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Gordon Setter

Gordon Setter

The Gordon Setter breed of dogs date back many years. These gorgeous, hunting and working dogs are known to be the largest of all the setter breeds. They are an active breed that love nothing better than being active and busy. Not only are they very intelligent dogs, they are also very loyal to their human families. They make fantastic pets especially as they keep some of their puppy characteristics through to adulthood. Over recent years, the popularity of the Gordon Setter has dwindled. Because of this, they are now classed as a vulnerable, native breed.

Key facts about the Gordon Setter

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Playful Hunter

Size :

Origins and history

Black and Tan setters were discovered in Scotland, way back during the 15th century. This is where they first took their breed name from, the Gordon Castle Setter. His previous ancestors may have been bloodhounds, or colleys, which could account for his unique colouring. Although he isn’t as fast as the English Setter when hunting, nonetheless his skills do include tracking, pointing and retrieving game birds.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 7 - Pointing Dogs


Section 2 : British and Irish Pointers and Setters

Physical characteristics of the Gordon Setter

    Adult size

    Female : Between 24 and 25 in

    Male : Between 25 and 27 in


    Female : Between 55 and 57 lb

    Male : Between 64 and 66 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    The males of this dog breed are larger than the females, yet both have gloriously glossy hair. The dog’s skull is dome-shaped with a broad muzzle and a large, black nose. Quite a sturdy dog, built more for stamina and strength, rather than speed. Its rugged looks give the impression of a rugged dog that will cope with an active, full-day’s work on the hunting field.

    The Gordon Setter has well-muscled and broad hindquarters, strong rear legs and nicely padded, hair-covered feet. The dog’s tail is thick at the base but finer near the tip. His eyes are deep brown and oval shaped. His ears lie flat but are long and floppy, with a pointed shape.

    Good to know

    There are actually two types of Gordon Setter. The first is the field-type Gordon and the other the show Gordon Setter. In modern days, the hunting dog is a more popular choice than just a family pet.


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      As a sensitive breed of dog, the Gordon Setter is a loyal, affectionate dog. They become very attached to their owners, but don’t often tolerate strangers.

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      If a Gordon Setter puppy is socialised from a young age, he is likely to maintain his playful nature into adulthood. This breed are known to be happy, curious dogs, generally loyal to the family they live with. They love to entertain and take part in many tasks and games. When the mood takes him, he can be slightly mischievous too.

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      As adolescents, between 6 to 9 months, most Gordon Setter pups go through a stage filled with anxiety and fear. Owners shouldn’t pamper the dogs too much during this period, but to remain calm and give the dogs lots of reassurance, that all is well in their world.

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      Gordon Setters are certainly very intelligent dogs. Always eager to please their owners and are quick learners when it comes to any new tasks. However, when training a Gordon Setter, you must understand that they sometimes pick up bad habits too. Often quite stubborn, yet he definitely doesn’t like harsh discipline treatments.

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      Even though Gordon Setters have hunting and working dogs in their ancestry, they are more social dogs by nature. Because of this, their prey drive isn’t very strong. However, this doesn’t totally exclude any hunting skills totally from their lives, and if the odd squirrel crosses his path, he may just chase after it.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      As a loyal breed of dog, totally dedicated to his owners, the Gordon Setter won’t really tolerate strangers in his home.

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      This smart, intelligent dog breed loves human company and interaction. He doesn’t take too well being left alone for long periods at all. Best suited to someone who plans to be at home for most of the day.

      Behaviour of the Gordon Setter

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        Tolerates solitude

        A Gordon Setter is a very family-orientated breed who loves the company of his owner. It isn’t advisable to leave a dog alone at home for any long periods of time, to prevent any separation anxieties. Destructive habits can form when he is anxious or stressed.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        This breed needs to begin training routines at an early stage in his life. Once this dog has picked up bad habits, it’s more difficult to retrain him. Consistent training is needed, with a caring, calm approach.

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        Some pets from this breed like to make lots of noise. This needs to be controlled when the dog is a small puppy, although care must be taken when reprimanding this sensitive dog. Others will only be noisy and bark when they’re not sure about something in their surroundings, or to alert you of a stranger’s presence.

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