Pet Breeds

All you need to know about Gordon Setter

December 10, 2011

The Gordon Setter is one like the other Setter breeds – the Irish Setter and the English Setter. The National Kennel Council classifies it either as a Gundog or a Sporting dog. The breed was originally developed to aid in hunting gamebirds – partridges, snipes, woodcocks, pheasants, quails and the like. These dogs prefer concealment over flight and make it easy for the Setter to hunt them down. The dog is originally from the United Kingdom from where it has moved to the United States and other parts of the world too.

Gordon setter

Physical appearance

These dogs are among the heaviest among the Setter breeds and they often reach a height of 27 inches (at the withers) and a weight of over 80 pounds. “Black and Tan” is an apt description for this dignified looking dog. It is jet-black all over the body except at the paws where it is either mahogany or rich chestnut. This color also extends along the throat, lower legs, vent and muzzle. Since the breed has a red recessive gene, you will also see red, buff or tan colored dogs. It has long, silky hair that can sometimes be wavy. The hair never curls though. Its muzzle is broad with large upper lip-overhangs. The dog looks and is intelligent!


This large dog is known for its obedience and loyalty. It is sweet-tempered and will become the darling of everyone around in spite of its large size. They will be very good playmates for children because they are willing, intelligent and devoted by nature. At the same time, they have a keen sense of smell and bravery that make them good guard dogs capable of providing the best possible protection. Though it gets very close to the owner and family members, it maintains a distance from strangers.

It needs lots of exercise else will get irritable. In case of other pets at home, the dog will try to dominate unless moderated by proper human leadership. They are known to get stubborn if they sense that the owners are getting meek or submissive. Early training will ensure that they are perfectly behaved and an angel of a dog! When you take the dog for walks, ensure that it walks alongside you and never ahead of you because the dog always feels that one who leads is the leader.


This large dog has such an excellent and long coat. This needs grooming and care to maintain. But that is about all that needs to be done. Regular combing and daily brushing of the hair ensures that the dog maintains its excellent coat. The coat then remains soft and smooth. There are times when the dog sheds the hair. At such times, you should give extra care. Check the hair for tangles and burrs. Straighten them out gently and your dog will remain elegant and handsome for life.

Ideal living conditions

Being a hunting breed of dogs, the Gordon Setter requires lots of exercise. Therefore, it is not good to keep it indoors. Its large reserves of energy may turn destructive if restricted. It should be allowed to bound along and run, getting sufficient exercise. Then, the dog will be well-disciplined and quiet indoor also. The best would be to have a fenced yard in which the dog can bound and play about. Their hunting instincts are always alive and they prod them on to roam and explore. Do not own this dog only for petting!

Life expectancy

The largest among the Setter breeds has an expected lifetime of about 10-12 years.

Health issues

The Gordon Setter is prone to hip dysplasia but it is relatively more resistant to it compared to the other Setters. Another common problem that these dogs suffer from is hypothyroidism where the thyroid glands function below their optimum capacity. Gastric bloat or gastric torsion is also observed in some dogs. Eye diseases like cataracts and retinal eye atrophies are common in this breed. The eye problems are due to genetic effects and it has been noticed that almost half the breed carries that gene.

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