Pointer

Table of Contents

pointer portrait
Unleash the boundless energy and unwavering loyalty of the Pointer – the four-legged athlete that's stealing hearts one point at a time! From their sleek, athletic build to their keen intelligence, these canine marvels are every adventure lover's dream.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Pointer is perfect for anyone who wants an active, loyal companion. They are great hunters, love to play and have lots of energy. They also have a special charm that will make you fall in love with them! If you’re looking for a loving pet or an impressive sportsman’s partner, the Pointer might just be the right breed for you!

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEPointer
OTHER NAMESEnglish Pointer
ORIGINEngland
BREED GROUPSporting Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT23-28 inches
WEIGHT45-75 lbs
LIFESPAN12-17 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSLow
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYHigh
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK107th
pointer walking on a lake
Photo: Jelena Safronova/Getty Images

Appearance

The Pointer is a regal and elegant dog breed that has captured the hearts of many dog enthusiasts worldwide. With its athletic build, striking appearance, and expressive eyes, the Pointer is truly a sight to behold. So, let’s dive into the captivating physical characteristics of this remarkable breed.

Standing tall and proud, the Pointer boasts an impressive height of 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder, with males typically being larger than females. Their weight ranges from 45 to 75 pounds, making them a medium-to-large-sized breed. One glance at a Pointer, and you can immediately sense their strength, agility, and grace, which are essential qualities for their original purpose as hunting dogs.

The Pointer’s body is well-muscled and streamlined, giving them an air of nobility and poise. Their deep chest and strong back allow them to cover ground quickly and efficiently, while their lean legs provide them with the power and stamina needed for long days in the field.

Their tail is another distinctive feature, often described as a “bee-sting” or “lashing” tail due to its slender and tapered shape. Pointers carry their tails straight and level with their back when they’re alert, adding to their dignified appearance.

The head of a Pointer is where their intelligence and keen senses truly shine. Their skull is slightly rounded, with a noticeable stop (the point where the forehead meets the muzzle) and a long, chiseled muzzle.

Their large, wide-set nostrils make them excellent scent trackers, while their medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes exude an intelligent and alert expression. The eyes are usually dark in color, contrasting beautifully with their coat.

Speaking of ears, the Pointer’s pendant-shaped ears hang close to their cheeks, giving them a gentle and endearing look. These velvety ears are set high on their head and should reach just below their jawline.

The Pointer’s coat is short, dense, and smooth, making it perfect for outdoor adventures without getting easily tangled or dirty. They come in various colors and patterns, including solid liver (reddish-brown), lemon, black, and orange, as well as combinations of white with any of these colors. Some Pointers may even have ticking or flecked patterns on their coats.

pointer walking into a lake
Photo: Jelena Safronova/Getty Images

Temperament

The Pointer possesses a temperament that makes them a delightful addition to any family. These intelligent, affectionate, and spirited dogs have a unique blend of qualities that endear them not just to hunting enthusiasts, but also to those seeking a loyal and loving companion.

One of the most prominent aspects of the Pointer’s personality is their unwavering devotion to their human family. They form strong bonds with their loved ones and thrive on companionship, making them excellent companions for those who appreciate a close connection with their canine friends. Pointers are known to be gentle and patient with children, making them a fantastic choice for families with little ones.

Although Pointers are naturally friendly and sociable, they can be somewhat reserved with strangers, displaying an air of polite aloofness until they become acquainted with the new person. This sense of caution can make them good watchdogs, as they will alert their family to any unusual activity or presence.

However, it’s essential to socialize Pointers early and consistently, exposing them to various people, environments, and experiences to ensure they develop into well-rounded and confident adults.

Pointers possess an innate intelligence and curiosity that make them eager learners. They enjoy engaging in activities that challenge their minds and keep them mentally stimulated. Puzzle toys, interactive games, and obedience training can all help satisfy the Pointer’s thirst for knowledge and prevent boredom-related issues such as destructive behavior or excessive barking.

Despite their noble appearance, Pointers are known for their fun-loving and playful nature. They love to entertain and be entertained, often engaging in goofy antics that bring laughter and joy to their family. Their youthful exuberance can sometimes last well into adulthood, making them a constant source of amusement and delight.

The Pointer’s sensitive side is another endearing aspect of their personality. They are highly perceptive and in tune with their family’s emotions, often providing comfort and companionship during difficult times.

This sensitivity, however, also means that they can be easily upset by harsh treatment or loud noises. Therefore, it’s crucial to approach training and discipline with patience, kindness, and consistency to ensure the Pointer remains a confident and happy dog.

While their hunting instincts are not as strong as some other breeds, Pointers still possess a keen prey drive that can be triggered by the sight of small animals like squirrels or rabbits. This instinctual behavior may lead to a desire to chase and explore, so it’s essential to keep them on a leash or in a securely fenced area when outdoors.

Finally, Pointers are known for their loyalty and dedication, traits that make them exceptional working dogs and devoted companions. They take their responsibilities seriously, whether it’s hunting in the field or providing love and support to their family. This commitment to their purpose and loved ones is a testament to the remarkable character of the Pointer.

pointer in the snow
Photo: Jelena Safronova/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The Pointer thrives in an environment that caters to their physical and mental needs. To ensure the happiness and well-being of these remarkable dogs, it’s essential to provide them with a living situation that suits their unique characteristics.

Ideal Owner

When it comes to pet parents, Pointers are best suited for those who lead active lifestyles and appreciate the outdoors. These dogs love to stretch their legs and explore, so having a family that can include them in various activities such as hiking, jogging, or playing fetch is ideal.

Other Pets

As social animals, Pointers get along well with other pets, particularly when raised together from a young age. They can coexist harmoniously with fellow canines and even cats, provided they are introduced and socialized properly. However, due to their hunting instincts, they may be tempted to chase smaller animals like rabbits or birds, so supervision is necessary when they are around such creatures.

Physical Environment

The physical environment plays a significant role in a Pointer’s well-being. While they can adapt to apartment living, they are better suited for homes with spacious yards where they can safely run and play off-leash. A securely fenced area is crucial to prevent them from wandering off in pursuit of an interesting scent or sight.

Climate Adaptability

Pointers have a short, smooth coat that offers minimal insulation against extreme temperatures. As a result, they are more sensitive to cold weather than some other breeds. During winter months, it’s essential to provide them with adequate protection, such as a cozy dog sweater or coat when venturing outside.

On the other hand, their thin coat also makes them prone to overheating in hot climates. In such conditions, it’s vital to ensure they have access to shade, fresh water, and opportunities to cool down.

pointer walking in a forest
Photo: Jelena Safronova/Getty Images

Grooming

The Pointer is relatively low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. However, to keep your elegant canine companion looking and feeling their best, it’s essential to establish a regular grooming routine that covers all aspects of their care.

Coat Care

Starting with their coat, Pointers require minimal grooming compared to some other breeds. Their short, dense fur does shed moderately, so brushing them once or twice a week with a soft-bristle brush or a rubber grooming mitt can help remove loose hair and keep their coat healthy and shiny.

This gentle brushing also serves as a bonding activity between you and your Pointer, allowing you both to enjoy some quality time together.

Bathing your Pointer is not a frequent necessity, as they generally have a clean and odor-free coat. You can bathe them every couple of months or as needed, depending on their outdoor activities and the dirt they accumulate.

When bathing, be sure to use a gentle dog shampoo that won’t strip away the natural oils from their skin and coat. It’s also crucial to rinse thoroughly, ensuring no soap residue is left behind, as this can cause irritation and itchiness.

Dental Care

Dental care is an essential aspect of grooming for all dogs, including Pointers. Regular teeth brushing helps prevent tartar buildup, bad breath, and gum disease. Ideally, you should brush your Pointer’s teeth at least two or three times a week using dog-specific toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.

To make this process more enjoyable for your dog, you can use flavored toothpaste designed for canines. In addition to brushing, providing dental chews or toys can help maintain good oral hygiene.

Nail Care

Nail care is another important component of your Pointer’s grooming routine. Long nails can lead to discomfort, difficulty walking, and even joint issues over time. Therefore, it’s essential to trim your dog’s nails regularly, usually every three to four weeks or as needed.

If you’re not comfortable trimming their nails yourself, you can seek the help of a professional groomer or your veterinarian. Additionally, regular walks on pavement or concrete surfaces can naturally help keep their nails at an appropriate length.

Ear Care

Pointers’ pendant-shaped ears require periodic inspection and cleaning to prevent infections or irritation. Check their ears once a week for any signs of redness, foul odor, or excessive wax buildup.

To clean their ears, use a dog-specific ear cleaner and a cotton ball or soft cloth, gently wiping the outer part of the ear canal. Avoid using cotton swabs, as they can push debris further into the ear or damage the delicate inner structures.

pointer walking in a field at dusk
Photo: oleghz/Getty Images

Exercise

Pointers require ample exercise to stay physically and mentally fit. As hunting dogs by nature, they thrive on activities that allow them to stretch their legs, engage their keen senses, and channel their natural instincts.

Exercise Amount & Types

When it comes to daily exercise, Pointers typically need at least an hour of physical activity, although some individuals may require more, depending on their age and energy levels. A long walk or jog with their human companion is always a welcome activity for these dogs.

However, to truly satisfy their exercise needs, it’s essential to incorporate off-leash playtime in a securely fenced area where they can run freely and explore at their own pace.

For pet parents who wish to involve their Pointer in hunting activities, training sessions that focus on scent tracking, pointing, and retrieving can be an exciting and fulfilling way to exercise their dog. These sessions not only tap into the Pointer’s inherent skills but also provide them with a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

To keep your Pointer’s mind engaged, incorporating interactive games and puzzle toys into their daily routine can be highly beneficial. Activities like hide-and-seek, fetch, and scent-based games can offer mental stimulation while also providing an enjoyable workout.

Dog Sports

Pointers also enjoy engaging in various canine sports that cater to their natural abilities. Agility, flyball, and field trials are all excellent options for these athletic dogs, as they not only provide physical stimulation but also challenge their intelligence and problem-solving skills.

Participating in these dog sports can be a fun and rewarding experience for both the dog and owner, often leading to lasting bonds and unforgettable memories.

pointer walking in a field
Photo: Tatiana Voronina/Getty Images

Training

The Pointer is highly trainable and receptive to various types of training. These dogs excel in activities that engage both their minds and bodies, making them suitable candidates for obedience training, hunting exercises, and canine sports.

Positive Reinforcement

When training a Pointer, it’s essential to use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, treats, and playtime. These dogs are sensitive by nature, and harsh methods or punishment can lead to fear, anxiety, and a lack of trust in their handler. By focusing on rewards and encouragement, you can foster a strong bond with your Pointer and create an enjoyable learning experience for both of you.

Socialization

Early socialization is crucial for Pointers, as it helps them develop into well-rounded, confident adults. Expose your puppy to a variety of people, animals, and environments to ensure they become comfortable with different situations and stimuli. Enrolling your Pointer in a puppy socialization class can be a great way to start this process while also teaching them basic obedience skills.

Consistency & Patience

Consistency and patience are key when training a Pointer. Be sure to set clear expectations and maintain a regular training schedule to reinforce desired behaviors. Keep in mind that these dogs are intelligent and may become bored with repetitive tasks, so incorporating variety and challenges into their training sessions can help keep them engaged and motivated.

pointer standing in a meadow
Photo: Tatiana Voronina/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

The Pointer requires a well-balanced and nutritious diet to maintain optimal health and performance. To ensure your Pointer receives the necessary nutrients, it’s crucial to select high-quality food that meets their specific needs.

What to Feed & How Much

When choosing a diet for your Pointer, look for dry, wet, or raw food options that adhere to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the food provides complete and balanced nutrition for your dog’s life stage, whether they are a puppy, adult, or senior.

High-quality dog food should contain a blend of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, with an emphasis on lean, easily digestible proteins such as chicken, turkey, or fish.

The amount of food you feed your Pointer will depend on their age, weight, activity level, and individual metabolism. Puppies require more frequent meals, typically three to four times a day, while adult Pointers can be fed twice daily. It’s essential to follow the feeding guidelines provided by the pet food manufacturer and adjust portions accordingly based on your dog’s unique needs.

Consult your veterinarian for personalized recommendations tailored to your Pointer’s specific requirements.

Treats

Treats can be a valuable tool for training and rewarding good behavior, but they should be given in moderation to avoid excessive calorie intake. Opt for healthy and low-calorie treats such as small pieces of lean meat, vegetables, or specially formulated dog treats. Treats should not make up more than 10% of your Pointer’s daily caloric intake.

Water

Hydration is another vital aspect of your Pointer’s diet. Ensure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times, especially during hot weather or after exercise. Monitoring their water intake can help you identify any changes that might indicate a health issue.

pointer walking in winter
Photo: Jelena Safronova/Getty Images

Health

The Pointer is known for its robustness and vitality, with a life expectancy of 12 to 17 years. However, like any breed, Pointers can be susceptible to certain health issues. Being aware of these concerns and taking preventative measures can help ensure your canine companion leads a long and healthy life.

Some common health issues associated with the Pointer include:

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain over time. Regular veterinary check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an eye disease that causes gradual deterioration of the retina, eventually leading to blindness. Responsible breeding practices and early detection through genetic testing can help minimize the risk of PRA in Pointers.

Hypothyroidism: This hormonal disorder results from an underactive thyroid gland, causing symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems. Hypothyroidism can be managed with medication and regular monitoring by a veterinarian.

Bloat (Gastric Torsion): Bloat is a life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself, cutting off blood flow. Feeding smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding vigorous exercise immediately after eating can help reduce the risk of bloat.

Allergies: Pointers can be prone to allergies, which can manifest as skin irritations, ear infections, or gastrointestinal issues. Identifying and eliminating allergens from their environment or diet can help manage allergy symptoms.

To keep your Pointer in optimal health, it’s essential to provide them with a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. High-quality food that adheres to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines can support their immune system and overall well-being.

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for early detection and treatment of any health concerns. Maintaining a consistent vaccination schedule can protect your Pointer from preventable diseases such as parvovirus, distemper, and rabies.

pointer walking in the forest
Photo: Tatiana Voronina/Getty Images

History

The origins of the Pointer can be traced back to the 17th century, when various European breeds such as the Spanish Pointer, Italian Pointer, and French Braque were brought to England.

These breeds were selectively bred for their exceptional scenting abilities, stamina, and the iconic “pointing” stance they assumed when detecting game. Over time, the modern Pointer emerged, distinguished by its unique combination of grace, agility, and keen instincts.

During the 18th century, the Pointer gained popularity among British sportsmen, who admired the breed’s remarkable speed, endurance, and bird-finding capabilities.

Pointers worked in collaboration with hunters and their teams of dogs, including setters, who would flush out the located game, and retrievers, who would fetch the downed birds. The advent of firearms in hunting further solidified the Pointer’s role as a reliable and indispensable companion in the field.

In the early 19th century, the Pointer made its way across the Atlantic to the United States, where it quickly gained favor among American hunters. The breed’s versatility and adaptability allowed it to excel in various terrains and climates, from the dense forests of the East Coast to the vast plains of the Midwest.

American breeders began refining the Pointer, emphasizing traits such as speed, style, and a strong prey drive, which contributed to the development of the distinct American Pointer bloodlines we know today.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Pointer in 1884, making it one of the earliest breeds to be registered by the organization.

Since then, the breed has continued to excel not only in the field but also in various canine sports such as agility, obedience, and field trials. The Pointer’s unmistakable elegance, coupled with its gentle and affectionate nature, has also endeared it to families and dog enthusiasts worldwide.

The Pointer’s reputation as an exceptional hunting dog was further cemented in popular culture through depictions in art and literature. The breed’s regal appearance and striking poses captured the imagination of artists like John Wootton, George Stubbs, and Sir Edwin Landseer, whose paintings immortalized the Pointer’s grace and beauty.

In addition, the breed’s prowess in the field was celebrated in numerous hunting books and articles, which often featured tales of legendary Pointers and their remarkable feats.

Today, the Pointer remains a beloved and versatile breed that continues to captivate those who encounter it. Whether gracefully pointing in the field, showcasing its agility on an obstacle course, or simply lounging at home with its family, the Pointer exudes a timeless charm that is hard to resist.

Parent Club

The parent club for the Pointer in the United States is the American Pointer Club (APC). Founded in 1938, the APC is dedicated to promoting and preserving the Pointer breed through educational programs, events, and responsible breeding practices.

The club serves as a valuable resource for Pointer enthusiasts, providing information on breed standards, health, training, and more. To learn more about the American Pointer Club, visit their official website.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Pointer’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

pointer sitting on grass
Photo: CaptureLight/Getty Images

Acquiring

When considering acquiring a Pointer, it’s crucial to prepare by researching the breed’s characteristics, exercise needs, and potential health concerns. If you decide to buy a Pointer puppy, be sure to choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes health, temperament, and responsible breeding practices. Reputable breeders will provide health clearances and adhere to the breed standards.

However, rescuing a Pointer can be an equally rewarding experience. Numerous Pointers are in need of loving homes, and adopting one can make a positive impact on their life.

Organizations like the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the American Pointer Club (APC) can help connect you with Pointer rescue groups and available dogs. By choosing to rescue, you not only give a deserving dog a second chance but also create space for other dogs in need of rescue.

FAQs

Are Pointers good family dogs?

Yes, Pointers make great family pets due to their friendly, loyal, and affectionate nature. They get along well with children and other pets when properly socialized, but their high energy levels require an active family that can provide them with daily exercise and mental stimulation.

Are Pointers aggressive?

Pointers are not typically aggressive; they are known for their gentle and amiable temperament. However, like any breed, individual dogs may exhibit aggressive behavior if not properly socialized or trained. Early socialization and consistent training can help prevent aggression in Pointers.

Are Pointers smart?

Yes, Pointers are intelligent and highly trainable. They have a natural ability to learn and excel in various activities such as hunting, obedience training, and canine sports. Their intelligence and keen instincts make them excellent working dogs and companions.

What do Pointer dogs do?

Pointer dogs were originally bred for hunting, specifically to locate and point towards game birds in the field. They use their exceptional scenting abilities to track birds and assume a distinct “pointing” stance when they find the game. Today, Pointers are versatile dogs that participate in various activities, including hunting, field trials, agility, and obedience competitions.

Do Pointers shed a lot?

Pointers have a short, dense coat that does shed moderately throughout the year. Regular brushing can help minimize shedding and keep their coat healthy. Pointers are considered relatively low-maintenance in terms of grooming.

How much exercise do Pointers need?

Pointers are energetic and require at least an hour of daily exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. A combination of walks, runs, and play sessions in a secure area is ideal for meeting their exercise needs. Involvement in canine sports or hunting activities can also provide additional physical and mental stimulation.

Can Pointers adapt to apartment living?

While it is possible for a Pointer to adapt to apartment living, their high energy levels and size make them better suited for homes with yards or access to outdoor spaces. If you live in an apartment, you’ll need to commit to providing ample daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep your Pointer happy and healthy.

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