The 13 Best Dog Foods for English Setters in 2023

By Kevin Myers | 2023 Update

This updated guide lists all of the best dog foods for English setters this year.

A rare breed and mostly confused with long-haired Dalmatians, the English Setters have been man’s best friend since Tudor times. They are called “setters” because of their low crouching posture while hunting for birds. 

English setters and gamekeepers used to work together to capture game birds. These dogs are still called English setters, but now the hunters fire over them to hunt. This breed is highly trainable and learns quickly.

An adult English Setter weighs around 60 pounds and needs a caloric intake of 1504 kcal daily for a healthy body. While they may not be high-maintenance dogs, they do have nutritional needs that an average dog food can’t fulfill.

That’s why we bring you our top list of the best dog food for English Setters based on our detailed 40-point inspection list. Check out your options below and make an informed decision.

Let’s dive in right away! 

The Best Dog Foods for English Setters

Top PicksRatingTop Ingredients
#1. Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Grain-Free Dog Food
(Editor’s Choice)
4.9Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
#2. Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy Puppy Formula Dog Food4.8Chicken, Rice Flour, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Whole Grain Corn
#3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Grain-Free Dog Food4.8Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Fish Meal
#4. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Hearty Vegetable & Chicken Stew Canned Dog Food4.8Chicken, Chicken Broth, Pork Liver, Carrots, Green Peas
#5. ORIJEN Six Fish Grain-Free Dry Dog Food4.7Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
#6. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dog Food4.7Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
#7. Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Dog Food4.7Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat, Tapioca
#8. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight Dog Food4.6Deboned Lamb, Potatoes, Pea Starch, Lamb Meal, Canola Oil

#1. Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Grain-Free Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Peas

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,668 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 34% | Fat (min.) 17% | Fiber (max.) 3.5% | Moisture (max.) 11%
  • Form: Dry

Merrick’s Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Dog Food is our top choice for English Setters. It’s made from the finest ingredients and contains proper nutrition for this hunting breed. Protein is estimated at 34% and consists of deboned chicken, ideal for muscle repair and day-long energy.

Fats and carbs are sourced from animal fat and sweet potatoes, making the food highly digestible and easy on the stomach of sensitive dogs. You can also be sure that your English Setters will be less susceptible to joint problems as the food contains glucosamine and chondroitin. It’s also affordable for most owners and offers excellent value for money.

#2. Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy Puppy Formula Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Rice Flour, 3. Corn Gluten Meal, 4. Chicken By-Product Meal, 5. Whole Grain Corn

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,135 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 28% | Fat (min.) 17% | Fiber (max.) 3% | Moisture (max.) 12%
  • Form: Dry

This delicious recipe features real chicken as its primary ingredient, a high-quality meat protein essential for your pup’s growth. The formula includes a combination of rice and oatmeal, which are excellent sources of DHA and support healthy eye and brain development. 

Chicken meal is a natural source of glucosamine, which also contributes to maintaining a healthy immune system for your dog. This recipe is easily digestible and is made with zero fillers to provide your puppy English Setter with everything it needs.

#3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Grain-Free Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Fish Meal

  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,464 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 30% | Fat (min.) 12% | Fiber (max.) 7% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

This recipe has been formulated especially for carnivorous breeds, such as English settlers. The grain-free, high-protein diet features delicious flavors of chicken and ensures easier digestion. 

The formula also includes turkey meal, offering essential fats and vitamins. It has sweet potatoes, which are a great source of complex carbohydrates. Moreover, the blend of carrots, cranberries, and blueberries provides antioxidants to keep your Setter’s immune system in good working order.

#4. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Hearty Vegetable & Chicken Stew Canned Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Broth, 3. Pork Liver, 4. Carrots, 5. Green Peas

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Medium and Large Breeds
  • Caloric content (per can): 247 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 4% | Fat (min.) 1.5% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 84%
  • Form: Wet Food

For dogs needing extra hydration or that are picky eaters, we’ve selected American Journey LID Canned Food. It’s designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs and contains limited but wholesome ingredients, including lamb, sweet potatoes, liver, and fish oil. The food’s complex carbs and amino acids are perfect for promoting muscle growth and powering your dog through the day.

The lamb broth adds to the food’s appeal by giving off a delicious aroma that can attract finicky canines from any distance. The formula includes Omega fatty acids to nourish the long coat of English Setters and make it shinier and lustrous. Lastly, the food is entirely free of grains and artificial additives and is suitable for allergic dogs.

#5. ORIJEN Six Fish Grain-Free Dry Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Buffalo, 2. Lamb Meal, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Peas

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,719 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 32% | Fat (min.) 18% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Made from the finest-quality seafood and loaded with good calories, Orijen Six Fish Dog Food is the perfect premium choice for English Setters. The food includes meat and organs of whole fish, including mackerel, herring, flounder, and more. Its total crude protein content is 38%, ideal for a hunting breed like the English Setter.

Moreover, the grain-free diet uses lentils and beans for carbs to provide a decent amount of energy without upsetting sensitive dogs. Each kibble is enhanced with freeze-dried meat powder for flavor and increases the appetite of picky eaters. And like any premium-quality option, the recipe is free from corn, wheat, soy, grains, and artificial additives.

#6. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Buffalo, 2. Lamb Meal, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Peas

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,719 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 32% | Fat (min.) 18% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Taste of the Wild High Prairie gives new meaning to value for money with a diet full of real foods and good enough for a wild wolf. This recipe contains buffalo and bison meat at 32% protein content, which includes loads of muscle-building amino acids and sweet potatoes for an easily digestible energy source.

And it doesn’t end there. Taste of the Wild also added K9 probiotics to improve digestive health and allow your dog to absorb all nutrients fully. Omega fatty acids and antioxidants are also present to nourish your English Setter’s fur and strengthen their immunity. Even after pricing the food at this point, the recipe is free from fillers, grains, corn, wheat, soy, and all kinds of artificial additives. 

#7. Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Tapioca

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,427 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 37% | Fat (min.) 20.5% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 9%
  • Form: Dry

If your English Setter needs to gain a pound or two, it’s time to switch them to the delicious Instinct Raw boost Real Chicken Dog Food. This grain-free food bursts with quality calories sourced from chicken meat, fat, and liver. It has a hefty 37% crude protein content and more than 4,200 calories which is good enough for the most active dogs to gain lean muscle. 

All this protein, plus freeze-dried chicken chunks, make the food taste delicious and appeal to dogs with a picky demeanor. The food is also enriched with probiotics for optimal digestive health and omega fatty acids, so your dog can grow a long, shiny coat. It’s also ideal for sensitive or allergic English Setters as the recipe contains zero grains, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial preservatives. 

#8. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Lamb, 2. Potatoes, 3. Pea Starch, 4. Lamb Meal, 5. Canola Oil

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large, giant breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,562 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 20% | Fat (min.) 13% | Fiber (max.) 6% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Less activity and a hearty appetite can put an English Setter at risk of obesity and joint problems. That’s why we recommend Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight Dog Food for owners who want their dogs to stay fit and healthy even with a sedentary lifestyle. The food is primarily made from chicken meat and brown rice and includes L-carnitine to metabolize extra fat so your dog can become leaner and more muscular. 

It also features a range of natural fruits and veggies, including blueberries, cranberries, carrots, and parsley, to fulfill your Setter’s micronutrient requirements. Also, it’s fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin that repair cartilage and keep joints flexible. Lastly, the food is free from corn, wheat, and soy, making it easier to digest for sensitive English Setters.

#9. Solid Gold Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Ocean Fish Meal, 3. Chickpeas, 4. Lentils, 5. Peas

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,725 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 26% | Fat (min.) 15% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Some ingredients like gluten can wreak havoc on the stomach of sensitive English Setters. They need a diet made with gentle ingredients like the Solid Gold Leaping Waters Salmon & Vegetable Dog Food. 

It’s specially formulated with salmon meat, chickpeas, lentils, and other non-gluten non-grain ingredients that digest easily. Your dog will also benefit from probiotics in the food that promote gut bacteria and improve gastrointestinal health. 

Both omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are also present in the recipe, which will give your English Setter nourished skin and a shiny coat. Besides that, the food only contains essential micronutrients and is entirely free from grains and gluten, so you can confidently feed it to your sensitive pups. 

#10. Zignature LID Grain-Free Trout & Salmon Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Trout, 2. Salmon Meal, 3. Chickpeas, 4. Peas, 5. Sunflower Oil

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per cup): 382 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 31% | Fat (min.) 14% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Allergies shouldn’t stop your dog from eating a tasty and nourishing diet, which is why Zignature has formulated its LID Trout & Salmon Meal Dog Food. It’s free from nearly all common food allergens for dogs, including grains, dairy, chicken, and the typical fillers. Instead, the recipe uses wholesome foods like trout and chickpeas to repair muscle and energize your English Setter.

Regarding micronutrients, the food provides omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, L-carnitine, and vitamin B-12, among others. These combined improve coat health, make your dog leaner, and more resistant to diseases. Another thing we loved about the food is it’s gluten-free and low-glycemic, which reduces the risk of your English Setter suffering from bloating. 

#11. My Ollie Turkey Feast


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey Breast, 2. Kale, 3. Lentils, 4. Carrots, 5. Coconut Oil

  • Life Stage: All
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,390 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 11% | Fat (min.) 7% | Fiber (max.) 2% | Moisture (max.) 72%
  • Form: Frozen

If money is no object, there’s only one dog food you should choose for your English Setter: My Ollie. It’s one of the best fresh food companies that allows dog owners to prepare a customized meal plan for their pups. All you have to do is fill out a short questionnaire with basic information about your dog, and the brand ships two weeks’ worth of food to your doorstep.

But the main focus of this brand is how and what they use to prepare dog food. Their recipes include fresh ingredients like boneless turkey, blueberries, lentils, kale, and other essential supplements. It’s made exclusively in the USA with zero fillers, artificial additives, or grains. It promotes healthier digestion and gives your dog a vibrant and energetic demeanor. 

#12. Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Puppy Grain-Free Salmon Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Salmon Meal, 3. Chickpeas, 4. Chickpea Flour, 5. Canola Oil

  • Life Stage: Puppy and Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,712 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 30% | Fat (min.) 18% | Fiber (max.) 5.5% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Eating the same diet day after day can become boring for dogs, even for non-picky breeds like the English Setter. If you want them to become interested in eating again, feed them the delicious Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Puppy & Adult Dog Food for a change. Its mouth-watering taste comes from deboned salmon.

The food is full of amino acids that build muscle and strengthen neurotransmitters. You won’t find a single grain in the food as it sources carbs from chickpeas to avoid irritating the stomach of sensitive dogs. We loved this formula because it’s suitable for puppies and adults, making the food much more versatile. 

#13. Purina Pro Plan Active 27/17 Turkey & Barley Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey, 2. Rice, 3. Barley, 4. Chicken Meal, 5. Beef Fat

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,252 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 27% | Fat (min.) 17% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 12%
  • Form: Dry

English Setters are hunting dogs by heritage and require a great deal of daily exercise. To replace that lost energy and keep them in peak physical condition, we recommend Purina Pro Plan Active 27/17 Dog Food. The recipe features a 27% protein to 17% fat content, perfect for promoting muscle repair and fueling your dog’s stamina for the entire day.

Most of the protein is sourced from delicious turkey meat, while the fat content comes from naturally preserved beef fat. The food is also rich in fibrous carbs like oatmeal and barley, which are easy on the stomach and offer additional calories for maximum endurance. This high-calorie formula will allow even the most active English Setters to play and exercise to their full potential. 


How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick

The Best Dog Food for English Setters – A Buyer’s Guide

This breed was meant to work and hunt, which means the energy they possess, is impeccable. For such a highly active dog, the diet needs to be loaded with high protein as well as high-calorie. The best dog foods for English Setters should, therefore, contain enough level of protein and calories to keep their energies intact.

Nutritional Requirements of English Setters

It may seem like a lot, but high-quality and balanced food is necessary to keep the dog active and healthy.

Caloric Requirements

Albeit the fact that they don’t need a strict diet, English Setters flourish well if they follow a daily feeding routine. As they are an active breed, their calorie intake is higher than average dogs.

As these are estimated and average counts, you should always consider the weight, height, activity level, and age of your dog before deciding on the daily calorie intake.

Ingredients to Look for and Some to Avoid

Understanding ingredients and their reactions will help you understand your English setter’s diet a lot. Protein and fat are important. And while that’s been established before, how much? Whole chicken, lamb, fish, or beef takes care of the protein. Best dog foods for English setters may also have meat meals as the initial ingredient, and that is acceptable.

There are different kinds of protein, one that comes from meat and one that comes from plants and lentils. Dogs digest meat protein better than plant protein, so always check out the measure of both protein sources and decide for yourself which one to go for.

Other than protein, fat is another key ingredient that your dog needs to have in the diet. The best form of fat is chicken fat, which will keep the coat gleaming and keep it from drying out. The next best source of fat is fish oil. Loaded with omega-3 fatty acid, you not only get a healthy dog but also a shiny and healthy coat plus skin. Moreover, the DHA in omega-3 fatty acid helps promote the vision development as well as the brain development of English Setter puppies. The (MCFAs) medium-chain fatty acids help senior dogs feel active and younger. Go for barley or oats if you want to avoid other grains altogether.

Grain-free is another option for low glycemic; sweet potatoes are a good alternative. With high protein, a good mix of moderate to low carb percentages will help to balance the diet.

Don’t forget to check out this video for top facts about English Setters:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I feed my English Setter homemade food?

English Setters are very docile eaters; they will eat almost anything. So you have an advantage there. Homemade food isn’t a bad choice for the English Setter breed only if it contains all the right ingredients like chicken protein, fat, etc.

How many calories should the English Setter pup have in a day?

English Setter puppies that are still in their early stage of development (4-12 months) need more calories than adult dogs. They require around 1800 kcal per day. Naturally, you should choose a food option that’s specifically designed for puppies and feed more to achieve their daily dietary goals.

What’s the best feed for Senior English Setters?

Mature and senior English Setter can have food sensitivities, so avoid feeding them wheat, soy, and corn. Keep their diet steady with chicken, beef, and lamb protein, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Also, keep an eye on the daily intake. Senior English Setters gain weight quicker than puppies due to lack of exercise.

Can I feed my English Setter chicken eggs?

Yes, you can feed your English Setter chicken eggs. Protein consumed from chicken is easy for English Setters to digest compared to plant protein. You can also get guidance from your vet about how many chicken eggs to feed your English Setter daily.

Does my English Setter need a high-fiber diet?

A moderate fiber diet is suggested for all age English setters. Fibers that are both soluble and insoluble are a must ingredient for your English Setters diet. Soluble fiber includes inulin, beet pulp, and chicory. Loose stool is an indication of too much fiber; keep that in mind while feeding your English setter a high-fiber diet.

What should I feed my hunting English Setter?

Weight and level of activity matter when it comes to feeding your English Setter. An active English setter, like a hunting English Setter, will need more energy to cope with its hunting routine. On average English setters need 1300 calories per day; you can adjust the count according to the activity level of your dog.

How many times should I feed my English setter in a day?

It’s important that you feed your English setter twice a day, but you will need to adjust the timing according to the age of your dog. A puppy needs more than an adult English Setter, while a senior English Setter needs less, or he might start gaining weight.

Do English setters gain weight easily?

Yes, English Setters are prone to weight gain if they do not work daily. If you observe weight gain in your English Setter, you should talk to your Vet and put your English setter on a proper diet, or he will become pudgy.

Can I feed vegetable protein to my English Setter?

Compared to meat protein, vegetable protein is hard to digest for the English Setter breed. They have food sensitivities, and hard-to-digest food may lead to allergies or an upset stomach. Always go for brands that have meat protein as their key ingredient, as it would have more meat protein than plant protein.

Which type of protein should I feed my English Setter?

Protein is the key ingredient for all English Setter’s diet. Meat protein should be on top of your list; protein from chicken, beef, and lamb is highly recommended. Avoid going for brands that have a high percentage of plant protein, as that is hard to digest for the English Setter.

Can I feed human food to my English Setter?

Feeding human food to your English Setter should be done cautiously. Some safe options include plain, cooked meats, rice, and select fruits and vegetables in moderation, but many human foods can be toxic or harmful. Your dog’s main diet should be high-quality commercial dog food designed for their needs. Always consult your vet before introducing any new human food to your English Setter’s diet.

How many calories should I feed my senior English Setter?

Senior English Setters have lower calorie needs compared to adult dogs and puppies due to reduced activity levels. It’s advisable to provide them with fewer calories per day to avoid weight gain. The suggested calorie intake for senior English Setters is approximately 1100 calories per day. Adjusting their diet to their reduced activity level is essential for maintaining their health and preventing obesity.

Are English Setters picky eaters?

English Setters are typically not picky eaters. However, some may develop food allergies, especially if they have hypothyroidism. Common allergens for them include dairy, beef, corn, soy, and wheat. If you suspect food allergies, consult your veterinarian for guidance on the best diet and treatment.

How many meals should I feed my adult English Setter daily?

It is important to be careful about how much you feed adult English Setter since they are prone to gaining excess weight quickly. Ideally, two meals a day are perfect. So, avoid free-feeding these pets since they can happily eat all day long.

Can I feed whole meat to my English Setter dog?

Both meat meals and whole meat are great sources of protein. You can feed whole meats such as beef, chicken, lamb, or fish to your ES occasionally. Mostly, meats can be used as the first ingredients in high-quality dog food products.

Can I feed peas and lentils to my English Setter?

Peas and lentils are good plant protein sources for English Setters, but it’s essential to check the protein balance in dog food. Dogs tend to digest meat protein more easily, so prioritize foods with a higher meat-based protein content for your English Setter’s health.


When choosing the best dog foods for English setters, it’s crucial to scrutinize the ingredients. If you’re a new English Setter owner, research their dietary needs before choosing a brand. Opt for brands featuring real meat and all-natural ingredients while avoiding those with corn or wheat, which can potentially trigger allergies in your English Setter.