Large dogs with deep chests and muscular legs, the Gordon Setter has an overall look of elegance and dignity, coupled with strength and the obvious ability to hunt for long hours. Their coats are silky and straight, of a black and tan colour with heavy feathering on the legs, chest, stomach, ears and tail. Adult males are 66cm in height and 29.5 kg in weight; adult females 62cm and 25.5kg.
The Gordon Setter dog breed can be traced back to 1620 when it was known as the 'black and fallow setting dog'. It owes its origins to the Spanish pointer and various early spaniel breeds. The breed owes its name to the 4th Duke of Gordon who set out to establish the breed officially at his castle in Banffshire, Scotland, in 1827. The Gordon is the only native Scottish gundog and was bred specifically to hunt gamebirds, especially grouse. With more stamina than other hunting breeds, Gordons do well hunting on the moors and are reputed to bring home more birds than the other gundogs, though they may take longer in the field.
This a gentle and sensitive dog that makes a super companion if he gets sufficient exercise, otherwise he can become rather hyperactive. Sociable and friendly, the Gordon will be devoted to his owner but may take a few minutes to acknowledge strangers. It should be remembered that a Gordon is more strong-willed than other hunting breeds and will need consistent training.
As with many breeds, the Gordon Setter can suffer from hereditary eye disorders and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
This dog was bred for strength and endurance and has the reputation of being the hardest and longest working gundog. As a result, the pet version needs a great deal of exercise to keep him healthy and happy – two-plus hours daily for an adult dog. Getting them involved in some activity that will utilise their hunting instinct is advisable, such as scent training and field trials.
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. The Gordon Setter can be prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.
As a semi-long-coated dog, the Gordon needs to be brushed and combed regularly, at least twice a week. The ears should also be cleaned on a regular basis since they are long and pendulous - the type that traps in air and can lead to infections.