Basic information on the breed, English setter

The most prevalent serious diseases in English setters are

We highly recommend to test your English setter for these diseases before to make any decision to be used for breeding! These tests should be easily available in many countries.


English setters belong to dog breeds with reported congenital deafness. Based on researches the prevalence of breed-specific deafness in English setters are approx. 12% incl. both unilaterial and bilaterial deafness.
Based on American data the incidence of both unilateral and bilateral deafness is much higher (approx. 24% in total) when one of the parents is unilaterally deaf, suggesting a genetic component to the condition.
For more information on deafness in dogs please read
Dr. George Strains website.

The standard method of determining deafness in dogs is the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) test.
Many unilaterally deaf, and even some totally deaf dogs, compensate well enough that it is impossible to diagnose the deafness without a hearing (BAER) test.

Therefore we suggest to BAER test your English setters and do not use unilaterially or bilaterially deaf English setters for breeding! We also recommend for all breeders to BAER test your puppies at the age of 8 weeks before letting them into their new home!

English Setters have the highest breed incidence of Autoimmune Thyroiditis, the inherited form of hypothyroidism that causes a dog's immune system to attack the thyroid gland.
Michigan State University studies showed 31.4% of the English Setters are positive for thyroid antibodies. You can read a list of clinical signs of hypothyroidism compiled by W. Jean Dodds, DVM where you can find also more information on this disease.

Hip dysplasia (HD) is a common inherited orthopaedic problem of English setters, abnormal development of the structures that make up the hip joint leads to subsequent joint deformity. We advise to check BVA's website to get
detailed professional explanation and information on HD in dogs and BVA scoring system to get a better understanding on HD and to read breed specific statistics as well.
This disease is very complex but you can maximize your chances for good hips if you are buying your new puppy or in case of breeding by looking for lots of good hips in the pedigree. Never buy a puppy from untrusted sources where parents and ancestors are not HD scored or having bad HD values. Please always check with the vet clinic or check in the proper database if the HD scores are the real ones. We prefer to see with our own eyes Xray pictures of the choosen studdog next to his HD certificate. We prefer to use dogs with HD A or B (FCI) in our breeding program.
Please note there are different scoring systems in use in the world, for better understanding please find one
HD comparison table here.

English Setters also can develop
elbow dysplasia (ED). This is an inherited abnormality of the elbow joint that can cause lameness of the forelimbs. Currently 15.3% of setters submitted to the OFFA have ED.
In case of buying a puppy here we also can advise to check parents' ED results.


progressive vision loss, blindness:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a well-recognized inherited condition characterized by bilateral degeneration of the retina which causes progressive vision loss that culminates in total blindness. The Rcd4 mutation responsible for late-onset Progressive Retinal Atrophy was discovered by researchers at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) in the UK studying Gordon Setters. Their research found that dogs with 2 copies of this mutation have a high incidence of loss of vision due to this form of Progressive Retinal Atrophy at around 10 years of age. This has been demonstrated in Gordon & Irish Setters. The mutation was also seen in English Setters by screening random samples of DNA banked for other purposes. This mutation has not yet been seen in Irish Red & White Setters, but since they share the prcd1 form of PRA with Irish Setters, it is reasonable to suspect that they may have this form of PRA as well. Reed further:




OFFA - Orthopedic Foundation For Animals - database of health tested dogs in the USA
BVA - British Veterinary Association's Canine Health Schemes