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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Confident, Bold
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 104 of 194
  • Height: 24-27 inches (male), 23-26 inches (female)
  • Weight: 55-80 pounds (male), 45-70 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-13 years
  • Group: Sporting Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Gordon Setter lying in three-quarter view
Gordon Setter head facing left
Gordon Setter coat detail
Gordon Setter standing in three-quarter view
Gordon Setter

Find a Puppy: Gordon Setter

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Gordon Setter is a good-sized, sturdily built, black and tan dog, well muscled, with plenty of bone and substance, but active, upstanding and stylish, appearing capable of doing a full day’s work in the field. He has a strong, rather short back, with well sprung ribs and a short tail. The head is fairly heavy and finely chiseled. His bearing is intelligent, noble, and dignified, showing no signs of shyness or viciousness. Clear colors and straight or slightly waved coat are correct. He suggests strength and stamina rather than extreme speed. Symmetry and quality are most essential. A dog well balanced in all points is preferable to one with outstanding good qualities and defects. A smooth, free movement, with high head carriage, is typical.

HEAD

Head is deep, rather than broad, with plenty of brain room. Eyes of fair size, neither too deep-set nor too bulging, dark brown, bright and wise. The shape is oval rather than round. The lids are tight. Ears set low on the head approximately on line with the eyes, fairly large and thin, well folded and carried close to the head.

BODY

Neck is long, lean, arched to the head, and without throatiness. Topline moderately sloping. Body short from shoulder to hips. Chest deep and not too broad in front; the ribs well sprung, leaving plenty of lung room. The chest reaches to the elbows. A pronounced forechest is in evidence. Loins short and broad and not arched. Croup nearly flat, with only a slight slope to the tailhead.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders fine at the points, and laying well back. The tops of the shoulder blades are close together. When viewed from behind, the neck appears to fit into the shoulders in smooth, flat lines that gradually widen from neck to shoulder. The angle formed by the shoulder blade and upper arm bone is approximately 90 degrees when the dog is standing so that the foreleg is perpendicular to the ground. Forelegs big-boned, straight and not bowed, with elbows free and not turned in or out. Pasterns are strong, short and nearly vertical with a slight spring. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet catlike in shape, formed by close-knit, well arched toes with plenty of hair between; with full toe pads and deep heel cushions. Feet are not turned in or out.

COAT

Soft and shining, straight or slightly waved, but not curly, with long hair on ears, under stomach and on chest, on back of the fore and hind legs, and on the tail. The feather which starts near the root of the tail is slightly waved or straight, having a triangular appearance, growing shorter uniformly toward the end.

HINDQUARTERS

The hind legs from hip to hock are long, flat and muscular; from hock to heel, short and strong. The stifle and hock joints are well bent and not turned either in or out. When the dog is standing with the rear pastern perpendicular to the ground, the thighbone hangs downward parallel to an imaginary line drawn upward from the hock. Feet as in front.

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About the Gordon Setter

Gordons are the largest and most substantial of setters—a big male might stand 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh 80 pounds. The stunning coat is a glistening black, with tan markings and long hair on the ears, belly, legs, chest, and tail. Tan spots above the bright brown eyes point up a wise and willing expression. Like other Scots breeds, from the compact Scottish Terrier to the majestic Scottish Deerhound, Gordons were built to withstand their homeland’s tough terrain and foul weather.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Gordon Setter

Find a Puppy: Gordon Setter

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AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
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Care

NUTRITION

Feeding the Gordon Setter a diet high in protein (over 26 percent) is not recommended, as health issues can result by forcing rapid growth. Fiber content of at least four percent is best to ensure firm stool. Feed high-quality dry dog food, wet food, and, if desired, small amounts of healthy additives such as chicken and salmon, fruits, and cooked, fresh vegetables, provided they are listed as safe foods on the AKC website. Sodium can be dangerous—always feed “no salt.” Gordons should be lean, not overweight, so that a clearly defined “waist” can be seen. Bloat can be a risk in the breed, and owners should never exercise the dog one-half hour before or after feeding.

GROOMING

Brushing at least weekly is essential to prevent matting. Shedding is minimal if the dog is brushed regularly. Monthly grooming recommended for health includes trimming the hair on the feet, trimming the nails, trimming inside and around the ears, trimming around the vent/tail area, and checking the teeth for plaque. Bathing monthly is recommended. Dry skin and dandruff can be prevented with bathing and conditioning.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Gordons were bred to be personal hunting dogs, and they also served as nannies. They live to cuddling by your side or at your feet, as well as running in a field. Their genetic makeup calls for them to have a drive to run, so they do need exercise. They can live in an apartment but if so, they need daily exercise, which can be met by walking, jogging, or biking with the dog. If they have a yard in which to run, they will self-exercise, though a Gordon will always be happiest doing something with their bonded owner. Being with their owner is what they live to do. Caution: To prevent bloat, never exercise the dog one-half hour before or one-half hour after feeding.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Needs Lots of Activity

TRAINING

A few, simple lifesaving training commands are mandatory. A puppy or dog must be trained to know the command “come,” and to come when called; to know his name and respond; and to obey the word “no.” Gordons are stubborn yet very soft and loving, and they live to please their owner. They are very smart and learn quickly. The best training is for them to have a job to do, and the best job they can have is spending time with their owner—whether being trained or having fun. They are closely bonded to their family and live to be with them, but they are fine being alone when family is away. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended for Gordon puppies and help to ensure they grow into well-adjusted, well-mannered companions.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Reserved with Strangers

HEALTH

Gordons are generally healthy dogs, but there are a few concerns to be aware of bloat, a sudden, life-threatening stomach condition, can occur in the breed. Gordon owners should learn the signs of bloat and what to do should they occur. Cancer is the most common cause of death for elderly dogs—in all breeds. There is not one specific type of cancer more prevalent in Gordons; young dogs dying of cancer is unusual. Responsible breeders will test their stock for conditions the breed can be prone to, including screening for elbow and hip dysplasia and eye conditions, and DNA testing for a number of health-related issues.

 

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • PRA Optigen DNA Test

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Gordon Setter
Gordon Setter
Gordon Setter
Gordon Setter
Gordon Setter
Gordon Setter

History

Generations of Scots huntsmen bred hounds and “collys” into setter lines, thus producing a large, rugged bird-dog suited to working in difficult conditions. Alexander, Fourth Duke of Gordon (d. 1827), the master of Castle Gordon on the craggy Scottish Highlands, maintained a keen interest in these dogs. By the early 1800s the duke’s kennel was producing setters recognizable as the breed that today bears his name. Between litters, the duke found time to play a key role in the development of the Scotch whisky industry.

Did You Know?

The Gordon Setter's ancient lineage dates back to 1620.
Gordon Setters first started to hunt game birds almost 200 years ago.
Gordons are the heaviest of the setters, although the standard permits a considerable size range due to differing preferences between field and bench enthusiasts.
The Gordon Setter Club of America was formed in 1891.
The Gordon is known for his devotion and loyalty.
Contrary to popular belief, the three setters - English, Gordon, and Irish - are not merely representatives of different colors or varieties within one "setter" heading but are in fact three separate breeds.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Gordon Setter is a good-sized, sturdily built, black and tan dog, well muscled, with plenty of bone and substance, but active, upstanding and stylish, appearing capable of doing a full day’s work in the field. He has a strong, rather short back, with well sprung ribs and a short tail. The head is fairly heavy and finely chiseled. His bearing is intelligent, noble, and dignified, showing no signs of shyness or viciousness. Clear colors and straight or slightly waved coat are correct. He suggests strength and stamina rather than extreme speed. Symmetry and quality are most essential. A dog well balanced in all points is preferable to one with outstanding good qualities and defects. A smooth, free movement, with high head carriage, is typical.

HEAD

Head is deep, rather than broad, with plenty of brain room. Eyes of fair size, neither too deep-set nor too bulging, dark brown, bright and wise. The shape is oval rather than round. The lids are tight. Ears set low on the head approximately on line with the eyes, fairly large and thin, well folded and carried close to the head.

BODY

Neck is long, lean, arched to the head, and without throatiness. Topline moderately sloping. Body short from shoulder to hips. Chest deep and not too broad in front; the ribs well sprung, leaving plenty of lung room. The chest reaches to the elbows. A pronounced forechest is in evidence. Loins short and broad and not arched. Croup nearly flat, with only a slight slope to the tailhead.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders fine at the points, and laying well back. The tops of the shoulder blades are close together. When viewed from behind, the neck appears to fit into the shoulders in smooth, flat lines that gradually widen from neck to shoulder. The angle formed by the shoulder blade and upper arm bone is approximately 90 degrees when the dog is standing so that the foreleg is perpendicular to the ground. Forelegs big-boned, straight and not bowed, with elbows free and not turned in or out. Pasterns are strong, short and nearly vertical with a slight spring. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet catlike in shape, formed by close-knit, well arched toes with plenty of hair between; with full toe pads and deep heel cushions. Feet are not turned in or out.

COAT

Soft and shining, straight or slightly waved, but not curly, with long hair on ears, under stomach and on chest, on back of the fore and hind legs, and on the tail. The feather which starts near the root of the tail is slightly waved or straight, having a triangular appearance, growing shorter uniformly toward the end.

HINDQUARTERS

The hind legs from hip to hock are long, flat and muscular; from hock to heel, short and strong. The stifle and hock joints are well bent and not turned either in or out. When the dog is standing with the rear pastern perpendicular to the ground, the thighbone hangs downward parallel to an imaginary line drawn upward from the hock. Feet as in front.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 018
Red 140
Tan 195

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