All About the Pointer Dog Breed

Updated on February 14, 2018
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Adrienne is a former veterinary hospital assistant, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Pointers are high-energy, trainable, sweet sporting dogs.
Pointers are high-energy, trainable, sweet sporting dogs. | Source

The History of the Pointer Dog Breed

The Pointer, often known as the "English Pointer," is a specialized hunting dog. The name derives from this breed's tendency to ''point" upon locating a covey of birds. Pointing is an instinctive behavior for this breed, and it is amazing to see young puppies point when they detect prey.

This breed was initially developed in England in 1650 and was used to locate hares. With the introduction of wing-shooting, these dogs were used to flush birds. The breed is said to have originated from a Foxhound, Greyhound, Bloodhound, and "setting Spaniel" cross. Additional key facts:

  • They are categorized by the American Kennel Club as a sporting breed and were officially recognized in 1884.
  • They were bred to be gun-dogs.
  • One of the first dogs used for making this breed was a dog imported from England in 1876 known as "Sensation." This is the dog portrayed on the emblem of the Westminster Kennel Club.

The classic "pointing" stance of the breed.
The classic "pointing" stance of the breed. | Source

Pointer Dog Breed Appearance

  • Size: They are medium-sized dogs, generally about 23 to 28 inches high at the shoulder, and weigh between 44 to 75 pounds.
  • Color: White with liver patches, lemon, black, orange combined with white, or solid. When dark, the nose should be black or brown. When light, the nose should be light or flesh-colored.
  • Head: The head is as wide as the length of the muzzle, and there should be a pronounced stop. The nose is well-developed and wide-open. The eyes can be hazel to dark brown.
  • Tail: The tail is larger at the base, but thins to a fine point at the tip. The tail should never curl, and the length of it should not exceed the hock.
  • Coat: The coat is short, therefore, the breed does not do well outdoors in cold climates. The coat is low-maintenance but sheds at certain times of the year.

The Pointer head has a pronounced stop and well-developed nostrils.
The Pointer head has a pronounced stop and well-developed nostrils. | Source

Pointer Dog Breed Temperament

  • Energy Level: Very high
  • Trainability: Early obedience is a must—they tend to jump in their adolescence. Recall training may be difficult because this breed picks up scents and tends to ignore everything else. Pointers can be stubborn and independent even though they are not normally dominant. They do better with positive reinforcement training due to their sensitive nature. "Sit," "down," and "stay" are essential for teaching impulse control.
  • Child-Friendly: Yes, but do not allow roughhousing. They may accidentally knock small children over.
  • Reaction to Other Pets: This breed is generally amiable with other animals.
  • Housetraining: Having a sensitive nose, make sure you clean up previously soiled areas with a good enzyme cleaning product. Housebreaking may take a while.
  • Guarding: Friendly, and will most likely open up to strangers.
  • Vocalizations: May bark and whine when frustrated if not allowed enough exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Indoors: They do best in a home with active owners. If you love to jog, this breed will do well as a running partner. Failure to provide adequate exercise may lead to destructive behaviors; a walk around the block will not suffice. They enjoy being in the home with the family rather than being left alone outdoors.

AKC Breed Background

Common Health Issues

Pointers are generally healthy dogs, however, they are prone to several health conditions which often derive from poor health testing by breeders:

  • Elbow and hip dysplasia
  • PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)
  • Epilepsy
  • Deafness
  • Heart disease
  • Hypothyroidism

Teaching "Recall"

Questions & Answers


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      • SUSIE DUZY profile image

        SUSIE DUZY 6 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

        I love dogs and found this hub very enjoyable.

      • Les Trois Chenes profile image

        Les Trois Chenes 6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

        Great hub. We have a pointer called Molly and she is exactly as you have described in your article. We have a bed and breakfast and gite in rural France with a hay meadow and we're surrounded by fields and woods - an essential for pointers - drive you crazy otherwise. They also jump and burrow in their efforts to be free. I've written a few hubs about our dog, her puppies and their misdemeanors, and the puppies' new owners have made some hilarious videos of the dogs.

      • Eiddwen profile image

        Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

        I loved this one and thank you so much for sharing.

        I had a dog called Sonny many years ago , his mom was a Springer Spaniel and his dad a cross between a German Pointer and A Patterdale Terrier.

        He had many mannerisms of a springer and also i think of the other two breeds also.

        They are all working gundogs so I suppose it was not surprising that he had many of these mannerisms.

        I am bookmarking and useful/up also.

        Here's to many more hubs to share.

        Take care