Gordon Setters: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Gordon Setter temperament, personality, and behavior.

DOG BOOKS by Michele Welton

dog training book

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Gordon Setter dog breed

Gordon Setter Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Gordon Setter Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


The handsome, well-muscled Gordon Setter is the most alert, serious, and sensible of the setters, a graceful yet powerful dog who enjoys hiking, biking, jogging, and field work as regular exercise.

Though usually calm and dignified, with a wise and noble expression, the Gordon Setter does have a silly side, and also a demanding side. Gordon Setters thrive on one-on-one attention, you see. They can be jealous of other pets and are sometimes aggressive toward strange dogs.

The strong-mindedness of the Gordon Setter calls for early training by someone who knows how to establish and stick to rules, but you must be patient and persuasive, never harsh.

Gordon Setters also have long memories: Once they learn something (whether right or wrong), they'll remember it for a long time. On the negative side, this means bad habits can be difficult to break.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is large and sturdy, yet also elegant and graceful
  • Has a lovely feathered coat -- jet black with rust red markings
  • Is the most alert of the setters, the most discriminating with strangers, and makes the best watchdog
  • Is usually sensible and dependable with everyone

A Gordon Setter may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • Providing enough exercise to keep him satisfied
  • Exuberant jumping, especially when young
  • "Separation anxiety" (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much
  • Stubbornness
  • Regular brushing and combing
  • Shedding

A Gordon Setter may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

  • You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Gordon Setters have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
  • If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
  • Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Gordon Setter to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

More traits and characteristics of the Gordon Setter

If I was considering a Gordon Setter, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise. Gordon Setters are athletic hunting dogs who need plenty of exercise to vent their energy. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored, which they usually express by destructive chewing.
  2. Providing enough companionship. Gordon Setters are devoted to their family and need a great deal of companionship. If you leave them alone too much during the day, they may express their unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking.
  3. Potential dog aggression. Many Gordon Setters are fine with other family pets. But some individuals are not tolerant of other dogs of the same sex.
  4. Stubbornness. All of the setter breeds can be obstinate and manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. To teach your Gordon Setter to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Gordon Setter Training page discusses the program you need.
  5. Grooming and shedding. To keep their silky coat free of mats, Gordon Setters require regular brushing, and also clipping and trimming every few months. And they do shed quite a bit.

To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

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