Llewellin Setter

The Llewellin Setter: A "Pure" Strain of English Setter

Is the Llewellin Setter an English Setter? Yes – but it's a specific strain of English Setter that dates back to a specific breeding program in the 19th century. At that point, a sportsman, RL Purcell Llewellin, along with Edward Laverack, developed the breed. Since then, Llewellin's name has been associated with the Llewellin breed, as a specific type of English Setter meant for field work. Not all field-type English Setters are Llewellins, and not all Llewellins are field-type English Setters, however. In addition, some may use the generic term "Llewellin" to denote field-type English Setters, but this does not mean that a dog someone calls a "Llewellin" is actually a registered Llewellin. It must be registered with the Field Dog Studbook (FDSB) of Chicago to be considered a true Llewellin.

It's also worth noting that the American Kennel Club does NOT recognize the Llewellin as separate from the traditional English Setter, in that they refer to all field-type English Setters as Llewellins. This is not correct, but it is the American Kennel Club's decision.


When RL Purcell Llewellin of Pembrokeshire, South Wales, began to breed dogs he obtained from Edward Laverack, in the mid-1860s, his primary interest was to develop dogs for fieldwork. He experimented with a variety of breed crosses before he discovered the characteristics that would set his dogs apart from the standard English Setter – and assign his name to them forever. His dogs were of the highest quality, English Setters bred for the field.

In 1871, Llewellin was attending a field trial in Shewsbury when he purchased two dogs, Dick and Dan, who were sons of a dog named Duke. Duke was owned by Berkeley Field. Thomas Statter owned a female named Rhoebe, who was born of a dam that was half South Esk, and half Gordon Setter. The South Esk is now extinct.

Both of Llewellin's purchases, Dick and Dan, and the female, Rhoebe, were known to be of northern England stock that was revered for its fieldwork. Thus, Llewellin bred Dick and Dan to the Laverack females he owned and the Llewellin breed was begun.

The resultant dogs were exactly what Llewellin was looking for, and sportsmen throughout England and North America began to take notice. Dan, one of Llewellin's purchases, proved especially prolific, and he ultimately sired Gladstone, who became one of the most important Llewellins in history. Gladstone became a top field dog and sire. It's because of that dog that Llewellins became so popular.

Today, the only dogs recognized as Llewellins must be registered in the Field Dog Studbook (FDSB) of Chicago, which is published by the American Field Sporting Dog Association. This is, again, despite the fact that the American Kennel Club fails to recognize the Llewellin as an extremely specialized type of English Setter.


The dog has a long, lean head, enhanced by an intelligent expression. The eyes are dark brown, with long ears that are set close to the head. The chest is deep, the ribs well-sprung, and there is a level topline. The tail is straight and carried high, and the medium-length coat is smooth, sleek, and soft. With feathering on the tail, chest, ears and backs of legs, coat colors are varied, and include orange and white, black and white, or tricolor. In adulthood, the Llewellin weighs about 50 pounds and stands 24 inches at the shoulder.


This is a hunting dog of unequaled stature. While hard-working, determined, and unstoppable in the field, at home the Llewellin is gentle and calm. An excellent companion for children, this dog is happy being a pet, to be sure, but also wants a job to do. Its loving and completely-devoted temperament gives this dog a serene confidence. However, this is a dog that must be treated tenderly. Training, structure, and kind discipline are musts – but only with a gentle, firm and consistent tone.

As with any breed, this dog needs proper socialization, with exposure to experiences, sounds, sights, and a diverse mix of people when young. Start early, when you first bring your puppy home. Puppy kindergarten class is a good idea for your pet, since although it is obedient by nature, its boundless energy and an independent streak may prove a bit much for you unless you know what you're doing. Puppy obedience school or kindergarten class is a training ground for you as much as it is for your puppy, since you'll learn how to discipline your pet in the right way, gently but firmly, without breaking its spirit.

Proper Environment

The Llewellin is best suited to an owner and household that is very active. Not suitable for apartment living, the Llewellin is pretty quiet indoors, but needs a lot of exercise and should have at least a decent- sized yard to run about in. Consider another breed if you're not particularly active or athletic, since this breed needs a lot of physical and mental stimulation. If you're a hunter, you'll find no better companion.


Although there's not a lot of health information on the Llewellin specifically, the related English Setter is particularly prone to hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and deafness. Your breeder should be able to provide health clearances for your puppy's parents from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals in regard to hip and elbow dysplasia, and from Auburn University for hypothyroidism. Clearances from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation will also certify that the parents' eyes are normal.

Life expectancy for the Llewellin is 10 to 12 years.


Brush and comb the medium-length coat regularly. Check for tangles and burrs often, and brush more frequently when your dog is shedding. You may dry shampoo or bathe when necessary. Trim "feathering" on the bottoms of the feet and clip nails on a consistent basis. Brush teeth with a vet-approved toothpaste several times a week or daily if your agreeable pet allows. This guards against long-term health issues which are kept at bay with proper oral hygiene.


About Llewellin Setters.

Retrieved November 11, 2015.

American Field Sporting Dog Association.

Retrieved November 11, 2015.

Breed Profile: The Llewellin Setter.

Retrieved November 11, 2015.

English Setter.

Retrieved November 11, 2015.

Llewellin Setter.

Retrieved November 11, 2015.

Llewellin Setter.

Retrieved November 11, 2015.

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