Gordon Setter



The Gordon Setter derives its name from the fourth Duke of Gordon (1743–1827) who established a kennel of setters at Gordon Castle in Scotland. They were bred to find grouse on the rugged, heather-covered moors of the Highlands. The breed was first recorded in Australia in 1865.


The Gordon Setter’s classic function requires it to quarter the ground searching for game birds by catching their scent above grasses and low growing bushes, such as heather. The breed is then required to point or set to indicate the bird’s location to its handler and remain in that position as its handler approaches and the bird rises.

In some countries, the Gordon Setter is used as a utility Gundog and, as such, is required to find and retrieve other game as well. In Australia today, it is a multi-purpose dog, being a willing obedience dog and a devoted and loyal guardian.


A Gordon Setter is an active dog and owners should be prepared to devote time to providing suitable exercise, such as walks, with access to an off-lead area where it can run freely.

The breed is an intelligent animal and responds very well to training, which ideally should be started early on in your dog’s life. It also makes a very good house dog and is patient, loyal and well-known for its attachment to its family.


The breed standard describes the breed as a ‘stylish dog, with galloping lines’. It is approximately 62–66cm in height and the male weighs around 29.5kg, with the female usually smaller at 25.5kg. The most striking aspect of its appearance is its black and tan coat, which is moderate in length with fringing on the ears, belly and tail.


Breeders of the Gordon Setter have been very diligent in monitoring their dogs for Hip and Elbow Dysplasia and, as a result, the incidence of these problems is low.

Another health issue that has appeared in the past few years is Late-Onset Progressive Retinal Atrophy (LOPRA), where affected dogs will slowly go blind from the age of about nine to 10 years. Most breeders use DNA testing to screen any dogs they use, and it is hoped that this problem will be minimised or disappear in a few generations. The Gordon Setter generally lives 12–14 years.


Good feeding and grooming will keep your Gordon Setter looking its best. The coat should be regularly brushed and any knots in the longer parts removed. Eyes and ears should be checked and cleaned, and feathering between the toes should be trimmed to avoid painful knots forming. The breed should of course be kept flea and tick free. The Gordon Setter Club of NSW provides field days where correct grooming techniques are demonstrated.


The Gordon Setter makes a great dog for an active person or family. It is loyal and trustworthy and thrives when involved in family life. The breed is intelligent, willing to please and cooperative and, as a result, has been very successful at Obedience work and many have also competed successfully in Agility, Tracking, Jumping and Flyball as well as in the show ring.

The Gordon Setter is generally very good with children and can run and play well with dogs of other breeds.

Words: Christine Rethers


In Conclusion

Now you know a little about the Gordon Setter, you may think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Gordon Setter and its needs, and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.



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