Once you've decided that the Gordon Setter is the dog for you, it's important to do plenty of research prior to adoption to ensure that your new pet is healthy. Finding a reputable breeder will be your most important and most arduous task. The current living conditions, the parents' health and even lineage are things you should inquire about with every breeder you meet. The answers to these questions are important regardless what your motivation is for adopting a Gordon Setter. Family pets and show dogs alike need to be cared for in a loving and healthy environment to prevent later health problems and behavioral ones.
Unsure how to go about finding a breeder? Your best source for information is the website for the American Kennel Club (AKC). The AKC is a registry for purebred dogs, and can provide you with a list of references regarding the breeding of the Gordon Setter and other valuable information a potential dog owner would need. Whether you decide to adopt from a professional breeder or a private owner, there are certain questions you should ask.
Are both parents healthy?
Ask each breeder that you speak with if both parents have been tested for genetic disorders. This question will let you know immediately if you're going to pay in the end for your breeder's mistakes. If either of the parents has any genetic disorders or defects, it is very likely that these problems will be passed on to the litter. Defective genes can mean a lifetime of sickness and diseases, or joint problems and sometimes worse. Since some owners just want a family pet or haven't educated themselves properly on the Gordon Setter, they don't know what questions to ask. If you don't know what to ask, a good breeder should offer all relevant information. If your breeder is vague or ignores questions about the health and lineage of the Gordon Setter, take a pass and keep looking.
What health problems are common among Gordon Setters?
Finding out what health problems are specific to the Gordon Setter will help you better prepare for owning one, or change your mind about getting one altogether; either way the choice should be yours. Finding out what problems may be in store for you and informing you of that is exactly what any responsible breeder should do. Generally healthy dogs, the Gordon Setter can be infected with hip dysplasia, or several eye conditions. Ask each breeder about these health problems and if the parents have any history of these illnesses.
What to Avoid
Stay away from breeders that aren't forthcoming with information. Concealing information is a good indicator that something isn't right with your Gordon Setter. Responsible breeders should never breed dogs that are closely related. Checking the lineage will let you know if this is the case. Check for same names on both sides of the family. Finally, if you find that your Gordon Setter was bred in cramped quarters and improperly socialized as a pup, steer clear; this is a good indicator that this dog will be a problem.