EP 8: Bret Wonnacott and the One True Dog- the English Setter

Bret Wonnacott and one of his English setters

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • The qualities of English setters as hunting dogs and family dogs
  • What is a pointing dog?
  • Considering the needs of different breeds of dogs in daily life
  • Joys of just watching dogs run
  • Free Range Dogs can be found all over the world

Welcome to another episode of Free Range Dogs Podcast

In this episode, Web talks to Bret Wonnacott, mostly about English setters in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. Bret started out when young with German Shorthair Pointers which his father raised. Over time he came to enjoy training, hunting, and field-trialing English setters.

Although they are phenomenal hunting dogs, English setters are also wonderful family dogs known for their gentleness and kindness. Bret describes bringing setters to youth activities where they are surrounded by 500 children who will want to touch and pet the dogs, who are very good in this situation and don’t show any anxiety or fear.  A setter will transition easily from running in the field to joining you on the sofa watching football.

As a breed, they are not aggressive and dog fights involving them will usually result in wet and mussed-up hair. Web and Bret discuss the possibility that aggression was deliberately bred out of the English setter breed. 

Setters are a pointing dog breed, which means they have genetic traits that, with training, develop into finding and pointing birds, such as quail or pheasant, that are being hunted.  Setters can be found around the world hunting a variety of birds.  

When setters don’t work as pointing dogs but are raised as pets, it is important to remember that they need to run. Bret and Web talk about the joys of just being outside with dogs and watching them run in the field without any other expectations- that being present in the moment is a wonderful temporary distraction from the problems of everyday life. This is the joy of walking outdoors with your Free Range Dog. 


Bret Wonnacott- Author/Writer, Conservationist, Duck Calling Champ, and best friend to Tic and Snaps

Contact information:



Facebook: A Millionaire’s Dream by Bret Wonnacott (Amazon)