Pointer Guide

Sporting Dog Breeds

The pointer combines athletic grace and power with a lean, muscular body, noble head, alert expression and noble carriage. The gait is smooth and powerful, with head held high and nostrils wide, enabling it to cover a lot of ground while searching for airborne scent. The tail lashes from side to side when the dog gaits. The pointer's close coat is short and dense, giving a clean streamlined appearance. field type pointers tend to hold their tails upright when on point.

The pointer is a true wide-ranging hunter, which means that it not only is an excellent bird dog but also has the stamina to run for hours. Consequently, it needs lots of exercise or it can become frustrated and destructive. Because it is ever on the lookout for birds, it is easily distracted from everyday matters — but it is nearly impossible to distract once on point. It is gentle and sweet but may be too energetic and boisterous at times for very small children. Like many sporting breeds, it can be found in field or show types; the field type is generally smaller and perhaps more active.

AKC RANKING 104

FAMILY gundog, pointer

AREA OF ORIGIN England

DATE OF ORIGIN 1600s

ORIGINAL FUNCTION Pointing

TODAY'S FUNCTION pointing, pointing field trials, companion

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 25-28 Weight: 55-75

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 23-26 Weight: 45-65

OTHER NAME English pointer

Play Pointer
Watch Video

Energy level High energy

Exercise needs High

Playfullness Very playful

Affection level Very affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Friendly

Ease of training Moderately easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Moderately protective

Grooming needs Low maintenance

Cold tolerance Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

Play Pointer
Watch Video
The pointer needs exercise, and lots of it. It needs at least an hour of exertion every day. It is best when it has a regular opportunity to hunt, but it also enjoys running and searching the wilds on long jaunts afield. At home it needs space to exercise outdoors and should not be expected to sit inside all day. The pointer can live outdoors in temperate to warm climates, as long as it is given a soft bed and warm shelter. It needs canine or human companionship, however, and does far better when allowed to spend time with its family. It requires only an occasional brushing to remove dead hair.
• Major concerns: entropion
• Minor concerns: CHD
• Occasionally seen: cataract, deafness
• Suggested tests: (hip), eye
• Life span: 12 – 15 years
• Note: prone to tail-tip injuries
Play Pointer
Watch Video
The earliest pointers were used in the 17th century not to point birds, but to point hare, which coursing greyhounds were then unleashed to pursue. When wing-shooting became popular in the 18th century, the pointer found its place as an adept bird locator. The ideal dog would find game, indicate its location and remain still until the hunter could get ready to shoot — a task that was somewhat slow with the old flintlock guns. The early pointer probably included in its genetic makeup some of the most talented breeds in existence: greyhounds, foxhounds and bloodhounds, as well as an old type of setting spaniel. Different countries developed different pointer breeds. The large, ponderous Spanish pointer was crossed with the English pointer to increase pointing ability, but at the expense of agility. With the advent of self-loading guns in the 19th century, the slower working traits of the Spanish pointer became undesirable, so the crosses were discontinued. In the 19th century, crosses with setters were made, perhaps to improve disposition and make the dogs more amenable to training and less prone to try to catch the game. Pointers became popular for recreational hunting on large estates. Ideally, two pointers were used so that the hunter could locate the bird precisely by cross-referencing the dogs' points. When dog shows came in vogue in the late 19th century, pointers were among the most prominent of the breeds shown. Pointers remain very popular as competitive field trial dogs and recreational hunters; however, they are not as popular as pets as many other sporting breeds.
Play Pointer
Watch Video