American Pointer

The "Cadillac of Bird Dogs" Is a Very Affable Family Pet and Alert Watchdog

Although originally bred to be a hunting dog, the American Pointer originated from Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish Pointer breeds that were introduced to the United States prior to the Civil War. This playful, energetic breed is an excellent family pet, and despite its "sporty" appearance, should not be kept outside. Although still used in some respects for its sporting abilities, it is mostly a companion dog today.


Beginning just prior to the Civil War years, the American Pointer was introduced as a mix of Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish Pointer breeds. The original American Pointer was heavier and slower than its close cousin, the English Pointer. In the 19th century, the English Pointer was introduced into the American Pointer's bloodline, making the breed more trainable and agile without greatly affecting its overall appearance. Although the Bulldogge was originally included in some strains, it was bred out in the early 1900s. However, the Dalmatian is part of the breed, as is the Hungarian Viszla. In the 20th century, the German Short Haired Pointer was also introduced into the mix, so that the breed would have even greater hunting abilities. Continued incorporation of the English Pointer into the breed line has meant that the British and American Pointer breeds of today are much closer in temperament and appearance than those of past generations. The American Pointer today remains largely unchanged over the past century.


Hunters have an old saying that "a good Pointer can't be a bad color." The American Pointer's short, shiny, hard, sleek coat can be white with dark brown, orange, black, or lemon markings, or may not have any white at all. They can also have "ticking," light or heavy speckling, on their coats. They stand 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh 45 to 75 pounds in adulthood. The long, fine head and pointed tail represent the American Pointer's original purpose, which is to point and then retrieve game birds. It is still known as the "Cadillac of bird dogs," although today, the American Pointer is largely a family pet.


Easy-going and extremely affable, the American Pointer is the height of congeniality – but with a decidedly independent nature. Playful and fun-loving, your pet is an excellent watchdog and will bark immediately if anything is out of the ordinary. One truly joyful aspect to your pet is that when you shout... "Come!" ...this dog will do so with the utmost exuberance – "as if shot out of a cannon," according to at least one observer.

Because this breed is so self-motivated and courageous, though, even a dog as devoted as this requires some extensive obedience training and early socialization. As soon as you can, it is important to expose this puppy to a variety of sights, people, sounds and experiences – noisy and quiet – when the dog is little.

Your pet will be very relaxed around people and other animals alike, including children – although because the American Pointer is a hunting dog at heart, you may need to be careful around birds. In fact, it's probably not a good idea to keep a bird or birds as pets if you have a Pointer as a pet, for obvious reasons.

Gentle and exceedingly trainable, your pet will be very devoted to you and will want to please – despite its fierce independence. Pointers are very intelligent, and they want to know why you are asking them to do something. If you train your pet with consistency and kindness, using rewards that include food and praise, your pet will respond to you and your requests with unabashed joy and abandon. Treat your pet with harshness or negativity, however, and your gentle, intelligent pet will simply shut down. It's worth noting that even though this dog has a strong desire to accommodate its owners’ wishes, American Pointers are known for their "selective" hearing when they think something else is more interesting.

Although many American Pointers today are kept as pets rather than as hunting dogs, this breed must have plenty of exercise – at least one to two hours every day. Your American Pointer wants to be mentally challenged, as well, and loves nothing more than intellectual stimulation. Games that encourage your pet's intelligence will keep this dog happy – and will keep you happy and stress-free, as well.

The American Pointer by nature is not a destructive breed, but if the dog is bored, you may find your pet will… redecorate... your house with dire results when you are away. One way to prevent this in addition to providing plenty of mental and physical stimulation is to appropriately crate-train your dog for those times when you must be away. Crate-training is also an excellent house-training tool, but make sure not to abuse crate-training in any way. Your pet will be destructive and unhappy if you leave it alone a lot. If you must leave your pet alone for hours at a time, it is probably advisable that you choose another breed that will establish a higher level of emotional independence from you so that it will remain happy and healthy even in your absence.


Generally healthy, the American Pointer is prone to certain common health conditions, including hip dysplasia, epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy, and cataracts. Life expectancy for the American Pointer is about 13 to 14 years.


Rather amusingly, your pet will think it is a person – and will love to have its teeth brushed on a regular basis, as long as you start early. Brush with a special "doggie" toothpaste, as fluoride is not recommended for dogs. The dog’s short, sleek coat needs brushing just once a week, with bathing only rarely necessary. Nails should be trimmed only if they don't wear down naturally, and only the visible interior of the ears should be wiped out with cotton balls on a weekly basis. However, if ear discharge is detected, consult your vet about the condition. The American Pointer sheds very lightly.


American Pointer - Molosser Dogs.

Retrieved August 11, 2013.


Retrieved August 11, 2013.

Welcome: American Pointer Club, Inc.

Retrieved August 11, 2013.

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