The Gordon Setter was first bred at the start of the 17th century in Scotland. This bird dog was first made famous by the fourth Duke of Gordon and is the largest and heaviest of the setters. It is noted for its good memory and adaptability – learning spoken commands very quickly and committing them to memory. Gordon Setters are a popular bird dog and favored hunting companions.
Trainability & Hunting Style
The Gordon Setters are very intelligent hunting dogs and are noted for their excellent memory skills and their ability to pick up commands and tasks relatively quickly and easily. Although they are generally quite amiable and good-tempered, they may have a tendency to dominate other pets in the household if there is a lack of human leadership. It is important to maintain a high level of communication with this bird dog from a young age, as it is much easier to prevent negative behaviors from arising than it is to fix them once they have set in. Gordon Setters are very skilled hunting dogs with a great sense of smell, good at following scent and generally very loyal and obedient. Because they have strong hunting instincts they can be distracted by other animals and wildlife (along with their scents) while out being walked. Because of this it is recommended that they be kept on a lead when out and about. They respond best to trainers with a firm but calm attitude – and should be introduced to new situations (and people) as a young pup to prevent anxiety or other undesirable emotions and behaviors in later life.
Gordon Setters are muscular hunting dogs with large heads and long muzzles. Their noses are wide and black, and their ears are thin and set close to the side of their heads. Their eyes are oval shaped and colored dark brown. This is the only setter to come in black and tan markings. The tan of their coat is a rich mahogany in color and it appears over the tops of the eyes, on the muzzle and the throat and also on the vent and legs. They carry their tails horizontally, and their coat is medium to long, with straight or sometimes slightly wavy hair. Overall they have a stocky appearance. The male Gordon Setter can stand 25 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh 70 to 80 pounds and The female Gordon Setter can stand 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh 60 to 70 pounds.
The Gordon Setter is known for its tendency to be obedient as well as loyal. Their personalities are generally regarded as being sweet-natured and gentle, making them a very good bird dog to have in a household with children. They are very loyal to family – and will also get along with cats and certain other small household pets if introduced to them at an early age. They do well around strangers in the home, adopting the post of an ‘observer’ to wait and assess situations, rather than becoming agitated or excitable. In general, this breed of hunting dog gets on well with both people and other hunting dogs alike due to their friendly disposition, although they can be reserved around strangers at first.
Generally, Gordon Setter is a healthy bird dog, however they have been known to be prone to certain illnesses and conditions such as hip dysplasia and certain eye diseases such as PRA (progressive retinal atrophy) and cataracts. Also this type of bird dog is known to be prone to bloating, so it is recommended that they be fed two or three smaller meals per day, spread evenly apart so as to avoid stomach upset. If healthy and receiving good care a Gordon Setter may live as long as twelve years. If they are under-exercised or likewise under-stimulated, this can have a detrimental effect on their health and result in destructive behaviors. These could be in the form of chewing things around the home, barking excessively and for no reason or just generally making a nuisance. They need challenges and ‘jobs’ to do to keep them active and entertained.