ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Gordon Setter

Gordon Setter dog breed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Gordon Setter is a beautiful dog that is known for its confidence and affection. They love to be active and always on the hunt! This breed is perfect for anyone who loves to hunt and be outside a lot. The largest of all Setters, they are known for being gentle, smart, and require much room to burn off all of their energy.

This breed will be sassy by barking at you about their likes and dislikes. Will they want to go with you when you take a ride to the store? Probably! And, they will let you know!

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityHigh
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessAbove Average
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group:Sporting
Height:1 foot, 11 inches to 2 feet, 3 inches
Weight:45 to 80 pounds
Life Span:10 to 12 years

The beautiful Gordon Setter is the largest of all the Setter breeds, including the Irish Setter and English Setter. Originally, the Gordon Setter was bred for sporting, and hunting for pheasant, woodcock, quail, fowl, and grouse. This breed has been around since the early 1600s in Scotland and has had many poems and other writings about them.

This breed can make a great pet and friend for the perfect person, as they are loving, loyal, and fearless. As puppies, they should be trained to socialize, as they tend to not be fond of strangers. They do best in a home that has a loving environment that allows them to cuddle, relax, and unwind. They love attention from their loved ones and act as a protector to the family. It is important to teach children how to act around this dog as children can be unaware that their playing may have a negative effect on the dog.

Gordon Setters are known for being vocal by barking, letting you know if they like or dislike anything. This makes them good watch dogs and they’ll let you know if something is good or bad. If they are pleased by their owner, they will be extremely devoted and loving.

While originally setting dogs were found in Scotland in the 1600s, the first Gordon Setter came around when the fourth Duke of Gordon made them famous. The Duke of Gordon established the Castle Gordon Setters. These dogs were said to have the best hunting skills, and were lovely to look at. While they were not the fastest breed, they were known for their stamina and willingness to not give up. The Duke of Gordon passed away in 1827 and his heir took over the kennels for the breed..

In the 1840s, the United States saw its first set of Gordon Setters, which actually came from the Duke of Gordon’s kennels. The first two of this breed to come to America were named Rachel and Rake. Fifty years later, the American Kennel Club officially recognized this dog as a breed. The Gordon Setter Club of America was founded in 1924 and still exists with the membership of over 1,000.

Main Highlights
  • Once fully grown, need upwards of 2 hours of exercise per day. Otherwise, they may destroy items within the home if their physical requirements are not met. They love fetching, running, and anything active with their owner.
  • They do not do well when separated from their family for long periods of time. They require social interaction, which they must be trained to get used to at a young age. They have a strong temper and are very independent but require much love and socialization with their family. If they are showing signs of anxiety, try to lessen it as much as possible, or take him to the vet.
  • Listen when your dog barks, as he is talking to you about what he likes, dislikes or may be alerted to. Sure, it just might be a bird, but it could also be a threatening presence. Rarely is this breed wrong with its instincts.
  • They may have to be acclimated to other dogs as they may get aggressive at first. This is why socializing them when young is helpful. They can get used to other animals as well as small children and can learn to interact with them in a positive manner.
  • This breed requires much space, so living in a small place like an apartment is not the best area for them to thrive. They need a large yard, room to move around and be loud if they want. Since they love to run a lot, having a big fenced in yard will meet their needs adequately.
  • Training is key with this breed as they can be stubborn. They need firm training that is regular, consistent and not negative. Some can be sensitive, so being firm but fair will show them the right way to live. If there is no training at all, this breed will take over the household, thinking they are the boss, and they will tear up everything as they will be bored as well as untrained.
Breed History

In Scotland, by 1620, sporting dogs of a black and tan color were in existence but were not put into the spotlight until the 1800s by the Duke of Gordon, who loved these sporting dogs and set up a kennel for them at his castle. He then raised the breed as Castle Gordon Setters. These dogs were known for being the best hunters, but not the fastest. However, rarely is this dog breed off track. If they are on the hunt, it is nearly guaranteed that a bird is being seen and the dog is getting ready to attack.

The Duke of Gordon raised this breed in 3 colors, black and white, red, and tricolor, but was fond of the darker coloring dogs. The Duke died in 1827 and left the Duke of Richmond his kennels.

When two of the Castle Gordon Setters were sent to the United States after the Duke of Gordon died, two men named George Blunt and Daniel Webster took the dogs and started breeding them. Fifty years later, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed and the Gordon Setter Club of America was formed. It still exists now, and ranks 88th of 155 in breeds that are registered with the AKC.

Size

This breed generally reaches from 1 foot, 11 inches tall to 2 feet, 3 inches tall. While they are not super large in stature, they can be focused on one thing and possibly injure a child, which is why children should be supervised around the dog. Their natural determination, focus, and ability to hunt precisely, makes up for their shorter stature compared to other large dogs.

They can weigh anywhere from 45 to 80 pounds, if exercised regularly. This breed can be obese if not exercised each day for 1 to 2 hours, by walking, running, fetching, or playing around with the family, which is one of their favorite things because it bonds them to their loved ones!

Personality and Character

If your dog is acclimated to strangers as a puppy, they won’t be as wary of those they do not know. They make great watchdogs, because if they sense danger or sense that a person is up to no good, they will bark and make a scene. This goes back to their natural leadership and ability to be distinctly aware of their surroundings. This breed of dog is loyal and devoted to their loved ones and wants to make them happy. However, if there is no leader of the group, the dog will take over and that will make the dog act dominant, stubborn, and entitled.

They can become used to noises, events, children, and other things that are associated with socializing in early in life. Using dog play groups, or a puppy class, or going to the park will help them become a better member of the family. It is known that this breed, between 6 and 9 months, can be afraid of certain things. Having a strong leader for an owner will help them overcome their fears, which means the owner has to be calm and assuring while not being too sensitive.

Health and Potential Problems

The main illnesses that affect the breed are as follows:

  • Hip Dysplasia: This condition is common in dogs, but it doesn’t have to define them. Hip Dysplasia is a condition in which the bone in the thigh does not fit correctly into the hip joint. One way to tell if this is hurting your dog is to check for pain and lack of use of that area. While this condition is hereditary, it can be attained from other factors like diet, falling, or any injury. A veterinarian can help to provide comfort for a dog with hip dysplasia.
  • Hypothyroidism: This can occur in this breed, in which the hormone that is made in the thyroid gland, does not produce normal levels. Symptoms include lack of energy, weight gain, drooping eyelids, infertility, and abnormal heat cycles. Like humans, dogs can be treated for Hypothyroidism by taking a daily pill for the rest of their lives, which help to regulate the hormones and will provide a happy dog!
  • Elbow Dysplasia: Large breed dogs tend to get elbow dysplasia which is caused when the bones in the elbow grow at different rates. Symptoms include pain and trying to use the elbow less. A veterinarian can diagnose the condition and recommend, medication or even surgery.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This is an eye disorder that can cause blindness because of the lack of photo-receptors in the back of the eyeball. This can be detected early by a vet, which is key because it can prevent blindness. If a dog does get Progressive Retinal Atrophy, he can live a full, happy life as dogs are great in using other senses to make up for their lack of sight.
  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus: This is a type of bloating that can kill a dog because they tend to have deep chests. If their stomach becomes bloated with gas and air and twists the stomach due to eating and drinking quickly in large amounts, or too much activity after they have eaten. Your dog may begin vomiting and drooling and must seek medical attention or face death.
Care Features

Gordon Setters are perfect for active owners as they need daily exercise and are great for jogging or playing the park. As puppies, they tend to have extra energy to burn off so having a big, fenced yard is perfect to let them wander without danger. Be sure to not put too much stress on their bones because they need to be given more exercise gradually, not all at once.

Trying to housebreak your dog is not super hard! Like all dogs, being a consistent owner who lets Fido outside to do its business on a schedule, and also trying crate training will help your new pet learn quickly. Be patient, however, as it takes a few months for them to learn their bladder control. Accidents happen!

Be firm but fair when training your pup as they need you to lead them. Be consistent when teaching them tricks and commands like “Sit”, “Heel”, “Speak”, and “Lie down”. Make sure they are focused when training and keep distractions to a minimum.

Feeding Schedule

Your beautiful, floppy eared dog should be fed twice a day. Use the measurements listed on the dog food bag. It is not recommended to leave food out all the time as they can become overweight quickly. If you are unsure if your dog is getting too heavy, check the dog’s ribs area.

If you can see their ribs without too much pressure then your baby is fine! However, if they are overweight, speak to your vet about a healthy diet. Also, be sure they do not eat their food too quickly or drink their water too quickly as they can become bloated and need immediate medical attention.

Coat, Color and Grooming

This breed is a great breed for many reasons and one of them is their beautiful, soft coat that shines! They will have long hair on the chest, stomach, legs, tail and ears. Most Gordon Setters have the black and tan coat, which they are most famous for. Occasionally, you will see one with a white spot on the chest.

Be sure to brush your dog about once every week or more, and bathing should happen regularly every two weeks. Because of their tendency to produce more wax in the ears, be sure to check them often and wipe out any excess so that an infection does not occur. Their nails can be trimmed once a month or so and they should have their teeth checked twice per week.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

While not an aggressive dog, the Gordon Setter will let you know if he has had enough of small children pulling and playing with him. Supervise children around this breed as it is possible they get hit by the tail and fall down. This breed should be socialized as a puppy to get used to other dogs, cats and other household pets. They get along with most animals and people, but will be on alert for strange people or strange animals.

In conclusion, the Gordon Setter is the perfect dog for active people who have the time to put into raising it. They are loyal, loving, protective, and love cuddles! Who couldn’t love those floppy ears? Taking the time to train them and socialize them is key and children must be supervised around this breed.

A great watch dog, the Gordon Setter will alert its owner to danger. They are fairly adaptable outdoors and can go to the park, go swimming, or go hunting with their owner! For the right owner, this kind of dog can be the perfect combination of a loving pet, friend, hunter, and adventure lover!

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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