The Gordon setter is a large breed dog from the setter grouping, which also encompasses the more widely known Irish setter and English setter. They fall within the sporting gundog grouping, and were originally bred and developed in order to hunt game birds such as pheasant, grouse and partridge. They are sometimes referred to as the black and tan setter, due to their distinctive colouration of black and mahogany brown.
They are confident, lively, affectionate and friendly, and like all of the setter breeds, this combination of traits makes them very appealing to people from all walks of life. However, as an active, energetic dog with a strong working history, they can prove challenging as pets, and are not the ideal match for everyone!
In this article, we will cover some of the most frequently asked questions about the Gordon setter. Read on to learn more.
The record of a dog type that is likely to be the founding of the Gordon setter goes back to the 17th century, where black and tan setting dogs were mentioned in documentation from Scotland.
The breed became widely known in the 19th century when the Duke of Gordon bred dogs of this type and promoted their ownership, noting that they were hardy, tenacious and excellent setting dogs. In 1924, The Kennel Club officially recognised the breed and recorded them under the name of the Gordon setter, and the breed standard for the dog has not changed significantly since that time.
The Gordon setter is not among the most common of dog breeds, and if you have your heart set on owning one, you may have to find a breeder some distance away from your home and join a waiting list. The Gordon setter is ranked on The Kennel Club listing of vulnerable native (UK and Ireland) dog breeds, with under 300 new puppies of the breed having been registered in 2013.
The Gordon setter is a very lively, active dog that has greater exercise requirements than most other breeds. They thrive on being outdoors and having a task to do, and do not suit families with a sedentary lifestyle. When kept within a domestic home, they will need two to three long, varied and energetic walks per day, and are happiest when out of doors.
They also take well to canine sports such as agility, which provides both a mental and physical challenge for the dog.
The coat of the Gordon setter is long, wavy and silky, and designed to protect the dog against undergrowth and thorns. They do tend to pick up debris such as leaves and twigs within their coats when out on walks, and also have a tendency to head for muck and puddles!
Regular brushing and grooming is necessary in order to keep the coat in good condition, and if left untended, it will soon become knotted and matted up.
The Gordon setter is a lively, playful dog that loves to get involved in games and high jinks, and they very much enjoy playing with children! Fit, active children that like to play outdoors and involve the dog in their games make great companions for the Gordon setter, and they tend to be patient, kind and gentle with smaller children.
The Gordon setter is a very intelligent dog breed, which is capable of retaining and executing a wide range of commands and complex command chains. While this does make them most amenable to training, it also means that they will get bored very quickly with mundane tasks or too much repetition, and can also learn new things, both good and bad, through simple observation!
Proactive, intelligent training is required to manage and train the Gordon setter, and they retain the ability to learn new things throughout their lives.
The Gordon setter is a lively, active dog that is robust and not overly fragile. However, like many purebred dogs and particularly those from a relatively small gene pool, the Gordon setter breed as a whole does have its fair share of inherited health problems.
The average longevity of the breed is 10-12 years, and some of the conditions that may affect the breed over the course of their life include hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia and gastric torsion.
The breed is also prone to suffering from cataracts in old age, and also has elevated risk factors for late onset progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) which is a progressive eye disorder than leads to total blindness. DNA testing can be performed on parent dogs to identify a propensity to PRA, and dogs that are considered to test poorly should not be bred from. Up to 50% of dogs of the breed may be carriers of the gene for PRA, but this does not mean that the condition will necessarily develop within a carrier dog.