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Gordon Setter Temperament: A true champion in the field

Are you considering getting a new dog and wondering if the Gordon Setter is the right breed for you?

The Gordon Setter is a gundog with a friendly and special temperament that will capture your heart. However, they may not be the best fit for every lifestyle. If you're an outdoorsy person who loves to go on adventures and enjoys cuddling with your furry friend in the evening, then the Gordon Setter could be the perfect companion.

This blog post will closely examine the Gordon Setter temperament, their needs, and whether this breed fits your lifestyle well. So, read on to learn more and find out if the Gordon Setter is the right dog for you!

Gordon Setter Temperament
A Gordon Setter at work in the field is a truly majestic sight

History of the Gordon Setter: Where does the Gordon Setter come from?

The Gordon Setter is a breed of gundog with a rich and old history dating back to the 17th century.

Their roots can be traced back to a Scottish origin. However, it can't be ruled out that some English dogs influenced the breed at some point.

Gordon Setters are known for their impressive black and tan coats and ability to work in the field.

The Gordon Setter gets its name from the fourth Duke of Gordon, Alexander Gordon. He is credited with developing the breed in the early 19th century by crossing the Black and Tan Setter with early Bloodhound and Collie-type dogs. Although not known, Spaniels and English Setter were also believed to be in the mix.

The Duke was an avid sportsman and needed a dog capable of tracking and retrieving game over various terrains. In addition, he sought to create a dog with a keen sense of smell, good stamina, and a calm and gentle temperament that would make it suitable as a companion and a working dog. The Duke succeeded.

The Gordon Setter quickly became popular as a hunting dog for its excellent scenting ability and its athleticism when working in the field.

However, it is believed that the history of the Gordon Setter goes back even further. The breed's ancestors can be traced back to Scotland in the 17th century. Early Setter-type dogs were initially used for hunting game in the Scottish Highlands.

Soon after Alexander Gordon started his breeding program, the Setter's popularity snowballed, and they soon became a favourite of hunters and gamekeepers alike. The breed was first shown at a dog show in 1864, and the first breed standard was established in 1884. Finally, the American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognised the Gordon Setter in 1892.

Throughout the 20th century, the Gordon Setter was a popular breed for hunting and showing. However, the breed's popularity waned as the demand for hunting dogs declined. The Gordon Setter is a rare breed today, but they are still highly valued for their hunting ability and affectionate nature.

Gordon Setter Temperament
The Gordon Setter is an athletic dog.

The Second World War was also not kind to the Gordon. The war had a significant impact on many breeds of dogs, as resources were diverted towards the war effort and breeding programs were put on ice. Some breeds were nearly wiped out due to the war.

The Gordon Setter's distinctive black and tan coat is one of its most recognisable features. The coat is thick and silky, with feathering on the legs, ears, and tail. The black is rich and glossy, while the tan markings are deep mahogany. The breed's coat requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and free from matting.

While the Gordon Setter's popularity has declined in recent years, the breed is still highly valued by those who appreciate their hunting ability and affectionate nature. They are a loyal and devoted companion that will bring joy and happiness to their owner's life.

The Gordon Setter is a breed with a rich history and a loyal following. From their humble beginnings as hunting dogs in the Scottish Highlands to their popularity as show dogs today, the Gordon Setter has proven a versatile and valuable breed. Their striking black and tan coat, affectionate nature, and hunting ability make them a favourite of dog lovers worldwide.

The UK Kennel Club recognised the Black and Tan Setter in 1872. This makes the Gordon one of the oldest recognised dog breeds. The Gordon was acknowledged as a standalone breed in 1924.

In 2021, 244 Gordon Setters were registered with the UK Kennel Club. In 2022, there were 251 puppies registered. It shows the ongoing love of the British people for this breed. Although the following is small, there are some true enthusiasts among them.

Q1 2021

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Total 2021

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Source: April 2023

What is the Temperament of the Gordon Setter?

Gordon Setter Temperament
The longer feathering is on the ears of the Gordon making them recognisable

The Gordon Setter is a beautiful breed with a temperament that stands out. They are highly affectionate and friendly, always eager to please their owners.

Their intelligence also sets them apart from other breeds. Gordon Setters are brilliant and require mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy and happy to thrive.

Regarding energy levels, the amount of energy your Gordon Setter has will depend on the individual dog. These dogs are generally energetic, making them great companions for jogging or hiking once the Gordon is fully grown. They also do well in a house with a yard or garden to play in, but if a garden is not available, a sufficient duration of walks will help them get the daily exercise they need.

It's essential to note that the Gordon Setter requires high-quality food with many proteins due to their high energy levels and the work they do when hunting.

They are peaceful and calm dogs that are highly trainable and people-oriented. They were bred to make decisions on their own when hunting, highlighting their quick-witted nature and the capacity to deviate from your commands if they felt like it.

It is crucial to remember that Gordon Setters are bred to be independent thinkers, which means they can be challenging to train. Therefore, it is essential to have patience, persistence, and a sense of humour when training a Gordon Setter. However, with a positive approach and lots of praise and treats, you can prepare your Gordon Setter to be a well-behaved and well-rounded dog.

Gordon Setter Temperament
The Gordon Setter has a regal appearance.

Additionally, Gordon Setters are a sensitive breed, so avoiding harsh punishment or negative reinforcement during training is crucial. Hunting alongside humans for many centuries has made the Gordon an empathetic dog.

Yelling, hitting, or other forms of punishment can cause anxiety, fear, and ultimately aggression in a Gordon Setter, which can undo your hard work and damage your relationship with your pet.

Grooming requirements for the Gordon Setter are relatively easy to maintain. Brushing your dog daily or at least once or twice a week for a few minutes will keep their soft coats healthy and reduce shedding. In addition, a well-groomed coat can be a real eye-catcher and shine brightly in the sunlight. A shiny Gordon Setter will attract envious glances from other dog owners!

Exercise is vital for Gundogs, and Gordon Setters are no exception. Two walks a day for an hour are recommended. They are an all-weather type of dog, enjoying themselves thoroughly whether it's raining, windy, or the sun is shining. They thrive on playing fetch and need a lot of stamina from their owners to keep up with their activity requirements. Gordon Setters have incredible stamina, although they may not be the fastest of the Setter breeds.

Socialisation is essential for the Gordon Setter, and early exposure to many different situations will make them well-rounded adults. If not well-socialised, they may become timid around people or suspicious of strangers, preferring to stay near their owners.

Gordon Setters have an average lifespan of 12 years; during this time, they require lots of love, exercise, and good food to stay healthy. They are slow-maturing dogs, staying young at heart for a long time. These dogs are considered seniors after ten years old, and owners must provide them with the care they require in their golden years.

Gordon Setters love children and are fantastic, peaceful, calm family dogs. However, teaching children how to treat dogs early is crucial. These dogs tend to be less nervous around children than other Setter breeds.

If you want a Gordon Setter, it's crucial to learn more about them beforehand and ask questions before adopting one from an animal shelter or rescue centre. These dogs require lots of love, attention, and exercise, so choosing wisely and being honest with yourself is essential when getting one of your own.

Let's look at some common questions about the Gordon Setter.

Are Gordon Setters easy to train?

Gordon Setter Temperament
Gordon Setters can be strong-willed.

Gordon Setters are known to be intelligent and eager to please their owners, but they can also be strong-willed and independent at times, making training challenging.

They were bred to make confident decisions, so this independent thinking was wished for in this breed. In addition, consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement techniques can help to make training more effective with this breed.

Gordon Setters are sensitive and can be easily saddened by harsh training methods, so it's essential to use positive reinforcement and reward-based training techniques to foster good behaviour. Treats and lots of positive praise work best.

Socialisation is also essential for Gordon Setters, who can be reserved or suspicious of strangers. Early socialisation can help them learn to interact appropriately with people of all ages, children and smaller animals.

Gordon Setters can be highly obedient dogs with suitable training and socialisation. However, time is of the essence, and there may be better choices for novice dog owners to train and socialise them properly.

Are Gordon Setters good with cats?

Gordon Setters are hunting dogs, so they may have a strong prey drive towards small animals like cats.

While some Gordon Setters may get along well with cats, others may view them as prey and chase them. Chances of success can be increased if both, the cat and dog, are still young.

Early socialization and training can help reduce the chances of a Gordon Setter exhibiting predatory behaviour towards cats, but it is never guaranteed.

When introducing a Gordon Setter to a cat, it should be in a controlled, supervised environment and neutral territory that either animal hasn't claimed.

Some cats can be very confident and put the dog in its place.

But there are also beautiful success stories of Gordon Setters and cats becoming close friends, sharing space and sleeping together in one bed.

It's crucial to note that every dog is an individual, and their behaviour towards cats may vary based on their temperament, training, and experience. For example, suppose you have a cat and consider adding a Gordon Setter to your family. In that case, ensuring your cat's safety and monitoring their interactions closely is essential.

When is a Gordon Setter fully grown?

A Gordon Setter is fully grown at around 24 months. Due to being a large breed and growing rapidly, it's crucial to protect the bones and tendons and not let the puppy jump from high furniture. Sometimes they stop growing earlier and are just filling out growing muscles.

However, like all breeds, the rate at which they are fully grown can vary based on several factors, including genetics, nutrition, and overall health.

Gordon Setter Temperament in a nutshell

Gordon Setter Temperament
A Gordon Setter will thoroughly enjoy a game of fetch
  • As a hunting dog, a Gordon Setter has a keen sense of smell and always looks for interesting scents or sights. They may bark to alert their owners of potential threats or intruders.

  • Gordon Setters are known for their strong bond with their owners and loyalty to their families.

  • Awesome with children

  • Gordon Setters are energetic dogs that require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy.

  • Can also be independent and strong-willed, which may require some patience and training from their owners.

Potential health issues in the Gordon Setter breed

Although the Gordon Setter is generally considered a healthy breed, they may be susceptible to certain health conditions like any other breed. Therefore, it is crucial to remain aware of any potential health issues, to plan accordingly and recognise symptoms early on.

Due to their size, medical treatment can be expensive. Ensuring your Gordon comes from a reputable breeder can limit enormous expenses.

Below are conditions that are linked to the Gordon Setter breed:

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition affects the hip joints, causing discomfort and pain for the dog. It can lead to arthritis and lameness in severe cases.

Bloat: This severe and life-threatening condition can affect dogs of all breeds, including Gordon Setters. Bloat is caused by a twisted stomach, which can cut off the blood supply to vital organs and cause shock.

The Gordon Setter is ranked 5th among dogs to be affected by Bloat.

Hypothyroidism: This is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, which can lead to weight gain, lethargy, and other symptoms.

Eye Problems: Gordon Setters can be prone to eye problems, including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and other genetic conditions that can cause vision loss.

Ear Infections: Their long, floppy ears make Gordon Setters prone to ear infections. It is vital to keep their ears clean and dry to prevent infection.

Talking to a veterinarian about any breed-specific health concerns before bringing a new dog into your home is always a good idea. Additionally, responsible breeders will typically perform health screenings on their dogs to ensure they breed healthy individuals.

In the UK, the required DNA tests are Hip Dysplasia, a Progressive retinal atrophy test and BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme.

Many pet owners may not be aware of the potential dangers associated with some pet toys and accessories, particularly those produced cheaply in the Far East. Synthetic rubber chew bones and polyester tug-of-war ropes are examples of items that can worsen existing health issues in dogs.

Additionally, polyester collars may cause matting and skin irritation, while nylon leads contribute to environmental pollution by shedding microplastics. Natural dog products made from hemp may be a safer choice as an alternative. At Hooman's Friend, we offer a range of these products.

Is the Gordon Setter the right dog breed for me?

The Gordon Setter is an energetic and intelligent breed that thrives in homes with owners who can provide plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and attention. They are affectionate dogs who form strong bonds with their owners and do best with families who can spend time with them daily to build trustful relationships.

Going hiking, jogging or for long walks across the countryside is precisely up the alley for a Gordon.

Gordon Setters are also highly trainable but can be strong-willed and independent at times, so owners who are patient and consistent with training will be most successful. Novice owners must invest extra time if they have never owned a gundog. Gundogs need a lot of exercises and be kept busy; otherwise, they might find an alternative activity.

Additionally, they require a secure and safe outdoor space to run and play, as they have a high energy level and love to explore.

Overall, the Gordon Setter is the right breed for an active, patient, and committed dog lover who wants to provide their dog with exercise, training, and attention so they can thrive.

Check related articles or sign up for our newsletter to learn more about other dog breeds. We are working hard to add all dog breeds as soon as possible to have an extensive library!

Gordon Setter Fun Fact

The poet William Somerville (1675–1742) crafted a lyrical description of the Setter breed at work in the field. It's the first appearance of a Setter in a poem. We think it fits Setter breeds to a T.

When autumn smiles, all beauteous in decay,
And paints each chequered grove with various hues,
My setter ranges in the new shorn fields,
His nose in air erect; from ridge to ridge,
Panting, he bounds, his quartered ground divides
In equal intervals, nor careless leaves
One inch untried. At length the tainted gale
His nostrils wide inhale, quick joy elates
His beating heart, which, awed by discipline
Severe, he dares not own, but cautious creeps
Low-cowering, step by step; at last attains
His proper distance, there he stops at once,
And points with his instructive nose upon
The trembling prey. On wings of wind and upborne
The floating net unfolded flies; then drops,
And the poor fluttering captives rise in vain.

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To follow :) Comment on the post why you have chosen a Gordon Setter to help future owners

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