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

Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Gordon Setter Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Gordon Setter Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Gordon Setter-Pixabay

Gordon Setters are the loyal companions you never knew you wanted. Not only are they affectionate, but they are intelligent as well, enhancing their ability to interact with their owners and enriching their relationships. These traits are probably due to their breeding which began in the early 1600s in Scotland and England for fowl hunting. As a result, breeders honed Gordon Setters for their intelligence, stamina, and keen sense of smell. Because of their instinct to hunt, Gordons have a natural drive to run and chase.

Breed Overview


23­ – 27 inches


45­ – 80 pounds


10 – 13 years


Black and tan, red (rare)

Suitable for:

Active families, children, companionship,


Loyal & affectionate, Intelligent and Alert, Confident, Eager to please

Did we mention Gordon Setters are energetic? Owning one of these pups might not be suitable for everyone. Gordons require a lot of room to run, so an appropriately sized fenced yard would be optimal for them. They also need daily mental stimulation because they might be too darn smart for their own good. Without either, you may find yourself posting dog-shaming pictures on social media (if that’s how you roll). However, given the proper training and direction, your Gordon will be the perfect companion and will even settle down nightly for an evening of cuddles.

There are many reasons to own a Gordon Setter. Some have a history of being household pets, while others were working pets. Historically, Gordons were hunting dogs, but more recently, these majestic, well-behaved beasts have fared well in dog shows. So, whatever your goals might be for your next pet, the Gordan Setter may be the perfect choice. Who knows, they may be your new BFF! But before you delve into romantic thoughts of frolicking with your new pup, read on to find out everything you need to know about owning a Gordon.

Gordon Setter Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

divider-dog paw Gordon Setter Puppies

While the Gordon Setter may take some time to warm up to new people, as your family pet you will feel their loyalty and affection shine through. They are a wonderful companion breed. Training will be important, however, as long as you have the time to dedicate towards their training, you should find this particular task fairly manageable.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Gordon Setter

Gordon Setters are not only intelligent; they are intuitive animals. They will vibe off of you and your body language and will be the friend you’re looking for as long as you grant them the respect they deserve. If you are looking for an animal that stays outside, a Gordon is not for you. Even though they are very independent, they need and thrive on human companionship.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Gordon Setters make excellent family dogs and tend to be patient with children. Bonus, they are alert and wary of strangers, making them expert guard dogs as well. But don’t worry, they will warm up to outsiders once they’ve gotten to know them.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Gordon Setters do well with dogs and cats but can be aggressive to other male dogs at times. Expect them to chase and hunt birds and other small animals since this is part of their nature. Socialization with other animals and humans at an early age will ensure a well-mannered companion.


Things to Know When Owning a Gordon Setter:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Gordon Setters need a diet that is not high in protein as they can pack on the pounds. We suggest a good, high-quality kibble. It is vital to note Gordons should not exercise a half-hour before or after eating as this can cause a life-threatening condition called bloat. The AKC suggests that feedings twice a day may be beneficial in reducing bloat along with strategies to slow down how fast your dog eats.

Gordon Setter -Pixabay1
Image Credit: Pixabay

Exercise 🐕

Did we say Gordon Setters are super energetic? Maybe. But let’s talk about intensity. Even though Gordons have a lot of energy, they are low intensity. In other words, Gordons are known for their endurance. Hunters preferred Gordon Setters for long days of hunting, so don’t expect your pup to fizzle out quickly. In review, they will do best with long jogs or walks every day with some games of catch thrown in for good measure. So, if you are not outdoorsy, this dog might not be for you.

Training 🎾

Smart dogs such as the Gordon Setter are easily trainable and eager to please at that! But if you neglect to train them, they can become domineering and try to become the master in the relationship. So don’t underestimate their intelligence or the fact that they know their worth. These regal canines demand respect, so you must train with positive reinforcement and avoid harsh discipline. They do best with firm, fair and consistent obedience.

Grooming ✂️

Gordon Setters need brushings at least every other day to keep their hair from mating and reduce shedding. In addition, they should be bathed monthly and trimmed, especially around the longer hair around their ears, under their torso, and between their paws. In addition, we recommend monthly nail trimming and dental care for all canine breeds.

Health and Conditions 🏥

With all animals, certain health concerns may be relevant to your decisions on your pet of choice. We’ll discuss some of these here but keep in mind that any animals can develop or have other conditions not included here.

Minor Conditions
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Serious Conditions
  • Bloat (gastric torsion)
  • Hip dysplasia

Male vs Female

As with any breed of dog, males tend to be more even-tempered than females, aside from those occasional spats with other males. They tend to be better cuddlers and more playful. Females have hormonal fluctuations, which leads them to moodiness, so don’t be surprised if your girl is giving you the side-eye and being a bit whiny from time to time.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Gordon Setter

1. The fourth Duke of Gordon gave the Gordon Setter its name.

The Duke took a particular interest in this breed of setter, which initially was named “the black and tan,” according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). However, once the Duke started mastering the breed, he dubbed them Gordon Castle Setters, and they eventually became simply Gordon Setters. No wonder these marvelous animals are so regal yet treat outsiders as peasants!

2. Gordon Setters are rare in America.

They are the biggest and slowest of the Setter family, not to say that is the reason they are rare. But even though they are rare, they have their own Fanclub, the Gordon Setter Club of America.

3. Gordon Setters are young at heart.

These pups stay pups longer, maturing later than the average dog. They are known for their playful and loving nature. Even aging Gordons enjoy a good tousle about the floor, especially if you’re down to play along. There is nothing they love better than to enjoy your company.

divider-dog paw

Final Thoughts

Gordon Setters are one of the most regal and sophisticated dog breeds we have ever had the pleasure of knowing. If you are planning on becoming an owner of this supreme animal, be ready to spend a lot of money not only to purchase a Gordon, but to groom, train, and socialize your pet. Dutch and Duchesses do tend to be high maintenance, after all! Speaking of high maintenance, they will need much of your attention initially, so be prepared to spend a lot of time on them. The final thing that you will need for this pup is space for them to exercise. If you cannot provide all of these needs, you may need to consider a dog that’s more in tune with your budget and lifestyle.

In the end, if you have what it takes to raise one of these pups, it is well worth the investment, particularly if your pet will be a working companion with you.

Related Reads and Breeds:

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets