English Setter Collie

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult English Setter Collie
Have an image we can use? Message us here!

The English Setter Collie, also known as the English Borsetter Collie, is a hybrid dog: a mix between an English Setter and a Border Collie. The result is a medium to large dog with a medium length coat, which is something of a canine athlete.

The English Setter Collie is an intelligent dog that thrives on having a job to do. They also need plenty of exercise and are a great match for activities, such as Canine Agility, Canicross, or Flyball. On the downside, their parentage may place them at higher risk of early onset blindness, hip dysplasia, and potentially life-threatening bloat.

About & History

The English Setter Collie is uncommon, even by hybrid standards, and has yet to establish itself. Therefore the history of the English Setter Collie falls to that of the two parent breeds.

The English Setter

The English Setter is a gundog with roots going back to the 14th century. Their distant ancestors were spaniel breeds imported from Europe, with dogs selected for their ability to ‘set’ or search out gamebirds and ‘point’ them out to the huntsman. This involved the dog crouching (or ‘setting’) close to the birds and ‘pointing’ with a front leg to their hiding place. The huntsmen then cornered the gamebirds with a large net (or latterly using a gun) and on a signal, the dog would dash forward to drive the game into the nets.

With time, the name Setter took over from spaniel, and breed lines developed named after the aristocratic families that developed them. By the 19th century, a specific line of setters had developed, which has many of the characteristics we associate with the modern day English Setter.

The Border Collie

The Border Collie is the ultimate in shepherding breeds. As long as man has farmed, he has needed an active, intelligent dog to herd sheep and protect them from predators. The characteristics of these dogs varied slightly depending on the part of the country farmed, and over the centuries, a number of distinct breeds developed perfectly adapted to their area of the country. One such dog was the Border Collie, so named because they were common on the border between England and Scotland.


There is no such thing as a standard appearance for a hybrid dog. The laws of genetics mean a pup may take after either parent, and appear more Collie or more English Setter. In general, a English Setter Collie is predicted to be a medium to large sized dog, with a lean, athletic look, slim body, deep chest, and tucked up waist, with legs in proportion. The breed has a well-shaped head with a good length of muzzle.

This is framed by folded ears covered in medium-length hair. At the opposite end, the English Setter Collie has a long straight or partially curved tail, which may be held high or level with their back as per the Setter heritage. The English Setter Collie has a medium length coat, with feathering on the ears, legs, and tail. Commonly the coat colour is white and black, or white and merle, or combinations thereof.

Character & Temperament

The working roots of the English Setter Collie mean they are not suited to everyone. But they are a great match for active people who like to spend a lot of time outdoors and engage in dog sports, such as Canicross or Agility, or even competitive obedience training. The English Setter Collie has a strong herding instinct and may try and round up and pin down anything that moves, from other pets to small children and may not be suitable for such households.

The English Setter Collie is an intelligent dog requiring plenty of mental stimulation. They are perfectly suited to regular obedience training and thrive when trained to competitive levels or participate in dogs sports. The downside of their active nature is they are easily bored. If not given plenty of exercise or mental puzzles, they will make their own amusement by barking, chewing, or other anti-social behaviours.


The Border Collie often tops polls as the world’s most intelligent dog, which is a reflection of their capacity to learn and respond to training cues. Neither should the English Setter be under-estimated intellectually, as they too are attuned to listening to cues and following directions. Which means the English Setter Collie is the perfect pooch for serious dog training, especially to a high standard.

As with all dogs, the English Setter Collie responds best to reward based training methods. The latter is especially apt for this hybrid, as they are great at problem-solving and will quickly work out which behaviour earnt the reward and willingly offer that action again.


The recent development and rarity of the English Setter Collie as a hybrid, means there is little data as yet, regarding problematic health conditions. However, given they inherit characteristics from either parent, it is reasonable to take a look at their breed-related health problems as a clue to what may arise in the English Setter Collie.

Mast Cell Tumours

Mast cell tumours are most commonly found on the skin. These are an unpleasant cancer, because they behave unpredictably. For example, some mast cells tumours look innocuous, and yet are highly aggressive and rapidly spread to other parts of the body.

Given their unpredictability, all new lumps should be checked by a vet. Where there is a suspicion of a mast cell tumour, the vet may suggest a fine needle aspirate or a biopsy prior to removal. This helps the surgeon decide how much tissue to remove, to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.

Hip Dysplasia

The term hip dysplasia refers to a group of anatomical problems with the end result of causing pain and therefore lameness of the backend. Many different factors contribute to the severity of the condition, one of which is an inherited tendency to poorly shaped hips.

To reduce the debilitating effects of hip dysplasia in predisposed breeds, the dog should not be over-exercised whilst growing, should be feed an appropriate good quality food, and be kept in lean body condition.

Loss of Vision

The English Setter Collie, by virtue of their Border Collie parent, may well be at increased risk of two conditions that can cause early onset blindness. These problems are Collie Eye Anomaly or CEA and /or Progressive Retinal Atrophy or PRA.

These are developmental problems where the structures of the eye do not develop properly or else deteriorate prematurely, resulting in a loss of eyesight. Sadly, there is no treatment for either CEA or PRA, and affected dogs will become blind.


Bloat is a serious condition caused when the stomach flips over with no escape for the gas that builds up as a result of digestion. The deep chest of the English Setter Collie is one of the risk factors for this potentially life-threatening condition.

Awareness is the first step towards reducing the risk of bloat, with owners feeding a highly digestible diet that is low in fermentable content (such as soy) and always waiting at least one hour after eating, before taking exercise.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The English Setter Collie is the embodiment of an active dog. If they were a human athlete, they would be a marathon runner reading, willing, and able to be on the go all day. Indeed, the English Setter Collie needs exercise in the way that some breeds need to laze around. Running, play, and walks are not optional for the English Setter Collie, but as essential as air, water, and food. Their owner ignores this at their peril.


The medium length coat of the English Setter Collie requires a moderate amount of attention. Their feathering is prone to sweeping up leaves, and burrs, and should be checked after each walk and combed to keep it tangle free. The actual coat is soft, erring towards silky, and benefits from regular brushing to spread the natural conditioning oils.

As an active outdoors dog, it does not do to over bathe the English Setter Collie as this will remove the natural waterproofing from their coat. When bathing is essential, try to keep it at less than once a month and then only use a gentle, moisturising dog shampoo.

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.