Gordon Setter

"The Duke"

Photo of Gordon Setter


Predecessors of these black-and-tan setters first appeared in Scotland and England back in the 16th century, but the present-day Gordon Setter made his debut in the 1820s and was developed by the Duke who would lend the breed his name: the Duke of Gordon. In 1842, Daniel Webster and George Blunt purchased a breeding pair from the Duke's kennels and brought them to the United States. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed 50 years later. Still relatively rare, the Gordon Setter ranks as the 88th most popular breed.


Like most sporting breeds, the Gordon Setter takes a long time to grow up. But while other breeds such as the Labrador or Golden Retriever show signs of maturity at 2 to 3 years of age, the Gordon Setter extends his puppyhood to the age of 4...and that can seem like decades to pet owners who don't have time for this high-maintenance (but affectionate) dog. Devotees of this breed say that they're highly intelligent and that they're as good at being faithful companions as they are at finding birds for the hunter. Plenty of daily exercise brings out the best in this sweet-natured (but sometimes bossy) dog, and keeps him from becoming too rowdy.


The Gordon Setter is a large black setter with tan markings, ranging in height from 23 to 27 inches and weighing 55 to 80 pounds. He's got long drop ears, a long setter-like muzzle, a long, silky coat that (alas!) sheds prodigiously, and a plumed, perpetually wagging tail.


Maybe it's the big energy or maybe it's an extra dose of self-confidence, but the Gordon Setter can be a little bit bossy. Give him consistent but gentle obedience training so he understands who runs the pack (that would be you!). That said, any training should be positive – harsh corrections will simply alienate this dog and cause him to shut down emotionally. With proper training, Gordons can excel in a variety of pursuits including hunting, field trials, agility and therapy.

Grooming & Care

The Gordon Setter requires daily brushing to prevent mats and to control his shedding. Ears should be cleaned regularly to prevent painful ear infections. Weekly pedicures will keep his feet comfortable. Beyond grooming, the Gordon Setter mantra should be: exercise = a good Gordon.

Health Concerns

Like any purebred dog, the Gordon Setter has his share of health issues. One of the biggest such problems is gastric torsion, also known as bloat, a potentially fatal stomach-twisting emergency common among deep-chested dogs. Other health issues include hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism. Breeding parents should receive OFA (for hips) and CERF (for eyes) clearances first. Ask the breeder to show you the results of these tests.

Famous Gordon Setter

Daniel Webster and George Blunt purchased two from the Duke of Gordon; Rake and Rachel became founders of the breed in America.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 32
Schedule 6
Home 9
Children 48
Experience 51
Quick Facts
Grooming 56
Exercise 14
Challenges Needs to hunt.
Height 23 to 27 inches
Weight 45 to 80 pounds
Life 10 to 13 years
Home Alone 83
With Kids 86
With Strangers 22
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

In the News

Contact Us

3070 8th St SW
Altoona, IA 50009
Phone: (515) 967-4281
Fax: (515)967-8824

After Hours Emergency
IVS: (515) 280-305
IVRC: (515)727-4872