Choosing a Gordon Setter

The Gordon setter is the largest, heaviest and slowest of the setter breeds. This tough dog is built to work all day.

History and Origin

The Gordon setter, once called the Gordon Castle setter, was originally developed in Scotland in the 1600s and called the black-and-tan setter. The Gordon setter was used as a Scottish gun dog that tracked and pointed small gaming birds. They gained popularity when the fourth Duke of Gordon took an interest in the dog in the early 1820s. Soon after, the dogs became known as the Gordon setter. The first pair of Gordons came to America in 1842. Eventually, the breed became a beloved pet and excellent gun dog. The American Kennel Club recognizes the breed in the Sporting group.

Appearance and Size

The Gordon setter stands 23 to 27 inches from the shoulder and weighs 45 to 80 pounds. The Gordon has a strong structure with a rounded, massive head. The nose is black and the eyes are brown with the look of intelligence. The ears are flat, pendulous and pointed, and the tail is straight and heavily feathered. The breed has a silky, wavy feathered coat that is colored with deep, glossy black coat with a tan to reddish mahogany markings.


The Gordon setter is a strong-willed, sensitive gun dog that is loyal, obedient and devoted to the household. They are affectionate and make an excellent companion.

Home and Family Relations

The Gordon setter is an excellent dog for both the general sportsman and for the busy household. They are a tireless hunter with a keen sense of smell, retrieving, tracking and hunting in the field. The Gordon setter loves to run and play with children. They are very trustworthy, but reserved around strangers. The Gordon is calmer than most of the other setters, but they love the country environment with a large area to run. They get along with other household pets, but must be taught not to chase them.


The Gordon setter is intelligent and easily trained for obedience and fieldwork. He responds best to consistent and loving training. Harsh training may break the dog's spirit.


The Gordon setter needs daily brushing to keep burrs and tangles out of the coat. The hair needs to be clipped from the feet and monthly nail trims are recommended.

Special Care

The Gordon setter needs daily exercise or they may find destructive ways to alleviate pent up energy.

Common Diseases and Disorders

Gastric torsion (bloat) is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.

Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately. Without enough thyroid hormone, illness can occur.

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that develops between the ages of 2 and 5 years.

In addition, Gordon setters are also prone to various eye problems.

The life expectancy of the Gordon setter is 12 to 13 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.