The Gordon Setter is a large Scottish gun dog breed that only came to the United States in 1842. In reality, these dogs have been around since the 1600s and they get their name from Duke Alexander who was the Fourth Gordon in Scotland. Thus, there is more to a Gordon setter and we have history to prove it!
Find out if you would love to make the Gordon setter a part of your household.
Cool facts about the Gordon Setter
- Gordon setters are a cross between spaniels and pointer breeds. They were bred for bird setting and retrieving. Today, they are used for pointing field trails. Their sense of smell makes them suitable to hunt upland birds.
- They are the heaviest of all setter breeds and are known for the stamina and strength more than their speed.
- Gordons were especially popular as hunting companions on the Scottish grouse moors where they could display their stamina and speed.
- During the Second World War, their numbers depleted considerably and the breeding stock became scarce.
- They are also known as the Black and Tan Setters.
- Compared to other setter breeds and hunting dogs, they are not as fast nor do they have the stamina; but they have the capability to work under adverse weather conditions and can be active all day long.
This is a beautiful dog with a beautiful, dense coat. Shoulder height for males is between 24-27 inches at withers and for bitches, it is 23-26 inches. Weight is between 55-80 lbs for males and 45-70 for females.
Their coat is soft, shiny, dense, long and wavy but not curly; it is the most distinct feature of their overall personality. The coat is black with tan or mahogany markings on the paws and two clear spots over the eyes. Their gait is strong and bold, smooth and effortless. They have a fairly long, non-pointed muzzle. The reason behind their strength is their huge physique and bone structure. Gordon setter’s head is long and massive. The deep chest slopes down to the withers.
This is an alert, friendly, cheerful dog that is confident and fearless. He is easy to train and very sociable. He is a patient, loving dog that will fit well in a loving environment. However, they have a lot of energy so they are not suitable for people with very young children. As a result, they need daily exercise to expend that energy. Gordons should not be left alone at home as they may resort to bad behavior like chewing things up, excess barking, etc.
Gordon setters need a fenced yard from which they cannot easily escape. They have a keen sense of smell and if they pursue prey, they could easily run away into traffic or other harmful situations. So keep your pet secured with a leash or make sure that your fence is escape-proof.
Gordons are loyal and protective of their owners and tend to be a bit wary with strangers. They make good watchdogs and guard dogs and can alert you to dangers if any. With other dogs, they may show aggression but this can be overcome by socializing your pet from an early age.
Training your Gordon Setter
Teach your Gordon setter puppy to be a part of your family right from day one. You may want to invest in a crate so that you can commence with crate training and house-training. If possible, keep an old shirt or sock on which you have rubbed some scent of the pet’s dam (mother). This way, he will feel comfortable at night and not whimper and cry.
Next, you must teach your puppy to go to the bathroom outside. Take him out several times as a puppy has a small bladder. This will help him understand not to soil his living quarters. Start basic training as soon as your pet turns 10 weeks old. You can treat him healthy treats like carrots or boiled chicken pieces, every time he follows a command. Use the same command each time and do not change these words, else your dog could get confused.
Never shout or scold or punish your Gordon setter physically; it might only make him timid or aggressive and nothing good ever comes out of negative reinforcement of this type. Always use plenty of praise, rewards, and petting to get your dog to behave in a certain way.
All gun dogs need more exercise compared to other breeds and the Gordon Setter is the most energetic of all hunting, setter-type breeds. A sedentary lifestyle is very harmful to your pet and this dog with long legs needs to be walked twice a day for at least 30 minutes each. He also needs some free-running time to keep himself fit. You can do this in a fenced-in area or in a dog park where he can be left unleashed. A game of fetch can also help him expend energy or you could take your pet for a hike or even a swim.
Use a natural boar bristle brush to brush your pet every other day. Gentle brushing will stimulate natural oils under the pet’s skin and also remove dead hair. Compared to other double-coated breeds, the Gordon setter sheds his hair differently. His dead hair brown at the ends and you can easily pluck them out. During grooming sessions, do not forget to check your pet’s eyes and ears and also brush his teeth. Trim his nails from time to time and also bathe your pet once every few months to keep his coat healthy and shiny.
Lifespan and health concerns
Major health concerns in Gordon Setters are hip dysplasia and gastric torsion while some minor concerns like PRA and elbow dysplasia are also seen. Occasionally, Gordons suffer from cerebellar abiotrophy. The lifespan of the Gordon setter is 10-12 years.
Where to find a Gordon Setter
The Gordon Setter Club of America website is a good place to start your search for a breeder. Evaluate the breeder by speaking to him/her. Ask them several questions about their dogs and particularly the reason behind their breeding program. Once you are comfortable with a breeder, go ahead and meet the litter. Also, ask to meet the dam (mother) of your potential pet. Ensure that she is of a mild temperament so that your puppy will also have a greater chance of having a favorable temperament. The average cost of a Gordon setter is between $500 and $1000.