The Gordon Setter: Everything You Need to Know

The Gordon Setter is a unique and stunning breed of dog that is beloved by many. With its long-standing history and distinct physical appearance, it is a popular choice for dog lovers.

In this article, we will dive into everything you need to know about the lovely Gordon Setter breed, from its history and appearance to its temperament and health considerations. 

History of the Gordon Setter Dog Breed

The Gordon Setter has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century in Scotland. Originally developed as a hunting dog, the breed has since become a popular pet and show dog, known for its stunning looks and charming personality. 

Origins of the Breed

The Gordon Setter, also known as the Black and Tan Setter, was developed in the early 1800s by crossing several types of spaniels and setters. The breed was specifically bred to work in the harsh countryside of the Scottish Highlands, where it was used to hunt game birds such as grouse and pheasant.

The breed was named after the 4th Duke of Gordon, who was an avid hunter and breeder of dogs. The Duke played a significant role in the development of the breed, and it is believed that he was instrumental in creating the distinctive black and tan coat that is now synonymous with the Gordon Setter.

Development Over Time

As the breed developed, the Gordon Setter was prized for its keen sense of smell, intelligence, and loyalty. These traits made it an excellent hunter, and it quickly became popular among hunters in Scotland and beyond.

Over time, the breed began to gain popularity as a pet as well. Its stunning looks and charming personality made it a favorite among families, and now it is a common companion in households across the world.

Recognition by Kennel Clubs

The Gordon Setter was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1878 and the United Kennel Club in 1949. Since then, the breed has become a fixture in dog shows around the world, known for its impressive looks and graceful movement.

Despite its popularity, the Gordon Setter remains a working breed at heart. Many owners still use their dogs for hunting, and the breed’s intelligence and loyalty make it an excellent choice for a variety of working roles.

Physical Characteristics of the Gordon Setter

The Gordon Setter is a majestic and elegant dog that boasts a number of distinctive physical characteristics that set it apart from other breeds. Here are some additional details about the breed’s size, weight, coat, and other features of the Gordon Setter. 

Size and Weight

The Gordon Setter is a large-sized dog. Males typically weigh between 55 and 80 pounds and stand 24 to 27 inches tall. Females weigh between 45 and 70 pounds and stand 23 to 26 inches at the shoulder.

The Gordon Setter is well-muscled and athletic in constitution with a graceful and agile gait. They are built for endurance and are capable of running and playing for hours on end.

Coat and Colors

The Gordon Setter is known for its distinctive, long, and silky black and tan coat. The black portion of the coat ranges from a jet black to a deep mahogany color, while the tan markings are typically rich, deep mahogany.

The Gordon Setter’s coat requires regular grooming to maintain its silkiness and prevent matting. This breed is known for shedding moderately, so regular brushing and grooming are vital to maintain skin & coat health. 

Distinctive Features

In addition to their beautiful coat, Gordon Setters have a number of other distinctive physical features. For example, they have a strong and athletic build, with a long, feathered tail that is usually held high.

They also have long, feathered ears that are soft to the touch and a distinctively shaped head that is broader at the top and narrows towards the nose. The eyes are expressive and typically a deep brown or hazel in color.

Temperament and Personality Traits

The Gordon Setter is known for its loyal and affectionate nature. It is often described as friendly and outgoing, making it a great family pet. However, like all dogs, it requires socialization and training.

General Temperament

The Gordon Setter is an intelligent and trainable breed of dog. It is eager to please its owner and responds well to positive reinforcement training. Breed members are also loyal and affectionate towards their owners.

However, it’s important to note that Gordon Setters can also be stubborn and independent at times. This means that it’s important to establish clear boundaries and be consistent with training to ensure they are well-behaved.

Intelligence and Trainability

Gordon Setters are highly intelligent dogs that thrive on learning new things. They excel in obedience and other types of dog sports. The intelligence also means that they require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

Positive reinforcement training techniques are highly recommended for Gordon Setters. These techniques focus on rewarding good behavior and ignoring bad behavior, which can help to establish a positive and trusting relationship between the dog and its owner.

Socialization and Interaction with Other Animals

The Gordon Setter has a friendly and social nature that makes them great companions for other animals. They are gentle and patient with children, thus being great family pets.

However, early socialization is essential to ensure they are well-behaved around other pets and animals. Socialization involves exposing the dog to a variety of people, animals, and environments in a positive and controlled way.

Health and Lifespan of the Gordon Setter

Common Health Issues

Like all breeds, the Gordon Setter is prone to certain health issues, such as: 

  • Orthopedic Issues: The most common joint problems in the breed are hereditary and mobility-impairing hip and elbow dysplasia 
  • Bloat: Or gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), is a dangerous condition in which the stomach fills with gas & liquid and twists on itself 
  • Eye Problems: Breed members are prone to eye issues, including rod-cone dystrophy (RCD) and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)

Lifespan Expectancy

The average lifespan of the Gordon Setter is around 12 to 13 years, though many breed members can live longer with proper care and attention.

Tips for Maintaining Good Health

To maintain optimum health, it’s important to provide your Gordon Setter with regular exercise, a healthy diet, and a comfortable living environment. Regular grooming, including brushing their coat and cleaning their ears, can also help keep them healthy and happy.


In conclusion, the Gordon Setter is a unique and special breed of dog that makes a great pet for those willing to provide the necessary care, training,  and attention.

From its rich history to its charming personality, the Gordon Setter is a beloved companion. Research the breed before making a decision and ensure that you find a reputable breeder. 

Scroll to Top