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Gordon Setter: Dog Breed Information and Pictures

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This article would be useful if you plan to have Gordon Setter as your pet dog and want to gather more information about it.

In this article, you will find all the information you need about Gordon Setters, starting with Breed Information, history, temperament, health, grooming needs, and more. We have also included pictures of Gordon Setters to help you better understand their physical appearance.

Let’s dive right in!

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Breed Information about Gordon Setter

Easily identifiable by its black and tan coat, the Gordon Setter is a large setter dog developed in Scotland to hunt game birds. Because of their coat coloration, these dogs are known as ‘black and tans.’ The Gordon Setter is a part of the four setter breeds. It is also the largest among the four. The other three setters include the Irish Setter, Irish Red and White Setter, and English Setter. Most Scottish breeds, like the Scottish Terrier and Scottish Deerhound, were bred to cope with Scotland’s rough terrain and adverse weather conditions. The Gordon Setter is no exception in this regard.

Have you wondered how the breed got its name? Well, it is after Alexander Gordon, the 4th Duke of Gordon. Credit goes to him for developing the breed. Hence the name. Gordon Setter is athletic, confident, and alert. At the same time, this breed is affectionate and loyal when in the bounds of their home.

History of the Gordon Setter

History of Gordon Setter

The setter breeds are unique gun dogs bred to hunt games like grouse, pheasants, and quails. They search for the game silently, and the entire hunting is done systematically and methodically. When the setters encounter any prey, they do so quietly instead of engaging in a chasing spree. They adapt a setting or crouched posture while looking for their prey. They freeze at the point where they spot the prey to give a hint to the hunter about the bird’s whereabouts. Previously, the hunter would throw a net around the bird and trap it. That was way before guns were introduced.

The Gordon Setter was also developed for similar purposes around 200 years ago. Its lineage dates back to 1620, as black and tan setters were present in Scotland as early as then. In fact, during the 19th century, several setters developed into distinct breeds. One of the highlighting features of the Gordon Setter is its heavy-boned body stature and square frame. It helps the dog to survive in Scotland’s rough terrain.

The individual responsible for developing this breed is Alexander Gordon. He wasn’t just Gordon’s 4th Duke but also a Setter fancier. The Duke developed a kennel with black and tan setters at Gordon Castle. The initial dogs resembled the English Setter. However, introducing other breeds, like the black and tan collies, bloodhounds, and black pointers, contributed to Gordon Setter’s present-day appearance.

The initial Gordons came in tricolor, red, black, and white shades. However, Alexander Gordon was more in favor of dogs with a black and tan coloration. It’s what became the standard color of the breed in the future.

This breed had a different name at first. It was known as the Gordon Castle Setter. They reached the United States in 1842. The credit for the same goes to Mr. George Blunt and his friend Daniel Webster. They had brought a male-female pair, Rake and Rachel. These dogs eventually became Gordon Setter’s foundation stock in America. The Kennel Club of the UK registered around 126 black and tan setters from 1859-1874 in their studbook.

The breed got official recognition from the Kennel Club in 1872. The American Kennel Club (AKC) followed suit and recognized Gordon Setter in 1884. In 1892, the American Kennel Club also changed the breed’s name to Gordon Setter. It was previously called the Gordon Castle Setter. However, it took a long time for the Kennel Club to accept the breed’s new name, which happened on the 1st of January, 1924.

More About the Gordon Setter

When you ask the owner of a Gordon Setter why they love their dogs so much, most will mention the dog’s devotion to its work, youthfulness, and immense level of intelligence as the main reason. These claims have a lot of truth, and they are no exaggeration.

The Gordon Setter of the present times epitomizes energy, endurance, and stamina. They always impress their owners when completing a job assigned to them.

True that you will not see every one in five families with a Gordon Setter. It’s rare. Yet, it’s surprising that many celebrities have owned this breed. American announcer Ed McMahon owned a Gordon named Juniper Berry. ABC News anchor Diana Sawyer owned George a Gordon Setter. In the popular dog breeds list 2022, published by the AKC, the Gordon Setter ranks 99 of the 199 enlisted breeds. It jumped a few steps upward from its position in 2021, which was 113. So, it’s clear that they are on the rise in popularity meter.


Needless to say that Gordon Setter’s black and tan coat is its highlighting feature. They are well-muscled and bony with a sturdy build. Their head appears bony and finely chiseled, while their eyes are of moderate size. It is neither deep set nor bulging. They are oval-shaped and of a deep brown coloration. The Gordon Setter’s ears are thin, large, and low set, positioned in a perfect line with their eyes.

Talking about their body, the Gordon Setter has a lean and long neck and a deep chest that reaches up to its elbows. Moreover, the ears are folded and carried very close to their head. They even have a long muzzle that doesn’t seem pointed when viewed from the top or side. They also have a short, thick tail near the roots but are not docked.


They are big dogs and the heaviest among all the setter breeds. The males measure around 24 to 27 inches, while the females are 23 to 26 inches. Weight-wise, also, the males are heavier than their female counterparts. The males weigh between 55 and 80 pounds, while the females weigh 45 to 70 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

Gordon Setter has an interesting personality. The dog has an alert, confidence, and intelligent demeanor. The dog performs its job to the tee, displaying an immense willingness and a fearless attitude.

These dogs are affectionate and loyal to its owner. They bond well with everyone in the family but often share a close rapport with their master in most cases.

The Gordon Setter is a perfect watchdog since they exhibit immense wariness and reservedness when interacting with strangers. True that this behavior these dogs aren’t friendly with people unknown to them. It is important to mention that the Gordon Setter could get aggressive upon encountering strange dogs.

One of the strongest points of their personality is their sharp memory. When your Gordon Setter has learned something new, it won’t forget it easily. It is a blessing in disguise if it’s something good like a new command or a trick. However, it could backfire if your dog has learned something he shouldn’t have. You would have to toil hard to make him eliminate the habit. They are high on stamina and endurance, but this is a slow breed. They run at a speed of around 22.4 mph.

Health Problems

The Gordon Setter is overall a healthy breed. Yet there are certain health problems that they can suffer from, which owners need to be cautious about. The National Breed Club has recommended a few tests for this breed. These include hip evaluation, elbow evaluation, ophthalmologist evaluation, and progressive retinal atrophy rcd4 DNA test.


Large and deep-chested breeds are more prone to bloating. The Gordon Setter is big and has a deep chest. So it is quite common that they are at an increased risk of bloating. Some common bloating symptoms include restlessness, pacing uncontrollably, drooling excessively, vomiting, and rapid breathing. When your dog suffers from bloating, every minute can be crucial. The slightest delay in identifying the symptoms could be life-threatening for your dog.


Gordon Setters are at a high risk of cancer. It has proved much more fatal for younger dogs than their older counterparts. The type of cancer that affects Gordon Setter more is lymphosarcoma or lymphoma. In this cancer, the body forms abnormal white blood cells. The commonest symptom of lymphoma is enlarged lymph nodes. The basic spots where you can find the lymph node in a dog’s body are under the jaw and behind the knees. Other signs of lymphoma include weight loss, lethargy, lessened appetite, and swelling of legs and face.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Big dogs like Gordon Setters are susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia. In most cases, both conditions are inherited. Breeders must get their dogs screened for this condition before keeping them as pets. Dogs with hip dysplasia would suffer from several symptoms like limping, trouble climbing stairs, and even getting disinclined towards getting up from a sitting or lying posture.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

It’s a condition of the eyes that might eventually result in blindness. Dogs with this condition will display symptoms like cloudy eyes and pigmentation loss. However, the first signs include night blindness. When your dog suffers from night blindness, he will have problems entering dark rooms. He may even be clumsy in his movement in dim light and often bump into objects.


They were developed to be employed in hunting. So, it’s pretty evident that these dogs need exercise in abundance. You can take them on a long walk or make them your jogging companion. True that they won’t run at top speed. Yet, they have the stamina to jog along with you.

Do you have a garden or yard? Well, then, your Gordon Setter would happily run around on his own without being instructed by you. Yet, like most dogs, this one would love it when their owner or loved ones join them in their game.

So aren’t they apartment dogs? The answer is a mixed one, though. They would be at their best when they have a large dwelling. Yet, these flexible dogs may manage in an apartment if their exercise needs are well met.

Of the other hygiene measures, taking care of their teeth is something you must compulsorily abide by. If you can brush your teeth every day, that’s an advantage indeed. Otherwise, do the same at least twice or thrice a week.

Breeds with hanging ears are at risk of ear infections. So you should check their ears every week. You may even clean your dog’s ears with a moist cotton ball dipped in a medicated ear solution as your vet prescribes. How would you know that your dog has an ear infection? You could see some redness during cleaning. Your pup might scratch or paw at his ears quite often. He may also shake or tilt his head frequently. Trim their nails monthly or bi-monthly, or earlier if they get long. Shortened nails would help keep your Gordon’s feet in a good state.


Always make it a point to give your Gordon Setter high-quality dog food. For your adult dog, the measurement should be 2-3 cups a day.

You would do well to give only some of it at a time. Rather divide it into two equal meals you may give in the morning and at night. When giving them a protein-rich diet, ensure that the amount does not exceed 26%.

Moreover, the fiber content in their diet should be around 4%. They are at risk of bloating. So it would be best if you were extra careful about their diet. Ensure you do not exercise them for 1.5 hours before and after feeding.

Coat Color and Grooming

They are famous for their black and tan coat that makes them look all the more dignified. Their body is mostly black. They have tan markings, varying in shade from mahogany to rich chestnut.

The markings may be visible on their lower legs, paws, throat, and muzzle. There may even be a single spot above both their eyes and double spots on the area surrounding their chest. As per breed standards, there can also be a small spot on the chest. However, it shouldn’t be big enough.

They have a soft, shiny, straight, or wavy coat. They have hair on their ears, under their stomach, on their chest, behind their forelegs and hindlegs. The hair on their tail are especially long. One could also spot feathering at the root of their tail. It may be wavy or straight. The hair shortens upon reaching the tail tip, attaining a flag-like shape.

Comb your Gordon Setter’s coat twice or thrice a week to prevent the formation of mats and tangles. The bottom of your dog’s feet and the area between his toes have hairs. If not trimmed, your dog could find debris stuck on the hair in summer and iceballs during winter. Bathe your dog once a month. In this way, you could prevent dandruff and dry skin.

Children and Other Pets

These dogs share a comfortable rapport with the children in the family. They are protective of the kids and have high patience and tolerance. Yet, parental supervision is needed when younger kids interact with the dog, lest they hurt each other. Parents need to train kids on how to behave with a dog. They should learn not to pull a dog’s ear or tail or disturb him in between mealtime.

When it comes to dogs of the family, the Gordon Setter wouldn’t have trouble mingling with them. However, if it is about strange dogs, they wouldn’t be comfortable and could even show aggression. These dogs have the instinct to run and chase. So it is advisable not to keep them in the same household with birds and smaller pets.


As mentioned earlier, these dogs are smart, curious, intelligent, and have amazing memory. Training them may seem like a cakewalk. Well, it is not so, as these dogs have streaks of stubbornness. If their master isn’t firm and discreet enough, the Gordon Setter won’t take much time to establish his sense of independence.

Start training when the puppies are 8 to 12 weeks of age. Acquaint them with different people. Expose them to various situations as well – good and bad. It would help them perceive things in a better way. They will eventually learn to differentiate the good from the bad.

You would do well to train Gordon Setter puppies to follow commands. When they learn the command ‘come,’ they will advance towards you when called. Teaching them to follow ‘No’ is of utmost importance. When they are on the verge of doing something, you don’t approve of. Hearing a ‘No’ from your end could make your dog stop his actions. He would do it even better if he had learned to follow commands effectively.


The Gordon Setter is one of the best breeds to have if you got the time to give him and, of course, a job for him. His loyal and affectionate nature would impress you. Just remember that you shouldn’t allow your dog to take control. It should be the other way around.


Does the Gordon Setter shed a lot?

These dogs aren’t a high-shedding breed. They shed moderately all year round. Brushing your dog would help control shedding to a great extent.

How much does the Gordon Setter cost?

If the breeder you are buying the puppy from is reputable, the purchase cost would be around $1000-$2000.

Does the Gordon Setter bark a lot?

These dogs are moderate barkers. However, they are quite vocal. Besides barking, they may even express their likes and dislikes by grumbling and grunting.

What is the origin of the Gordon Setter?

Scotland in the 17th century, named after the fourth Duke of Gordon.

What are some common health issues in Gordon Setters?

Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, thyroid disorders, and bloat.

What is the temperament of a Gordon Setter?

Friendly, loyal, intelligent, and strong-willed at times, with a strong prey drive.

What is the lifespan of a Gordon Setter?

10-12 years, but some have lived into their mid-teens with proper care.

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