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Your Pet, Our Passion.

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.

  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Quiet dog
  • Not a guard dog
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • Great family dog

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10-12 years
Weight:  Adult males 29.5kg, adult females 25.5kg
Height:  Adult males are 66cm tall and females 62cm tall
Colours:  Black and tan
Size:  Large
UK Kennel Club Groups: Gundog


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 5/5
Tolerates being alone: 1/5
Likes other pets: 2/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 5/5
Dog standing on the grass


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.

Dog running in the grass

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Scotland

Setters have existed in Scotland since the 1600’s, and towards the end of that century the 4th Duke of Gordon set about establishing his own recognised type. 

For a long time however, the Duke was primarily focused on how well his dogs worked rather than what they looked like, and so his kennels housed and worked setters of many colours, including black and white, red and white and tri-colour – all called the Duke of Gordon’s Setters. It was later in the breed’s history that the black and tan form we know today became fixed, most likely as a result of the breeds success in the show ring. 

Larger and slightly slower than smaller setters, the Gordon Setter had more stamina on the Scottish grouse moors and were reputed to bring home more birds than other gundogs.

Health and Common Issues

As with many breeds, the Gordon Setter can suffer from hereditary eye disorders and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). 

The Gordon Setter is a deep chested breed which can be prone to bloating. 

Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important. Please check the Breed Clubs and Kennel Club website for the latest health updates.

Exercise Needs

The Gordon Setter is a dog with strength, stamina and enormous endurance, so expect several hours of dog exercise, including walking and some free running daily, regardless of the weather.  

Taking part in appropriate dog sports or activities is advisable, particularly those that utilise the Gordon Setters endurance, and scenting and retrieving ability. This is an intelligent dog however so any activity you have the patience to train will be beneficial to their mental and physical wellbeing. 

Space Requirements

The Gordon Setter is large dog with a coat that collects a considerable quantity of mud and muck, better suited to country living and a large home and garden. Given the exercise requirements, easy access to a variety of country walks is essential as this is not a dog to be kept happy with a trot around the streets.

Nutrition and Feeding

Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. The Gordon Setter is also prone to bloating and stomach problems. Smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk. Discover more about how to offer your dog a balanced diet with our easy-to-follow guide.

Grooming Gordon Setter

As a semi-long-coated dog, the Gordon needs to be brushed and combed regularly, at least twice a week. The ears should also be cleaned on a regular basis since they are long and pendulous - the type that traps in air and can lead to infections. Check paw pads regularly for grass seeds or other foreign bodies and consider whether due to size, you will need professional grooming for full baths. Find out more about dog grooming and daily care with our article.

Training Gordon Setter

While intelligent and capable of learning, this is a large, slow maturing breed. Rushing or over-facing a Gordon Setter will result in a confused dog who fools around rather than learns, and can be mis-understood as stubborn or wilful. Bred to work away from people and make their own decisions, the Gordon Setters have an independent mind and will form their own opinions easily, so careful management is key! Take dog training at the pet’s pace rather than yours, and enjoy the journey.

Best Family Dog Breeds

The Gordon Setter is better suited to homes with older children, as when young they can be boisterous and clumsy, and adore picking up and carrying ‘treasure’, which can lead them into trouble if this causes confrontation, something smaller children aren’t able to understand. 

With older children or a more mature family, the Gordon can be an excellent companion, provided plenty of training and long country walks are offered daily. 

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with each other and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

did you know?

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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