Gordon Setters are active, alert, and intelligent. Those traits, combined with their keen sense of smell, originally made them good bird-hunting dogs. The stamina of the pet Gordon Setter means their families should provide physical and mental stimulation, including participation in dog sports such as field trials, hunting, agility, tracking, and obedience as sport that can also increase family bonding. Although Gordon Setters seem to be good with children, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the child or dog and avoid the dog's subsequently developing fear-based defensive aggression. While Gordon Setters may be stubborn, they respond well to motivational tools such as treats and favorite toys in reward-based training.
The Gordon Setter is a member of the Setter Family, which includes the more common Irish and English Setters. Gordon Setters were bred for their hunting abilities; particularly for hunting grouse and other similar birds. They were first referred to as "Black and Fallow Setting Dogs." Direct ancestors of the Gordon Setter include the Spanish Pointer and other Spanish breeds. Early development is believed to have included Irish Setter blood. The Duke of Gordon established the breed in 1827. They were first introduced to the United States in 1842, where they quickly became very popular and were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1892.