Pointer dog breed is exactly that, a sporting dog that ‘points’ the prey for the hunters. Widely used in bird hunting, these dogs would first locate the birds and then point them out to the hunters by standing still on the spot. They are full of energy and capable working throughout the day without tiring. They still carry this hunting instinct and vigor even at home, but otherwise have a gentle nature. They are easy care dogs that make ideal companions for hunters as well as excellent family dogs.
The Pointer dog breed is known as an English dog breed, but it is thought to be Dutch in origin and brought to England by the Spanish. According to sketchy records, these dogs were used for pointing in mid-17th century, but the Pointer dogs of that time had a bulkier stature than the present-day breed. The Spanish pointers interbreeding with local dogs would have resulted in the English Pointer dog breed.
Although they are better known for bird hunting, they were initially used for hunting rabbits and hare. The pointer dogs would first track the prey, and once its position is identified, Greyhounds would take over the hunt. But when hunting birds became a popular game in England, the pointers were found to particularly useful as they would quietly point out the bird in the thickets by standing rooted to the spot. The accompanying hunter would then throw the net over the prey.
With guns becoming common, catching birds with nets became redundant, but the Pointer dog breed did not. They were still useful in pointing the bird and usually held their position when the birds took wings and the hunters shot them down. The dogs then had the additional job of locating the fallen birds in the thickets and retrieving them for their masters. Often two dogs were used simultaneously for more accurate location of the prey.
The Pointer dog breed was often interbred with other hunting dogs such as Foxhounds, Bloodhounds and Greyhounds to bring in useful hunting qualities such as stamina, higher scenting ability, and speed. Italian Pointers too might have had some role in the modern breed. They were brought to the United States towards the latter part of the 19th century and the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1879. These dogs are favored as family pets nowadays, but are not very common, probably because of their need for wide open spaces and constant activity.
The Pointer dog breed is large in size, measuring 25 to 28 inches, but lean and athletic-looking with most dogs weighing between 55 and 75 pounds. The ears are folded, and the tail is thin, long, and tapering. The short, shiny coat comes in both light and dark colors including white, lemon, orange, black, and liver with spots, patches or ticking of other colors.
The Pointer dog breed is loyal and devoted to their owners and makes great companions because of its amiable nature. They are very intelligent and are known to be obedient, responding to commands at lightning speed. However, they have an independent nature on account of their long history of working in the field far away from their owners, freely tracking prey. This means these dogs may not always follow their owners’ wishes, especially when they are after a scent or sound. Early and consistent training helps, but harsh methods make them stubborn and indifferent.
Grooming and exercise
The short body-hugging coat of the Pointer dog breed is easy to groom as it only requires a light brushing once a week. But the skin should be checked regularly for allergies and other problems that may develop.
The exercise needs of these extremely active dogs are very high, and this should be the main consideration while owning these dogs. They are unsuitable for households with space constraints, let alone apartment living. A few walks on the leash are not even close to what they need. They should ideally have the opportunity and freedom to run unrestricted, exploring the brush for small prey, all day long if possible. But they would be more than happy to spend the nights at home with their family.
Common health issues of Pointer dog breed
The Pointer dog breed has a number of health issues including canine hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, epilepsy and some neurodegenerative disorders. These dogs are particularly prone to eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, entropion and cherry eye. They are susceptible to allergies too, especially respiratory and food-related allergies. Endocrine disorders commonly found in this breed are hypothyroidism and Addison’s disease. However, they have an average life expectancy of 12 to 13 years, with many healthy dogs living over 15 years.