Breed At A Glance


Wise, loyal and hard working

Life Expectancy
13-14 years

Average Height
Males 25-28 inches; Females 23-26 inches

Average Weight
Males 55-75 lbs; Females 44-65 lbs

Coat Color
Usually white background with black, lemon, liver, or orange markings

Coat Length/Texture
Short, smooth and shiny

Shedding Propensity
Consistent year round

Also known as English Pointer

General Temperament

Even-tempered and loyal, the Pointer can be an excellent member of a very active family, in addition to being a revered gun dog. This breed is energetic with a strong work ethic on the hunt, yet calm and patient at home. Their graceful carriage and gentlemanly demeanor make them an elegant, yet hardworking, companion. The Pointer often excels in field and agility trials.

The Pointer is kind and patient with children, and will enjoy ample play sessions. As they were originally bred to hunt in packs, they usually get along well with other dogs, and can even get along with smaller house pets if they are introduced to them at an early age. The devoted Pointer is often somewhat reserved with strangers.

Training can be difficult with this breed as they are easily distracted, although they are indeed intelligent and eager to please. Variety and short (but frequent) training sessions are key. Even if the dog is not used for hunting, basic obedience training should begin around the age of 6 months to ensure a symbiotic relationship for the whole of the dog’s life.

In recent years, some breeders have focused on producing show versus field types, and these specimens tend to make better housesits. Some individuals can be high strung or timid, so it’s important to socialize them properly from the very start. The energetic and outdoorsy Pointer will not be happy in a sedentary household. They are happiest in a suburban or rural home with plenty of space to run; acreage would be best.

Breed History

Like many of the hunting breeds, quite a bit of debate surrounds the establishment of the Pointer. Some believe that several pointing breeds were developed simultaneously around the middle of the 17th century in several European countries and the United Kingdom, and were only occasionally interbred. Others insist that the English Pointer evolved from the Spanish Pointer. Still others believe that the Spanish Pointer and Italian Pointer were interbred to produce the modern Pointer as we know it today. In any case, the “Pointer” as described in the United States refers to the English version of the Pointer, which were initially introduced to this country prior to the Civil War. Most agree that the Foxhound, Bloodhound, and Greyhound were all originally included in the creation of this breed, with some form of Setter and Bulldog (or Bull Terrier) possibly added later.

This breed gained it’s name from it’s motionless pointing stance, which it uses to indicate the presence of game to the hunter. It was often used in conjunction with other gun dog breeds, such as Retrievers or Greyhounds. The Pointer was even used in the sport of falconry.

Body Structure and Composition

The lean and agile Pointer exemplifies grace, endurance and compact power. The skull is approximately the same width of the muzzle, which gives the head an overall sense of length rather then width. The muzzle slopes upward to the tip of the nose, and the pendulous ears are set at eye level. The eyes of this breed should be in dark contrast to the individual’s fur color. A Pointer’s long neck leads down to a sloping topline and a deep chest. Muscular hindquarters give this breed a powerfully propelling gait.

The tail of the Pointer is very characteristic of this breed: it is strong at the base and tapers to the tip, and is carried straight out from the back, or possibly as high as an incline of 20 degrees. It should never curl or extend longer than the hock when at rest.

Medical Information

The Pointer is a healthy and long-lived breed, with an average life span into their teens. One major problem affecting this breed is Hip Dysplasia, a condition that occurs when the head of the thigh bone no longer fits into the cup provided by the hip socket, resulting in lameness and arthritis-like symptoms. Responsible breeders will have their breeding stock certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) prior to producing a litter to help prevent the spread of this disease (and many other common dog diseases).

Some Pointer lines can also encounter various eye maladies, such as cataracts, corneal dystrophy, or “Cherry Eye” (when the gland of the third eyelid – known as the nictitating membrane – prolapses and becomes visible). The Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) provides certification of breeding stock shown to be free of heritable eye diseases, and reputable breeders should be able to provide this information on the sire and dam of a litter.

Skin conditions and allergies can also present in some Pointers.

The short coat of the Pointer requires very little grooming – simply brush or wipe with a cloth to keep the coat shiny. Be sure to check the dog’s ears and feet after a day in the field to minimize infestation or infection. If hunting in cool weather, be sure to dry the dog after a vigorous day to make sure he doesn’t get chilled.

Anecdotal Information

According to the American Pointer Club, the Westminster Kennel Club was organized in the early 1870’s mainly for the purpose of improving the Pointer.

The Pointer dominates most pointing breed field trials.

Despite it’s hunting prowess, the Pointer remains a relatively unpopular breed in the United States. According to statistics provided by the American Kennel Club, the breed ranked 106th out of 157, based on 2007 registration statistics.

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