Gordon Setter

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45-70 lbs
Scottish Setter, Black and Tan Setter, Castle Gordon Setter, The Gordon

These dogs have a beautiful, shiny and silky coat and are the largest breed in the Setter category. They originated in Scotland where they could be found in the kennels of Alexander IV, the fourth Duke of Gordon. Their place of origin also plays a role in how the breed obtained the name of the Gordon Setter. They were originally bred as a hunting dog as they have high endurance levels, but are not extremely fast. They are generally faithful pets, but can become stubborn if not shown proper authority by the owner. They do have a moderate drooling level and shed quite a bit, but with the proper maintenance they can be beautiful companions. They have high energy levels and will need access to a large space to run around in, as well as regular daily exercise.

hunting, retrieving
Date of Origin
setting spaniel

Gordon Setter Health

Average Size
Height: 24-27 inches Weight: 55-80 lbs
Height: 23-26 inches Weight: 45-70 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Gastric Torsion
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Hip And Elbow Dysplasia
Minor Concerns
  • Otitis Externa
  • Hypothyroidism
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip
  • Elbow
  • Thyroid Tests
  • Physical Examination
  • X-Rays
  • Blood Test
  • Eye Examination

Gordon Setter Breed History

Gordon Setters have existed in Scotland since 1620 and were first known as the Black-and-Tan Setter. They became better known some 200 years later when they could be found in the kennels of Alexander, the fourth Duke of Gordon. They were known as the Castle Gordon Setters and were very successful as hunting dogs. They were excellent bird hunters, and could easily smell and retrieve the fallen bird. Their impressive stamina also allowed them to hunt well on land or in water and through any weather conditions. The first Gordon Setters could be white, black, red, tan or tricolor, but the black and tan combination was the favorite of the Duke. Therefore, it is this coloring that has prevailed throughout the years and is most commonly seen today. Alexander IV, the Duke of Gordon eventually passed away in the year of 1827. After his death, it was his heir that took on the responsibility of running the kennels. It was only in 1924 that these dogs took the name of the Gordon Setter. This dog breed was eventually found in the United States in the year 1842 when two Gordon Setters, named Rake and Rachel were imported by a man named Mr. George Blunt. These dogs also came from the kennels of Gordon Castle. In 1924, the Gordon Setter Club of America was founded. Today they are known as faithful companions and stunning show dogs, but are still great one-man hunting dogs. They were eventually used in the development of the Irish Setter.

Gordon Setter Breed Appearance

The Gordon Setter dog will have a soft and shiny coat that will be longer around the ears, back of legs, chest, tail and belly. This fur can be either straight or have a slight wave. They will have short tails and triangularly shaped feathering with hair that shortens as it nears the end of the tail, giving it a flag-like appearance. The tails are carried low, except when the dog becomes excited whereas it will be carried up higher. The only Gordon Setters known today are black and tan with the possibility of mahogany markings around the bottom and sides of their muzzle, over the eyes, some large spots on the chest, the throat, the inside of the back legs, surrounding the vent and on the forelegs. There may also be a marking of a white spot found on the chest. The colors of black and tan will not mix together, but will instead be clearly defined. They are the largest of all Setter breeds, with big and deep heads. They have long, square shaped muzzles with black noses that have developed nostrils. Their ears are somewhat pointed but are floppy, long and lie flat. Their eyes are oval shaped and a deep brown. The feet of the Gordon Setter are round and can be described as cat-like. The front of the topline will slope to the back.

Gordon Setter Breed Maintenance

The Gordon Setter is an active breed that will require a daily dose of exercise in order to stay happy and healthy. Because of this, they can make good companions for people who enjoy going on runs or jogging. Long strolls around the neighborhood or a fun game of catch will also be enough to satisfy their exercise needs. The apartment life may not suit them as they will need a home with a big fenced in yard so that they can run freely. Although smart and simple to train, these dogs will need to have an owner that will show authority, or they may take advantage of the lack of leadership. You must be consistent and firm but without anger or force to get these dogs to respect you. Although they can be rambunctious as pups,the Gordon Setter will calm down and become quiet as they enter adulthood. They can still be competitive and will excel at many canine sports. These dogs will most likely do well on 2-3 cups of food per day split into 2 meals, but the exact amount will, of course, depend on the individual animal. The coat of the Gordon Setter will require grooming two to three times each week if you want to avoid the formation of tangles and knots. You may also want to prevent the formation of ice balls and debris inside the paws by trimming the fur between the toes and on the bottom of the feet. Baths every week or two can also be beneficial, but can be done less frequently as long as the brushing occurs often enough. Due to their hanging ears, the Gordon Setter may develop ear infections, which is why it is vital to clean your dog’s ears weekly and keep them clean by wiping the inside using a dampened cotton ball with a cleanser. These dogs can develop bad breath if they do not receive proper dental hygiene, which is why you must give their teeth a brush at least twice or thrice a week. This will also help prevent buildup and gum disease. If they do not get worn down naturally and can be heard clicking on the floor, your dog will most likely require a nail trim. This can be needed one or two times each month.

Gordon Setter Breed Activity Requirements