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Gordon Setter


Considered to be one of the most reliable bird dogs in the sporting group, the Gordon Setter can run and hunt for an entire day if left up to him. With seemingly endless energy and always on the looking for a bird, this breed needs constant time outside in large, open land to roam and hunt.

The Gordon Setter not only makes an excellent hunter, they also make fun, enthusiastic pets that thrive on the company of people. This breed may at times be a bit more protective than other setters when it comes to its “pack”, but because of this trait the Gordon Setter makes an excellent watch dog.

A Brief History Of The Gordon Setter

As early as the 1600s, the Black and Tan Setter was in existence in Scotland. Then, sometime during the late 1800s, we see that the breed established itself as the Gordon Castle Setter. The reason for the name reference was due to the Fourth Duke of Gordon, who was a big fan of the dog and had many of them living in his Castle.

Even after the passing of the Fourth Duke of Gordon, continuous efforts were made to breed only the finest of setters at the Gordon Castle. The breed’s name was soon changed back to its original name, the Black and Tan Setter, at around the year 1900, but the English Kennel Club restored the name Gordon Setter when it made the breed an official member of the organization.

The Gordon Setter first made its way to the United States sometime during the middle 1800s. In fact, they were among one of the first breeds to become recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1892, and remains one of the favorites of the sporting group with hunters that desire a talented, one-man shooting partner.

Upkeep Requirements For The Gordon Setter

Like all sporting dogs, the Gordon Setter must have plenty of daily exercise. Strenuous activity is preferred as this is one dog with an insatiable appetite for action. Gordon Setters also may become overweight quickly if kept cooped up all day. For this reason alone they are not suited for small apartment living.

These dogs are able to live outside if need be, so long as the climate is temperate, but like all loving family pets, they should have ample time to spend with the family; sleeping indoors at night is ideal. And with its long, lustrous coat, the Gordon Setter needs regular brushing every two to three days.

Health Concerns

Major health problems that seem to run common with the Gordon Setter are CHD and gastric torsion. Minor concerns include elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, cerebellar abiotrophy, and PRA. Veterinarians suggest that this breed be specifically tested for possible elbow, hip, eye, and thyroid problems. The average lifespan for a healthy Gordon Setter is approximately ten to twelve years.


The Gordan Setter is a scenting dog. He was bred for hunting grouse and other game birds. His territory was the Scottish moors. They say he was derived from the Setting Spaniel. This breed got its name from Duke Alexander Gordan the 4th because he had a kennel of them at his castle close to the Spey River and Fochabers located in the United Kingdom.

This breed was first called the black and tan setter during the 1600′s and was located in Scotland. In the latter 1700′s it became the Gordan Castle Setter. About 1900, the breeds name was reversed to the black and tan setter, though when the English Kennel Club registered this breed, the name was changed to the Gordan Setter.

General Looks

The muscles are highly developed and this dog has a square-like build. It is spare and tall. The front legs are straight and big boned. The hindquarters are powerful and well muscled. The paws are quite arched. The eyes are oval shaped and brown in color. The big ears are folded, thin, and ride low on the head. The muzzle is wide and very long. The nose is black. It has a short and tapered tail. It has longer fur on the ears, chest, and belly.

Is This Your Breed?

The Gordan Setter requires a lot of exercise each day and a fenced yard. The fur must be groomed regularly or it will mat. It is usually fine with older kids, though its enthusiasm may be too much for small children. Clean the ear passages often to divert infection. The fur between the toes need trimming and trim excessive fur from the ears.


The coat is straight, soft, and shiny. It can be a bit wavy.


The color is black and tan. The markings are either mahogany or chestnut.


The movement swings freely with powerful drive.


The Gordan Setter has a tendency to be standoffish to strangers and is sometimes hostile to other dogs. It can be jealous over other pets; it is best to adapt it to other pets while it is a pup. Socializing while this breed is young is recommended. Training should be approached with patience and affection.

It is affectionate to its owner and family. It is energetic, alert, happy, self-assured, smart, faithful, and strong-willed.


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