Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Gordon Setter | Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Personality & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Gordon Setter

Height: 23 – 27 inches
Weight: 45 – 80 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 13 years
Colors: Black with tan markings
Suitable for: Families looking for a large and athletic dog
Temperament: Affectionate and loyal, can be stubborn, clever, and confident

If you’re looking for a breed that’s just at home on a rainy hillside as they are in front of the fire, the Gordon Setter might just be your perfect dog. This athletic Scottish breed has a rich history of working as sporting dogs on hunts in the Scottish Highlands. These tall dogs are affectionate, confident, and bursting with energy.

The Gordon Setter is undoubtedly eye-catching and smart, but they’re not the breed for everyone. Their high energy levels combined with a strong work ethic means these dogs thrive on having exercise and training challenges. Leaving them at home without enough exercise or entertainment is a recipe for disaster.

Gordon Setters aren’t that well-known of a breed in the U.S.A., so you might not know that much about them. If you’re tempted by their exceptional good looks, then we’re here to tell you everything else you need to know before you decide if they’re the perfect breed for you.

hepper-dog-paw-divider 3

Gordon Setter Puppies

Gordon Setter puppy in the summer
Image credit: Everita Pane, Shutterstock

We know that every single puppy of absolutely any breed is simply adorable, and Gordon Setter puppies are no exception! Their velvety soft ears and adorable tan markings will make your heart melt in an instant. But before you agree to reserve a puppy, it’s important to make sure you can provide exactly what they need to thrive.

Gordon Setters have a combination of energy and intelligence which means they’re always on the lookout for something to do. They won’t cope well with being left to get bored at home and will likely make their own entertainment in this case.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Gordon Setter

1. They were one of the first breeds accepted into the AKC.

The Gordon Setter was one of the first breeds accepted into the American Kennel Club, all the way back in 1884, when the AKC was founded.

2. This breed has had a few different names.

The Gordon Setter was originally called the Black and Tan Setter when the breed was accepted into the British Kennel Club in 1872. They were originally called the Gordon Castle Setter when the AKC accepted them in 1884. Then in 1892, the American Kennel Club changed their name to the Gordon Setter, and the British Kennel Club followed suit in 1924.

3. They’re an ancient breed.

The Gordon Setter has been around for a long time, with the first records of this breed dating to 1620. Alexander Gordon, the Duke of Gordon, started refining the breed in the 1800s and had a kennel full of these black and tan dogs at his castle.

Gordon Setter
Image Credit: ChristianeMm, Pixabay

Divider 3

Temperament & Intelligence of the Gordon Setter 🧠

The Gordon Setter is smart and affectionate, and they love spending time with their owners. They can suffer from separation anxiety if left home alone for long periods. They can also be wary of strangers and will usually alert you if someone is approaching your house.

Due to their history as a sporting dog, they can have a reputation for having a stubborn streak, but really, they’re just used to thinking for themselves!

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Gordon Setters are a wonderful choice of breed for active families. They love to watch over their humans and are patient with small children, as long as they’re not too rough. These dogs are extremely loyal and enjoy spending time with their families, whatever you’re up to.

As a high-energy breed, Gordon Setters need a great deal of exercise, so if you have plenty of family members willing to take them for walks, they will always be happy to go for as many walks as you can all manage!

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

This breed generally gets along well with other pets in the same household. As long as they’re introduced to cats and small pets in a controlled environment, they can learn to live happily alongside them.

They can be wary of strange dogs, so if you do plan on getting another dog, you’ll need to introduce them all carefully to make sure everyone gets along. Socialization from a very young age will help your Gordon Setter get used to meeting a wide range of other dogs in different settings, but it’s best to always take care when introducing them to dogs at the dog park or those you meet on a walk.

Puppy looking into a field with a blue squeak toy in foreground
Image credit: Gunnar Rathbun, Shutterstock


Things to Know When Owning a Gordon Setter

If you’ve already been charmed by this loyal and stunning Setter, make sure you keep reading to check you can provide everything that they need to live a happy and healthy life.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

As a larger breed, it’s important to allow your Gordon Setter puppy plenty of time to grow slowly as their bones mature. Rapid growth caused by food that’s too high in protein can cause problems for this breed. It’s best to stick to a food with a protein content of lower than 26%, so you can encourage steady growth over a long period. Speak to your vet about the best brands to try, as some puppy foods may contain too much protein.

Gordon Setters can be prone to bloat, also known as gastric torsion. This is due to their deep chests, and bloat will require urgent veterinary care if your dog develops it. To lower the risk, try to encourage slow eating, using a slow feed bowl if necessary. You can also split your dog’s daily ration into three or four smaller meals. Don’t allow your dog to exercise for at least half an hour before and after they’ve eaten.

Exercise 🐕

Gordon Setters are active dogs with plenty of endurance. They need at least an hour of exercise per day, but if you can manage more, they’ll always be up for another walk! They need active walks and runs rather than a sedate walk around the block. Gordon Setters make great running or biking partners, as they can settle into a fast pace to match your speed.

As a clever breed, they need plenty of mental stimulation too!

Golden Setter running in the beach
Image By: ChristianeMm, Pixabay

Training 🦮

Gordon Setters have an innate ability to think for themselves, born from their years as hunting dogs. This means they can come across as stubborn and can sometimes appear to ignore commands if they feel that they’re not relevant!

To combat this, starting at a young age is the best way to bond with your dog when it comes to their training. As well as helping your Gordon Setter socialize with other dogs, you’ll learn which training methods suit them best and how to maintain their interest so they don’t switch off during training sessions.

These dogs are eager to please — most of the time, anyway! They love spending time learning new commands, and as long as you keep an eye on when they’re getting bored and don’t repeat the same command over and over, they make wonderful training partners.

Grooming ✂️

The long and lush coat of the Gordon Setter needs brushing at least every other day. This way, you can prevent tangles and keep their shedding hairs under control. You may also want to trim the long hairs between their paw pads to stop these from getting matted. Gordon Setters can be prone to ear infections due to their heavy ears, so it’s a good idea to check their ears once a week.

Their nails also grow quickly and can need trimming twice a month if they don’t get worn down from exercise on harder surfaces. Brush your dog’s teeth once or twice a week, so they don’t develop plaque.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Gordon Setters are, as a whole, a healthy breed. Any breeder with available puppies should be more than happy to chat with you about the main conditions that can affect this breed, as well as provide results from health tests. Bloat can occur in this breed and needs management when feeding to reduce the risks of your dog developing this condition.

Minor Conditions
  • Otis externa
  • Hypothyroidism
Serious Conditions
  • Bloat (gastric torsion)
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Cancer


Male vs. Female

Perhaps after reading everything we’ve told you about the gorgeous Gordon Setter, you’re convinced that this is the perfect breed for you. We can understand why! Maybe you’re even excitedly discussing if you should choose a male or female pup.

For all breeds, we recommend waiting until you’ve met the litter of puppies that you’re interested in to make your decision. Puppies’ personalities can vary widely, and you may find your perfect outgoing puppy happens to be a female when you imagined that you’d end up picking a male.

If you’re concerned about hormonal behavior, most of this will completely disappear when you have your puppy spayed or neutered at the appropriate age.

Divider 3Final Thoughts

It’s true that the Gordon Setter isn’t one of the best-known Setter breeds out there, but they have so much going for them! They’re loyal, affectionate, smart, and perfect for active households looking for a large breed that can accompany you on all sorts of outdoor adventures.

They do need time and dedication when it comes to grooming that luscious coat, as well as plenty of dedication on the training front. But if you can meet their needs there, you’ll have a loyal and loving friend for life who will always be up for an adventure.

Featured Image Credit: Anna Tronova, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database