A sturdy and muscular breed, the Gordon Setter has a distinctive black and tan coat. The breed's coloration allows it to be found without difficulty in early snow and light fields. The coat is straight or slightly wavy, soft, shiny, and with longer hair on the ears, under the stomach, and on the chest. There's also long hair on the hind and fore legs and on the tail. The breed's eyes are oval and dark brown, the ears are set low, and the nose is broad and black. Gordon Setters have a rounded skull and long muzzle. They measure 23 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 45 to 80 pounds.
These dogs tend to be more protective and devoted than other setters, which makes them a good choice for families who want a watchdog as well as a playmate.
The Gordon Setter is a devoted family companion, but the breed is bright and may appear stubborn at times. These dogs are highly adaptable and do well in most living situations, but they need daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Gordon Setters are the most muscular and heaviest of the three setter dog breeds.
Gordon Setters are uncommon. It may be necessary to wait a year or more before a puppy becomes available for adoption or purchase. Patience is crucial, but the reward is worth it.
Gordon Setters are capable, energetic, and close-working bird dogs that make lively and entertaining companions. These dogs tend to be more protective and devoted than other setters, which makes them a good choice for families who want a watchdog as well as a playmate.
Confident, intelligent, and interested, Gordon Setters are ideally suited for active families with or without children. They are loving and affectionate, easily trained, and are tolerant toward small children and other pets. However, these dogs have a strong hunting instinct and may not be able to resist chasing pet rabbits or outdoor squirrels. They should be kept on a leash or in a securely fenced yard at all times when outdoors.
Because of their unique ability to be protective without being mean and to be friendly and loving without being clingy, these dogs are good choices for the elderly and for busy families. While they need time with their human family members, they won't go crazy if left on their own for a few hours.
Gordon Setters are fairly healthy dogs, but the breed is known to suffer from a few health problems that may shorten or negatively affect life. Congenital hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, gastric torsion, hypothyroidism, and cerebellar abiotrophy are all concerns in the breed. Additionally, Gordon Setters are more prone to progressive retinal atrophy, a potentially serious eye disease, and cataracts than some other breeds.
Cancer is a serious concern in Gordon Setters, and the breed is prone to fibrosarcoma and other types of cancer. Routine veterinary visits can help improve prognosis by detecting and treating the cancer early. Any unusual symptoms should be reported to a veterinarian right away.
Without routine health care, timely vaccinations, regular exercise, and a healthy diet, Gordon Setters can live a full life of up to 12 years. Feeding these dogs smaller meals more often will help manage their weight and reduce their risk of bloat and gastric torsion.
Gordon Setters are very intelligent and moderately trainable dogs. They respond best to patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, such as praise, food, and play rewards. These dogs don't respond very well to harsh criticism, unfair training methods, or punishment.
For the most success, training and socialization should start very early in the Gordon Setter's life. From soon after birth, it's important to introduce these dogs to a variety of sights, sounds, smells, and people. Raising them with other animals will help ensure they remain tolerant of other dogs and cats throughout life.
Gordon Setters are energetic and active dogs that need a lot of mental stimulation and physical exercise to remain healthy and happy. If allowed to become bored, lonely, or sedentary, these dogs may bark excessively, chew things, or otherwise engage in obnoxious or destructive behaviors. Training can only discourage these behaviors; the key is to prevent them by offering plenty of mental tasks and opportunity for physical activity.
The Gordon Setters long, thick coat is one of the breed's best features, but it requires plenty of grooming to keep it manageable and attractive. These dogs need regular combing and brushing to prevent and remove tangles and mats. Frequent brushing will also cut down on the amount of loose hair that collects along baseboards and furniture, and it will distribute skin oil to keep the coat shiny and moisturized. Aim for every other day, or more often if the Gordon Setter spends a lot of time outdoors and comes home with sticks or leaves in the coat. Clipping and trimming, while optional, can neaten the coat's appearance.
Bathing is recommended about every six weeks, or more often if necessary to remove sticky, stinky, or harmful substances. Immediately after bathing, check the paw pads for injuries and trim away any hair from between the toes. The ears should be dried after bathing and swimming to prevent bacterial or yeast infections from developing.
The nails need trimming every few weeks and the ears should be cleaned weekly to remove excess wax, dirt, and debris. Regularly brushing the teeth and using dental treats and drinking water additives will help prevent tooth decay and potentially serious gum disease from occurring.
Gordon Setters were originally bred as personal bird dogs, but they quickly became beloved companion animals and show dogs due to their intelligence, lovely personality, and strong memory. The breed comes from Scotland, with roots reaching back to the early 17th century.
These dogs were commonly referred to as black and tan setters until the Duke of Gordon gave them his name. Although the name change didn't last and the breed once again became known by its original, more generic name, the English Kennel Club registered the breed under the name Gordon Setter. This made the new name official.
The breed made its way to the United States during the mid-1800s. In America, Gordon Setters are popular hunting dogs, show dogs, and companion animals. Their ability to learn quickly and remember commands without much training has made them increasingly popular in the fields.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Gordon Setter in 1884.