Article written by Troy D. Sparks. Visit his Llewellin Setter Page for more information on Llewellins.

The Llewellin Setter is a very specific, pure strain of "English Setter with bloodlines tracing back to the breeding program of nineteenth century sportsman R. L. Purcell Llewellin. Llewellin and Edward Laverack played a key role in the development of the breed. Llewellin's name has been irrevocably associated with those English Setters bred for field work." It should be noted that not all field-type English Setters are FDSB Registered Llewellin Setters, and "Llewellin-type" setters are not FDSB registered Llewellin Setters. The generic use of the term 'Llewellin' for all field-type English Setters does NOT mean that the dog is a registered Llewellin. If the dog is not registered as Llewellin with the Field Dog Stud Book (FDSB) of Chicago, then, it is not technically a Llewellin in an historic sense. I, personally, don't have a problem with folks using "llewellin" as a generic term to describe field English Setters as long as they know that there is difference. Llewellin bloodlines include Dashing Bondhu (= Scinn Amach = Luathas), Wind'em (= Machad = Cloncurragh = Advie (but >90% Dashing)), Bomber, Gladstone, Tony-O, Royacelle and Blizzard.

"In the mid-1860s, R.L. Purcell Llewellin of Pembrokeshire, South Wales, began his breeding program utilizing dogs obtained from Laverack. Llewellin was primarily interested in developing dogs for field work, and he experimented with various crosses before discovering the nick that would ultimately establish his name as a synonym for topnotch field-bred English Setters." As an aside, confusion also stems from the fact that the AKC does not recognize the Llewellin separately from English, and they refer to all "field-type" English setters as "Llewellin" which is technically incorrect....but we all know what the AKC has done for field dogs.

"Llewellin's breakthrough occurred when he purchased two dogs, Dan and Dick, while attending a field trial at Shewbury in 1871. Dan and Dick were sons of a dog named Duke, owned by Barclay Field, and a bitch named Rhoebe (Rhoebe's dam was half Gordon and half South Esk, a now extinct breed), owned by Thomas Statter; both of these dogs were out of northern England stock noted for outstanding field work. Llewellin bred Dan and Dick to his Laverack females, and a new era in bird dog history was begun."

"The Duke, Rhoebe, and Laverack crossing produced exactly what Llewellin was looking for, and the offspring quickly attracted the notice of sportsmen in both England and North America. Dan proved to be especially preponent, and it was he who sired Gladstone, one of the most important Llewellins of all time. Gladstone quickly established himself as a top field performer and sire. His achievements contributed greatly to the surge of popularity the Llewellins were soon to enjoy."

"Count Noble, another great Llewellin furthered the recognition begun by Gladstone and surpassed Gladstone's record for siring winning progency. When mated to Gladstone's daughters, Count Noble produced dogs that swept the field trial circuit, firmly fixing in sportsmen's minds the notion that the Llewellins were the "ones to beat" in trial competition.
Count Noble, cornerstone of the American Llewellin dynasty. Pictured here on display at the National Bird Dog Museum, Grand Junction, TN.
One of Count Noble's sons, Count Gladstone IV, won the inaugural National Bird Dog Championship, run at West Point, Mississippi in 1896."

"Today, only the Field Dog Stud Book (FDSB) of Chicago, published by American Field, recognizes Llewellins as those English Setters whose ancestry traces back to the Original Duke-Rhoebe-Laverack Cross." Hence, all Llewellins are currently registered via the FDSB separately from English. Although some do breed English to Llewellin, in such cases, the litter must be registered as English Setter with the FDSB and NOT Llewellin. Any such outcrossing of Llewellin lines disqualifies the resulting litters registration as Llewellin with the FDSB.

So, why do Llewellins have a separate registry with the FDSB, and other field-type English don't? 
This is a simple matter of timing and history. Llewellins were so dominant to any other 'English' setter of the day that they, in essence, won a separate registry in 1902. In fact, Llewellins were the base stock for most (if not all) field-type English in the U.S. today. So, the percentage of Llewellin blood in most modern English lines is most likely quite high. Current field-type English (Ryman, DeCoverly, Tomoka, Tekoa Mountain, etc.) were not established for several decades after the Llewellin; therefore, they are not recognized separately from English by the FDSB.

"Traits: Intelligent, strong natural abilities, a desire to please, willingness to work for the gun and a companionable disposition. You can make a pet of these dogs and you won't have a bit of trouble with them in the field. Their disposition contributes to the dog's easy handling. One of the most interesting and controversial points to arise in any discussion of Llewellin setters 
"CH Count Gladstone IV, winner of the inaugural National Championship in 1896."
concerns their appearance. Many sportsmen erroneously believe that a purebred Llewellin can be identified by its color and markings. In actuality, a Llewellin can be marked and colored like any other English Setter, and appearance is neither a guarantee nor a condemnation of bloodline purity." Indeed, it is not surprising that many modern field-type setters have a Llewellin like physical appearance since these dogs are also bred for nose, and stamina. "Because many of the early Llewellins were tricolors - white with solid black heads and tan eyebrows and check patches - that coloration has long been considered standard by many sportsmen. But equally common are the blue and orange beltons. And although somewhat rare, there is also a chestnut belton, a color particularly favored by Llewellin himself. The term "belton" was first used by Laverack, and was taken from the name of a town near Northumberland, England where many of the setters carried this distinctive color scheme." Additionally, one may here the term 'Belton-type' setter. This is a misnomer, and is misused to describe field-type English that are used almost exclusively to hunt grouse and woodcock.

Pups that are born all white will eventually develop small black, orange, or chestnut ticks (very small spots) all over their bodies. When older, these pups will end up with a great number of ticks and are called "beltons" (blue belton, orange belton, or chestnut belton). Blue refers to black hair that mingles with the white surrounding hair to form bluish-gray coloring. Ticking will not be completed until a pup is about 9 months old. All large spots will show up on a pup at the time of birth (pups with large spots on the body, and/or partially or solid heads are not referred to as belton). Adult weight averages around 50 pounds and height is about 24 inches with females being slightly smaller.

"Although lacking the exaggerated beauty of bench setters, the modern Llewellin Setter is indeed a good-looking dog, and he is every inch a sporting dog."

For more detailed information, read the American Llewellin articles as seen in the LSA Journal (part 3 includes info. on the "Six Pillars").



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