A brief history of the Gordon Setter

Literature tells us that the setter was in existence as early as the 1500s or early 1600s. The word “Setter” was coined because the dog would locate a bird and “sit” or lay down showing the hunter were the bird is and the hunter would throw a net over the dog and bird

The major differences between the setters is the terrain which it hunts. The Gordon being heavy boned and square, suggests strength and stamina rather than speed over the craggy terrain of Scotland.

Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon, established his kennel of Black and Tan Setters at Gordon Castle, which was situated near Fochabers, not far from the River Spey and a few miles from the coast of Moray. The exact date when this occurred is not known. These first setters looked more like the field English Setters. The Duke crossed the Setters with the flat-coated black and tan Collie. These dogs were good for hunting and herding. Other breeders used Bloodhounds, black pointers and solid black Setters.

History has it that the Duke would not shoot over his setters until they were 5 years old, as they were very wild when they were young and slow in maturing.

  • In 1862, dog show classes were added for English, Irish, and Black and Tan Setters. The British Kennel Club made them an official breed in 1872 known as the black and tan.
  • In the first Stud Book of the Kennel Club (English) covering the years 1859-1874 there were 126 Black & Tan setters listed but it was not until 1st January 1924 that the Kennel Club accepted the name of Gordon Setter as a registered breed.
  • In 1892, the American Kennel Club changed the name to Gordon Setter from the Gordon Castle Setter.
  • The First documented import of Gordon Setters was in 1842 when George Blunt of New York brought Rake and Rachael to the U.S.A.
    • Rake was curly coated, white with a black saddle and tan points, Rachael was black and tan.
    • Rachael was given to Daniel Webster.
  • The First Gordon listed in the stud book was “Bang” owned by J.W. White, whelped in 1879.
  • Harry Malcolm who is credited for starting the Gordon Setter Club of America, had a big kennel and bred the Gordons for strictly hunting.
  • The GSCA is a charter member of AKC.
  • 1891 was the first standard written by GSCA
  • Charles T. Inglee had a life long involvement in Gordons. He revived the Gordon in 1920 by importing from Norway, Denmark and Sweden. He kept very good records of his litters. When he retired in 1935, he had 300 litters and 40 champions.
  • It should be noted that up to 1958 it was necessary to obtain a working certificate to become a champion but from that date the Kennel Club (English) agreed to a title of Show Champion (Sh. Ch.) for dogs that were not working stock.