4 Common English Setter Health Problems to Look Out For

Two of the most common English Setter health problems include elbow and hip dysplasia. Overall, the English Setter is a healthy and athletic dog with an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. All dog breeds have certain genetic predispositions to health ailments. 

Around here we are more than a little obsessed with English Setters. After all, our very first joint supplement for dogs was inspired by an English Setter. These high-energy pups love to please, hence why they make some of the best hunting partners we know. As great as they are on the field, they can be just as wonderful at home with the family.

To know an English Setter is to love one. Without doubt you want to keep your hardworking and loyal pup as healthy as possible and for as long as possible. Knowing the most common English Setter health problems, what signs to look out for, and how to help prevent the onset of these issues can make all the difference to your dog’s quality of life.

The 2 Most Common English Setter Health Problems: Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

1. Elbow dysplasia

Several developmental abnormalities of the elbow-joint in dogs can cause the condition known as elbow dysplasia. This hereditary disorder specifically impacts the development of cartilage and its surrounding structures, which leads to inflammation, premature damage, and eventually osteoarthritis. Young dogs with elbow dysplasia are at a greater risk for developing early onset osteoarthritis because of excess wear and tear.


2. Hip dysplasia

Like elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia is a hereditary disorder that results in developmental abnormalities of the hip joint. These malformations cause the hip joint to act inefficiently, leading to damages of the joint and its surrounding structures. Inflammation, premature damage, and osteoarthritis commonly result from hip dysplasia. English Setters used in the field tend to show the highest risk of hip dysplasia.

Read: How You Can Spot Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

2 Things You Can Do to Slow the Progression of Hip & Elbow Dysplasia in English Setters

If your dog has a genetic predisposition towards elbow or hip dysplasia, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it from unfolding. Fortunately, you can reduce the damaging effects and slow overall progression. Managing your English Setter’s weight and giving them the right nutrients for healthy joints can make a huge difference and add quality years to their life.

Read: The Main Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

1. Manage Your English Setter’s Weight

The average English Setter weighs between 60 and 100 pounds. Check with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is at a healthy weight. Excess weight increases pressure on joints, further stressing improperly developed joints and surrounding tissues.

2. Feed Your English Setter the Right Nutrients

Certain nutrients and vitamins for dogs can help slow the progression of joint disorders when fed alongside a well-balanced diet. Krill oil is one of the first things that comes to mind. Krill oil offers the cleanest source of DHA and EPA for dogs, plus it is easier for dogs to digest than omega-3 fatty acids found in other sources.

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DHA, glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate are 3 other nutrients highly recommended to treat joint, spine, or paw issues. These ingredients help slow the progression of joint and cartilage damage by giving the body the substances it needs to build new tissue, decrease inflammation, etc.

 Free Range is packed with Glucosamine HCI, MSM, Chondroitin Sulfate + more!

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Free Range was inspired by an English Setter named Trigger, who at just 6-years-old started showing signs of slowing down and stiffness following long days hunting. When Trigger’s owner, the founder of Alpha Dog, couldn’t find the right joint supplement for Trigger he worked with numerous experts to create his own. The result is Free Range, the world’s first joint supplement made especially for sporting dogs by dog-loving hunters.

Read: Natural Ways to Manage Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

3. Deafness in English Setters

Dog breeds with severe white piebald genes are at a greater risk for deafness. Studies on Dalmatians have shown a higher instance of deafness in dogs with no solid patches of color, blue eyes, or missing pigment in the eyes. Researchers believe the same is true for English Setters; a belief supported by the fact English setters with blue eyes have a higher risk of deafness. 

Deaf dogs are more likely to have deaf puppies as deafness is an inherited trait. There are no testing standards for breeders as of now, and so dogs are often bred and sold without any knowledge they are death. Sadly, deaf dogs are often mistaken for hard-headed or dumb because they are difficult to train. Your best bet to avoid buying a deaf English Setter is to have a dog or puppy tested before bringing him home. 

4. Hypothyroidism in English Setters

English setters have the highest risk of developing Autoimmune Thyroiditis. The genetic form of hypothyroidism impacts your dog’s immune system and causes it to launch an attack on the thyroid gland. Dogs can produce these antibodies for years before the negative effects become visible and the thyroid is destroyed.

Michigan State University has been testing English Setters since 2007, during which time they’ve found 31.4% of dogs test positive for thyroid antibodies. Researchers believe the number of English Setters living with hypothyroidism could be higher considering the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) reports its thyroid database shows just 54% of submitted English Setters are considered normal.

Hypothyroidism in English Setters can linger in the body for years before presenting itself, which can make it difficult to diagnose. Luckily, this is a treatable condition and there are medications available to help. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can cause skin, ear and coat problems; lethargy, unexplainable weight gain, reproductive issues, and even seizures.

Other English Setter health problems that have been noted:

  • Osteochondritis Dissecans 
  • Bloat and Torsion
  • Epilepsy
  • Allergies
  • Eye problems

Of course, English Setter health problems are not limited to the above, they extend to all other potential dog health issues as well, from gum disease to cancer. Lucky for us English Setter-fans, the majority of these majestic dogs live a normal and healthy existence. Now if only they could live 80 years instead of just 10-12… (sigh)

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