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Llewellin Setter

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

The Llewellin Setter also spelled Llewellyn is a medium to large dog from England bred to be a hunt with. There is a debate amongst dog fanciers though about whether the Llewellin Setter is actually a separate breed from the English Setter or whether it is just one type. Its name comes from its developer and it is believed by Llewellin Setter fanciers that it is better than the English Setter in the field. It has a life span of 10 to 12 years.

The Llewellin Setter at a Glance
Name Llewellin Setter
Other names Llewellyn
Nicknames None
Origin England
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 35 to 60 pounds
Average height 22 to 24 inches
Life span 10 to 12 years
Coat type Sleek, smooth, soft, medium long
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black and white, white and orange, tricolor
Popularity Not a registered member of the AKC
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Good
Tolerance to cold Good to very good
Shedding Average to heavy during seasonal times – will be some hair around the home
Drooling Average – can be some drool when drinking
Obesity Average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Above average – brush every other day, or even daily
Barking Occasional – will be some barking but should not be constant
Exercise needs High – very active dog so needs active owners
Trainability Moderately easy for those with some experience
Friendliness Very good to excellent
Good first dog Moderate – best with people who have some experience
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Moderate to good but socialization is essential as has a high prey drive
Good with strangers Good with socialization but wary
Good apartment dog Low – needs space and a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety
Health issues Fairly healthy but some issues can include Hip/elbow dysplasia, deafness, hypothyroidism and eye problems
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $240 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $695 a year for toys, basic training, grooming, miscellaneous items and license
Average annual expenses $1420 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,000
Rescue organizations Rock Llewellin Setters, Hickory Hollow Llewellin Setters, check local rescues and shelters
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 1 Maimings: 1 Child victims: 0 Deaths: 0 for a dog listed as a Setter but none that specify Llewellin Setter

The Llewellin Setter’s Beginnings

The Llewellin Setter is either a type of English Setter or a branch off from the English Setter depending on your position on the matter. Either way for some time the history of the breeds are the same. The English Setter was first called a Setting Dogge, which describes what it was developed to do, hunt and point hunters towards game birds. They have been around since at least the 15th century and are though to have in their origins the Water Spaniel, Spanish Pointer and English Springer Spaniel.

Into the 17th century and setters had become very popular hunting dogs but were still recognized as a breed and so lots of interbreeding and crossbreeding happened. Eventually though breeds realized that to get a setter that was ideally suited to the kind of terrain they hunted on, controlled breeding was needed. It was in the mid to late 1800s that the Llewellin strain or breed came about. Two key setter breeders developed their own line of setters, Edward Laverack the Laverack Setters and R Llewellin, the Llewellin Setters. Both were very popular but they were different. Laverack developed dogs that would do well in dog shows, and Llewellin’s dogs were more about their performance in field trials. This was because Llewellin was an avid sportsman who loved to bird hunt.

New Lease on Life

Both English Setters and Llewellin Setters were very popular after World War II for several decades but numbers have declined in recent years and the former is on the UK vulnerable native breed list. In Italy it is faring better and is still used as a gundog, many hunters will say these are the best gun dogs. In the US it was a Setter that was the first dog registered with the AKC but the Llewellin Setter is not recognized by them as a separate breed. In events under English Setter it does well in such competitions as retrieving, hunting, tracking, agility and of course pointing.

The Dog You See Today

Llewellin Setters are a medium to large sized dog weighing 35 to 60 pounds and standing 22 to 24 inches tall. Males are larger than females. It has a fairly deep chest, a level topline and a straight tail that it carries high. It has a head that is long and lean and a long muzzle with a black nose. Its eyes are dark brown and it has a keen and intelligent expression. The ears hang down, are fairly long and are set low and close to the head. Its has a single, soft coat that is flat and should be straight and medium length. The is feathering on its tail, legs and ears. Common colors are white with patches and ticking that can be orange or blue (black).

The Inner Llewellin Setter


The Llewellin Setter is a mild mannered, gentle and calm dog indoors and then lively and enthusiastic when outside. It loves to get lots of affection and attention and does not like being left alone, some can develop separation anxiety if ignored or lonely. It is affectionate towards its owners and family and needs owners who set clear rules and are firm and confident leaders. It can be a dog for new owners but would be best with experienced ones. If with owners who are too meek it can become willful and hard to live with.

These are intelligent and loyal companions but it is also an excellent gun dog. It is obedient, eager to please, and forms strong bonds with their hunters/owners. It is sensitive so is best dealt with in a positive manner and some can be stubborn and stronger willed than others. It is a good watchdog, being alert and will bark should someone try to enter the home. It is hard working and determined but also social and loves to spend time with its family.

Living with a Llewellin Setter

What will training look like?

Llewellin Setters are moderately easy to train for owners with experience who are able to be its pack leader. Be firm and consistent and accept that results will be gradual. Try not to scold or use physical correction as it does not respond well to them and may even become fearful and refuse to work. Stay patient and be persistent using positive techniques. Motivate and encourage it, use treats, keep sessions short and interesting. Socialization is another important part of it being raised well. Start this when you bring it home by introducing it to various types of people, places, sounds, animals and situations. Teach it the appropriate responses and it will grow into being a happier and more confident dog.

How active is the Llewellin Setter?

These dogs are very active so it is important its owners are very active too. Hopefully you are using it for what it was bred for and taking it out to hunt, but if not there is always the option of taking it to field trials and training it for various forms of dog sporting events at which it does very well. This is a great way to give it the mental stimulation it needs along with physical exercise and a role or job to do to keep it happy. It has a lot of stamina and endurance, and should be given at least two hours a day of long brisk walks, physical play with you, safe off leash run time and so on. This takes commitment and motivation in its owner. It may be calm indoors but it is in no way a lazy dog and is best in a home with a yard rather than in an apartment. A Llewellin that is under exercised and under stimulated gets bored, restless, vocal and destructive.

Caring for the Llewellin Setter

Grooming needs

The Llewellin has above average to high needs in terms of grooming and maintenance so make sure you have the time to commit to daily efforts. The long feathering these dogs have does tangle and sweeps up burs and debris. Ideally you should brush daily but every other day could do the job if it is not getting into a mess every day. It sheds an average amount usually but then there is seasonal shedding where it is heavier and there will be more in the home and on your clothes. This is not a breed to bring home if you want limited loose hair to deal with. Give it a bath as needed using a canine shampoo but in between wet baths you could do a dry shampoo. Some professional grooming and clipping is usually needed every few months.

Ear infections are something it can be prone to with its floppy ears so check them weekly for signs like wax build up, a discharge, bad odor and such. If they are fine give them a clean by wiping or using a dog cleanser for ears. Its teeth need to be brushed regularly, at least three times a week with a dog toothpaste and toothbrush. The nails too need regular clipping when they get too long. Take care not to cut down too low where the blood vessels and nerves are as that hurts it and it will bleed.

Feeding Time

Feeding this dog will take somewhere between 1¾ to 3 cups of a good or better quality dry dog food a day. This should be split into at least two meals though to avoid problems with bloat. Things that can affect the exact food amount include size, age, health, metabolism and activity level. Please make sure it always has access to fresh water.

How is the Llewellin Setter with children and other animals?

In General these setters are very good to excellent with children, especially when socialized and raised with them. They will make great playmates together, are affectionate and gentle and can even be fairly tolerant of younger clumsy children. Be sure to teach any child how to be careful and kind when playing and stroking dogs. Supervision is still a good idea with toddlers for your dog’s sake rather than the child’s! With socialization it can be okay with other pets but not birds and even then supervision or separation is a good idea due to its high prey drive. It loves to be around other dogs and play and socialize with them.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Llewellin Setter has a life span of about 10 to 12 years but does have some health issues you may have to deal with. These include joint dysplasia, eye problems, allergies, cryptorchidism, umbilical hernia, hypothyroidism and deafness.

Biting Statistics

When looking at statistics gathered from reports covering dog attacks in North America that have caused bodily harm over the last 35 years, the Llewellin Setter is not specifically mentioned. However there is listed an attack by a dog called just a setter. It was an adult victim and the attack was classified a maiming so they were left with permanent scarring, dismemberment or disfigurement. In general this dog is not aggressive though, it is just the case that any dog can have an off day. Make sure to lessen the risks you properly exercise, stimulate, love, socialize and train it.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Llewellin Setter puppy will cost around $1000 for a pet quality dog from a breeder that can be trusted. In fact that price is likely to be more and significantly so for show dog breeders and for top field trail breeders. From a local rescue or shelter you can adopt a dog that is likely to be mixed and only pay $50 to $400 which will include some initial medical needs. Rescues specifically for setters are more likely to have purebreds but there are mot adult dogs that need homing than puppies this way. Do some good research before you make a purchase and avoid backyard breeders, puppy mills, pet stores and the like.

When you have found a breeder you can trust and your dog is ready to come home you will need to take it to a vet. There it can be dewormed, have some blood tests, be micro chipped, neutered or spayed have its shots and have a physical. Initial health needs like this will cost about $290. You need to also get some items like a carrier, crate, collar and leash, bowls and such. These will cost another estimated $230.

Annual costs are another things to be aware of. Yearly costs that covers basic medical care, food, grooming and training for example. Doggy treats and a good quality dry dog food costs will start at about $240 a year. Miscellaneous costs like other items, occasional professional grooming, basic training, toys and license will come to about $695 a year. Medical basics will be another $485 a year for flea and tick prevention, check ups, shot updates and then pet insurance. The annual estimated starting figure for a Llewellin Setter is $1420.


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The Llewellin Setter is an attractive, athletic and gentle dog, it is social and should get along well with everyone, just keep in mind it has a high prey drive and being a bird dog may not be the best choice for people who keep pet birds. It is very affectionate, sweet and loyal and will expect a lot of attention from you, it is a dog that needs human companionship. It is somewhat high maintenance in terms of grooming though and it is also a very active dog so needs active owners.

Featured Image Credit: Llewellin Setter_Ginger-Livingston-Sanders, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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