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Who is Willie Walker?

The Willie Walker English Setter Database is a treasure trove of information about English Setters. Created and maintained by Austrian English Setter fancier and English Setter Association of America (ESAA) member Andrea Strobl (with a lot of help from members all over the world), it contains over 94,000 pedigrees of English Setters going back to about 1850 with more than 9,000 pictures and almost 3,000 breeder/owners from 36 different countries. Established in 2007, the database added about 20,000 dogs in its first year of existence, and it’s still growing.

The database can be found online at www.williewalker.net and is free of charge for everyone.

You can search for a dog by name or browse alphabetically. Once you click on a dog, you get a four-generation pedigree with photos of the dogs in it (if a photo is in the database). You also get the dog’s registration number, sex, birth date, date of death if applicable, land of birth, offspring, siblings, color, and coefficient of inbreeding.

If you click on a dog in the last generation, and then click on a dog in the last generation of THAT dog, and keep doing that, you eventually get back to the genesis of a dog, often all the way back to Edward Laverack’s progenitors, Dash or Moll or both. (Working in England starting in about 1825, Laverack and his contemporary R. L. Purcell Llewellyn are credited with taking the methodical approach to breeding that standardized the traits of the modern English Setter.)

Today, US English Setter breeders see the value in expanding our gene pool. They are importing dogs from other countries, using stud dogs from other countries, and sending their own stud dogs, both in the flesh and through the magic of frozen semen, to other countries to be bred. The Willie Walker database contains the information breeders need to research dogs from all over the world to begin the process of planning a breeding.

Ms. Strobl uses many sources, such as records from the American Kennel Register, which existed between 1883 and 1887, old AKC Studbooks, old United Kingdom Studbooks, old Field Dog Studbooks, old show catalogs, and old ESAA Annuals, to build her database as comprehensively and as far back in time as possible.

The database yields some very interesting statistics. For example, historically and worldwide, English Setter colors are split about evenly among blue (16.8% of the database), tricolor (15.2%), and orange (13.9%); for some entries, the color is not known. Of the rare colors, the incidence of lemon is slightly higher (3.2%) than liver (1.3%). Other statistics indicate that the lifespan of most English Setters is 12-13 years with a lucky few living to as old as 18.

Who is Willie Walker? He is Ch (A/SK) Walker William Nobleheart von der Guldegg, one of Ms. Strobl’s much-loved English Setters and the inspiration for the database, which contains 11,314 of his direct ancestors.

This valuable database is a testament to one woman’s love of English Setters and is a great service to all English Setter breeders worldwide. Anyone can become a registered member and help add information.

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