennel Club to undergo routine screening or DNA testing for congenital or inherited diseases with the exception of x- ray assessment for hip dysplasia, which is scored under the joint KC/BVA hip dysplasia scheme.

However, English Setters do appear to be more susceptible to some health issues than other breeds and to try to find answers to these problems and also to maintain an overview of the breed’s health the English Setter Association first formed a Health Subcommittee in 1990. More recently, in 2009, in accordance with KC requirements, it was agreed that a representative from each of the seven English Setter breed clubs should combine their efforts and the Joint English Setter Breed Clubs Health Committee was established.

The regular committee is made up of seven members: one from the English Setter Association, one from each of the five regional breed clubs, and one member representing the English Setter Club which promotes working aspects of this breed and runs field trials. In addition Mr Simon Pitts is the the breed’s health co-ordinator and designated permanent contact with the Kennel Club.

There is important news regarding the Englist Setter Breed Health and Conservation plan below. The purpose of the project is to ensure that all health concerns for the breed are identified through evidence-based criteria, and that breeders are provided with useful information and resources to support them in making balanced breeding decisions that make health a priority.

The Joint English Setter Clubs Health Committee have made available a web-based Forum for discussion of all health matters or relevant topics for the wellbeing of English Setters and we welcome your contribution.

  • Joint Health Committee

    • • Lois Buckley: (Northern English Setter Society) (Chair) Email Link
    • • Simon Pitts: (English Setter Association) (Breed Health Coordinator) Email link
    • • Dave Lewis: (Southern English Setter Society) Email link
    • • Margaret Henry: (Midland English Setter Society) Email link
    • • Dom Goutorbe: (English Setter Club) Email link
    • • Christine Normansell: (English Setter Society of Scotland) Email link
    • • Maud Leather: (English Setter Society of Wales) Email link
    Please feel free to contact any of the health committee if you need help or advice on any health issues. There is also a Health Forum below where concerns can be raised and discussed.
  • Breed Health & Conservation Plan


    The Kennel Club launched a dynamic new resource for breed clubs and individual breeders – the Breed Health and Conservation Plans (BHCP) project – in September 2016. The purpose of the project is to ensure that all health concerns for a breed are identified through evidence-based criteria, and that breeders are provided with useful information and resources to support them in making balanced breeding decisions that make health a priority.

    The Breed Health and Conservation Plans take a holistic view of breed health with consideration to the following issues: known inherited conditions, complex conditions (i.e. those involving many genes and environmental effects such as nutrition or exercise levels, for example hip dysplasia), conformational concerns and population genetics.

    Sources of evidence and data have been collated into an evidence base (Section 1 of the BHCP) which gives clear indications of the most significant health conditions in each breed, in terms of prevalence and impact. Once the evidence base document has been produced it is discussed with the relevant Breed Health Coordinator and breed health committee or representatives if applicable. Priorities are agreed and laid out in Section 2. A collaborative action plan for the health of the breed is then agreed and incorporated as Section 3 of the BHCP. This will be monitored and reviewed. To download the Kennel Club's 20 page plan click - Kennel Club Conservation Plan

    The English Setter's Health and Conservation plan follows the same template as the other plans the Kennel Club has developed with Breeds. The English Setter being a generally healthy breed with very few conditions, and being a minority breed, does not feature heavily in the literature. The plan focuses on the same conditions the breed has been working for some time to improve; Atopic Dermatitis, Hypothyroidism, fertility issues, hip dysplasia, supporting widening the gene pool whilst protecting the UK English Setter.

    The Breed Health and Conservation Plan is now finalised and will be reviewed again in May 2020. With it is The English Setter Joint Health Committee report on actions that were agreed at the 2018 and 2019 meetings and progress to date.. This is attached in PDF format, to download this report click - BHCP Progress Report

    Official press release confirming that the Kennel Club now recognises PRA4 and NCL DNA tests for English Setters. This is attached in PDF format, to download this press release click - PRA4 and NCL DNA tests

  • Health Issues

    Our main long standing areas of concern are as follows. Comprehensive information of can be viewed or downloaded by clicking links and shown in a PDF Format

    Hip Dysplasia:        Hips/PDF

    Hip dysplasia, or HD as it is most commonly called is one of the most common skeletal diseases in dogs and affects many dogs, pedigree and crossbreeds worldwide. The hip joints of affected dogs  gradually degenerate, causing increased pain and  loss of mobility. There is a genetic component to this disease but also rearing and subsequent management of the growing pup play a very important role. Diagnosis of this disease is by x raying the pelvis and hip joints – the good news is that the  majority of dogs  diagnosed with HD  can lead full and active lives if the disease is diagnosed early enough and proper treatment is given and maintained although they are more susceptible to arthritis in later life.

    Skin/ ear conditions – in particular atopic dermatitis       Skin/PDF

    Once the usual culprits for itchy skin ( flea, mites etc) have been eliminated, atopic dermatitis  is  most often the  reason your dog is scratching .  Atopic dogs  have an inherited predisposition to allergic skin disease and means their immune systems are oversensitive and overreact to certain allergy causing substances – allergens – such as pollens or house dust mites. When exposed to the allergens, the immune cells involved in allergies release compounds such as histamine into the body which causes the dog to itch. This can be a difficult condition to control and usually once affected will last for life.

    Hypothyroidism        Hypothyroidism/PDF

    Hypothyroidism is a common hormonal condition and is the result of a reduction in the level of thyroid hormone circulating in the blood. It has a variety of symptoms including weight gain, hair loss and poor coat quality and a reluctance to exercise. Dogs of all ages can be affected, although hypothyroidism commonly affects middle-aged or older dogs. Hypothyroidism is easy to diagnose with a blood test and most dogs respond quickly to a daily dose of synthetic thyroid medication, which they will need for life. Many dogs suffer from a low thyroid hormone level for years without treatment. If your dog has chronic recurrent skin problems, or unexplained weight gain, they may be suffering from hypothyroidism.

    Deafness      Deafness/PDF

    Deafness in dogs can be acquired, such as an infection or age related, or congenital - a condition that a puppy is born with. Many cases of  congenital deafness do have some degree of heritability and deaf adults should never be used for breeding. Lack of hearing can occur in one ear only – known as unilaterally deaf or both ears making the dog bilaterally deaf. It is easily tested for with the BAER test.

    An update to the 2001 deafness survey has been added in the 'Surveys and Updates' section. The PDF is listed - 'Deafness in English Setters' (2001 with 2015 update)

    More recent issues : Infertility - to follow      

    Other English Setter minor day to day conditions:

    “Dead tail” - shown on dropdown menu after Health called 'Health1'

    Swollen occipital protuberance - shown on dropdown menu after Health called 'Health1'

    Over the past 25 years our health committee has carried out a number of surveys and published, in our newsletters and as separate booklets, the results and also various health related articles. Many of these are now available to view on the “survey and update” link

  • Health Forum

    • Anyone wishing to use the forum can use the following link www.englishsetter.proboards.com
    • Before being able to access the forum you must register. Once on the forum you need to create a new account. The register contains the following:-

    • 1. User Name
    • 2. Password
    • 3. Confirm Password
    • 4. Email Address
    • 5. Confirm Email Address
    • 6. Date of Birth
    • 7. Gender
    • 8. Captcha (just list letters and numbers provided in box below)
    • 9. Agree to terms
    • 10. Create account
    • The list above may look quite daunting but it is simple to complete. Once registered please remember your user name and password for future use
    • Please note – comments/ suggestions etc. made on the forum are not necessarily endorsed by the Health Committee
    • Owners should always consult a veterinary surgeon if they are concerned about the health of their dogs and the Joint English Setter Clubs cannot be held responsible for the management or treatment by owners as a result of any information obtained from the breed clubs websites or Newsletters or from any form of communication with Health Committee members.
  • Survey and Updates

    Available here are Surveys and Updates undertaken on behalf of The English Setter Association/ Joint Setter Clubs Health Committee. Information of can be viewed or downloaded by clicking links, these will be shown in a PDF Format

  • The Kennel Club BAER test results scheme

    The Kennel Club would like to inform you that it will now be recording BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) test results for all breeds and publishing the results on the Health Test Results Finder.

    We have produced a new standard reporting form to help the testing centres with the process of sending BAER test results for litters to the Kennel Club more efficiently. Therefore, we strongly encourage dog owners and breeders to bring this form to their testing centre. (To download standard reporting form click here)

    To ensure we are able to record results:

    • · Dogs must be registered and microchipped
    • · The form must be completed by the vet practice, signed by a vet/nurse and with a veterinary practice stamp
    • · Forms, which can be submitted by post or email, must be clear and legible – results will not be recorded if they cannot be read

    To find out more about the BAER Testing Programme, please click here.

    Bonnie-Marie Abhayaratne
    Health and Breeder Research Assistant
    The Kennel Club
  • Baer Discount Details

    Linda Taylor has negotiated a discount with the Pride Veterinary Centre at Derby for BAER testing English Setters.

    They have agreed to drop the price to £36.05 instead of £49.50 per animal - this price also includes an individual certificate and copy of the test hearing traces for each dog tested.. They will also complete and sign the new KC BAER test result form that the KC require before they will include the results on their data base.

    Ideally they would like to arrange to test at least 5 or 6 setters on the same day - easily done if someone has a litter. They would then just add on individual adults to that day. However, I am sure they will not want to turn business away and so it is always worth checking when they are able to make a convenient appointment for individual owners.

    The appointments must be made through the nurse who is responsible for the BAER testing - otherwise the full price will be charged. This can be done by emailing her direct - rachael-kohn@live.co.uk or contacting Linda Taylor, wansleydale@ymail.com. If emailing her direct you must tell her that you are part of the "English Setter agreement"

    Sometimes adults will not keep still for the test and unfortunately sedation is required - this is obviously an additional charge, based on the weight of the dog. This will bring the total cost to just over £100 - so it much better to have your litters tested soon after they are 5 weeks old. At this age, generally, the pups just go to sleep!

    No individual test results are given to anyone other than the owner of the dog/puppy tested and each owner has their own appointment time so the whole process is confidential. It is the choice of individual owners as to whether the test results are forwarded to the KC for publication or not.