The most understandable discussion of the Gordon Setter standard has to be based on full appreciation of the basic structural differences among the three setters as well as the unique hunting style of each.
All too often we find articles on How to Trim the Setter - as though all three could be handled the same. Statues are made, one shape of the dog, three colors. Anatomical drawings are presented, lectures delivered far and wide on the basis that one Setter is just like the other in build.
Not so! No less an authority than Mrs. Bede Maxwell puts it in a nutshell. In her splendid book, The Truth About Sporting Dogs, she says, "The English is basically a Spaniel, the Irish is basically a scent hound. The Gordon partakes of both groupings."
The General Impression paragraph in the Gordon standard emphasizes many of the more obvious differences between him and his cousins. By referring to him as "... good sized, sturdily built ... well muscled, with plenty of bone and substance..." the picture is drawn which sets him apart. Further comments such as, "He has a strong, rather short back, with well-sprung ribs, and a short tail. The head is fairly heavy..." add to the visual differences. Finally, by stressing that "He suggests strength and stamina rather than extreme speed" it becomes obvious that we are aiming at a Setter that is quite different from the smaller English and more racy Irish. This is confirmed by the weight and height requirements.
Discussions taken with permission from The Complete Gordon Setter
by Anita Lustenberger & Jean Sanger Look