March 14, 2019

Silky Smooth and Sleek: The Gordon Setter Dog Breed

full grown gordon setter looking up

Ahh, the Gordon Setter. The largest of all setter breeds, this breed is nothing short of magnificent!

Whether poised in a noble bird-finding stance or full of the hilarious exuberance of a puppy, Gordons are an addition to your life and home like none other. Read on to find out all about this royal companion dog and why it can make such a wonderful addition to the family!

A Brief History of the Gordon Setter Dog Breed!

Gordons have been around since at least the 17th century when they were developed by the fourth Duke of Gordon. The dogs take their name from the Gordon Castle, where they were bred to find and point game birds, working with slow and methodical scenting ability and high levels of intelligence.

The Gordon Setter is part of the setter breed family, which includes the more well-known English Setter and Irish Setter. In fact, in the past, there were many more breeds of setter, such as the Russian Setter, the Welsh setter, and others. However, in recent years these varieties have sadly disappeared. Pointers and setters are similar breeds.

English Setter vs Gordon Setter: What’s the Difference? 

While some may consider that setters are, all the same, that is certainly not the case! The English Setter and Gordon Setter have unique differences, which are fairly obvious. The main striking difference between these two breeds is that they are generally identified with completely different coat colors.

Gordon Setters are famous for their rich dark brown to black coats, with tan accents. English Setters have white and black spotted coats. Their size also differs—Gordon Setters are the largest and most muscular of the setter breeds.

Irish Setters have a different appearance altogether as well. The American Kennel Club recognizes these setters as different and distinct breeds.

The (Spaniel-Like) Appearance of These Sporting Pups

You’d be forgiven if you swear you thought you saw a mini-Gordon Setter before! These dogs share a lot of similarities (apart from their size!) with spaniels. It’s no surprise that their appearance is familiar.

The head shape, ears, and coloring of the Gordon Setter are rather similar to spaniels—especially Cavalier King Charles Spaniels who look like a mini version of this divine pup!

The floppy ears, puppy dog eyes, and gorgeous coat seem to put them into cousin’s category, however, they are totally different breeds. Like spaniels, setters are sporting dog breeds, making them alert, active and intelligent.

Other breeds counted in the sporting dog variety include pointers and retrievers. Due to their history as sporting dogs, these varieties, including pointers and setters, make excellent family pets. They are very trainable and are incredibly loving and loyal.

gordon setter show dog posing in forest

What is the Average Gordon Size and Weight? 

As mentioned before, Gordons are the largest of the setters, and so are classified as a large breed.

Males generally stand at around 24 to 27 inches, while females are around 23 to 26 inches. Males can range from 55 pounds to 80 pounds in weight, whereas females weigh in from between 45 pounds to 70 pounds.

Silky and Smooth: Their Coats and Colors!

One of the hallmarks of this lovely breed is its beautiful and distinctive coat. Gordon Setters are blessed with silky smooth coats. Their coats have a touch of curl at the ends, mainly around the ear and paw areas, and under the body including the legs.

The only breed recognized color by the American Kennel Club (AKC) is black with tan highlights. The highlights should be around the muzzle, above the eyes, and on the feet.

Their coats require some brushing to keep them in tip-top condition. Brushing should be undertaken 3-4 times per week.

Temperament and Personality: What to Expect!

If you’re after a family pet that will delight even the littlest one in the house, then a Gordon Setter is an excellent choice.

These dogs have tolerant, lively and agreeable dispositions making them great household dogs. Gordons are extremely loyal to their family. However, they can be wary of strangers, and aloof to those that they are introduced to. They definitely prefer their immediate family members to new friends.

These large setters are usually good with other dogs, although they can be aggressive if not socialized properly, generally, they are not vicious dogs.

If something is bothering them, they are more apt to walk away from the problem to show their disdain. This makes them excellent with children, as receiving any behavior that they don’t like simply encourages them to move away.

Of course, all young children should be taught how to interact with dogs and be supervised around them regardless of the breed. Gordon Setter puppies can be rambunctious, curious little fellows. They should, however, mature into balanced, well-mannered dogs with appropriate obedience training.

Gordon Setters do well with positive reinforcement! An excess of punishment can turn them into anxious and fearful dogs.

If you’re living in an apartment, the Gordon Setters may not be the dog for you, as these large dogs need access to a fenced yard to burn off some energy through exercise during the day. Gordons don’t do so well with long periods of time alone—this breed needs adequate mental stimulation or they could become destructive.

Does This Rather Rare Breed Make for Good ESAs? 

Due to their intelligent, loyal, trainable and alert nature, Gordons can make for great emotional support animals. They are totally devoted to their owners, bonding strongly with their person. They are a great support system for you if you are struggling with mental illness.

Gordons also have a high level of obedience and respond well to training, which is a plus for an ESA. The only consideration for these dogs as emotional support animals is that they could potentially be too large to travel in the cabin of an aircraft if you are planning to travel.

adorable gordon setter puppy staring

How Long Do These Setters Live?

This breed of dog, when given adequate exercise and good quality food, can live for between 10-12 years. Gordon Setters with diseases may have a shorter life expectancy, but chances of good health are greatly increased by buying from a reputable breeder.

5 Potential Health Issues to Be Aware Of and How to Prevent Them!

As with any purebred dog, Gordons have some health issues that their new or potential owners must be made aware of. If the breeder you go to claims that Gordons don’t have any health problems, this should raise red flags.

Here are the top health problems for Gordon Setters.

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (Older dogs are more at risk)
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Bloat
  • Degenerative myelopathy (Genetic testing available)

Remember, canine health problems are part of owning a purebred dog, so don’t be alarmed! Being a responsible owner means being informed about the health concerns or disease your dog is prone to and keeping a close eye on their well-being.

A healthy diet, regular trips to the vet and close care can help your Gordon to avoid excessive health problems.

Gordon Setter Puppies for Sale Near Me!

If you’re in the market for a puppy, then just know that Gordon Setter puppies area are absolutely adorable. A puppy Gordon is curious, playful and rambunctious.

If there are younger children like toddlers in your household, a Gordon setter puppy may not be for you. These pups are often overwhelming for little ones. An adult dog is a better choice if you have a child/children age 5 or under.

two gordon setter puppies playing with stick

Be Sure to Get Your Puppy from a Reputable Breeder!

Buying a puppy is a dream that can quickly turn into a nightmare if you don’t do your research. It’s always a good idea to buy a well-bred pup from a highly reputable breeder, that cares for their dogs highly, when you invest in Gordon.

Otherwise, health and behavioral problems could mar your experience. The American Kennel Club and the Gordon Setter Club can assist you in finding a breeder that has a good reputation for breeding healthy dogs and pups.

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Ask Your Local Shelter About Gordon Setter Rescues!

If you’re looking for a Gordon, why not contact your local shelter or the Gordon Setter Club and ask where your nearest Gordon Setter rescue is? Then you can meet needy dogs who are desperate for a second chance at a wonderful life.

There’s no better feeling than adopting a dog and giving it a forever home!

Gordon Setters are a unique setter breed for those who like large dogs with intelligence, poise and a strong sense of loyalty to their family.

While they are big in stature, as they mature, they grow into calm and lovable companion dogs with a pleasing level of obedience who will fill your days with joy and hilarity. Don’t let this gorgeous and rare setter breed disappear, adopt one today!

Common Questions On Gordon Setters 

Are Gordon Setters aggressive?

Do English setters and Gordon Setters look the same?

What size do Gordon Setters grow to?

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