Gordon Setter

  • Overview

    Chances are, you've seen a Gordon Setter. They're often depicted in the paintings that hang in hunting lodges as hard at work with a pheasant in their mouths. Their beautiful black and tan coats and majestic stature help them stand out in the field. These dogs are the largest of the setters, standing between 23 and 27 inches tall.

    Gordon Setters will not be satisfied to be anything less than completely involved in their owner's daily activities. For families who are looking for a dog to energetically amuse them and diligently watch over their children while also making a devoted, long-lasting outdoor companion, the Gordon Setter makes an ideal pet.

    View Grooming Diagram for gordon setter
  • Personality

    Gordon Setters are extremely loyal to their owners. They are skilled hunters with natural hunting ability, but they have been conditioned to hunt at a close range to their owner. As a result, they are used to bonding closely with their owners and rarely spending time away from them. Gordon Setters are not particularly fast-moving and are prized for their endurance rather than their speed. They are sensitive and tolerant toward children, and they often form such close relationships with their family that they are not very motivated to be friendly around strangers. They are confident dogs who are willing and capable to learn quickly and remember commands, but they will have to be trained to socialize so they are not stand-offish or skittish in new situations. When training, they appreciate a firm but gentle approach, because they are extremely sensitive to their owner's voices and get their feelings hurt easily. Despite their sensitive natures, they are sensitive to their owner's feelings as well. Gordon Setters are known to act remorseful to express that they are sorry after misbehaving.

    They are emotional dogs with strong temperaments, but they usually mellow out dramatically with age. Once rambunctious puppies become calm, sedate older dogs who are content to relax indoors with their family. Gordon Setters will always love to exercise, however. Their favorite pastimes are walking and hiking with their owners.

  • Coat Care

    Their characteristic black and tan coat is long, soft and either straight or wavy. Their long ears and tail are feathered. The hair on the chest, underbelly and in the back of the legs is longer and feathered in a triangular pattern. The coat should be shiny and the distinction between black points and tan points should be clear, never mixed together. The long, abundant coat requires some attention. Most importantly, the long hair around the ears and foot pads should be trimmed to a manageable length to help Gordon Setters stay comfortable while they are working.

    Their long ears are very sensitive to infection, so you will have to check them periodically to make sure they are clean and free of debris. Brush the coat at least twice a week with a metal rake and a bristle brush to remove mats and tangles, paying special attention to the feathering and the long hair on the chest, which can tangle easily. Their hair can also be clipped or trimmed occasionally as necessary to help their coat grow back in its shiny, soft texture and make sure they stay tidy.

Brushing

When you are brushing your Gordon Setter, pay special attention to the feathering and the long hair on the chest, which can tangle easily.

Bathing

With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but it's generally best to bathe dogs with silky coats more often. The coat should end up fresh smelling, light and shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry.

Hair Clipping

The long hair around the ears and foot pads should be trimmed to a manageable length to help Gordon Setters stay comfortable while they are working. Their hair can also be clipped or trimmed occasionally as necessary to help their coat grow back in its shiny, soft texture and make sure they stay tidy.

Nails

Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Silky coated breeds often have hanging pendant ears covered in feathered hair, which means their ears need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face.

Teeth

Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.