Gordon Setter

A Gordon Setter dog.
Irish Setters aren't the only Setter dogs who have a reputation for being quiet. Photography courtesy courtesy Barb Meining DVM and Mary Ann Leonard.

Quick Facts

  • Weight: 45 – 75 pounds (20.41 – 34.02 kg)
  • Height: 23 – 27 inches (58.42 – 68.58 cm)

The Look of a Gordon Setter

Gordon Setters are handsome, big-boned (but not stocky), muscular dogs covered in straight, shiny and slightly wavy coats. They have big, clean-cut heads with rounded skulls, long muzzles and wide, black noses. Their low-set, thin ears hang close to the head, and their brown eyes have a keen and understanding expression. They have long, lean necks that slope down to deep chests covered in wavy hair. Their tails are medium-length and carried horizontally. Overall, Gordon Setters have a stylish but sturdy look.


  • Active
  • Strong
  • Stylish
  • Patient
  • Clever
  • Noble

Ideal Human Companion

  • Retirees
  • Families
  • Active, sporty types
  • Hikers

What They Are Like to Live With

The Gordon Setter is the ideal roommate: protective without being mean, friendly without being clingy, dependable and patient. They are also great communicators: You never have to wonder what a Gordon is thinking, because they will howl, moan or bark when they want something.

Gordons form very strong bonds with family and close friends, but they tend to be reserved around strangers. However, they aren’t the best choice for a watchdog. They’ll announce a visitor by barking, but that’s about it. They have a polite and mannerly way with everyone. And they are especially loving and patient with children.

Things You Should Know

Active and energetic, not to mention curious, Gordon Setters need lots of exercise to stay healthy. A bored, neglected or sedentary Gordon may become destructive—whether by chewing things, barking excessively or getting up to other mischief. These canines really appreciate challenges and “tasks” to keep their active minds occupied.

Gordon Setters have strong hunting instincts. The sight of a scurrying squirrel or an interesting far-off smell can easily seize their attention. Therefore, remember to always keep them on a leash during walks. If you have the opportunity to let your Gordon run free in a protected area, go for it.

A healthy Gordon Setter can live as long as 12 years. Generally healthy, some can develop hip dysplasia, cataracts and hypothyroidism. Some Gordons are prone to bloat. Feeding them smaller meals throughout the day—as opposed to one big meal—will help.

Gordon Setter History

Developed in Scotland in the early 17th century, the Gordon Setter was developed and made famous by the fourth Duke of Gordon. This hunting dog—the largest and heaviest of the setters—was prized for its sharp intelligence and good memory, learning commands quickly and never forgetting. Their black & tan coats also made them easy to see across green fields or snowy landscapes. In the mid-1800s Gordons made their way to the U.S., where they continue to be popular show dogs, hunting dogs and companions.

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