Are Gordon Setters Smart? The Ultimate Guide 2024

When it comes to intelligence, Gordon Setters are a breed that stands out. Originally bred for hunting, these dogs have proven themselves to be not only excellent companions but also skilled competitors in various dog sports. Their intelligence makes them relatively easy to train, although their stubborn streak can sometimes present challenges. Early socialization and training are key to harnessing their natural intelligence and molding their loyal and gentle temperament.

Gordon Setters have a rich history, dating back to the 17th century in Scotland. They are a large sporting breed with a distinctive long, thick, black coat adorned with tan markings. These dogs require regular exercise, with at least 2 hours of daily activity to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. While generally healthy, they may be prone to certain health issues, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as eye problems.

Are Gordon Setters Smart?

  • Gordon Setters are intelligent dogs that excel in various activities, including hunting, obedience, conformation, and agility.
  • Early socialization and training are important to work with their stubbornness and shape their loyal and gentle temperament.
  • They have a long, thick, black coat with tan markings and require regular grooming.
  • Gordon Setters need at least 2 hours of exercise per day to satisfy their high energy levels.
  • While generally healthy, they can be prone to health issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia and eye problems.

The History of the Gordon Setter

The Gordon Setter has a rich history that dates back to the 1600s in Scotland. The breed’s origins can be traced to the kennels of Gordon Castle, where Alexander Gordon, the fourth Duke of Gordon, meticulously bred what were then known as black and tan setters. To develop the modern Gordon Setter, the Duke introduced other breeds, including black and tan collies, bloodhounds, black pointers, and black setters.

In 1842, the Gordon Setter made its way to the United States, captivating dog enthusiasts with its striking appearance and hunting prowess. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1878. Originally referred to as black and tan setters, the breed underwent name changes, eventually becoming known as Gordon Castle setters and, finally, Gordon Setters in 1924.

1600sIntroduction of black and tan setters by Alexander Gordon, fourth Duke of Gordon
1842Arrival of the Gordon Setter in the United States
1878Gordon Setter recognized by the American Kennel Club
1924Official designation of the breed as Gordon Setters

Physical Traits and Exercise Needs of Gordon Setters

Gordon Setters are a large breed with distinct physical traits. They typically stand 28-30 inches tall and weigh between 80-100 pounds. One of their most notable features is their long, thick coat, which is predominantly black with tan markings. To keep their coat in good condition, regular grooming is necessary to prevent tangles and mats.

Gordon Setter physical traits

In addition to their physical appearance, Gordon Setters have high exercise needs. As an active and energetic breed, they require a minimum of 2 hours of exercise per day to stay physically and mentally stimulated. Engaging in activities like long walks, jogging, cycling, hiking, and vigorous playtime can help burn off their surplus energy and keep them content.

Gordon Setters thrive in a house with a yard where they can run freely and explore their surroundings. Due to their high prey drive, leash training is essential to ensure their safety during walks or outings. It’s important to note that Gordon Setters are not well-suited for apartment living as they require ample space to fulfill their exercise needs.

Gordon Setters possess distinct physical traits such as their large size and long, thick coat with tan markings. Their exercise needs are significant, and they thrive with at least 2 hours of daily exercise. Providing them with regular physical activity and a suitable living environment will contribute to their overall well-being and happiness.

Temperament and Training of Gordon Setters

Gordon Setters possess a gentle, loyal, intelligent, and trainable temperament. They are known to be good with children and can exhibit protective tendencies. However, early socialization and training are vital for shaping their behavior.

These dogs are highly intelligent and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. Basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, and come are crucial for establishing a well-behaved Gordon Setter.

While they generally get along with other dogs, Gordon Setters may perceive smaller household pets as prey due to their hunting background. They have a moderate tendency to bark, which can be managed through proper training and socialization.

Training Tips for Gordon Setters

When training a Gordon Setter, it is important to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Start training and socialization at a young age to establish good behavior patterns.
  • Use positive reinforcement techniques such as rewards, praise, and treats to motivate and encourage your Gordon Setter during training.
  • Be consistent with your commands and expectations to avoid confusion.
  • Focus on teaching basic obedience commands, such as sit, stay, come, and walking on a leash.
  • Provide mental stimulation through interactive toys and puzzle games to keep your Gordon Setter engaged and prevent boredom.

By investing time and effort into training your Gordon Setter, you can foster a well-behaved and obedient companion.

GentleGordon Setters are known for their gentle nature, making them a great choice for families with children.
LoyalThese dogs are fiercely loyal to their owners and form strong bonds within the family.
IntelligentGordon Setters have high intelligence and are quick learners. They thrive when provided with mental stimulation.
TrainableDue to their intelligence and eagerness to please, Gordon Setters are highly trainable with positive reinforcement methods.

Health and Care of Gordon Setters

Gordon Setters are generally healthy dogs, but they can be prone to certain hereditary health issues. It’s important to be aware of these conditions and take the necessary steps to ensure their well-being.

Hereditary Health Issues

Gordon Setters are susceptible to the following hereditary health issues:

  • Bloat: This is a serious condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists, requiring immediate veterinary attention.
  • Cancer: Like many dog breeds, Gordon Setters are at risk for various types of cancer. Regular check-ups can help with early detection.
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: These conditions involve abnormal development of the hip and elbow joints, leading to pain and mobility issues.
  • Eye Problems: Gordon Setters can be prone to certain eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts.

To ensure the health of your Gordon Setter, regular veterinarian check-ups are essential. Your vet can monitor their overall health, perform necessary tests, and provide guidance on preventive measures.

Diet and Nutrition

A high-quality, balanced diet is crucial for the well-being of Gordon Setters. They require a nutritious diet that meets their specific needs, including protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

An average Gordon Setter may eat up to 3 cups of food per day, but it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate portion size for your individual dog. Feeding schedules and portion control can help prevent obesity.


Regular grooming is necessary to keep your Gordon Setter’s coat healthy and free from tangles and mats. Their long, thick, black coat with tan markings requires attention and care.

Here are some grooming tips for Gordon Setters:

  • Brush their coat regularly to remove loose fur and prevent tangles.
  • Trim their nails regularly to avoid overgrowth and potential discomfort.
  • Bathe them approximately once a month to keep their coat clean and fresh.

Regular grooming not only keeps your Gordon Setter looking their best, but it also helps maintain their overall health and well-being.

Training and Socialization

Early training and socialization are crucial for Gordon Setters to develop good behavior and prevent potential behavioral issues.

  • Start training your Gordon Setter from a young age using positive reinforcement techniques.
  • Basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, and come should be taught early on.
  • Introduce your Gordon Setter to different environments, people, and other animals to promote socialization.

Gordon Setters are intelligent dogs and thrive when mentally stimulated. Engage them in activities that challenge their minds and fulfill their natural instincts.

Preventing Separation Anxiety

Gordon Setters form strong bonds with their owners and can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. To prevent this, ensure they have plenty of mental and physical stimulation.

Consider the following strategies:

  • Provide interactive toys and puzzles to keep them occupied.
  • Establish a consistent routine and gradually increase their alone time.
  • Enlist the help of a dog sitter or doggy daycare if you’re away for an extended period.

By addressing their physical, mental, and emotional needs, you can help your Gordon Setter lead a happy and balanced life.

Hereditary Health IssuesDiet and NutritionGroomingTraining and SocializationPreventing Separation Anxiety
BloatFeed a high-quality, balanced dietRegular brushing to prevent tangles and matsStart training from a young ageProvide mental and physical stimulation
CancerConsult with your veterinarian for portion sizeTrim nails regularlyUse positive reinforcement techniquesEstablish a consistent routine
Hip and Elbow DysplasiaPrevent obesity through portion controlBathe approximately once a monthIntroduce to different environments and animalsEnlist the help of a dog sitter or daycare
Eye Problems  Mentally stimulate with challenging activities 

Finding and Owning a Gordon Setter

If you are interested in owning a Gordon Setter, there are a few options to consider. First, I recommend prioritizing adoption from rescue organizations or shelters. This allows you to provide a loving home to a dog in need and can be a rewarding experience. Many Gordon Setters end up in shelters due to unforeseen circumstances, and providing them with a second chance at a happy life is a noble act.

However, if you decide to purchase a Gordon Setter from a breeder, it’s important to do thorough research and choose a reputable breeder. Look for breeders who prioritize the health and temperament of their dogs. Responsible breeders will provide you with the necessary health clearances and ensure that their puppies are well-socialized.

The average price range for a Gordon Setter puppy from a reputable breeder is $800 to $2,000. Keep in mind that prices may vary depending on the breeder and geographical location.

Alternatively, you may also find a Gordon Setter in need of a home at an animal shelter or rescue group. While the breed is somewhat common, it may take longer to find one compared to popular breeds.

If you decide to bring a Gordon Setter into your family, be prepared to provide them with the exercise and attention they need. Gordon Setters thrive in active households with plenty of space to play and explore. They require regular exercise to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

Overall, owning a Gordon Setter can be a wonderful experience for active families and individuals who are committed to meeting their needs. Whether you choose to adopt or purchase from a breeder, the bond you form with a Gordon Setter will be rewarding for both you and your furry friend.

Tips for Finding a Gordon Setter:

  • Research reputable rescue organizations and animal shelters in your area that may have Gordon Setters available for adoption.
  • Attend local dog shows or events to connect with breeders who may have Gordon Setter puppies or adult dogs available.
  • Join online communities and forums dedicated to Gordon Setters to connect with breed enthusiasts who may have recommendations or know of available dogs.

Similar Breeds to Gordon Setters

While the Gordon Setter is a unique breed, there are some other breeds that share similar traits or characteristics. Some breeds that are similar to Gordon Setters in terms of intelligence and temperament include English Setters, Irish Setters, and English Springer Spaniels. These breeds can also be good choices for those considering a Gordon Setter.

breeds similar to Gordon Setters
BreedOriginSizeTemperamentExercise Needs
English SettersEnglandMedium to LargeIntelligent, Gentle, FriendlyModerate to High
Irish SettersIrelandLargeGood-natured, Energetic, AffectionateHigh
English Springer SpanielsEnglandMedium to LargeFriendly, Eager to Please, IntelligentHigh


Gordon Setters are known for their high level of intelligence, making them easily trainable. This breed has a gentle and loyal temperament, which makes them excellent companions for families. However, it is important to note that they require regular exercise, grooming, and training to thrive.

Due to their high energy levels, Gordon Setters are more suited for homes with a yard where they can have ample space to run and play. Apartment living may not be ideal for this breed. Additionally, it is crucial to choose a reputable breeder or consider adoption from rescue organizations or shelters when getting a Gordon Setter.

With proper care and attention, Gordon Setters can make wonderful pets for active individuals and families. Their intelligence, loyalty, and gentle nature make them a great addition to any home. Whether it’s participating in various activities or simply being a loving companion, a Gordon Setter can bring joy and happiness to your life.


Are Gordon Setters intelligent dogs?

Yes, Gordon Setters are intelligent dogs.

Are Gordon Setters easy to train?

Yes, Gordon Setters are relatively easy to train.

Do Gordon Setters have a gentle temperament?

Yes, Gordon Setters have a gentle temperament.

Are Gordon Setters good family companions?

Yes, Gordon Setters are good family companions.

Do Gordon Setters require a lot of exercise?

Yes, Gordon Setters require at least 2 hours of exercise per day.

What are the common health problems in Gordon Setters?

Gordon Setters can be prone to health problems such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and eye problems.

Where can I find a Gordon Setter?

It is advisable to prioritize adopting from rescue organizations or shelters. However, if you decide to purchase from a breeder, thorough research is important to choose a reputable breeder.

What are some similar breeds to Gordon Setters?

English Setters, Irish Setters, and English Springer Spaniels share similar traits to Gordon Setters.