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Gordon Setter- (Dog Breed Information)

Gordon Setter – A Scottish Bird Hunter and Family Dog

The Gordon Setter dog breed is the black highlander of Scotland and a large sporting bird dog that has been around since the 1600s. Athletic and loves the outdoors, Gordons are bold, confident, and steadfast in the field, as well as extremely affectionate to their humans.  They are also known to be very good with children, a very good family dog and needs a lot of exercise.

Gordon Setter breeds are the largest of the setters. A male may stand 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh 80 pounds. They have a beautiful silky coat that is tan and black.

At A Glance

  • Breed: Gordon Setter
  • Breed Group: Sporting
  • Temperament: Bold, Affectionate,Confident
  • D.H.T. Outdoor Ranking: -5/10 For Temperate Climates
  • Worldwide Popularity: Low
  • Breed Origin: United Kingdom- Scotland

General Information And Breed History of The Gordon Setter

The Gordon Setter is a large dog breed, a member of the setter family that also includes both Irish Setter and the English Setter. It is also the largest of the Setters, but also the slowest. Setter breeds are categorized under the Sporting or Gundog Group depending on the national kennel club or council. The primary purpose of the breed was to hunt gamebirds. Their target in the United Kingdom, was the grouse, partridge, pheasant blackgame, snipe or woodstock. The Gordon canine was trained to quietly lay or set why located their prey. 

Guns were not used during this time period, so the hunter would cast a net into the area where the dog had ‘set’. They would then retrieve the birds that were caught in the net. Sometimes the hunter would have to unsnare the dog if the net landed on the dog as well. The dog was not hurt when the nets landed on them. Besides they are heavy boned with a square frame. This body type also helped them out in the difficult landscape of Scotland.


The Black and Tan Setter(this was its first name) canine was first documented in Scotland by the 1600s, but it was not until the late 1700s that this breed became recognized as the Gordon Castle Setter.   Alexander Gordon, The Fourth Duke of Gordon fancied these canines at his Gordon Castle and considered them an excellent family dog. These dogs were first said to have been black, tan and white. Vigorous efforts to breed the best setters at Gordon Castle were passed down to the Duke of Richard after the death of The Fourth Duke.  The Gordon is said to be a cross between the flat-coated black and tan collie, bloodhounds, black Pointers and black setters.

The USA first got a glimpse of this find Setter in 1842.  This is when George Blunt of New York brought over a breeding pair.    The American Kennel Club registered the Gordon Setter as a breed in 1884.  It was not until 1964 that the American Kennel Club changed the name from Black and Tan Setters to the Gordon Setter.

General Appearance

The Gordon Setter is a large dog breed that is heavy boned with plenty of substance, and very strong. They are well-muscled, with a square frame and are more than capable of a hard day’s work of hunting. Gordons excel in strength and stamina over speed.

They have a strong, somewhat short back, with well-sprung ribs and a short tail. The head is fairly heavy and well defined.  The Gordon canine’s coat is thicker than the other setters and is soft, shiny, and somewhat wavy.


The Gordon setter’s body is short from their shoulders to their hips.  Their chest is deep with well-sprung ribs that as a result leave a great deal of room for lungs.  Chest reaches to their elbows. The forechest is pronounced and the loins are short and broad with no arching.  The neck is lean and long, with arching.

  • Head- deep and well defined 
  • Ears- Low, large and thin that fold close to the head 
  • Eyes- Fair size, dark brown


 The Gordon setter breed really has a beautiful coat, that is soft, shiny as well as straight and wavy but not get confused with curly.  The coat feathers at the ears, underside, back of legs and tail. The coat has a triangle appearance that grows shorter as it nears the end of their tail.  This coat requires lots of attention, but we will get to that in our grooming section.

Legs & Feet

The feed of the Gordon is very catlike in appearance.  They are close-knit, with well-arched toes and lots of hair in between.  Their toe pads are full with deep heel cushions. Feet are neither turned in or out.  The forelegs are big-boned, straight with no bowing. 

Tail & Hindquarters

Hind legs are muscular and flat from the hip to hock; short and strong from hock to heel. The tail is carried near-horizontal is not too long and has feathering.

General Statistics

  • Life Expectancy: 12-13 Years
  • Height (at the withers): 
  • Male: 24-27 inches
  • Female: 23-26 inches
  • Weight:  
  • Male: 55-80 pounds
  • Female: 45-70 pounds

Recommended Dog House Dimensions

The recommended dog house dimensions can be found on the dog house dimensions charts for 440 recognized breeds which includes this dog breed that looks like a wolf.  But to save you time, here are our dog house minimum size recommendations:

  • Door Height: 29.7 inches
  • Door Width: 18.9 inches
  • Inside Ceiling Height: 36.5 inches
  • Interior House Length: 59.4 inches
  • Interior House Width: 37.80

Expected Costs

Breed Average Puppy Cost: $1,000 USD

Starter Costs: $3,000

This is our estimate for initial purchase, shots and a few things like food, a bed, leash, that sort of thing.  Basically, this will get you set up but the costs will be greater once the dog is old enough to get spayed or neutered.

Anticipated Annual Care Cost: $500 – $1,000

How The Gordon Setter Reacts To


The Gordon Setter dog is affectionate, cheerful and well mannered.  They have a sociable, friendly and sensitive temperament. A vehemently devoted companion, the Gordon setter is a wonderous family dog. They are, however, not recommended for homes with small children, this is because the setter is a large dog and can be rambunctious. So, a small child is at risk for being knocked down and injured, unintentionally of course. The Gordon setter dog is also very protective and aloof to strangers. 

Other Dogs

Gordon setters can be aggressive with other dogs, especially ones of the same sex, so it is recommended to proceed with caution when introducing to other dogs. 


Setters get along with cats as long as they are socialized with them early. This dog may be a family dog, but he is also a hunter, and smaller animals may be in danger around a setter. Introductions must be supervised and never leave the two alone together.

Other Animals

Setters are hunters first, so if you have smaller pets you will have to socialize the puppy Gordon with the small pet in order will get along with most other animals, although they may think that smaller pets are prey, so be cautious.

Care Requirements


Gordon Setters are super energetic dogs that require plenty of exercise – at least 2 hours per day and even more if it is offered. They are a highly intelligent canine that does well with training.  Gordon Setters enjoy a vast variety of activities that include swimming, hunting, longs walks, and catch to name a few. These dogs do not do well in an apartment or condo living because they are large dogs and need a lot of space. They also require an active owner and family.  It is not recommended to get this breed as a pet if exercise recommendations cannot be met.

Grooming & Coat Info

In order to keep this setter’s coat neat and healthy, it needs to be brushed every two days.  This will also a way to keep the shedding at bay. Bathing once a month will suffice. Trimming of the nails, tail and ear area is recommended to be done monthly.

Health & Nutrition

This breed will do well on a high-quality dry and wet food.  Chicken, salmon, cooked fresh veggies are okay as well, however, make sure you know what human food is safe and not safe.  If you are unsure, always contact your vet because the vet will know which human foods you can feed to your dog. Stay away from a high protein diet as health issues can arise. Remember that fresh clean water should always be available to your dog.

Generally healthy dog breeds, but gordon canines can suffer from bloat which is a life-threatening stomach condition. All Gordon owners should be aware of the symptoms and therefore get their dog to the vet right away if they feel the dog is suffering from bloat.

Training The Gordon Canine

Willing to please and highly intelligent, the Gordon Setter is easy to train.  Early socialization and obedience is essential because this breed has a mind of its own and can be stubborn.  A good tip for training is to make sure it is done with fairness, consistency, firmness and lots and lots of love.  Harsh training is not recommended because this breed is sensitive and will not respond well to any form of harsh training.  A Gordon canine would benefit from dog sports because they excel in tracking, pointing and hunting. 

Recommended Book:

Gordon Setters Gifts

Frequently Asked Questions

Does The Gordon Setter Bark?

The Gordon canine is the most protective of the setters and because of this it makes this breed an excellent watchdog and will bark to alert someone is approaching the house. Once the Gordon is introduced to guests, however, he happily accepts them as family. Gordon Setters are quiet indoors for the most part.

Is The Gordon Setter Canine Affectionate?

Yes, the Gordon canine breed is affectionate, as well as alert and confident. This canine is loyal and a great family dog. They can be standoffish to strangers until they get to know them.

Can a Gordon Be Left Alone?

This good family canine does not do to well on its own so therefore being left alone for long periods of time stresses out the setter and may cause them the act badly by biting and chewing on things. They love their family, so they want to spend all their time with them.


  1. Wikipedia-
  2. American Kennel Club –
  3. The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds – D. Caroline Coile Ph.D.
  4. Canadian Kennel Club-
  5. The Kennel Club UK-

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