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History of the Gordon Setter

Beauty, brains and bird sense: these words describe the Gordon Setter. History suggests the existence of black and tan setters as far back as the 16th century in Scotland and England. The Duke of Gordon is credited with establishing the breed with its present characteristics in the 1820s. George Blunt and Daniel Webster imported the breed to America in 1842 with the purchase of two dogs from the Duke of Gordon kennels, Rake and Rachael. These dogs founded the breed in this country, which the American Kennel Club recognized in 1892.

Gordons were initially bred as bird dogs. The hunting instinct remains strong in the breed, Gordons are also equally at home as companion dogs. The official standard of the breed - a blue print of the ideal Gordon Setter allow for a considerable range of size and weight to suit a wide variety of hunting terrain.


Gordon Setters are alert and lively, pleasant and exceedingly loyal. They tend to be devoted to members of their household, but are not overly friendly to strangers. Gordons tend to tolerate attention from people they do not know rather than seeking such attention.

There is no denying a Gordon would just as soon stay a puppy forever, but with proper techniques young Gordons can be trained without breaking their spirit. Gordons are highly intelligent dogs, as quick to spot an advantage as to spot game, and basic obedience training will make your Gordon a better companion. Although Gordons are bright, they are not blindly obedient, and may seem stubborn. Firmness and consistency are the keys to handling Gordons; harsh treatment is never necessary. Obedience classes ranging from puppy to advanced competition is available in most areas through local kennel clubs or humane societies.

Gordons are capable of adapting to a variety of living situations, as long as they are assured of the love of their masters. They do, however, need plenty of daily exercise to maintain peak physical and mental condition. Gordons need a safe, fenced area in which to run and play, and/or to be taken for frequent on leash walks. This breed should never be allowed to roam freely because Gordons have the tendency to put their noses to the ground where the hunting instinct might lead them to follow a bird or a squirrel across a busy highway.

Children and Gordons are a good combination, especially when the dog is introduced to children at a young age. Gordons tend to show strong protective instincts to their young charges. If a child persists in teasing a Gordon, the dog will tend to remove himself from the child's reach rather than frighten the child. Children must be taught to respect the rights of the dog as a member of you household.

Many Gordons are great talkers. They can develop quite a vocabulary with various tones to express themselves. Constant wagging of the tail seems to be part of their style as well.

As hunting companions, Gordons are frequently described as "personal gun dogs", with emphasis on the word personal. Gordon Setters thrive when they share both hearth and field with their masters. They do not take well to being left in a kennel.

Gordons possess top quality bird sense. They quarter the ground thoroughly and tend to stay close to the gun. They won't hunt for just anyone; a Gordon works best for his or her master. The same qualities that make Gordons an ideal family member make these dogs ideal personal hunting dogs.


Even if your pup arrived with shots, at trip to the veterinarian is in order. Puppy shots continue through 16-18 weeks of age to provide full protection, followed by annual vaccinations and continuous heartworm preventative.

Many medical problems are associated with poor diet, feed your Gordon high quality dog food from a company whose labels meet or exceed the standards established by the National Research Council (NRC) and the Association of American Feed Controls (AAFCO). Given proper care your Gordon should live to be from 10-14 years of age.


A responsible breeder plans each breeding with the goal of improving the breed, avoiding genetic defects and producing puppies that are not only better than their parents but one step closer to the ideal Gordon. Breed in terms of temperament and hunting ability. Field events and obedience rings are considered important proving grounds for breeding stock.

A Gordon is basically a healthy dog, still, as with many other breeds, Gordons as a group are subject to a number of genetic defects including hip dysplasia. Careful screening of dogs to be bred and their ancestors is necessary to maintain the integrity of the breed and reduce the likelihood of health or temperament problems.

So should you breed your dog? Only with careful research and a commitment to improving the breed should you consider it.

Written by Russ and Sharon Guevel
Bates City, MO. 64011

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