A Gordon Setter is a member of the setter family, including the Irish Setter and the English Setter. This large breed of dog is generally classified as either Gundog group or Sporting group based on their respective kennel club or council. The major purpose of this breed was to hunt the Gamebirds. Their prey in the United Kingdom may be pheasant, partridge, snipe, woodcock or grouse; while the overseas bird dogs hunt for quail, sand grouse, francolin or willow grouse.
The Spaniel was a specialised setting-dog which came from Spain. A good Spaniel was not rough instead he had a rough tail. These dogs love their masters and do not leave them even if they are in a huge crowd. They commonly go before their master wagging their tail and running.
The modern Gordon Setter is a black dog with rich tan marking on the legs, chest and the muzzle. It is a little bigger than the other dogs of the same group, Irish and English setter. The Kennel club gave the name ‘Gordon Setter’ to this breed in the year 1924. Earlier these were known as the black and tan setters and were found in various Kennels.
Daniel Webster and George Blunt brought this breed in the United States of America in 1842, and these were officially recognized by the American Kennel club in 1892.
Due to the various changes in the sports and the country affairs before and during the Second World War, these gundogs soon started being away from their work of hunting. Also the Labrador Retriever came to the forefront while there was a decline in the number of pointers and setters.
The situation even got worst with the advancement in the farming practices which reduced the population of Partridge to a great extent. The Gordon Setter were used as the general purpose Gundogs, they were also employed in Scotland or North England to hunt for the Red Grouse and Ptarmigan. These dogs are said to have speed, sensitive nose, endurance along with the natural instinct to hunt in the finding games.
The Gordon Setters, also called the “black and tans”, have a coal-black coat with distinct markings of chestnut or mahogany colour on their lower legs, paws, throat and muzzle, one spot above the eye and on their chest. There can be a small amount of white seen on the chest. There can be a red Gordon Setter born out of the normal parents due to expression of a recessive red gene. Their coat is mostly straight or may be waved sometimes but is not at all curly; it is long and silky and has feathers on their chest, ear, leg, stomach and tail. They are known to be the heaviest and the largest amongst the setter breeds with males having height of 27 inches (69 cm) at the withers and weight up to 80 pounds (36 kg).
They are mostly described as alert, fearless, confident, interested, intelligent and capable. He is loyal and affectionate to his master and strong enough to stand the rigorous training. They are good family dogs, but although being patient, they are not suitable for houses with very small children. They are emphatic by nature and require a gentle handling. They need to be socialised and trained for the obedience at young age. They gain maturity gradually and do not look matured up to the three years or more.
They were bred to run fats and so require 60 to 80 minutes of daily vigorous exercise. Young dogs should not over exercise or begin with their agility training until they are 18 months old to avoid joint pain n later age. Due to their hunting instincts, they should left in open to roam freely as they may follow the scent and may create a dangerous situation.
The Gordon Setter have some health issues like gastric torsion or the bloat, hypothyroidism and some eye diseases like progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and cataract. They generally live for 10 to 12 years.
On March 14, 2011, Animal Health Trust (AHT) found a DNA test and named this mutation as rcd4 (for rod-cone degeneration 4) and said that 19 out of 21 Gordons who had a sign of PRA were homozygous for this mutation. This was the major cause of PRA in the breed.