Gordon Setter

Country of origin: Great Britain (Scotland)
Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC
Occupation: Hunter
Size: 23 to 27 in tall; 45 to
80 lbs
Longevity: 10 to 13 years
Exercise: Vigorous daily
Training: Moderate
Grooming: Moderate
Colors: Black and tan

Friendly and relaxed, the Gordon was developed in the 1700s in Banffshire, Scotland, on the Duke of Richmond and Gordon’s estate. Black and tan has been a consistent colour in many varieties of British dogs, and black-and-tan setters existed long before this breed was formally developed. It is surprising, considering its fashion model long, lithe looks and its benign disposition, that it has never achieved the widespread popularity of its English and Irish relatives. More heavy-set than the other setters, the Gordon thrives on routine and vigorous exercise.

Breed name synonyms: Gordon, Black & Tan


The Gordon Setter is a unique dog with specific characteristics. Its origins date back to the early 1600s. Alexander, the Fourth Duke of Gordon, is the man responsible for the development of the breed. His intention was creating a smaller but more powerful version of the typical setter and in that process he sacrificed speed for strength and looks for endurance. His final creation was an air scenting dog capable of setting game birds – especially Grouse on the demanding Scottish moors.
The breed reached the peak of its popularity during the Victorian Era, but decreased in number during the first half of the 20th century. Although, rarely seen outside Scotland, before the end of WWII, today Gordon Setters can be found in the USA and in many European countries. It is more popular as family dog, than working gundog. However, the breed is still worshiped for its pointing ability, great stamina and ease of hunting training.


Gordon Setters are intelligent, able, dignified, calm, bold and outgoing. When matured, they are even-tempered and serious, but as puppies are clumsy and rambunctious. They are very energetic and require regular daily exercises and activities. On the field, the Gordon Setter is cooperative and highly capable.
The Gordon Setter is legendary devoted to its owner and family. Because of his guardian instinct, he is very suspicious of strangers and can sometimes even be overprotective. He often sees other dogs as a potential threat for his people and shows aggression towards them. The Gordon Setter can get along well with children, but only if raised together. He tolerates cats, but outdoor animals are always considered as pray.


The Gordon Setter is often described as stylish, with symmetrical conformation, square-built and galloping lines. The head is long with a pronounced stop, the ears are low-set and the eyes are brown and showing keen intelligent expression.
The Gordon Setter’s coat is thick, but soft and shiny. It can be straight or slightly wavy. The coat’s color should be coal black with chestnut to mahogany red markings. A small amount of white on the chest is permitted. The general appearance is enriched by medium to long feathering.
Male Gordon Setters should ideally stand 24-27’’ (61-68.5cm) at the withers and weight around 55-80Ib (25-36.5kg). Females should stand 23-26’’ (58.5-66cm) and weigh approximately 50-70Ib (22.5-32kg).


As most hunting dogs, Gordon Setters have a streak of independence. They have minds of their own and do not tolerate being bossed around. Because of this, training programs must be started from an early age. Establishing leadership is hard, but the owner must find a way to impose himself as respectable, pack leader.

Gordon Setters are quick learners and have excellent memories. Besides their intelligence, they are considered to be moderately trainable. Socialization must also start from an early age.


Gordon Setters can be affected by a large number of health issues, including dermatological conditions (atopy, callus dermatitis, callus pyoderma, black hair follicular dysplasia, canine juvenile cellulitis, vitamin A responsive dermatosis, symmetrical onychomadesis, onychodystrophy, ear infections), gastrointestinal conditions (gastric dilatation and volvulus), musculoskeletal conditions (hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia), neurological conditions (cerebellar degeneration, cerebellar abiotrophy, lethal astrocytosis, neuronal ceroid lipfuscinosis ), ocular conditions (combined entropion and ectropion – diamond eye, medial canthal pocket syndrome, cataract, generalised progressive retinal atrophy, micropapilla), respiratory conditions (primary ciliary dyskinesia), neoplastic conditions (fibrosarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma) and endocrine conditions (hypothyroidism).

The average lifespan of the Gordon Setter is estimated to be 10-12 years.



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