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Scotland’s Gundog – The History Of The Gordon Setter

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348 – April, 2018


I was fourteen when my mum first bought me a copy of Dog World to keep me quiet. I remember being fascinated by one particular article and that concerned the appearance of ‘liver’ colored puppies in litters of Gordon Setters. I think some voices at the time were calling for the inclusion of these pups into breeding programs.

If my memory is correct, I believe the article was in two parts; of course, I had to have the next instalment and then, of course, I became thoroughly hooked on the ‘dog press’ (well, there are worse addictions!).

If I were to ask you to name the very first thing you think about when I say, Gordon Setter, I think many of you would reply, ‘color’. That combination of jet black coat and those rich, bright, chestnut markings are so distinctive and such a hallmark of the breed. But was the Gordon Setter always black and tan? This is a subject that has been debated through the ages.

The history of the very handsome Gordon Setter is, like most breeds, veiled in obscurity, myth and legend, however it does possess several interesting artistic markers (etchings, portraits and paintings) that can help us chart its progress through time.

Shaw, writing in 1881, gives the most commonly found account of its beginnings.

‘Its very origin is obscure, though all authorities agree in bestowing the honour of its production upon the Duke of Gordon, hence the name by which this breed is recognised in the present day. It is certain that in the early part of the century (1820) the then Marquis of Huntly, who was afterwards, Duke of Gordon, possessed a strain of Setters which he was anxious to improve. The story runs that when looking for a judicious cross, the rumour reached his Lordship that there was an incredibly clever sheepdog bitch belonging to a shepherd in the neighbourhood. This bitch had been taught to set birds by its owner, and her staunchness was said to be remarkable. On hearing of this wonderful bitch, the Marquis of Huntly is said to have immediately obtained her from the shepherd, and put her to one of his most successful sires. It is to this collie bitch that many hold that the modern famous Gordon Setter owes its origin, and certainly the presumption seems a very fair one.’

Click here to read the complete article
348 – April, 2018

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Posted by on May 1 2018. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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