Gordon Setter going over an obstacle course

Gordon Setter History, Temperament and Care

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Is a Gordon Setter right for you? If you are considering this breed you will want to know about Gordon Setter history, temperament, and care. Let’s dive in.

Are you looking for an immensely loyal and beautiful companion dog? Well, look no further than the Gordon Setter. This breed is easily recognised by its striking black-and-tan coat, which sets it apart from other setters. But, the Gordon Setter is more than just a pretty face!  It is actually a very smart and trainable dog.  It’s a popular choice for a family dog and a natural hunter.

Originally debuting in Scotland in the 1600’s, the Gordon Setter was bred as a hunting dog for game birds. With its keen sense of smell and remarkable stamina, the Gordon Setter was able to track and retrieve birds in even the most challenging terrain. 

Today, the breed is still a popular choice for bird hunters, but it is fast becoming a beloved family pet because of its affectionate and loyal nature. So. if you’re looking for a faithful companion,  the Gordon Setter is a breed deserving of your consideration.

Brief Breed History and Origin

As said above, the Gordon Setter originated in Scotland in the 1600’s. They were originally bred as hunting dogs for upland game birds like pheasants and partridges. This innovative dog breed was named for the Duke of Gordon by the Kennel Club in 1924. The Duke of Gordon was a well-known Scottish landowner, hunter, and dog breeder in the 18th century. Prior to that the breed had been known as Black & Tan Setters.

Gordon Setters are designated a vulnerable breed, because of their low numbers, and in 2022 a Gordon setter called Elsa won the vulnerable breeds category at Crufts.

The Gordon Setter is a member of the setter family, which also includes the Irish Setter and the English Setter. The original Gordon Setter breed was created by mating different hunting dog breeds, including the Bloodhound, the English Setter, and the Irish Setter.

Here are four key facts about the Gordon Setter:

  • The breed was originally known as the “Black and Tan Setter” because of its distinctive coat colour.
  • The Gordon Setter is the biggest, heaviest and slowest of the setter breeds. But, they are also the most powerful and agile of the setter breeds.
  • The breed was almost extinct by 1900, but dedicated breeders worked hard to revive the breed and rebuild its popularity on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • Today, the Gordon Setter is a popular U.K. and U.S.A show dog and companion pet, as well as a skilled setter.
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Breed Appearance & Nature

The Gordon Setter is a beautiful dog breed with a distinctive, lovable appearance.  This breed tends to be calm with a great affinity for kids and loyalty toward owner families.  In this section, you will become familiar with the general appearance and nature of the Gordon Setter (size and weight, coat, colour, and temperament).

Size and Weight

Gordon Setters are a medium to large breed, with males around 24 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder. Their weight is usually between 55 and 80 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, standing 23 to 26 inches tall and weighing between 45 and 70 pounds. This breed is well-muscled and athletic, with a sturdy build that allows these dogs to move quickly and gracefully.

Gordon Setter Coat

Gordon Setters have long, silky coats that are usually straight or slightly wavy. The coat is thick and dense, giving great protection in all kinds of weather. They have feathering on their legs, ears, and tail, which gives them a regal and very handsome look. Because of their thick coats and feathered features, these dogs need frequent and regular grooming. 

Gordon Setter Colour

The Gordon Setter’s coat is black with tan markings. The tan markings are located on their chest, legs, and heads. When properly groomed, the coat is shiny and smooth. This care gives the dog a strikingly handsome and powerful look. The coat colour is quite unique and distinguishes the Gordon Setter from other medium to large breeds.

Gordon Setter Temperament

Gordon Setters are known for their loyal and overtly friendly personalities. They are highly intelligent and love pleasing everyone in their midst. These are fantastic family dogs — they are very social and enjoy being around people and other pets. They are not aggressive, but are really protective of their family and territory — this means they don’t look for trouble but will stand their ground when they sense a threat.  Gordons are truly a family-centered dog breed.

Gordon Setter sitting in front of a pot plant

Gordon Setter Training

Gordon Setters are very smart dogs that are fairly easy to train. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise. But, like other breeds, Gordons can be stubborn at times, so training consistency and patience are key. Start training at a young age (8 to 12 weeks if you can) and introduce them to other pets and people as soon and often as you can.

Gordon Setter Exercise Needs

Gordon Setters are active dogs needing loads of daily exercise to keep them healthy, playful, and fully engaged with their family and surroundings. These dogs like going for walks, runs, hikes, and car rides.  They are ‘go-with’ dogs that love to play and explore. Also, they like a lot of space to run around and play. You will need to give a Gordan Setter plenty of exercise to keep it fit and prevent the dog from being bored and destructive.

Gordon Setter Health

Taking care of your Gordon Setter’s health is critical. For that reason, we’ve listed some common health concerns that may affect your Gordan Setter now or later.  We’ve also listed a few tips about the care and maintenance of your friendly pet Gordan Setter.

Common Afflictions

Like all dog breeds, Gordon Setters can come down with painful and debilitating conditions.

 Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Hip dysplasia: A genetic condition that specifically affects the hip joint, causing severe pain and constant discomfort. Either side or both hips can be affected.
  • Bloat: A life-threatening digestive condition that occurs when the stomach becomes twisted on itself, trapping gas and food.
  • Ear infections: Gordon Setters have long ears that can trap moisture and wax, leading to ear mite infestations, wax build up, and microbial infections.
  • Hypothyroidism: An endocrine condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones for an assortment of reasons.  Subsequent weight gain usually results, as well as symptomatic lethargy and skin problems.

Take your Gordon Setter to your vet for regular check-ups to avoid or catch and treat these conditions.  Also, you should always keep an eye out for any behaviour or health changes in your dog and ask your vet about these concerns as soon as possible.

Gordon Setter Care and Maintenance

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Proper vet exams, special care and the proper training of your Gordan Setter go a long way in keeping your best friend healthy. 

Here are four helpful tips:

  • Grooming: Gordon Setters all have a long, silky coat that requires regular brushing and trimming to prevent matting and tangling. Failure to do this will lead to coat and skin issues, including parasite infestations.
  • Exercise: Gordon Setters are active dogs that need daily exercise to stay healthy and fit. They need this for their mental health too! Exercise can be from daily walks, runs, and playtime in a fenced yard or dog park.
  • Diet: Feeding your Gordon Setter a nutritionally balanced ration is really important for their proper growth and overall wellness. Buy only a name-brand, high-quality dog food that sources ingredients well and meets all of their nutritional needs.
  • Dental care: Routine dental care, such as brushing your dog’s teeth and exams will help a lot.  Regularly rewarding your dog with dental chews, like these, can help to prevent dental troubles, including bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Follow these four tips and your Gordon Setter should stay healthy, youthful, and fit for many years to come.

The Gordon Setter is a beautiful dog with a distinctive appearance. Their size and weight, coat, and colour all contribute to their elegant and regal appearance. If you are looking for a dog that is both beautiful and athletic, the Gordon Setter may be the perfect breed for you. 

Gordon Setter history and origins highlight the development of this breed and how they are now friendly, loyal, and affectionate dogs that make great family pets. They are intelligent and relatively easy to train but can be stubborn at times. They require daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy.

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