Gordon Setter Mobile

Gordon Setter

Prized by Scottish hunters for his strength and stamina, the Gordon Setter is a dependable, eager-to-work hunter. With an easygoing temperament, he also is an excellent family companion. The heaviest of the three setter breeds and the only one with a black-and-tan coat, the Gordon Setter requires vigorous daily exercise. His slightly wavy coat needs regular grooming.

DID YOU KNOW? A favourite of Duke Alexander the 4th of Gordon, the Gordon Setter was popular in Scotland in the late 1700s, when the breed was known as the black & tan setter. Although not as fast in the field as other sporting breeds, the Gordon Setter is known for his pointing accuracy.

ALSO KNOWN AS: Irish Setter, English Setter

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Quiet dog
  • Not a guard dog
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • Great family dog

Pet Card

  • Living Considerations: Good with children, not hypoallergenic, suitable for apartment living if adequately exercised
  • Size: Large
  • Height: Males – 60 to 68 centimetres at the shoulders, Females – 58 to 66 centimetres
  • Weight: Males – 24 to 36 kilograms, Females – 20 to 31 kilograms
  • Coat: Medium
  • Energy: ;Medium
  • Colour: Black with tan markings
  • Activities: Hunting, Tracking, Field Trials, Agility, Obedience, Conformation
  • Indoor/Outdoor: Both

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10-12 years
Weight:  Adult males 29.5kg, adult females 25.5kg
Height:  Adult males are 66cm tall and females 62cm tall
Colours:  Black and tan
Size:  Large
UK Kennel Club Groups: Gundog


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 5/5
Tolerates being alone: 1/5
Likes other pets: 2/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 5/5


Slow to mature and with a sensitive nature as adults, juvenile Gordon Setters can be quite a handful and will require patient training to instil good behaviour and manners without squashing their affectionate, dignified nature.  

Sociable and friendly with family and well-known friends, the Gordon Setter needs a little time to warm up to strangers, but makes an excellent companion with sufficient exercise and patience.

This is a gundog, who will always be prone to being distracted by birds, and have a strong desire to carry objects around. Careful handling is required so that this does not become a problematic behaviour but it is easily managed using positive reinforcement training methods and a non-confrontational approach.

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Scotland

Setters have existed in Scotland since the 1600’s, and towards the end of that century the 4th Duke of Gordon set about establishing his own recognised type. 

For a long time however, the Duke was primarily focused on how well his dogs worked rather than what they looked like, and so his kennels housed and worked setters of many colours, including black and white, red and white and tri-colour – all called the Duke of Gordon’s Setters. It was later in the breed’s history that the black and tan form we know today became fixed, most likely as a result of the breeds success in the show ring. 

Larger and slightly slower than smaller setters, the Gordon Setter had more stamina on the Scottish grouse moors and were reputed to bring home more birds than other gundogs.

Health and Common Issues

Exercise Needs

Space Requirements

Nutrition and Feeding

Grooming Gordon Setter

Training Gordon Setter

Best Family Dog Breeds

Did You Know?

  • Though it is often assumed that the Duke of Gordon who created the breed, favoured the black and tan coat, in fact his interests lay only in his dogs working ability. Colour was not an issue and in fact the dark coated examples were harder to see in the hunting field. It was the popularity of the breed in the show ring that set the preference for colour, until eventually Gordon Setters were recognised only as a black and tan breed.
  • It is thought that at some point in the breed’s development a little Collie blood was added as for a while in their history, the Gordon Setter would try and herd their quarry.

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