The Gordon Setter is the black and tan member of the setter family that includes the Irish Setter, the Irish Red and White Setter and the English Setter. The Setters are included in the Sporting Group by the American Kennel and Canadian Kennel Clubs. The Gordon Setter is the Scottish setter and is a dependable, eager-to-work hunter with strength and stamina. He is the largest of the Setters with males ranging in height between 24 and 27 inches and weighing between 55 and 80 pounds. Females are slightly smaller. They were originally bred to "set" or crouch in front of prey so that their handlers could easily toss nets past them and onto the prey. They have since been bred and trained to work under the gun and to "point" upon detection of the prey. Gordons are primarily used to hunt upland game birds (partridge, grouse, pheasant, ptarmigan, snipe, woodcock, quail and chukar), but they are also an excellent family companion with an easygoing temperament. Gordons mature after reaching 3 years of age.

Gordon Setters

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Gordon Setters & You

The Gordon Setter is a polite, sweet-tempered, devoted dog, making them an enjoyable companion that is excellent with children. They are intelligent, willing, brave, cheerful and affectionate. Gordons need lots of exercise or they may become high-strung. The Gordon Setter is not recommended for apartment life. If a Gordon Setter gets enough activity outdoors it will be calm when it is indoors. But they do best with a large, safely fenced yard where they can run free. Daily long, brisk walks are hightly recommended if open space is not available (we never recommend dog parks). Generally good with other pets but may try to dominate if it is lacking in human leadership. Proper human to canine communication is essential. Gordons train early with firm, but calm leadership. A Gordon Setter that has been introduced as a puppy to cats will get along well with them. Loyal to the family, they can be distant with strangers. If strangers visit, they adopt a wait-and-see attitude. In general they get along well with other dogs and with children because they are friendly to everyone. Generally healthy, but as with all large dogs are subject to hip dysplasia. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is present in the breed, but tests exist and a respectable breeder will be able to inform you on the related health of dogs they are offering for sale. Bloat can be a fatal condition that does occur in the breed. While the exact cause is not known, Gordons should be fed two or three small meals a day rather than one big one.  Regular combing and brushing of the soft, flat, medium-length coat is all that is required to keep it in excellent condition. It is important to check for burrs and tangles, and to give extra care when the dog is shedding its coat. Bathe or dry shampoo only when necessary. Trim the hair on the bottom of the feet and keep the nails clipped. This breed is an average shedder.


Alexander, the 4th Duke of Gordon (1743-1827) and his son George, the 5th Duke of Gordon (1770-1836) played an important part in the development of the Gordon Setter. However, it is not believed that the Dukes originated the breed. There is evidence of the existence of several noted kennels of black-and-tan Setters outside Scotland prior to the establishment of the Gordon Castle kennel. Very little is known about the Dukes’ dogs as there were no stud books or other records at that time. However, the Gordon Castle Kennel dogs seem not to have been of uniform color. They have been described as ranging from black-and-tan, black-red-and-white, brownish-red-and-white, black-and-white to even yellow-and-white. The dogs were described as being heavy-bodied with big feet, heavily feathered with beautiful heads and Spaniel-like ears. It is believed that Alexander, in particular, preferred the black-and-tan dogs and concentrated his breeding on that strain. The first ‘Black and Tan Setters’ were brought to the United States from Gordon Castle in 1842 by George Blunt. The National American Kennel Club (now the American Kennel Club) registered the first ‘Black and Tan Setter’ in 1875.  In an attempt to recognize the Dukes’ contribution to the breed The American Kennel Club changed the name of the breed from ‘Black and Tan Setter’ to Gordon Setter in 1892. Thirty one years later,  in 1923, The British Kennel Club accepted the name.