Followed are thoughts on a Gordon's temperament from various angles. I agree wholeheartedly with most of the attributes listed by the various authors...
"He is a faithful and lovable as any dog in existence, though he does require an outlet for his abounding energy............For a relatively large dog, he can take up a very small amount of space, curling up in some favorite corner where he is quite out of the way...............he is a great family dog and soon becomes a devoted companion and guard for children...............he has the 'touch of the devil' which induces a Gordon to play all sorts of pranks, but rarely tempts him into outright mischief. In a word, he is a thoroughly adaptable dog, with the instincts of a bird-hunter but very willing to learn other crafts and to use his own initiative................The Gordon while less affectionate than the Spaniel, displays much more independence, but will be just as demonstrative to his master and family, and as a rule impeccable polite to strangers after a proper introduction; but then he will commonly go about his own affairs unless required for some special purpose where as a Spaniel is always anxious to serve his owners every whim..........Though inclined to be formal and reserved with visitors, he soon accepts them as part of the household. When young, he is apt to be over demonstrative and boisterous, requiring firm by sympathetic handling; later he develops a quiet dignity and instinctive understanding of his master's wishes......he has a need of personal attention and has a distaste for being a mere kennel dog. Even when a Gundog is kept for work he will benefit by living in the house most of the time, since this will help to develop his intelligence and improve his understanding and co-operation. This is particularly true of the Gordon, who seems to flourish when in constant association with his master and indeed as a family dog.............." From a book, published in 1976 ,written by G.St.G.M.Gompertz , called "The Gordon Setter ...History & Character".
"The Gordon impresses people as aloof and not partial to strangers. Young dogs are considered boisterous and a bit tough to handle…. A good hunting Gordon works with its owner - in fact, guides him, and is quite confident that he [the dog] knows what's best…. One must be prepared to be outsmarted more than a few times by his Gordon…. Because of their involvement with their owners, Gordons are jealous and protective." From "The Complete Gordon Setter", Jean Sanger Look and Anita Lustenberger, published in 1984.
"intelligent , noble and dignified expression" From the Canadian Kennel Club breed standard.
"Acknowledged to be a strong, dependable bird dog, the Gordon is said to be capable of working for long periods of time…." The Canadian Kennel Club Book of Dogs.
"The Gordon Setter is alert, gay, interested and aggressive. He is fearless and willing, intelligent and capable. He is loyal and affectionate, and strong-minded enough to stand the rigors of training." American Kennel Club Standard, approved, Oct.9, 1990. (Note: the word "aggressive" in the standard does not refer to an aggressiveness to dogs or people but rather to an approach to working.)
"Bold, outgoing, of a kindly, even disposition." From the British Breed Standard.
" Just because temperament is intangible, it is still a characteristic of the breed (just look at your standard: yes, temperament is asked for just like body length etc.). Now we all know (or should know) that the Gordon is a "one man, one family dog". The old Scotsman bred him to be a working dog during the day and a companion at night by the fire. This is what formed the temperament of the Gordon in the beginning, making him a loyal companion which in turn found him guarding his owner and his owner's possessions, but at the same time still accepting his owner's opinion of strangers. (i.e. if it's okay with my master, it's okay with me.) "……. Robyn Wallis, Rokeena Gordons, Australia.
I tend to agree mostly with the Gordon' penchant for aloofness, particularly in Field bred dogs, and have many instances that convince me of this..
I had a partner I hunted with for a good number of years, and he gunned over my Gordon "Duncan" almost every week during the seasons. Duncan never even acknowledged his presence, even though he knew him very well. In the field, he was singleminded, and in the home, he would accept affection only up to a point. He was very much a "one man dog" however..
Most of my Gordons have been the same..
I also agree completely that a Gordon needs to live alongside his master in the home. Gordons notably do not do well in kennel environments, which is one of the reasons that inhibited the dog's popularity amongst people that need a "string" of dogs. In my experience, the dogs do not thrive in that atmosphere..
A Gordon is unique in that it needs to know that he is trusted, and an equal partner in the game harvesting experience.
I also firmly believe that Gordons thrive best in a "one man, one dog" relationship. Many breeds do not seem to care about this one way or another, but the Gordon is very much a "personal gundog", and operates best as such.