The Gordon Setter

The Gordon Setter has a Scottish background that dates back to the 17th century. The Duke of Gordon IV developed the breed in Gordon Castle. The Gordon became very popular among hunters in the early 19th century with his keen scenting abilities and intelligence. His job was to find and point to birds or other game. The Gordon is the largest and strongest of the three setter breeds.

The American Kennel Club recognized the Gordon Setter in 1884.

Sizing up

  • Weight: 45 to 80 lbs.
  • Height: 23 to 27 inches
  • Coat: Black with mahogany markings
  • Color: Thick, silky and long
  • Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

What’s the Gordon Setter like?
The Gordon Setter is a loving, protective, and an energetic breed. He is hopelessly devoted to his family and his alert nature makes him a great watchdog. The Gordon is protective and extremely tolerant with children, even toddlers. Gordons need daily exercise, such as a long walk, a nice hike, or a fun game of fetch in the yard.

Gordons are smart, but they can be a bit stubborn. If you begin obedience training early and stick to positive reinforcements, training should be pretty easy. Use food rewards to keep him happy and motivated as well.

You should brush or comb your Gordon’s thick, long coat about 3 days a week to prevent and remove any tangles or mats. Regular brushing is also important if you’d rather not have dog hair on your couch.

The Gordon Setter is generally a healthy breed with a few concerns to watch for:

Hip dysplasia

  • One of the most common diseases seen in dogs, with larger breeds being the most affected--ultimately a malfunction of the hip joints causing a loss of function.

Elbow dysplasia

  • The development of arthritis in the elbow joint

Progressive retinal atrophy

  • An eye condition that essentially worsens over time and could lead to a loss of vision


  • A disease caused by a decrease in metabolism due to an under-active thyroid hormone

Cerebellar abiotrophy

  •  A disease that occurs at a young age that may lead to paralysis.


Gastric torsion

  • A condition in which a dog's stomach rotates and twists and in some cases can lead to cellular damage or organ death

Takeaway points

  • The Gordon Setter is an excellent watchdog.
  • The Gordon Setter requires plenty of exercise.
  • The Gordon Setter is great with children.
  • The Gordon Setter can be an awesome hunting companion.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.