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 English 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 contributions.

2022 English Setter Health Survey

To view Health Survey click one of the highlighted links below 

Cushing Disease research

Research into Cushings Disease being undertaken by the University of Nottingham and the KC is now live.

This research is being carried out by the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham together with the Kennel Club.  Any queries can be sent to the following email address: ESEScushingsproject@gmail.com.

We look forward to hearing from you and working with you on this research.

Link for the survey: https://forms.office.com/Pages

Health Topics

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.

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

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

Management for Temperament (1996 Booklet) Management
Setter Litter Report (David T Parkin) Litter Report
Skin Survey (David T Parkin) Skin/Ears Survey
Deafness in English Setters (2001 with 2015 update) Deafness
Helpful Hints (General Management) Helpful Hints
Lorna Kennedy Article (Genetic Diversity) Genetic
David T Parkin Article (Laymans Report) Laymans Report
Newsletter Report 1999 (Linda Taylor, thyroid)  Report 1999

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: BAER

Bonnie-Marie Abhayaratne
Health and Breeder Research Assistant
The Kennel Club

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)

English Setters occasionally have a problem that is known within the breed as "Dead Tail". This is a painful condition that thankfully is relatively short lived. It usually occurs a few hours after the dog has been bathed, but can also happen after swimming or even if the dog has been sitting around outside in the rain on a cold day. The root of the tail is very painful and the dog seems unable to lift its tail. The tail is not actually paralysed but does hang limply and feeble attempts to wag cause further distress. Setters have such an active tail on the move and this painful condition appears to affect the whole of their hind movement. Most dogs take a day or two to recover.

Some people think that this is caused by shampoo irritating the anal glands, others that the bath water is too hot but the fact that it can occur in the absence of bathing indicates that it is probably the cold that is responsible. Always make sure that after bathing your dog is dried as quickly as possible and then kept in a warm room overnight. If your dog is affected keep him warm and dry and if necessary give him a painkiller but this must be accompanied with advice from your vet first.  Providing that the tail is starting to return to normal within a couple of days, veterinary attention is not needed. Surprisingly many vets do not recognise this condition, and tending to think it more serious than it is, instigate tests etc that prove unnecessary.

The occipital protuberance is at the back of the skull and gives the English Setter that characteristic "small bump" on the top of the head. It is quite common, especially among youngsters who play fight, to bang their heads and cause internal bleeding in this area which results in a large swelling. The application of an ice pack (in the form of a bag of frozen peas) will help to reduce this but often further play causes the bleeding to start again. In severe cases your veterinary surgeon may draw off some of this fluid if the swelling is very large but unfortunately as the pressure is released from the site of the injury the internal bleeding sometimes recommences. Eventually the bleeding stops and the accumulated fluid is gradually re-absorbed. However this can take several months and often results in fibrous tissue leaving a hard, unsightly enlarged occipital protuberance. At this stage gentle massaging every day will help break down the tissue and eventually all will return to normal.