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Pointer (dog breed)

The Pointer, often called the English Pointer, is a breed of dog developed as a gun dog. It is one of several pointing breeds.


Appearance The Pointer traces back from 300 years of English history. It is used to catch rabbits and birds. It should be athletic and graceful. The immediate impression should be of a compact, hard-driving hunting dog, alert and "ready to let go." The primary distinguishing features of this breed are the head, feet, and tail. Hound or terrier characteristics are undesirable for show purposes. Grooming an English Pointer is not time-consuming. The coat is very short and needs only a quick rub with a soft brush to minimise shedding.

Coat and color The standard colorings of the Pointer are liver and white, lemon and white, orange and white or black and white. Lemon & white dogs have flesh-colored noses, while orange & white, liver & white, and black & white dogs have dark (black or very dark brown) pigmentation on their noses. They may also be any of the above as solid colors; the body of most Pointers is mainly white, but there may be some body markings.

Size Most countries' breed standards prefer symmetry and balance to perfect size, and most will allow an amount of variation if a dog's size does not encumber it in the field. The approximate measurements in the United States, from the Pointer standard, are as follows: However, the The Kennel Club sizes are female 24–26 in and males 25–27 in.

General Temperament Pointers are even-tempered, congenial dogs, and despite their large size, make good house pets so long as they get sufficient exercise due to their extremely high energy levels. Pointers are intelligent, affectionate, clean and intensely loyal. Their aggression level is very low to non-existent and they normally happily coexist with other dogs and cats. They are not typically territorial and can be reserved with strangers. They are very good with children and fit in well with family life generally. Pups can be somewhat boisterous and their long legs as they grow, make them appear somewhat clumsy in a charming way. They will bark at suspicious noises, but are not a great watchdog breed. While Pointers were bred to be hunting dogs, they are perfectly content to be given adequate exercise by other means. Since they are a galloping breed, regular exercise is important for them, as it is for all sporting breeds. A good-sized, securely fenced yard is a must to keep a Pointer safe, since they are bred to hunt a good distance from their person. Pointers are habitual "couch potatoes" who enjoy relaxing on the family's chairs or sofas. This is a natural part of their desire to feel part of the pack.

Health The Pointer has a median lifespan of 12.4 years in a UK Kennel Club survey. Pointers are fairly genetically sound as a breed. Some problems that can occur in the breed include hip dysplasia, cherry eye, epilepsy, and allergies. Most pointers born in Eastern Australia and New Zealand have had epilepsy bred out of them.

Skills The pointer is employed to find upland game. In performing its task as a hunters' aid, these skills may be expected from Pointers when hunting: Point – The dog finds and points out the location of birds. Honor – The dog stops immediately or within a few steps, usually in a pointing stance, upon observing a bracemate on point. Retrieve – Pointers are not expected to be natural retrievers, but are often trained and expected to find dead or wounded game.


The history of the Pointer, like many breeds, is a reasonably debatable topic. Records of Pointers in England trace as far back as 1650. According to one source, the Pointer came to be in the 16th and 17th centuries, when pointing breeds, including the Spanish and Portuguese pointer, were brought from the European mainland to England. Through both history and anatomical evaluation, at least four breeds appear to have been instrumental in Pointer crosses: Greyhounds, Foxhounds, Bloodhounds, and Bull Terriers. Each of these were established breeds with unique qualities the Pointer could use to do its job. Pointers were brought to the United States, where the breed flourished in the abundant open hunting land. At that time (late 1800s), the Setter was considered to be the bird-hunting dog and pointers were not even permitted to compete in field trials with setters. Around 1910, however, the Pointer began to beat the Setter at its own game. The Pointer has dominated the pointing breed field trials since then. (Fergus, 2002). One of the earliest dogs to exert influence on the breed in the US was a dog imported from England in 1876 – "Sensation". [1] He is well known as the dog on the emblem of the Westminster Kennel Club. One modern American kennel, established in 1936, and known for breeding large quantities of Pointers, Elhew Kennels [2] produced a popular and successful line of gun dogs. Elhew pointers were well-known competitors at field trials for several decades. In the southern United States, where the dog is so dominant it is often simply referred to as the "bird dog," Pointers are found in abundance. The bobwhite quail is the primary game bird there, and is considered classic English Pointer game, as the bobwhite will hold well for a pointing dog. Pointers also work game birds such as the pheasant, grouse, and woodcock with success.

Name While the dog is often called the "English Pointer" colloquially, the official breed name according to the British Kennel Club is simply "Pointer". The same is true of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, the American Kennel Club, and the Field Dog Stud Book.

Famous pointers Judy, awarded the Dickin Medal Sensation, featured on the logo of the Westminster Kennel Club

Miscellaneous The first Pointer was entered at the Westminster Kennel Club Show in 1877. Three Pointers have won "Best in Show" there, the first being Ch. Governor Moscow in 1925, second being Ch. Nancolleth Markable [3], and the most recent being Ch. Marjetta's National Acclaim in 1986.