A favorite of hunters and field sports participants, the Pointer is a dedicated, intelligent companion. They are a high energy breed who can be the perfect best friend for an athletic household.
Where the Pointer Originated
The Pointer, which is also known as the English Pointer, has existed in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe for generations. The dogs can be traced back as early as the 1600s. They are believed to have been bred primarily from a mix of Spanish Pointer, Foxhound, Greyhounds and Bloodhounds.
Differences Between English Pointer and German Shorthaired Pointer
These two distinct breeds are often mistaken for each other, no doubt due to their similar appearance and excellence as hunting dogs.
- English Pointers were bred to point for birds in the field whereas German Shorthaired Pointers are a more versatile hunting dog.
- The German Shorthaired Pointer also originates from Germany although English Pointer is one of the breeds in its bloodline.
- English Pointers can come in many more colors than the German Shorthaired Pointer which comes in either liver or liver and white.
- Both dogs have similar energy levels and temperaments but the English Pointer is a bit calmer and less susceptible to separation anxiety than the German Shorthaired Pointer.
As a gun dog in the field, Pointers were bred to have an athletic physique that can work for hours with an energy level to match. Males are larger than females at an average 28 inches high while females are about 23 inches. Males can weigh around 75 pounds and females around 45.
Pointer Coat and Colors
The Pointer coat is short and silky with minimal grooming needs. They need brushing a few times a week and the occasional bath if they get muddy working in the field. They come in a mix of white with black, lemon, liver or orange patches, or white with two other colors. You may also find them in solid black, lemon, liver or orange.
The pointer is an intelligent dog that was bred to be an independent companion to hunters. Field-bred pointers can be a handful with excessive exercise needs for the average dog owner. They can make good family pets with older children, particularly if they come from a show breeder, although they still will need a lot of exercise to keep them from becoming destructive. Mental stimulation is also very important to keep them calm and manageable in the home. They are also known to be good with other dogs, though not necessarily with cats, small animals or birds.
Pointer Exercise Needs
The Pointer makes a great option for a very active owner or household. They will need daily, focused exercise such as long walks or jogs. They will appreciate becoming your running companion and enjoying outdoor sports like hiking. A Pointer that does not get enough exercise can be difficult to live with, and this includes mental exercise such as interactive toys, bones and chews, and training. If you live in an apartment or condo, they are not an ideal choice unless you are willing to spend dedicated time each day exercising them.
Training a Pointer
Pointers have a reputation for a "stubborn" streak although this can be traced to their independent and intelligent nature. They are best trained using positive reinforcement and will enjoy activities that stimulate their minds such as using clicker training. In addition to hunting, they make excellent sports dogs such as in dog agility, competitive obedience, and scent work. Like all dogs, they should be socialized early and enrolled in a manners class as soon as possible.
Pointer Health Concerns
A Pointer can be expected to live for about 12 to 15 years. They have a few common medical issues:
- Like most athletic, larger dogs they are prone to hip dysplasia, a disorder of the joints that can be painful and cause lameness.
- Entropion affects a dog's eyelids which can cause damage to a dog's cornea. This can lead to vision problems or even blindness.
- Another eye condition found often in Pointers is cataracts which is cloudiness in the eyes that causes vision loss.
- Because of their high activity level and short fur, they can get injuries on the tips of their tails.
- Some Pointers will be born deaf in one or both ears.
- Hypothyroidism is a gland disorder that causes lethargy, weight gain, and skin issues.
Where Can You Get a Pointer?
The American Pointer Club is a good source of breeder information if you decide to find a Pointer puppy. The AKC Puppyfinder also includes breeder listings. Purchasing a Pointer puppy will cost you between $700 to $4,300 with some field-bred dogs on the higher end of the price scale.
Rescuing a Pointer
Pointer Rescue provides information on Pointers available for adoption across the U.S. You can also search the listings on Petfinder to find Pointers and Pointer mixes in all-breed rescues and shelters.
How Can You Tell if Your Dog Is a Pointer Mix?
Some common Pointer mixes which often come from less reputable breeders are Lab Pointer mixes, English Springer Spaniel Pointer mixes, Pointer Pit Bull mixes, Beagle Pointer mixes and Pointer Golden Retriever mixes. Pointers share a similar look to the German Shorthaired Pointer as well as similar physique to many athletic breeds like American Pit Bull Terriers and Greyhounds so it can be easy to mistake them with other breeds. Another way adopters will determine if a dog is a Pointer mix is if it "points" although you can see this behavior with many breeds of dogs so it's not an absolute. The best way to determine if you have a Pointer mix is through a DNA test.
Is the Pointer the Right Dog For You?
Pointers are extremely intelligent, loyal dogs who can be a great companion for the right person. If you're a jogger or runner, or are active daily in outdoor sports, this could be the breed for you. Sedentary dog owners are not the best choice, unless you're looking for a dog that will get you out every day and exercising to improve your health!