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Gordon Setter Temperament: A true champion in the field

The Gordon Setter temperament is without a doubt an amiable and special one, but is this gundog right for you?

A Gordon Setter will be the happiest living with an outdoorsy owner who can take them on all the adventures and has time for evening cuddles. They mastered fieldwork to such an extent and beauty that someone wrote a poem about them and when people see their shiny coats in the sunlight, they stop and stare. This blog post will go into more depth for those considering this dog breed as their new companion. So read on to learn if this dog is exactly what you've been looking for.

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

History of the Gordon Setter

Gordon Setters are medium-large dogs that originated from the Scottish Highlands sometime in the late eighteenth century. Alexander Gordon, the 4th of his name, is believed to be the person who established the breed. Hence the name Gordon Setter. According to documents, he bred Black and Tan Setters.

Initially bred to be hunting dogs to flush grouse out of bushes so hunters could shoot them, they have since become family pets and companion dogs. However, their instinct is still strong, so don't be surprised if your Gordon sometimes runs off into the sunset for a little hunt. Good re-call training is essential. Their boldness shines through on occasion. But also their people-orientated side.

The breed almost went extinct in the nineteenth century, with only 50 Setters registered at the kennel. Still, it was then revived by an individual who used what little specimens were left to begin breeding again. As a result, the Kennel Club is classing Gordon Setters as a native vulnerable breed due to less than 300 registrations a year. In 2020, 268 Gordon Setters were registered.

Gordon Setters usually weigh between 50 and 70 pounds, depending on whether they are male or female. So first-time dog owners need to remember that this breed is on the bigger side. They're solidly built compared to other setter breeds to withstand the temperament of the Scottish weather. A house with a garden is preferred. They can feel like a proper king or queen of the castle then.

The only breed recognised standard colour is black and tan.

If properly cared for, the Gordon Setter has a uniquely soft glowing coat that comes down from its chest. They also have feathering on their legs, tails, chest and ears, giving them an elegant look when they are presented at shows or competitions or just proudly for a walk with their owners.

73 Gordon Setters have been registered in Q2 2022 with the UK Kennel Club. It will be interesting to see if the trend continues.

Q1 2021

Q2 2021

Q3 2021

Q4 2021

Total 2021

Q1 2022

Q2 2022








Source: October 2022

What is it like to live with a Gordon Setter?

They are energetic dogs, but this energy level depends on the individual dog so keep it in mind if you get one of your own.

Regarding living conditions, Gordon Setters do well in a house, but it is best if they have a yard or garden to play in at least. If there is no garden, ensure the walks have a sufficient duration so they get their fair share of daily exercise.

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

What is important to note about this breed is that they need high-quality food with a lot of proteins in it because of the energy they expend and the amount of work they do when running and hunting for more than half a day at a time.

The Gorden Setter has a peaceful and calm nature, is biddable if adequately trained and is a really people-orientated dog. They are quick-witted and were bred to make decisions on their own when out hunting. However, their true temperament will shine through when they're outdoors. This dog is for you if you're after a new jogging partner or hiking companion.

The grooming requirements are medium as long as you brush your Gordon Setter every day, or at least once or twice a week for a few minutes. Remember that they have soft coats, unlike wire-haired dogs, so brushing them every day will not only make the dog happy but also keep their coat healthy and reduce shedding. Also, if properly cared for, the coat can be a real eye-catcher and shiny in the sunlight.

For Gundogs, exercise is essential. Two walks a day for an hour are recommended. They're also an all-weather type of dog. Gordons will enjoy themselves thoroughly, whether it's raining, windy, or the sun is shining. They will thrive playing fetch, and the owner needs a lot of stamina to keep up with their activity requirements. Gordon Setters are not the fastest of the setter breed; they do, however, have the most incredible stamina. It is a good idea to switch up walking routes so they can discover new smells, sounds, and trails.

Tug of war is also great as they need to crouch and pull, which helps them build muscles to protect joints and tendons and releases extra energy. Teach them the "release" command when you want them to. If your Gordon picks up all the massive "sticks" (also called tree branches), this a dog rope toy might be the perfect dog toy for them.

Socialising at an early age and exposing the Gordon to many different situations will make this dog grow into a well-rounded adult. A not well-socialised Gordon tends to be timid or shy around people and will prefer to stay near you.

The Gordon Setter is known to live up to 12 years on average. This means they need lots of love, exercise and good food to stay healthy throughout the 'golden' years; well, the first ten at least since these dogs are considered seniors after 10 years old. Gordon Setters stay young at heart for a long time and are a slow-maturing breed; however, if you ever had the chance to see a Gordon Setter in a field or obedience training, you'd be surprised. They carry a certain dignity and nobility that is not often seen. It's like an "on-off-puppy-switch".

Gordons love children, but it's essential to introduce them to the basics of how to treat a dog from an early age. Their calm and peaceful temperament makes them fantastic family dogs. They also tend to be less nervous around children than other Setter breeds.

If you are interested in owning a Gordon Setter, it would be essential to know more about them beforehand and to ask questions before adopting one of these dogs from an animal shelter or rescue centre. Remember they need lots of love, attention and exercise, so choose wisely when getting one of your own.

Gordon Setter playing fetch
A Gordon Setter will thoroughly enjoy a game of fetch

Gordon Setter characteristics in a nutshell

  • Affectionate, loyal and smart

  • Need a lot of exercise and new surroundings outside

  • Awesome with children

  • A true champion in the field

  • Reserved towards strangers at times

Potential diseases in the Gordon Setter breed

Common health issues in a Gordon Setter breed include bloat, hip dysplasia and cancer. As they are deep-chested dogs, they are especially susceptible to bloat. A study concluded they're ranking 5th in being most prone to bloat. Bloat is life-threatening, and this is not a vet blog, so please research and learn the signs of bloat from your vet and what you can do if symptoms show.

Make sure you're aware of the costs and prepared to carry those for the lifetime of a Gordon Setter.

All potential dog owners should research the breed they are interested in before bringing a dog into their home to ensure they are prepared for any potential health issues, especially the financial impacts of health issues.

Many dog owners are unaware of the danger in some pet toys and accessories that can worsen health issues when they innocently buy cheap products from the Far East. For example, avoid using synthetic rubber-like chew bones or tug-of-war ropes from polyester. Polyester collars could cause matting and skin irritation, while nylon leads shed microplastics into the environment. Instead, swap those harmful materials with natural dog products made from hemp here at Hooman's Friend.


Gordon Setters may seem like a tough breed because they were initially bred with English setters in mind, but they need lots of love and attention, just like most dogs do. They can also be reserved towards strangers at first and take on a "wait and see" approach. Socialisation should be at the top of your list.

If you have time to take them out for walks daily, play fetch with them and give them belly rubs every night, then this breed will become one of your best friends in no time! However, remember that these dogs need exercise, and their grooming needs must be met. So if you don't have the time to dedicate to a Gordon Setter, this breed might not suit you.

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

Fun facts

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.

Owners voices

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

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