The Gordon Setter is an ancient pointing breed from Great Britain. The elegant dogs are known for their reliable way of retrieving and their unconditional obedience to their humans. In addition to the hunting attitude, there are some lovers who value the active hunting dog as a loyal family dog. In the FCI standard, the Gordon Setter can be found in the FCI Group 7 Pointers, Section 2.2 British and Irish Pointers, Working Setters, and the standard number 6.
Gordon Setter Dog Breed Information
FCI group: 7: pointing dogs
Section: 2.2: British and Irish Pointers
Country of origin: Great Britain
Life expectancy: 10-15 years
Suitable as: hunting and family dog
Personality: Loyal, Confident, Alert, Fearless, Eager
Leaving requirements: high
Drooling potential: medium
The thickness of hair: high
Maintenance effort: rather high
Coat structure: short to moderately long, straight, without curls or waves
Child friendly: medium
Family dog: yes
Social: rather no
Origin and breed history
The history of the Gordon Setter goes far back into the hunting history of Great Britain. Pointing dogs were used for hunting as early as the Middle Ages. The dogs should track down the game in the forest and indicate them silently. When indicating, the dog remains motionless and looks in the direction of the game while raising one front paw, which also points in the direction of the game. He must under no circumstances startle or even rush the prey.
In the Middle Ages, hunting was mainly reserved for the nobility, because only the owner of the hunting area had the right to hunt. In addition, keeping and caring for large hunting dogs was extremely expensive. The dogs mostly lived on large estates throughout England, Scotland, and the Irish countryside.
In the beginning, there was no real standard, most of these dogs had a long-haired coat. Some were black and white, but the majority were bright colors of all shades. This was primarily due to the fact that the dogs were bred based on their qualifications for hunting and the appearance of the animals did not play a role at first. Later, other breeds were crossed in addition to the well-known pointers in England, including Collies, Spaniels, and Bloodhounds.
It was only after these crosses that the nobles began to breed certain types of setters. Here, more value was placed on a uniform appearance in order to differentiate itself from other estates.
Breeding of the Gordon Setter was primarily concentrated in the Duchy of Gordon, although this breed of setter was quickly appreciated in other estates as well. Breeding was directed under Alexander IV, Duke of Gordon. He had bred tan and tricolor setters on the Gordon Castle estate near Fochabers in Banffshire between 1800 and 1820. Here the foundation for the future breeding of the dog was laid.
The current appearance of the Gordon Setter was not defined until 1873 by the English Kennel Club. At that time, the Gordon Setter was also separated according to certain color varieties. However, the Gordon Setter continued to bear the name “Black-and-Tan-Setter” until 1924 and was only then renamed the Gordon Setter.
The success of the breed could not be stopped after that, the Gordon Setter spread throughout Great Britain and in Germany, too, hunters and gamekeepers were enthusiastic about the hard-working dog. He was not only used as a pure pointing dog but as an all-around hunting dog. Due to his attachment and his particularly loyal nature, he was also a popular companion with families. It combines efficiency with elegance and quiet friendliness.
Nature and temperament of the Gordon Setter
The Gordon Setter is a hunting dog. It was bred specifically for hunting wildfowl and other small game, and its character and temperament are still heavily influenced by its hunting use. He is an active dog that needs plenty of outdoor exercises to lead a good canine life. In doing so, he is strongly oriented towards an owner, but always has an eye and a nose for potential game tracks.
He is considered a very calm and balanced dog when he has enough activity. In addition, the dog has a very loyal and strong-nerved character. Wildly romping children, loud traffic, or hectic everyday life, all these things leave the Gordon Setter cold. He calmly and patiently awaits his owner’s instructions and enjoys his company.
The Gordon Setter is a very trainable dog that has no problems with other dogs and is considered to be easy to train, only the hunting instinct must always be kept in mind. He is physically very strong and also wants to have species-appropriate support as a family dog. Then he becomes an absolutely loyal and relaxed companion and playmate for the children.
The sensitive dog usually reacts very sensitively to rough behavior and can even show skittish behavior, so clear rules must always be used with positive reinforcement. In addition, this dog breed usually trusts people quickly and is open and rather curious even with strangers. He has no aggression and reports a visitor, but is by no means territorial.
With a good upbringing, running free is not a problem. The Gordon Setter even needs free movement in the forest to really let off steam. If his needs are met by his owner, the Gordon Setter is an uncomplicated and very loyal companion who likes to be active and just as much like lying next to his owner and being petted.
What does a Gordon Setter look like?
The Gordon Setter has an appearance very similar to other Setter breeds. The dog breed has a jet-black coat with maroon or tan markings, known as the brand.
The appearance of the Gordon Setter
The Gordon Setter is a medium-sized dog with a very elegant appearance. His gait is springy and strong and his gaze radiates calm and serenity. One recognizes immediately that the Gordon Setter is a hunting dog. He has a very silky, medium-length coat with no curls or waves in the coat. The coat should be charcoal black with chestnut red burns. Other colors have now been excluded from breeding the Gordon Setter. His appearance is impressive due to his elegance and slim stature. With a height at the withers of 66 cm, it weighs around 25 to 30 kg.
Education and keeping of the Gordon Setter – this is important to note
The Gordon Setter is a hunting dog that was actually bred purely as a pointing dog but is also used as an all-rounder in hunting due to its good obedience and physical ability. He is very teachable and has an enormous willingness to work. These are the best prerequisites for a loyal and sporty dog that listens to every word and brings a lot of joy to its owner.
However, it is precisely these characteristics that can make the Gordon Setter a problem dog if its owners do not respond to the animal’s needs. If he remains untrained, he will pursue any game and be rather restless and hectic in the city.
This breed of dog is very suitable as a family dog if it is physically and mentally stressed. A dog sport is definitely recommended in addition to solid basic obedience. Since the Gordon Setter loves nature, it is a good companion on hikes, on horseback, on a bicycle, or on jogging tours. His hunting instincts can easily be controlled if he is well bonded with his owner and has received a good education.
The training should always take place with positive motivation because Gordon Setter can react very sensitively to a hard hand. A beginner can get along just fine with him if he gets some help from a dog school or dog club. He should get used to other dogs and small animals early on and get to know all everyday things of living together, such as driving a car and a loud vacuum cleaner, very early and always positively.
He gets along very well with children, but due to his size, they should never walk the dog alone. Otherwise, he needs a lot of contact with his people. The dog should have the opportunity for social interactions with its people every day.
How expensive is a Gordon Setter?
Since the Gordon Setter is primarily sold to hunters and gamekeepers and there are not very many breeders of this breed in Germany, a healthy puppy can cost $1800. This is mostly because the breeders usually have to get the stud dogs from abroad.
Diet of the Gordon Setter
The Gordon Setter is a robust dog that normally has a stable stomach. However, there are some dogs that have an intolerance to grains. Since grain is very difficult for dogs to digest anyway, grain should be avoided in the feed even if there is no existing intolerance. Otherwise, the Gordon Setter should always be given high-quality food that has a very high meat content and is tailored to the age and weight of the dog.
The Gordon Setter tends to become overweight if not given adequate exercise. Therefore, you should always pay attention to the figure of the dog. There must be a clear waist and the ribs should be felt with slight pressure. Due to the dense and long fur, the exact shape of the dog is sometimes difficult to recognize, which is why, if in doubt, a veterinarian can certainly be asked about the dog’s nutritional status.
Whether wet or dry food is entirely up to the owner, the Gordon Setter can handle both types of diet well. However, it is important that the dog food is adapted to the age of the dog. A puppy should be provided with puppy food up to its 6th month of life and from the age of 7, it makes sense to switch to senior food.
Health – life expectancy & common diseases
In general, Gordon Setters are in good health and have a strong body. Since they are still used as hunting dogs and had no direct hype, great attention was paid to the health of the animals during breeding. Unfortunately, some inbreeding was carried out, which caused eye diseases and ataxis to sneak into the breed. Good breeders have their animals tested for these problems before mating them.
The health of the animal is of course also closely linked to the attitude of the Gordon Setter. So he suffers badly from neglect and with a lack of exercise, he quickly becomes overweight. If his owner cares for the Gordon Setter in a species-appropriate and loving manner, he will lead a long and happy dog life. He can live between 12 and 13 years.
How old do Gordon Setters get?
The Gordon Setter can have a life expectancy of 12 to 13 years if cared for properly and in good health. Individual animals were already 14 and 15 years old, but this is rather the exception.
Care of the Gordon Setter
Because of the long coat, the Gordon Setter is a slightly more grooming dog than other large dog breeds. The fur has to be brushed every day, otherwise, it can become matted quickly and bacteria and vermin can collect in the felt knots and cause health problems.
Since the coat can be 12 to 15 cm long, especially on the stomach, the change of coat is correspondingly intensive. Otherwise, only the dog’s floppy ears should be checked regularly and the teeth should be cared for with the help of chewing bones.
Gordon Setter – Activities and Training
As an active hunting dog, the Gordon Setter needs plenty of exercise and exercise. For his keepers, this means long walks of at least an hour every day, three to four times a day. At the weekends, this can be supplemented with excursions and active dog sports.
Even in the house, the time together must not be neglected, the Gordon Setter brings cuddle units and wants to play and interact with his people. If you cannot give the Gordon Setter that much attention, you should opt for a less active dog. The use as a hunting dog is of course the determination for the animal, but due to its human orientation, it is also ideal as a therapy or search dog.
There are many sports that can be considered dog sports. It is advisable to try them out together with the dog and see what the dog and the owner enjoy.
For example, it is suitable for:
- tracking work
- trick dogging
- and many more active sports
Good to know: Peculiarities of the Gordon Setter
The Gordon Setter is still used as an active hunting dog. Nevertheless, he is also a good family dog and a reliable companion for his owner.
However, there are not many breeders and the Gordon Setter is much less well known than, for example, the Irish Red Setter. It is all the more important to find out about the dog’s breeder in advance, as unfortunately, inbreeding occurs again and again in breeding, which can lead to massive health problems in the dog.
When is a Gordon Setter fully grown?
The Gordon Setter is a large hunting dog that is fully grown at around eight months and reaches a proud height of around 66 cm. Bitches are often a bit smaller but just as demanding and energetic as males.
Disadvantages of the Gordon Setter
The Gordon Setter has a strong hunting instinct and if this is not controlled by the owner, the dog cannot run free. Due to its good obedience, anti-hunting training can be managed even by inexperienced dog owners.
Another disadvantage of the Gordon Setter is its enormous productivity, it needs a lot of time and work. Many people fall in love with just a raven coat with chestnut markings and don’t realize how demanding this dog is.
Is the Gordon Setter right for me?
The Gordon Setter is a very active dog that only finds a good home with sporty people. He needs a lot of time and attention but is easy to train and learns very quickly. Seniors can only lead the Gordon Setter if they are still physically able to keep the dog busy. Otherwise, he is quite undemanding in terms of keeping and does not have any behavioral problems by nature. He is sociable and likes other dogs and people alike.
With active dog sports and long walks, he will be happy in the city, although of course, he will always feel at home in the woods. Interested keepers should be aware that the Gordon Setter is a life’s work and really wants to be encouraged every day and also needs to spend time with his family. He likes to seek affection and is available for every cuddle. He looks very elegant and his beauty is particularly evident when he is working, but you should think twice about buying a Gordon Setter.