Breed Group: Sporting

Temperament and Behavior

The Pointer, sometimes called the English Pointer, was bred to hunt when hunting was a necessity rather than a sport. If not used for hunting, a Pointer needs a physically demanding job to do in order to utilize their high energy level (both inside and out) and endurance. A walk around the block is barely a warm-up for this canine athlete. If not with an owner who can provide the dog, especially a young dog, with an outlet for his energy, they become bored and restless which results in destructive chewing and excessive barking. Provided their exercise needs are met, they have a sweet disposition and crave companionship. Pointers are playful, loving, and protective of children, and accepting other dogs and most pets. They are respectful of strangers who are, given time, accepted as friends. Usually quiet, they still make a good watchdog but only an ordinary guard dog. Pointers mature earlier for field work than many sporting dogs and respond well to training. Even young pups can freeze in a classic point. When in the field, they can be obstinate, otherwise they are soft natured. If harshly corrected they may pout. Some lines are so dedicated they have little interest in anything but to search and point. These need an owner with the skill to direct the dog’s energy.

Physical Characteristics

Like many sporting dogs, lines are divided into those bred for show and those bred for work. Somewhat on the large side, males are 25 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh 55 to 90 pounds. Females are about 2 inches shorter and weigh 35 to 65 pounds. Field dogs tend to be smaller than those bred for show. Pointers have short hair that needs little grooming and come in the colors of liver, orange, lemon, black, all with or without white. Some shed more than others but expect at least average shedding. Although they do well in temperate climates, they do not do well in typical outdoor kennels.

Trainer's Notes

Pointers need no more than average socialization to display the traits so desired by their owners. In obedience training, they are a bit on the stubborn side and easily distracted. They respond best to a patient trainer who uses food rewards and praise rather than punishment as they sensitive and have easily hurt feelings. Show lines tend to be more laid back and make better pets but any Pointer is best with an active owner who has experience with dogs. They make a reasonable choice for junior handlers.

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Pointers are known as a reasonable healthy breed with 8% suffering from Hip Dysplasia. Although few statistics are available, Entropion may be their most common health issue. PRA, Cataracts, Epilepsy, and deafness are also seen occasionally. The lifespan of a Pointer is 10 to 12 years for for field lines and 12 to 14 years for show lines.


The Pointer ranks 110th on the list of the AKC’s most popular dog breeds. There are about 400 annual registrations.

Breed History

The early pointers were developed in the 17th century to point hare rather than birds. Many countries developed their own version of dogs that pointed. Some believe the English Pointer was developed from the Spanish Pointer which was much heavier than today’s pointing dogs. These Spanish dogs were introduced in Britain at the end of the War of Spanish Succession (1713) by returning British Officers. Italian Pointers, which resembled the French Braque, were later imported and crossed with the Spanish Pointer, producing the Pointer as it is currently known. Some believe greyhounds, foxhounds, and bloodhounds may also have been used to produce the early English pointing dogs. As the development of the breed took place in the 19th century, crosses to setters took place. Pointers became popular as recreational hunting on large estates became popular. Two Pointers were frequently used together which allowed hunters to accurately locate a bird at the point where lines extended from each dog crossed.

Additional Information

Well known Pointer owners include U.S. president Benjamin Harrison and George Armstrong Custer. The National (US) Parent Breed Club is the American Pointer Club.

Is A Pointer THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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