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The Pointer is the world's oldest sporting breed, harkening back to the 17th century. This is a hardworking, long-lasting, and driven dog. Unlike bloodhounds, whose brilliant noses and long ears help them follow smells on the ground, the Pointer catches winds of a scent — literally. They follow scent-trains on the wind. And — as you might have guessed from the name — they indicate their prey's position by pointing their bodies toward it. If there's a bird anywhere in the vicinity, your Pointer will lead you right to it.
Originally from England, this medium-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to between 45-75 pounds and lives an average of 12-17 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Sporting group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Hunting
Breed Group: Sporting
Average Lifespan: 12-17 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
Energy level A marathoner
Exercise needs An hour or more a day
Playfullness and Games All day, every day
Attachment to People Never leave my side
Behavior with Other Dogs I like being part of a pack
Behavior with Other Small Pets I'm usually friendly, as long as we're supervised
Behavior Toward Strangers I may be shy at first
Trainability It's fun, but I may lose focus
Watchdog ability I know all that's going on, all the time
Protection ability I can be somewhat protective
Grooming needs Easy maintenance, brushes and baths
Cold tolerance I'll probably need a jacket in the cold
Heat tolerance A warm day can be fun, but not too hot please.
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A POINTER'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
This is a no-nonsense hunting breed (at least while they're working), even-tempered and devoted to their people. Pointers are courageous, powerful, and built to move quickly and gracefully. When they're off-duty, this breed is mischievous and full of fun. Pointers are loving and playful family members. They're good with other dogs, but their energetic antics mean it's best to supervise play with small children. Socialize this puppy early and often if you want her to get along with your indoor cat.
WHAT IS POINTER BEHAVIOR LIKE?
Pointers carry themselves with nobility. You can tell just by looking at this dog that she's packing some serious brains and brawn.
This is an alert and very active breed. With enough exercise, Pointers make calm and congenial housemates — but bear in mind that if you're not planning to hunt with this dog, her idea of “enough” exercise is going to be a lot. This smarty-paws needs the mental and physical stimulation of being outside, getting out her ya-yas, and chasing down interesting smells. Adult Pointers also make great bicycling or running companions. (Yours will stop to be sure you've seen every single bird you pass, however.)
Pointers are more protective than many sporting breeds; they can make great watchdogs.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A POINTER?
This breed responds well to training, though they can be a bit stubborn. Be patient and consistent with this birdbrain. These are competitive dogs who excel in obedience and agility events.
Keep in mind that no amount of training will counterbalance the drive to follow an interesting scent. Your Pointer isn't a great candidate for off-leash play outside rural, traffic-free areas or a well-fenced yard or park.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO POINTERS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Pointers are seasonal shedders. Their short coats won't need much more than a weekly brushing. Bathe them as needed.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO POINTERS HAVE?
As a breed, Pointers are generally healthy. Some are prone to hip dysplasia, epilepsy, eye disease, or autoimmune disorders.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE POINTERS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Pointers among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after you've been playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, and so produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large as a Pointer! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT IS A POINTER'S BEST DAY?
Set this dog loose in a safe, traffic-free wooded area and let her chase down all the birds her nose can find. Once she's run for, oh, say five hours, your Pointer will gladly curl up with you on the couch.
SHOULD I ADOPT A POINTER?
Pointers are equally comfortable in warm and cold climates. They're generally healthy and won't need much grooming. The primary consideration for whether you're a good fit for a Pointer is if you want to organize your life around making sure yours gets enough time to run and chase and sniff. This will be challenging but not impossible for non-hunters — and a dog this affectionate and devoted is certainly worth your time.
Have you decided that a Pointer is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.