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Breeder Resources

ESAA’s first sentence in our code of ethics is “To encourage and promote” the quality of the breeding of purebred English Setters and to do all possible to bring their natural qualities to perfection.

The vision of ESAA is to provide our membership with the resources needed to educate breeders on all topics to breed healthy and quality English Setters.

The value of this program is ESAA is COMMITTED to providing resources to creaing a solid future for our breed. 

To educate and encourage our breeders to breed English Setters of the highest quality meeting the standard AKC has set for our breed.

Criteria to be a member of the Breeder Resource Team

Team Criteria

Said Breeder must  have the following:

  • Breeder must be a member of ESAA in good standing for a minimum of 15 years.
  • Breeder must have 15 years experience breeding litters
  • Breeder must have whelped a minimum of 7 litters
  • Breeder must have produced 25 champions  
  • Breeder must be an AKC Breeder of Merit


Ask our Breeder Team a question

ESAA Breeder Resource Team Question Guidelines

  1. Submission of questions and answers must be stated in a factual manner.
  2. No questions will be accepted if it includes a request, recommendation, personal opinion, references or referral.
  3. All will apply to answers as well.
  4. Some or all team members will have the ability to answer each question submitted. You can read the bios and select to ask an individual team member by privately messaging them or you can submit your questions to the team.

NOTE: All questions will be reviewed for appropriate content by a “moderator” before being published. 

If there is a question or spam that is not appropriate it will not be published. The moderator will send it back to the creator for rephrasing or delete it all together. 

Questions and answers will be cataloged and then moved into and held in the resource library. If you have questions about the BRT or are interested in becoming a BRT member, please reach out to Joan Savage or Jill Warren.

Question Categories A-Z

  • AKC Litter Registration
  • AKC Puppy Kits
  • BAER Testing
  • Beginning Socialization
  • Birthing/Whelping Your Litter
  • Bitch feeding and care during pregnancy
  • Buyer/Breeder Contracts
  • Chipping your Litter
  • Dewclaws
  • ESAA Futurity Nomination
  • ESAA Litter Nomination
  • Feeding during Pregnancy
  • Having Oxytocin on-hand post-Delivery
  • Grading Your Litter
  • Health Clearances
  • Health Testing Timing/Progesterone
  • Heating pads or Whelping Nest
  • How much weight should healthy puppies weigh and gain each week?
  • Identifying Emotional Behaviors
  • Litter behavioral development Practices and Tools
  • Live/AI/Implant/TCI
  • Potty Training in a Pack
  • Preparing to Breed Your Bitch
  • Puppy Vaccines
  • Reading Pedigrees
  • Registering with AKC for new owners
  • Selecting Appropriate Homes Show/Performance / Field / Companion
  • Selecting a Stud
  • Supplements, Exercise and Socialization during pregnancy
  • Tools needed to whelp
  • Weaning Your Pups
  • Whelping Prep


Give Us Feedback

This is a new program for our breeders. We want to provide you with the best possible experience, so if you like this resource or have additional ideas, please send us a message using the form below. We appreciate the feedback.

Breeder Resource Team


Joan Savage


Home of Stagedoor English Setters. Breeding since 1980. Breeder of Merit with AKC.  I have bred over 100 champions, hunt test dogs, obedience and companion events. I am a veterinary technician and believe in breeding only sound, health tested dogs. I was awarded the 2008 AKC breeder of the year.

My standouts include multiple national specialty winners, multiple BIS and BISS winners, plus many more Group winning and placing dogs.

I am active in many clubs including ESAA, Portland KC, Tualatin KC, Dog Fanciers Assoc. of Oregon, the Puget Sound English Setter Club and am President of the Willamette Valley English Setter Fanciers.

I am approved to judge the Sporting group, junior showmanship and BIS. I have had the honor of judging Westminster and the AKC Royal Canine Championship show.

Email Joan

B.J. Parsons

BJ Setters

Dr. B.J. Parsons is a long time small animal veterinarian with a special interest in reproduction (theriogenology). She has been breeding English setters for over 40 years and has produced dogs with titles at both end of their names, including the first champion to earn a T.D. (Tracking Dog) title and the 17th Dual Champion (titled in both the show ring and the field) in the breed.

Although rarely campaigning a special, her dogs have won at the National level several times, including Best in Maturity, Best of Opposite Sex at the National Specialty, and Winners Dog at the National Specialty. She believes that we should keep the working ability in our show dogs and as such, we should breed toward the ideal standard of the English setter, breeding a moderate, athletic English setter. 

Email B.J.

Jill Warren

Esthete English Setters

Jill Warren is a breeder-judge, breeding English Setters under the Esthete prefix. Jill strives for a complete dog with genetic health, type, beauty, brains, soundness, and trainability that can compete successfully in many different venues, including conformation, hunting, agility, obedience, and rally. The trademark English Setter temperament—gentle, affectionate, friendly— is very important to her.

Jill has bred Best in Show, specialty-winning (including the National), nationally ranked dogs over a breeding career that has spanned more than 30 years. She hasn’t bred frequently, only when she wants to add another dog to her home. If she sees a litter with potential for some traits she would like to add to her line, she doesn’t hesitate to buy a puppy. All her dogs live in the house as family members. She acquired her first English Setter in 1983 and bred her first litter in 1991.

Email Jill

Judi Hunter

Huntwood English Setters

My name is Judi Hunter and I have bred and shown English Setters under the Huntwood Kennel name since 1993.  My husband Steve and I live in Minocqua, Wisconsin, presently with four English Setters of our own. 

For almost 30 years, I have been a dedicated ESAA member and for many years I have volunteered as the ESAA North Central Vice President. I have bred many litters and have produced multiple AKC Champions. I am proud to have been distinguished as a “Breeder of Merit” with the AKC.

I breed dogs with purpose in mind so that my litters not only help to preserve the origin of the breed, but to insure a gentle and affectionate temperament.  I make informed choices so that my breeding program helps to better the breed in the long run. The Official Breed Standard of the English Setter is my guide, and health screening is my top priority in producing healthy puppies that can be placed in either show or pet homes. 

After whelping, I am committed to providing extensive time with each litter to not only insure each puppy’s viability, but to provide early socialization skills long before the pups leave for their forever homes. 

The impact of early experiences have a lasting effect on the character and well-being of the puppies.  Good behavior is learned from parents and I work diligently to impart good manners and potty training with the help of mom. As a breeder I feel it is my responsibility for shaping fit & joyful puppies that will satisfy their future homes.  

Along my way, I have been privileged to meet many wonderful people who have served as mentors, cultivating my skills in the ring and in the field, and in my most important role, as a breeder.  

I would like to extend the same consideration by imparting my knowledge and experience to anyone wanting to share in the wonderment of breeding our beloved English Setters. I welcome the opportunity to serve on the ESAA Breeder Resource Team.

Email Judi

Karen Kennedy

Kelyric English Setters

We obtained our first purebred dog, an Irish Setter, in 1970. He introduced us to dog shows through obedience. While at the shows, I began to watch the confirmation showing and decided I wanted a show dog. After watching different breeds, I decided I wanted an English Setter that I could show myself. We acquired a Shalimar Duke daughter out of a Stone Gables Bitch whom we named Shalimar Princess Splendor. I learned how to handle a dog in the show ring with Cricket. She had a lovely head and was very well put together and was the dog that formed my ideals for what an English Setter should be. While I did have a little help from a handler in finishing her, I put most of her points on her myself, and then I was off and running and never looked back.

Under the kennel name of Kelyric, I have bred or co-bred 90 champions, many of which I showed as breeder/owner/handler to their Championships, a few as far as Best In Show. Among the Kelyric dogs that I have bred besides Champions have been a National Specialty winner, Best in show and Best in Specialty winners, Dual Champions, obedience titlists, Agility titlists, Therapy dogs and not least of all, Family companions.

In my nearly 50 year involvement with English Setters, I have met many people all over the country who have become good friends and made many lasting and cherished memories.

Email Karen

Melissa Newman

Setter Ridge Kennel

Melissa has been competing in Confirmation, obedience, Field Trials, Hunt Tests and breeding English Setters since 1982. 

Some Accomplishments: Winner of the first Sporting Group Breeder of the Year, given by the American Kennel Club. Breeder/Owner/Handled Best of Breed in both the Canadian and ESAA National Specialties, Owned, handled and trained the 8th and 12th Dual Champions as well as an Amateur Field Champion, all were Best In Specialty winners and two Group I winners as well as one was a Multi Best In Show and National Specialty winner. Breeder of Multiple High In Trial Dogs, and Master Hunters and over 240 American Champions and twelve All Breed Best In Show Dogs.

Email Melissa

Rebecca Yuhasz Smith

Hemlock Lane English Setters

Third generation breeder and exhibitor of English Setters, Rebecca Yuhasz Smith was raised in a family that has dedicated over 70 years cultivating and preserving the legacy of this breed. Rebecca’s Grandfather, Richard Frey was a past President of ESAA and her Grandmother, Nancy Frey was an AKC judge who founded the ESAA Futurity and was instrumental in helping to move English Setters into the age of OFA hip registry. 

Her mother, Ann Yuhasz is a judge of the Sporting, Herding and Terrier Groups who has judged all over the world. Beginning in Juniors the moment she was eligible, Rebecca qualified for Westminster at the age of 10 and handled the majority of her family’s Hemlock Lane dogs from that point forward amassing an impressive amount of Specialty winners and AKC Champions throughout the years. She’s been whelping and raising puppies since her teens and by her late 20’s she took of the breeding program from her Mom as her mother segued from breeding to judging. A student of pedigrees, Rebecca believes in the fine balance between genotype and phenotype breeding, establishment of type and health clearances. By only breeding the very best stock can one move the needle forward. 

Rebecca is also collaborative in pedigree development and in the early 2000’s she sent a bitch to England with Michael Gadsby of Afterglow Kennel fame and bred that bitch to the English Bournehouse kennel lines and reimported the bitch and a stud dog progeny back to Hemlock Lane. That sire has been instrumental in continuing to firmly establishing her breed health, litter size and consistent breed type.

For Rebecca, raising puppies and the pursuit of artistic and agricultural preservation of this breed is paramount and the challenge we face.  She has also stood multiple stud dogs throughout the years that have greatly contributed to the breed. Mentorship from Master Breeders has always been a key part of Rebecca’s learning process and she loves continuing to learn and share her knowledge with others.  She and her husband Derek have been very successful raising conformation in hand Percherons Draft Horses as well where she has relied on her understanding of pedigrees to preserve this endangered breed. 

Email Rebecca

Sandi McCue

Indian Bend English Setters

My late husband, John, and I acquired our first English Setter in 1974 after owning and showing Irish Setters.  After having an English Setter in our house we never looked back.  We have bred and exhibited under the kennel name Indian Bend.  Over the years we have not only been successful exhibiting and breeding many champions including several #1 English Setters. We were also active in both AKC field trials and hunting tests and bred the 3rd Dual Champion in our breed.

I became approved to judge English Setters and Junior Showmanship in 2001 and have been honored to judge both the ESAA National Specialty and twice judged the ESAA Futurity/Maturity.  I also judge several other sporting breeds.  I have worked as a veterinary technician since 1986 and for the past 13 years have been the practice manager for a veterinary hospital that focuses on fertility and reproduction. 

Email Sandi

Tammy Vann

Celestial English Setters

My name is Tammy Vann, I along with my husband Roger live in Williamsport, Maryland and have been involved with the English Setter breed since 2004. Our kennel name is Celestial English Setters and we are recognized as AKC Breeders Of Merit. Our goal is to produce English setters that are not only elegant and loving, but sound and free of all inheritable diseases.

All of our dogs have the required OFA-CHIC health clearances: Hips, Elbows and Thyroid. We only breed dogs that have passing OFA-CHIC clearances. We have successfully bred 10 litters, naturally, and by the way of surgical implants using both fresh and frozen semen. Our puppies are BAER hearing tested; get a veterinarian clean bill of health including vaccinations and microchipped; and are AKC registered before they leave for their forever family homes. 

Email Tammy

Lin Sell M.D.

Linwood English Setters

I’ve been breeding English Setters for 45 years under the Kennel name of “Linwood”. In my early years Conformation was a primary focus. Over time I aimed to produce dogs that could also hunt, do obedience, rally & agility.  My own dogs have also been Therapy Dogs in a Reading program at a local grade school.  I’m an AKC Breeder of Merit & have completed Claudia Orlandi’s “ABCs of Breeding” course.  I evaluate Structure, Health Clearances, Versatility and above all Temperament when choosing breeding stock and specific combinations of sire and dam.

Once a decision is reached on a breeding pair:  the breeding must be completed, the pups must survive pregnancy & whelping and be raised in a manner to become excellent companions regardless of what activities they’ll be doing.  I’ve been fortunate to have great Repro Vets and have tried my best to stay current with tips & tricks to breed healthy, adaptable puppies.  I’d love to share my experience with other breeders at any stage in this process.

Email Lin


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I find information about the genetic health of dogs I am considering for my breeding program? OFA stands for Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, aka the Canine Health Information Center.

OFA is a relational database that contains information about results of health tests specific dogs have had. You type in an AKC number of a part of the dog’s name, and you get results of any health tests the dog has had as well as test results of the dog’s relatives. You can generate various pedigrees indicating the health test results of dogs in the pedigree. If you click on a dog listed, such as the sire, you are taken to that dog’s test results page and information about his relatives. And so on.

The OFA database is the gold standard for finding information about the genetic health of any dog. It is as complete as the data submitted by the owner. It should be your first stop in your quest for information about the genetic health of an individual dog and that dog’s family. Another source of information is the breeder of the dog you’re considering.

It goes without saying that one of the major goals of any breeding program is to produce puppies that are as genetically healthy as possible and to reduce the incidence of genetic diseases within a breed. The way to do that is to breed healthy dogs to healthy bitches and to pay attention to the health status of the dogs’ relatives. Genetics is very complex, and even if you do your homework and due diligence on seeking out healthy breeding stock, problems can still crop up, despite your best and strongest efforts to avoid them. If it were easy to breed out genetic diseases, they would have been eliminated long ago.

What are some of types of selective breeding?

Inbreeding is the breeding together of very close relatives, such as sibling to sibling, parent to child. The advantage of inbreeding is that it doubles up on the positive characteristics of the sire and dam, but a very significant disadvantage is that it also doubles up on the negative characteristics, including undesirable recessives.

Linebreeding is the breeding together of more distant relatives, for example, cousin to cousin, grandparent to grandchild, uncle to niece, aunt to nephew. Linebreeding helps introduce consistency in a line and reduces but does not eliminate the negative aspects of inbreeding.

Inbreeding and linebreeding are ways of breeding genotype to genotype. Genotype is the traits in the genes directly inherited from parents.

Outcrossing is the breeding of a dog and bitch with no common ancestors for two or more generations. The advantage of outcrossing is that it increases genetic diversity and vigor in a line; the disadvantage is that the results are less predictable and consistent.

Outcrossing involves breeding phenotype to phenotype. Phenotype is the observable physical properties of a dog but are not necessarily inherited. In an outcross, you can choose to breed very different phenotypes together, or you can choose to breed similar phenotypes together. Some breeders find that breeding similar phenotypes to each other produces some of the predictability and consistency they are seeking without the health problems associated with inbreeding and line-breeding.

A vision of the ideal English Setter – how is it related to my breeding goals?

One starting point for a breeding program is to come to an understanding of your vision of an ideal English Setter. This mental image is created by careful study of the standard, detailed observation of many English Setters, a study of great dogs of the past (ESAA Annuals are critical to this historical research), and conversations with long-time breeders. 

Sometimes old Annuals become available. When an opportunity to acquire one or more old Annual(s) comes up, pounce on it and get those Annuals for your historical and breeding library. The first ESAA Annual was published in 1964.

Identify the traits that you consider crucial in a typey and sound English Setter and those you consider nice to have but not crucial. What traits are essential to preserving the breed’s original function; in the case of English Setters, the structure to hunt upland game birds, the stamina to do that all day, and the bird drive to WANT to hunt. Consider the English Setter’s reputation as a great companion and family dog; what temperament traits are needed to preserve that reputation? And what traits make an English Setter beautiful in your eyes? 

After you clarify your vision of the ideal English Setter, analyze your bitch. What traits does she have that you want to preserve, and where would you change her. Those traits you don’t have yet but want are the traits to look for in a stud dog. Race horse breeders have a saying: “Breed the best to the best and hope for the best”, and that’s a pretty good description of dog breeding programs. When your litter arrives, select the puppy that seems to be closer to your ideal vision than the parents. In this manner, through selective breeding, you can incrementally produce puppies that are ever closer to your vision of the ideal. Or at least that is the hope.

What is CHIC?

Parent clubs designate which genetic screening tests they consider important in their breed, and if a dog has had all those tests, OFA assigns a CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) number to that dog.

The English Setter Association of America has designated hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, congenital deafness, and autoimmune thyroiditis as the diseases English Setters should be screened for in order to get a CHIC number. Hip and elbow dysplasia are diagnosed through OFA radiographic hip and elbow evaluations. A vet takes the x-rays and submits to OFA for evaluation. Congenital deafness is diagnosed by the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test. Most breeders get the BAER test for entire litters before their puppies leave for new homes. The results of the BAER test can be submitted directly to OFA or can be recorded in the ESAA BAER database, which is transferred to the OFA database periodically. Autoimmune Thyroiditis is diagnosed by a blood test. The blood is drawn by a vet and submitted for evaluation to one of the labs designated by the OFA. 

An English Setter breeder, Dick Fox, Foxtract English Setters, was a member of the OFA Board for many years. He was responsible for the close ties between OFA and ESAA. ESAA’s BAER database is so accurate and trustworthy that OFA agreed to transfer its entries to the OFA database.

For more information, to submit BAER results to the ESAA BAER database, and see the current database, go to English Setter Health & Genetics – ESAA.

What is the Popular Sire Effect?

The popular sire effect occurs when a dog with desirable attributes is bred repeatedly. Using the same sire a lot can reduce the genetic diversity of a breed and can have negative genetic consequences. Reducing genetic diversity within a breed can lead to reduced litter size, increased susceptibility to disease, and loss of size and vigor in individuals, among other problems. 

The problem is not the popular sires but how we use them. Their offspring may be so outstanding that breeders breed the offspring together to try to set those desirable traits. Additional back-crosses may be made for generations. Decades later, the popular sire may no longer appear in pedigrees, but if you go back far enough, there he is and he may be there many times. That is why the COI of any litter is good to know. 

The many excellent traits of a popular sire should be utilized, but even the best of them has genes for negative traits that can become so embedded in a line that they are very difficult to breed out.

There are many studs in a breed that can produce excellent offspring, not just those being campaigned in the show ring. Owners sometimes choose to stop showing a really good dog after he finishes his championship, so it’s prudent to be aware of outstanding class dogs as well as specials. Good breeders try to keep many different dogs on their radar when it comes time to choose a stud dog.

A popular dam is less of an issue because, by definition, her ability to produce offspring and affect an entire breed’s gene pool is limited to the number of puppies she can have, whereas a popular sire can produce hundreds of offspring.

What is the coefficient of inbreeding?

The coefficient of inbreeding (COI) is the probability of inheriting two copies of the same allele from an ancestor that appears on both sides of a pedigree. The higher the COI, the more closely inbred the litter. Too close can lead to some loss in vitality and vigor, lower fertility, smaller size. A low COI will have lower risk, but it will also have only a modest benefit in establishing desired traits in your line. A high COI would produce more consistency and prepotency in the offspring but could lead to loss of vigor and health. The trick for the breeder is to weigh the benefits and risks of a particular breeding and judge what is an acceptable balance. A COI of 5 is about average for most breeds. A COI higher than 20 means you might be risking some of the disadvantages of inbreeding.

You can find the COI of a breeding you’re considering by going to the Willie Walker Database, This is a worldwide database of English Setters maintained by Andrea Strobl, who is Austrian. It goes all the way back to some of Laverack’s dogs. If you register, you can generate test pedigrees of potential combinations of sire and dam to get the COI of that breeding. Chances are very good that your dogs are in this database. If they are not, you can add them. Since it’s a relational database, it will connect your dog to its ancestors that are already in the database. If you are considering breeding to a dog that is from another country, you may be able to find information about the dog in the Willie Walker Database, since it is worldwide.

What is the next aspect of First stage labor?

Increasing discomfort, panting, moving around, changing positions and appearing uneasy.  This stage can last for several hours and periods of uneasiness and restlessness will occur more frequently as the hours pass.

What is Second stage labor?

When the fetuses are delivered.  If watching carefully you will be able to detect the first labor contractions signaling the onset.

How prevalent is brucellosis and should both sire and dam be tested if it is not going to be a natural breeding?

Yes, unless using frozen semen. See information below.

(This was taken directly from the AKC website)

Canine brucellosis should be considered in any dog exhibiting reproductive disorders. Routine screening is also vital due to the possibility of asymptomatic individuals. Because of the variety of ways in which brucellosis can be transmitted, screening should include virgin dogs and those who have only been bred via artificial insemination. Any dog that has been to a dog show, bred with chilled or frozen semen, or exposed to other dogs is potentially at risk. For example, we know of a kennel of purebred dogs infected with brucellosis by a neighboring male dog that was urine marking outside their kennel runs. 

On what day of a bitches cycle should progesterone testing be started?

An initial progesterone should be done for a baseline around days 5-7. 

After the progesterone test indicates that a bitch has probably ovulated, what are her most fertile days?

Most bitches ovulate when progesterone reaches the whole number 5 or greater.  Another progesterone is advised to make sure that it is continuing to rise.  Once ovulation occurs the eggs are not fertile for 48 hours, then the bitch is fertile for 3 more days.