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Gordon Setter

Country/Date of Origin: Scotland/1700s

The original setter was used to point game and then drop or "set" while nets were thrown over the birds. With the advent of firearms about four hundred years ago, the job of the field dog changed. The original setters were bred with heavier Spanish pointers and a whole new and quite handsome type of dog was created. The black and tan coloration is an old variety but it came to prominence only in the late 18th century in the kennels of the fourth Duke of Gordon in Scotland. It can hold its own in the show ring against the Irish Setter and in the field against the English Setter, although it's not as popular as either of them. Gordons were one of the foundation breeds represented in the American Kennel Club.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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Black and Tan Setter

AKC Group: Sporting

Breed Club: Gordon Setter Club of America

Rescue Club: Wendy Abelman; phone: 781-784-8806; e-mail: [email protected]

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Body Type:

  • A medium sized gun dog built along stockier lines than the English or Irish Setter. The standard allows considerable variation in size
  • Height: 23-27 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 45-80 pounds
  • Hanging ears are well feathered and are not altered
  • Short tail should not reach below the hocks. It is carried horizontal and is not altered. Tail should wag constantly while the dog is in motion


  • A serious minded dog that is inclined to be a one-person or one-family dog
  • A slow and methodical worker
  • Excellent with children
  • Can be aggressive towards other dogs. Is reluctant to share
  • Wary of strangers


  • Moderately long coat is straight or slightly wavy
  • Hair on head, forelegs and ear tips is fine and short. The hair on ears, backs of forelegs and toes is long and silky feathering
  • The only acceptable color is black with tan markings
  • Moderate grooming required

Health Concerns:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Heart disease
  • Skin allergies
  • Epilepsy
  • Bloat
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • The Gordon Setter was imported into the United States by the great statesman Daniel Webster
  • The name setter comes from the breed's habit of setting or crouching when game is spotted
  • Gordon Setters are rovers - roaming all over the countryside if given the chance
  • Not suited to apartment or even suburban living. This is a country dog and needs lots of exercise

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