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Gordon Setter

A tall and majestic dog, the Gordon Setter combines powerful size and elegance with a sturdy. athletic frame. Wearing a glossy black and tan coat, heavily feathered on legs, chest, stomach ears and with a magnificently flagged tail, this is a strong dog able to hunt for long hours.

10-12 years
Adult males 29.5kg, adult females 25.5kg
Adult males are 66cm tall and females 62cm tall
Black and tan
UK Kennel Club Groups
The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Need to be aware of potential health issues
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys more than two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Quiet dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
This breed may encounter health problems

The Gordon Setter breed can suffer from:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Gastric dilatation volvulus
- Progressive retinal atrophy which is an inherited disorder where part of the eye degenerates and wastes away which can result in blindness.  
- Hypothyroidism¹ where the thyroid gland is underactive and does not product enough thyroid hormone. This can result in low energy levels, weight gain and skin problems.
Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme 
- DNA testing for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) which tests whether or not a dog has the potential to be affected by this condition
- Eye screening scheme 

¹M. L. Ziener at al, 'Genetics and epidemiology of hypothyroidism and symmetrical onychomadesis in the Gordon setter and the English setter' 2915, Canine Genetics and Epidemiology


Slow to mature and with a sensitive nature as adults, juvenile Gordon Setters can be quite a handful and will require patient training to instil good behaviour and manners without squashing their affectionate, dignified nature.  

Sociable and friendly with family and well-known friends, the Gordon Setter needs a little time to warm up to strangers, but makes an excellent companion with sufficient exercise and patience.

This is a gundog, who will always be prone to being distracted by birds, and have a strong desire to carry objects around. Careful handling is required so that this does not become a problematic behaviour but it is easily managed using positive reinforcement training methods and a non-confrontational approach.

Did You Know?

  • Though it is often assumed that the Duke of Gordon who created the breed, favoured the black and tan coat, in fact his interests lay only in his dogs working ability. Colour was not an issue and in fact the dark coated examples were harder to see in the hunting field. It was the popularity of the breed in the show ring that set the preference for colour, until eventually Gordon Setters were recognised only as a black and tan breed.
  • It is thought that at some point in the breed’s development a little Collie blood was added as for a while in their history, the Gordon Setter would try and herd their quarry.
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