Complete Guide To The Gordon Setter: Health, Grooming, Exercise and More

Loving, devoted, and caring, the Gordon Setting is a family dog through and through and thrives on being close to his beloved family. This dog is strong and athletic and can be an excellent hunting companion. They thrive on having a job to do, and the dog can even make an excellent watchdog for your home.  

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a handful of this breed over the past decade or so in my veterinary practice and I’ve loved every single Gordon Setter I’ve ever met.

How Big Do Gordon Setters Get?

Male24″-27″ at the shoulder55-80 lbs
Female23″-26″ at the shoulder45-70 lbs


What Do Gordon Setters Look Like?

The glossy coat of the Gordon Setter is what sets this dog apart from others. It has a silky, medium-long coat that is primarily black with tan markings. The dog can have mahogany or chestnut coloration around the muzzle, eyes, throat, hind legs, and chest. Some Gordons will have a bit of white, showing a white spot near the chest. For show dogs, the smaller the white area, the better, considering no white coloration the best of all.  

What Is The Personality Of A Gordon Setter?

The Gordon Setter is an incredibly loving and affectionate breed of dog. This dog is happy to just work alongside its owner, no matter what capacity. Whether you are working on new tricks and behaviors or working together tracking through the forest, the Gordon considers any time spent with his human a good time.  

Although loving and affectionate toward their family, this breed of dog can be a bit aloof and standoffish toward strangers. For this reason, they make excellent watchdogs. The Gordon Setter also has a stubborn streak which can make training difficult. Be sure to keep training sessions short and positive. Although stubborn, this dog is also very sensitive and does not respond well to harsh training methods.  

How Much Grooming Do Gordon Setters Need?

The long and silky fur of the Gordon Setter has minimal requirements to help to keep it look clean and smooth. Brush your dog at least once per week. This routine will help bring the natural oils from the skin into the fur, and it will help reduce matting, tangles, and knots.

Brushing the dog regularly will also help to reduce shedding. About once per month, make sure to trim the nails short and keep the ears clean. Bathing the dog about once per month is recommended to keep your dog smelling great.  

How Much Exercise Do Gordon Setters Need?

The Gordon Setter is a high-energy dog that needs plenty of exercise to stay happy. This dog was bred to be a hunting dog and likes to be outdoors, working, with a defined job to do. The dog will need a long walk or hike once per day. They will benefit from a lively jog or jaunt alongside your bicycle. The dog excels at hunting and tracking and will make a phenomenal working dog in the field.  

If given the right amount of exercise, though, this dog is delighted to simply curl up at your feet at the end of the day. The Gorden is the happiest when he is by your side, so being with his owner in any capacity is considered the perfect day. If this dog is properly exercised, it may be well suited for an apartment. Too much pent-up energy, though, can make this dog destructive and prone to nuisance behaviors.  

What Kind Of Dog Food Is Best For Gordon Setters?

For Gordon Setters puppies, you will need to make sure you don’t feed them too much too fast. It’s easy because they are usually chow hounds, but you want to control their growth. Growing too fast can cause some early bone and joint problems that are easily avoided.

Best Puppy Food For Gordon Setters:

Best Adult Food For Gordon Setters:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

It’s very important they remain at their optimal weight throughout their life. Have your vet go over with you exactly where to feel to know when your dog is too big.

How Long Do Gordon Setters Live?

12-13 years based on information from the AKC

What Health Problems Do Gordon Setters Have?

Gordon Setters are a large, active breed and their health concerns reflect this. Based on my own experience as well as information from the Canine Health Information Center, the most common issues seen in this breed include:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Arthritis of hips, elbows, knees
  • Dental Disease
  • Bloat

Going with a reputable breeder and doing your due diligence on the genetics of the parent dogs can give you the best chance to get a very healthy Gordon Setter.

Where Can I Learn More About Gordon Setters?

Gordon Setter Club of America

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find a Gordon Setter?

Gordon Setters are often found from reputable breeders in your area. This breed of dog is becoming more popular, and puppies are more readily available. Before choosing a breeder, make sure to do your homework and ask plenty of questions about the breed of dog and the breeder’s practices and facility. There have been some reports of aggressive tendencies in the Gordon Setter line in the past; however, responsible breeding has largely eliminated this personality flaw from the breed.  

Breeder List From The Gordon Setter Club of America

You can try the AKC Puppy Marketplace

It may also be possible to adopt a Gordon Setter from a rescue. Both the Gordon Setter Club of Canada and the Gordon Setter Club of America, Inc.  Both rescue groups work exclusively with this beautiful dog to find forever homes for Gordons. Rescuing a dog not only allows you to have a purebred dog but also helps to give a dog a much-needed home.  

Fun Facts About the Gordon Setter

  • Because this breed of dog loves to be attached to his owner, he may suffer from severe separation anxiety if left alone for too long. If you regularly travel or work long hours, this may not be the best breed for you.  
  • The Gordon Setter appeared in Scotland around 1620 but really didn’t grow in popularity until about 200 years later. The fourth Duke of Gordon is largely responsible for increasing this breed’s popularity, always keeping this dog in his kennels.  
  • The AKC first recognized the Gordon Setter in 1892, and in 1924 the first Gordon Setter Club of America was formed. This club still exists today and has a healthy membership of over 1,000 people.  
  • The Gordon Setter is the 88th most popular breed of dog out of a possible 155 recognized breeds by the AKC.  
  • Compared to all the Setters, the Gordon Setter is the largest type of dog in this family. He also remains a puppy for the longest and can take years for this dog to mature. If the Gordon Setter had it his way, he would stay a puppy for his entire life.