They would be worked on moorland, ranging out freely in front of the hunter, quartering the ground and looking for birds. When located, they would crouch (or set) and remain motionless facing the birds, often lifting a paw to indicate the position of the quarry. The hunters would then approach and lay nets so that on a given command, the dogs would rise and drive the birds into the nets. Use of the net continued until the late 18th century, but as use of the gun replaced the net, the term Setting Spaniel was replaced by that of Setter.
The original Setters were owned by noble families who kept them for their working abilities. The Setters did not separate into the breeds we know today until the 19th century, although there were various recognised strains of Setter, named after the aristocratic families who kept them.
There is little evidence of where these dogs originated, but it is quite likely that some were brought back from the Continent (Europe/Asia) following wars during those times. We suspect the first rudimentary setter was developed in France in 1500, obtained from the Spanish pointer and the French pointer.
Three centuries later it was brought to Great Britain where its true developer was an extremely intelligent breeder, named Sir Edward Laverack who developed the English Setter from early French hunting dogs in the early 1800's.
Laverack was so instrumental in establishing the breed that the English Setter is often called the Laverack Setter. Laverack's dogs were known for their great beauty, and are therefore foundation stock for many of today's top show dogs. Another English breeder, Llewellin, created a second famous hunting strain of English Setters. These are often called "Llewellin Setters."
The word "setter" comes from the almost "sitting" position the dog exhibits when he has discovered game. The modern English Setter is a vigorous, quick and very quiet worker with an excellent nose. His coat keeps the dog comfortable in both hot and cold weather.
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