Gordon Setter

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Introduction


Gordon Setters have been around for a long time, but they were only brought to people's attention by the fourth Duke of Gordon in the 1800s. These handsome, proud working dogs boast being the largest of all the setters. They are active dogs by nature and adore being kept busy with the added bonus of them keeping a lot of their puppy characteristics throughout their lives which makes sharing a home with a Gordon Setter a real joy.



Not only are they extremely handsome dogs, but they are intelligent and they remain extremely loyal to their families enjoying nothing more than being part of a family and in home environment which are just some of the reasons why the Gordon Setter was at one time such a popular dog. However, their numbers have dwindled over recent time and today these elegant dogs have been placed on The Kennel Club’s list of vulnerable native breeds.


History


There are records of “black and tan setting dogs” being in Scotland that date as far as back as the 1600's. However, it was the Duke of Gordon who brought the breed to everyone's attention around 200 years later when he introduced them into his kennels. According to his records, The Duke noted they were not “fast dogs”, but they were extremely hardy with wonderful “staying powers” which meant they could work from morning till the sun went down at night with no trouble at all. He also noted they were extremely good scent dogs and seldom did they make a “false point”. If a Gordon Setter stood still, you could be sure a bird lay exactly where these dogs were standing.



The early Gordon Setters were black and white although they could also be tricoloured or their coats could have a reddish hue to them. But the Duke's preferred colour was black and tan. When the Duke passed away in 1827, his son continued the tradition of having Gordon Setters in his kennels and it was the “black and tan” dogs that prevailed.



The first time Gordon Setters were registered with The Kennel Club was in the mid to late 1800's. On the first occasion it was a Black and Tan Setter called Dandie who took part in a dog show and won first prize for setters – his ancestry led straight back to the Duke of Gordon's kennels. However, the breed was only officially given its name in 1924. Today Gordon Setters are recognised by all the major kennel clubs around the world. With this said, they have now been placed on The Kennel Clubs vulnerable native breed list due to the fact that very few puppies are registered with them annually.


Appearance


Height at the withers: Males 61 - 69 cm, Females 58 - 66 cm



Average weight: Males 25 - 36 kg, Females 20 - 32 kg



The Gordon Setter is a very proud and handsome dog with males being larger than their female counterparts, but both have wonderful, glossy coats which is one of the breed's beautiful traits. Their heads are deeper than they are broad with dogs boasting a broad muzzle and slightly domed skulls which is wider between a dog's ears. They have very well defined stops and their muzzles are quite long with dogs having nicely defined lips. Noses are broad, large and black in colour with wide open nostrils.



They are eyes are a dark brown with dogs always boasting a keen, kind and intelligent expression in them. Ears are moderate in size and thin being set low on a dog's head and lying flat to their heads. The Gordon Setter has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones.



Their necks are long and lean with dogs carrying them arched which adds to a Gordon's proud and noble look. Shoulders are long and sloping with dogs having straight and strong front legs. Their body is moderately long with a nice level topline and deep brisket with well sprung ribs being. Loins are wide and a little arched.



Their hindquarters are broad and well-muscled with dogs having strong back legs and oval shaped feet with well-arched toes with lots of hair between them. Their pads are nicely padded and their heels are well cushioned. Dogs hold their tails either straight or very slightly arched in the shape of a scimitar. Their tails are thicker at the base but tapers to a fine point at the tip. The feathering starts near the root of the tail but gets shorter as it reaches the tip.



When it comes to their coat, the Gordon Setter boast a luxurious one with the hair on their heads, the front of their legs and tips of their ears being fine to the touch and short whereas on the rest of the body the hair is moderately longer, lying flat and close. Gordons have feathering on the upper parts of their ears which is long and silky. On the backs of their legs, the feathering is long and fine with dogs having fringes on their bellies that can extend right up to their chests and throats.



The accepted Recognised breed colours are as follows:




  • Black and Tan



The Gordon Setter also comes in the following colours which are not recognised by the Kennel Club :




  • Black, Tan and White

  • Liver and Tan

  • Solid Red



Dogs have 2 distinct clear spots over each of their eyes. Either side of their muzzle is tan coloured. Either side of their muzzle is tan coloured. They have 2 clearly defined spots on their chests and on the inside of their back legs and inside of their thighs is tan in colour with their paws being tan too.


Temperament


Gordon Setters are renowned for being intensely loyal dogs. They become devoted to their owners and their families. However, they can be a little wary of people they don't know which is one characteristic that makes them very good watchdogs, always quick to let their owners know when they are strangers around. They are also known for being the sort of dog that is always eager to please which makes them easy to train.



However, they do need consistency in their training which has to always be fair or a Gordon Setter may start to show a more dominant side to their nature. They are sensitive dogs by nature and therefore do not answer well to any sort of harsh correction or training methods. They do answer well to positive reinforcement and are never happier than when they know their place in the “pack” and who to look to for guidance and direction. They are very courageous and boast a tremendous amount of stamina. As such they are an ideal choice for people who lead active, outdoor lives and not such a good choice for anyone who leads a more sedentary and quiet life.



If puppies are well socialised from an early age, Gordon Setters usually end up being playful, curious, happy and always willing to please the people they are devoted to. One thing to bear in mind is that Gordon Setters when young, go through a period that can only be described as a time of “fear and anxiety”. This usually happens when they are around 6 to 9 months old and it's important not to pamper them too much during this time, but rather to remain calm, always reassuring a dog that everything is okay and there is nothing to be scared of or which could hurt them.



With this said, the Gordon Setter is a good choice for the first time owner because they are intelligent and always eager to please which makes them quick learners. However, this means they are quick to pick up bad habits too which owners have to keep in mind when training a Gordon Setter. 


Intelligence / Trainability


Gordon Setters are intelligent, but they do tend to have a mind of their own and therefore they are known to be independent thinkers by nature. This has to be taken into account when training a young dog which has to start early. These dogs need to be handled with a firm, gentle and always fair hand in order to get the best results. It's also a good idea to get Gordon Setters involved in some sort of "hunting" activity which is a great way of satisfying their natural instincts. Activities like scent training and obedience as well as field trials are a great choice of activities that will keep them happy.


Children and Other Pets


Gordon Setters are known to be great around children of all ages, although they can get a little over protective of them which means any interaction between the kids and dogs need to be supervised by an adult to make sure playtime stays calm and not too boisterous which is especially true when children have friends over to play.



They generally get on well with other dogs and other family pets especially if they have been well socialised from a young age or they have grown up together in a household. With this said, a Gordon Setter might just take objection to certain dogs which means care needs to be taken when out on a walk in a public place. Care has to be taken when a Gordon Setter is around any smaller animals and pets just in case they see them as prey.


Health


Gordon Setters are known to be great around children of all ages, although they can get a little over protective of them which means any interaction between the kids and dogs need to be supervised by an adult to make sure playtime stays calm and not too boisterous which is especially true when children have friends over to play.



They generally get on well with other dogs and other family pets especially if they have been well socialised from a young age or they have grown up together in a household. With this said, a Gordon Setter might just take objection to certain dogs which means care needs to be taken when out on a walk in a public place. Care has to be taken when a Gordon Setter is around any smaller animals and pets just in case they see them as prey.



Health



The average life expectancy of a Gordon Setter is between 10 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.



Like so many other breeds, the Gordon Setter is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:




  • Hip dysplasia - Test available

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) - DNA test available

  • Eye issues - Tests available

  • Bloat


Caring for a Gordon Setter


As with any other breed, Gordon Setters need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Grooming


As with any other breed, Gordon Setters need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Exercise


The Gordon Setter is a high energy dog and they are very smart with it. As such they need to be given a ton of mental stimulation and physical exercise on a daily basis to keep them happy and healthy. A minimum of 2 hour's daily exercise is essential for these dogs or boredom might set in which can dogs developing some unwanted behavioural issues which includes being destructive around the home.



A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep a Gordon Setter in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.



With this said, Gordon Setter puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs because this puts too much pressure on their still growing joints and limbs.


Feeding


Gordon Setters grow very slowly which means they cannot be fed like other dogs of their type. If you get a puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.



Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.



Because Gordon Setters are prone to suffer from bloat, it is really important that they be fed twice a day instead of giving them just one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand to place their feed bowl which makes it easier for these large dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down low to reach their food. You should never feed a Gordon Setter just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more a risk of suffering from bloat.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Gordon Setter


If you are looking to buy a Gordon Setter you may have to go on a waiting list because not many puppies are registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything from £600 to over £900 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Gordon Setter in northern England would be £25.58 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £64.18 a month (quote as of May 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.



When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £50 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Gordon and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.



As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Gordon Setter would be between £80 to £130 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.


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