The history of Gordon Setters goes back as far as the 17th century in England and Scotland. The breed reached popularity in the 19th century by Duke Alexander IV of Gordon. Gordons were originally bred as bird dogs and were instrumental in hunting and retrieving quail, pheasant, and partridge. The breed was an excellent hunting dog, and made a great one-man shooting dog. It has an excellent sense of smell and its stamina made it ideal for hunting in all types of weather and on both land and water. The breed was imported to America in 1842. As a member of the setter family, this large breed was recognized by the American Kennel Society in 1892. Other talents of the Gordon Setter include tracking, retrieving, guarding, watchdog and pointing. It is said that the Gordon is well known for its beauty, brains, and bird sense when describing the best qualities of this breed.
Gordon Setters sport a beautiful rich coal-black coat with varying shades of mahogany or chestnut markings on their lower legs, paws, throat, vent and muzzles. They have one spot above each eye and two spots on the chest. Its coat is long and silky and can be either wavy or straight. Its tail, legs, ears, stomach and chest are generally longer than the rest of the body. The Gordon Setter is also the only setter in its breed that comes in black with tan markings. The breed is slender yet robust in structure with females reaching as much as 26 inches and a weight of 45-70 pounds. Males can reach 27 inches and weigh from 55-80 pounds. Regular grooming is required to keep its coat in good condition. Gordon’s are average shedders and have a tendency to develop tangles if not brushed and trimmed on a consistent basis. The breed is not recommended for people who are allergic to dog hair because the breed is not hypo-allergenic.
Gordon’s make excellent family dogs and adapt well to a variety of living situations. Not recommended for apartment living, they need a large space that is safe and fenced with plenty of room to roam and play. They require regular exercise and need to be taken on daily on-leash walks. They adapt well to children especially if introduced to their owners at a young age. Gordon’s show protective instincts to young children, however they need training in adapting to other dogs in the household. They are very intelligent, alert, loyal, confident and obedient in nature, and are eager to learn with firm, gently and consistent handling. Easy to train as puppies, the breed is quick to learn and eager to perform and please its owners. As one of the slowest breeds to mature, they will show young puppy characteristics until they reach the age of 3 years or more. Well known as great talkers, they express themselves through a variety of tones and sounds. Part of their welcoming style is the constant wagging of the tail. Life expectancy is 10-12 years.