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The Gordon Setter was developed in Scotland in the early 17th century. This black and tan setter became popular by Duke Alexander the 4th of Gordon in the early 19th century. They were used as bird dogs, having an outstanding sense of smell. The dogs would point towards the fallen bird, retrieve it and bring it back to the hunter. The Gordon had great stamina and could hunt in bad weather on both land and water, but was not as fast in comparison to the pointers and as a result started to loose popularity as hunters chose other breeds. The Gordon Setter was one of the breeds that was used in the development of the Irish Setter. The Gordon makes a good one-man shooting dog. Some of the Gordon Setter's talents include guarding, watchdog, hunting, tracking, pointing and retrieving.


The Gordon Setter is slender, but robust in structure. The head is deep with a long muzzle. The muzzle should be about as long as the skull, with a defined stop. The black nose is broad. The teeth meet in a scissors or level bite. The oval eyes are dark brown. The long ears are set low, about level to the eyes, hanging close to the head. The top line slopes slightly from front to back. The tail is short and does not reach the hocks. Dewclaws are sometimes removed.

The soft, shiny coat is either slightly wavy or straight. The hair on the ears, under the stomach, chest, the backside of the legs, and on the tail is longer than it is on the rest of the body. The feathering on the underside of the tail starts out longer at the base and get shorter as it reaches the tip giving the appearance of a triangle. The Gordon Setter is the only setter that has black with tan markings. The tan markings are either rich chestnut or mahogany in colour and appear over the eyes, on the sides of the muzzle, on the throat, two spots on the chest, on the legs, and on the vent. There may be a small white spot on the chest.


The Gordon Setter is distinguished both for its loyalty and obedience. A polite, sweet-tempered, devoted dog, that makes an enjoyable companion and is good with children. Intelligent and willing, they are a hunting breed with a strong sense of smell. The Gordon Setter is brave, cheerful and affectionate. This breed needs lots of exercise or it may become highly strung. These dogs become very loyal to the family, but can be distant with strangers. Generally good with other pets but may try to dominate them therefore they need a stronge alpha pack leader to look up to. This breed likes to roam, so it is a good idea to have a fenced-in garden.

As a puppy the Gordon Setter is somewhat clumsy. Train early showing the dog that you are the pack leader so that bad habits do not set in. Training these dogs is certainly not difficult, provided the owners are firm, but calm. If they sense that the owners are passive they will become stubborn. This dog should be introduced to all situations (people, animals and things) as a young pup to produce a well-balanced dog. A Gordon Setter who has been introduced as a puppy to cats will get along well with them. If strangers visit they adopt a wait-and-see attitude. In general they get along well with other dogs and with children because they have a friendly nature.

Height, Weight

Height: dogs 61-69 cm Bitches 58-66 cm.
Weight: dogs 25-36 kg Bitches 20-32 kg.

Health Problems

A generally healthy breed, but some are prone to hip dysplasia, eye diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and cataracts. These dogs are prone to bloat and should be fed two or three small meals a day rather than one large one.

Living Conditions

The Gordon Setter is not recommended for flats or small dwellings. It is relatively inactive indoors (if a Gordon Setter gets enough outdoor activity it will be calm when it is indoors) and does best with at least a large, safely fenced garden where it can run free. Their hunting instincts are always with them so a secure fence around your property is essential.


All setters need at least two good walks a day or they will become restless and difficult to manage. They need to be able to run freely on open land. In addition, they will also enjoy play in the safety of a fenced garden.

Life Expectancy

About 10-12 years


Regular combing and brushing of the soft, flat, medium-length coat is all that is required to keep it in excellent condition. It is important to check for burrs and tangles, and to give extra care when the dog is moulting. Bathe or dry shampoo only when necessary. Trim the hair on the bottom of the feet and keep the nails clipped.


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