He’s one of the earliest Sporting breeds, used as far back as the 17th century to point hares and later birds for the new 18th century sport of “wing shooting.” The lithe and muscular Pointer is full of “hunt,” and he has a competitive spirit that makes him tops in field trials. He’s handsome, dressed in a short, smooth coat of liver, lemon, black or orange, with or without white.
The Pointer is instantly recognizable. From long head to finely pointed tail, his entire body suggests his purpose: to point game for the hunter. When a Pointer scents game birds he stands tall and still, one foot raised off the ground, pointing the hunter in the right direction. Before the development of guns, this was an essential skill, as birds were netted rather than shot. When shooting birds became popular, the Pointer was still needed to point and then retrieve them.
Today, the Pointer is known as the Cadillac of bird dogs, prized for his speed, ability to go all day in the field, “stand steady to wing and shot” — meaning that he holds his position as birds rise into the sky and the guns go off — and his personable nature. His love of people and short, easy-care coat make him an excellent candidate as family companion as well.
Thanks to his sporting dog heritage, the Pointer runs hard and fast and is a super companion for a runner or cyclist. His competitive nature also makes the Pointer a natural at dog sports such as field trials, obedience, rally, and agility. This is a dog who loves to perform in public. His flashy looks and love of attention make him an excellent show dog as well.
- Pointers are very active and require vigorous exercise every day. If you do not have the time or energy to exercise your Pointer at least one hour each day, then you should not purchase a Pointer.
- Pointers can be very destructive when they are bored or don’t get enough exercise, especially when young. This can result in chewing, digging, and many other negative behaviors that can lead to expensive vet bills and replacement costs.
- Pointers are wonderful family dogs who thrive when they can spend time with their people. A Pointer should not live outdoors but should enjoy the same comforts as his family.
- Pointers are not suited for apartment dwellings; they do much better in homes with a large fenced yard where they can expend some of their energy.
- Pointers generally do well with other dogs and other pets, especially if they’re raised with them. They may, however, be very interested in pet birds, and the two should be protected from each other. You don’t want your Pointer injured by a parrot’s beak, and you don’t want him trying to retrieve your parrot, canary or finch.
- Pointers are strong and energetic with a mind of their own. They’re not a good choice for first-time dog owners or people who aren’t strong enough to handle them and give them the exercise they need.
- Training is a must with this breed because he has a will of his own. Training can take time, but once the foundation is there, there is no limit to how far Pointers can go in various dog competitions.
- Pointers are average shedders and require only minimal grooming.
- Three Pointers have won Best in Show at Westminster: Ch. Governor Moscow in 1925, Ch. Nancolleth Markable in 1932 and Ch. Marjetta National Acclaim in 1986.
- The Pointer’s coat comes in liver, lemon, black, or orange and can be solid or combined with white. The breed standard says that a good Pointer cannot be a bad color.
- A Pointer’s hunting instincts develop early, and he retains what he learns throughout his life.
AKC group: Sporting
UKC group: Gun Dogs
Average lifespan: 11-14 years
Average size: 45 to 75 pounds
Coat appearance: Dense and Short
Coloration: They are generally white with either liver, lemon, orange or black markings
Best Suited For: Families with children, hunters, active singles, houses with yard, farms/rural areas
Temperament: Affectionate, friendly, energetic, protective
The history of the Pointer, like many breeds, is a reasonably debatable topic.Records of Pointers in England trace as far back as 1650. According to one source, the Pointer came to be in the 16th and 17th centuries, when pointing breeds, including the Old Spanish and Portuguese pointer, were brought from the European mainland to England.
Through both history and anatomical evaluation, at least four breeds appear to have been instrumental in Pointer crosses: Greyhounds, Foxhounds, Bloodhounds, and Bull Terriers. Each of these were established breeds with unique qualities the Pointer could use to do its job.
Pointers were brought to the United States, where the breed flourished in the abundant open hunting land. At that time (late 1800s), the Setter was considered to be the bird-hunting dog and pointers were not even permitted to compete in field trials with setters. Around 1910, however, the Pointer began to beat the Setter at its own game. The Pointer has dominated the pointing breed field trials since then.
One of the earliest dogs to exert influence on the breed in the US was a dog imported from England in 1876 – “Sensation”. He is well known as the dog on the emblem of the Westminster Kennel Club.
One modern American kennel, established in 1936, and known for breeding large quantities of Pointers, Elhew Kennels produced a popular and successful line of gun dogs. Elhew pointers were well-known competitors at field trials for several decades.
In the southern United States, where the dog is so dominant it is often simply referred to as the “bird dog,” Pointers are found in abundance. The bobwhite quail is the primary game bird there, and is considered classic English Pointer game, as the bobwhite will hold well for a pointing dog. Pointers also work game birds such as the pheasant, grouse, and woodcock with success.
The English Pointer is an active and friendly breed that is affectionate with family. The Pointer is an active and friendly breed that is affectionate with family. These dogs love to spend time with family and they typically do very well with children when they are raised together from a young age. It is important to note, however, that Pointers can be rambunctious so supervision around children is recommended.
This breed is not suited for apartment-style or urban living because they require a great deal of daily exercise and plenty of time outdoors. English Pointers generally get along well with other dogs and household pets when raised together, though they may be a little too interested in pet birds so keep the two apart.
The Pointer has a lifespan of about 12 to 15 years. It is prone to tail-tip injuries and will occasionally suffer from deafness and cataracts. Some minor health conditions affecting Pointers are hypothyroidism and canine hip dysplasia (CHD), while entropion is a major health issue which can affect the breed. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run hip, thyroid, and exams on the dog.
Pointers enjoy the great outdoors, and they enjoy being with their families. They should not live outside but instead should enjoy the same comforts as their families. They do well in active homes where hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities are enjoyed by all. They do need a large fenced yard where they can run. When they’re given the exercise and training they need, they are quiet and mannerly house dogs.
The Pointer is an active, intelligent dog who needs daily exercise and stimulation. He was developed to be a hunting dog who could work all day long, and his exercise needs don’t change just because he’s a family companion. Give him at least an hour of exercise per day and more if possible. A vigorous walk isn’t enough. Take him running, teach him to run alongside your bicycle, play Frisbee in the backyard, or train him for agility, flyball, or other dog sports.
A Pointer puppy is still growing and doesn’t need the hard exercise that an adult can take. Let him play and nap on his own schedule throughout the day, and restrict jumping until he’s reached his full growth at about 18 months of age. Jumping and running on hard surfaces at an early age can stress his joints and cause orthopedic problems.
These dogs are not recommended for apartment life. They are moderately active indoors and do best with acreage.
A fenced yard is essential.Keep your Pointer inside a securely fenced yard or dog run for his safety and your peace of mind. Some Pointers have been known to do well with underground electronic fencing as long as training isn’t rushed, but keep in mind that these fences don’t keep out other animals or human intruders.
The English Pointer can be somewhat strong-willed, so it is important that you start training from an early age. Pointers are very smart, so they pick up on training quickly but they may test your resolve from time to time. The Pointer breed can be trained for pointing, honor, and retrieving though, in reality, they will enjoy any sport or game you teach them.
House training a Pointer is a long process and many breeders and trainers recommend crating a Pointer until he gets the hang of it, which can unfortunately be several months.
Because the Pointer was bred for hunting, it is a naturally high-energy dog that requires a good deal of daily exercise. A simple walk will not do for this breed – they require vigorous exercise on a daily basis or they will become destructive in the home. Other behavioral problems may develop as a result of insufficient exercise.
English Pointers are rowdy and rambunctious and need a lot of exercise; and just when you think they’ve had enough, they’ll probably want more. This breed was not designed to be a household pet, but rather to be a sturdy, reliable hunting companion in the field, and the modern Pointer has not lost this desire. For owners who do not hunt, a commitment should be made to enroll their pointer in tracking or agility activities in order to satisfy their need to run and think. If a Pointer does not get enough exercise, they will resort to barking and chewing which may develop severe anxiety.
A Pointer has a short, dense, smooth, shiny coat. There’s just about nothing easier to groom. Give him a quick going over weekly with a rubber curry brush or hound mitt to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. A rubdown with a chamois brings out shine.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two, or less often if your Pointer wears down his nails naturally with all the exercise he gets. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Children And Other Pets
Pointers are usually good with children and other animals, particularly if they are raised with them. Teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
Pointers can also get along well with other pets, including cats, if they’re raised with them, although they may be a little too fond of birds, if you know what I mean.
Is the Pointer the Right Breed for you?
Low Maintenance: Infrequent grooming is required to maintain upkeep. No trimming or stripping needed.
Minimal Shedding: Recommended for owners who do not want to deal with hair in their cars and homes.
Moderately Easy Training: The Pointer is average when it comes to training. Results will come gradually.
Very Active: It will need daily exercise to maintain its shape. Committed and active owners will enjoy performing fitness activities with this breed.
Not Good for New Owners: This breed is best for those who have previous experience with dog ownership.
|Judy on the deck of HMS Grasshopper|
Good with Kids: This is a suitable breed for kids and is known to be playful, energetic, and affectionate around them.
Did You Know?
The emblem of the Westminster Kennel Club is a Pointer named Sensation, who was imported from England by club members in 1876. He was a handsome lemon and white dog who lives on as the cover dog for the WKC’s show catalog.
- Judy, awarded the Dickin Medal
- The first Pointer was entered at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1877. Three Pointers have won “Best in Show” there, the first being Ch. Governor Moscow in 1925, second being Ch. Nancolleth Markable, and the most recent being Ch. Marjetta’s National Acclaim in 1986.