AKC Dog Breeds: Gordon Setter

Post Pic

As dog owners and people who care deeply for animals and wildlife, we wanted our Dog Encyclopedia to be a website that could empower pet owners to create the most positive, loving environment for their dogs. Dog Encyclopedia realizes that owning a dog is like adding a new member to your family.

Sporting  Group
Height: 23-27 inches   Weight: 45-80 pounds  Color: black and tan, specific markings only accepted

The heaviest of the three setter breeds, the Gordon Setter was originally bred as a personal bird dog, but they are equally at home as companion dogs, obedience competitors and show dogs today. Sturdy and muscular, the Gordon suggests strength and stamina rather than extreme speed while on the move. The breed’s distinctive black and tan coat allows it to be found easily in light fields and early snow. The Gordon hails from Scotland, and his ancient lineage traces back to the early 17th century. Popular among hunters of Scotland, the black-and-tan Setter came into prominence in the kennels of the fourth Duke of Gordon in the early 19th century. As field trials became more popular, the Gordon’s popularity waned in favor of Pointers and other flashy, fast breeds, but the breed remained unparalleled as a one-man shooting dog. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1878.

General Appearance
The Gordon Setter differs from the English and Irish setters in that it has a more robust structure, a more massive head, and more fully developed lips, as well as by the color of it silky, wavy coat. It is the only black & tan setter. It is a tall, slender dog with a lovely feathered coat. The head is long, chiseled and massive, with a very pronounced stop and a large-nostril led black nose. The long muzzle is squared-off, not pointed and should be approximately the same length from nose to stop as the skull from stop to occiput. The teeth may meet in a scissors or level bite, but a scissors bite is preferred. The long, slightly pointed ears hang flat beside that head. The oval eyes are dark brown. The topline slopes gently downward from the withers. The deep chest should reach to the elbows, but should not be too broad. The well-feathered tail is thick at the root, tapering to a fine point. The front legs should be large-boned and straight. The feet should be cat-like, with arched toes and well furnished with hair. Dewclaws may be removed. The soft, glossy coat may be straight or slightly wavy, with profuse feathering on the legs, underside, ears and tail. The tail feathering should create a triangular silhouette, with the hair gradually growing shorter as the tail tapers.

The Gordon Setter is a dog that has a loving and friendly disposition, and is loyal, affectionate, and sociable. An alert and sensible creature, the Gordon Setter has a certain dignity about him yet still loves to play and join in with family activities and fun. These dogs love the attention of their owners, and this sometimes results in jealousy where other pets are concerned. Although the Gordon Setter is suitable for inexperienced owners as well as the more experienced, these dogs can be strong minded and independent, and therefore the owner must be confident and assertive, whilst remaining positive. The Gordon Setter gets along well with children, but the large size of these dogs could prove a problem if you have smaller children in the home. They have very good memories, which can aid training but can also make bad habits difficult to break. The Gordon Setter is an energetic dog and loves getting involved in a wide range of activities, such as jogging, biking, and hiking. They get along okay with other pets, but can exercise dominance. When it comes to strangers their reaction can vary, and whereas some may be friendly others may be more reserved. The Gordon Setter will bark to raise an alarm if something seems amiss, and this makes him an effective watchdog. He is quick to learn, obedient, and devoted, making this breed a good choice for a family pet.


Despite the long and somewhat silky coat the Gordon Setter is an amazingly easy to groom breed. They do required regular brushing two or three times a week to prevent tangles and mats from forming, especially in the longer furnishings on the legs, chest, underbelly and tail areas. The coat lies very close to the body and can be brushed in the direction of hair growth using a pin or stiff bristle or wire brush. The longer hair on the legs, tail and belly can be combed with a metal brush or with the wire or pin brush. Pay particular attention to the hair behind the legs where the movement between the legs and the body can cause tangles and mats.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Gordon Setter is around 10-12 years, and although this is a largely healthy and hardy breed there are a few health problems to look out for. Gordon Setters are prone to such health issues as bloating, juvenile renal disease, hip dysplasia, lameness, thyroid deficiency, cysts, and progressive retinal atrophy.

Activity Level

The Gordon Setter thrives on outdoor exercise. They are not recommended for apartment dwelling, as they love to roam and run free. A large securely fenced yard or country setting is preferred. Gordon Setters enjoy a wide variety of activities such as swimming, hunting, family play sessions, walking with their master, and playing ball.


Dog Breeds:

Dog Encyclopedia has added beautiful dog photographs on each of our Dog Breed pages to enhance your experience. Each section in Dog Encyclopedia helps to educate pet owners, enabling both the dog, and the owner to have a safe, high quality experience

Snickers have a swim and relaxingYorkshire Terriers are a great pet choicebichon frise make adorable petsfrench bulldogs are a favorite dog breeddalmations are often known as firehouse dogsold english sheepdog look they cant see

Gordon Setter profile on dog encyclopedia
Gordon Setter dog featured on dog encyclopedia