The English Setter is a true family dog. Mild-mannered and sweet, the English Setter loves people of all ages and can be trusted around children. They have a knack for remembering things and people, often greeting someone they haven't seen in a long time as if they were old friends. English Setters are sociable creatures who crave the company of humans. They will want to be included in all family activities, are small enough to travel well in the car, and athletic enough to keep up on jogs and hikes. English Setters love all people and are far too laid back to be a reliable guard dog.
This medium-sized dog requires a lot of activity for healthy development. They are not well suited for an apartment lifestyle, but thrive in houses with big yards or farms with plenty of room to run and socialize with other animals. They enjoy most any physical activity, from long walks, to games of chase in the back yard, to competing in an endurance ring - as long as the activity involves the company of people, the English Setter will love it.
English Setters may love people, but they are more stubborn than you might think. The desire to please isn't strong in them. They are actually quite manipulative, and consistency is key to raising an obedient Setter. A gentle hand is also important when training, as they are sensitive dogs with long memories. They will not forget someone who treats them poorly. Their long memory also means that it can be hard to break English Setters of bad behavior, so early training is very important to keep bad habits from becoming permanent.
English Setters can only tolerate being alone for a few hours at at time. They should not be raised in homes where they will be alone all day or they will become destructive chewers and neurotic barkers. Companion dogs don't always help the situation, either, unless the dogs are raised together as puppies and the Setter considers the other dog part of his pack.
Boredom can also lead to destructive behaviors in this breed. If not given enough activity during the day, an English Setter will find ways to entertain himself, and it often involves chewing things that don't belong to him.