Gordon Setter breed characteristics, origin and care

Gordon Setter breed characteristics

  • Size: Large
  • Traits: Independent, loyal, companionship, dignified, strong
  • Maintenance: High
  • Best Suited To: Active adults with plenty of spare time, families with older children

Independent, loyal and strong, the Gordon Setter is one canine with a lot of energy to burn! It’ll be happiest spending time with you and running freely in wide open spaces.

Where I'm From

The Gordon Setter was recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1892 but its history can be traced back as early as 1620 when it was known as the black and fallow setting dog.

The breed owes its current name to the fourth Duke of Gordon who set out to have it officially recognised in Scotland in 1827. It was bred to hunt game birds and remains an excellent hunter to this day.

What I Look Like

Gordon Setters have a distinctive black and tan coat that’s thick, shiny and soft to touch. They’re a heavily boned breed with a deep chest and a square build. You’ll have a hard time looking past this gorgeous dog with its tail wagging constantly and its stylish appearance.

These pooches have a look of elegance, dignity and strength. Their coat is medium long and their hair can be straight or wavey. It’s no surprise the Gordon Setters sports muscular legs that are good for running and hunting.

How I Act

Gordon Setters are yet another breed that loves good old fashioned company. They’re gentle and sensitive dogs who love their home and family. While they are loyal and a little protective, they’re by no means guard dog material.

In order to train a Gordon Setter, you’ll need to be committed, calm and consistent in your approach. This dog has a mind of its own so don’t expect anything to be overly easy.

They are the type of dog that will bond easily with a family but be warned they can be like over excited children if they’re not given a daily dose of exercise. That may sound fun, but if little kids are around while a Gordon Setter is in a hyperactive mood, the kids may get knocked over and hurt.

Gordon Setters will never set out to hurt anyone though. They’re not aggressive dogs, nor are they shy animals. They’re quick, alert, obedient and loyal to their owners. Keep in mind, to raise a well balanced Gordon Setter, you will need to socialise it early on.

Looking After Me

This high energy canine can be a bit of hard work but your investment will be repaid with love and loyalty. Gordon Setters are particularly active dogs that require a great deal of exercise to keep them happy and healthy. They’re best suited to country areas where they can run freely in wide open spaces, however a well fenced garden in the city with a doting owner will make them pretty happy too!

Note, this is not the right dog for a time poor owner. Gordon Setters require twice daily, long walks or runs and their semi-long coats will keep you busy too. You’ll need to brush and comb your dog at least twice a week.

Ear hygiene is an area of concern for these canines too as their ears are very long and can trap air and bacteria causing infection. You’ll need to give your dog’s ears a clean regularly and excessive hair under the ear should be trimmed as needed.

In terms of health complaints, the Gordon Setter is one of many deep chested dogs that are prone to bloating and gastric torsion. Some also suffer from Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which is a genetic disorder than can cause blindness. Hip dysplasia is another common problem among large dog breeds you will need to be wary of.

Am I the pet for you?


  • Loyal and enjoys company
  • Suitable for active owners
  • Suited to country life


  • Not suited to young families
  • Prone to various health conditions
  • Independent minded, may not be the easiest to train
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