English Pointer

A High-Energy Hunting Dog Who Loves Children and Family

English Pointer

A High-Energy Hunting Dog Who Loves Children and Family

A handsome, energetic dog, the English Pointer is one of the earliest breeds to be used for sport, dating back as far as the 17th century. As the name suggests, this Pointer directed hunters to hares and birds for what became the new 18th-century sport, wing shooting. Focused and graceful, the English Pointer is also an accomplished competitor in field trials. Should you choose a Pointer as a pet, you'll find your new puppy to be a loving, intelligent, devoted, exceedingly patient member of the family. Although this dog can be reserved with strangers, it is also extremely adaptable to new situations and will become friendly once you knows you approve.


Although the Pointer is believed to have originated in Spain, the breed was developed in Britain, explaining its name, the English Pointer. A number of breeds may have contributed to its evolution including the Foxhound, Spanish Pointer, Bloodhound, Greyhound, Setter and Bulldog.

Pointers were first recorded in history about 1650, before hunting with guns became commonplace. Pointers made hunting easier because they would find prey, usually hare, and then stand motionless (thus, "pointing") to indicate where to find the prey, unlike Greyhounds, who would kill it. Once guns became commonplace in bird hunting, the Pointer became the dog of choice for this purpose.

Within early historic descriptions, Pointers were portrayed as fierce and ferocious, nothing like the gentle temperament of the dogs in existence today. It seems likely that the setter’s role in the breed’s development resulted in a successful mellowing of the Pointer's temperament.

Pointers were brought to the United States before the Civil War and became popular in the South for hunting quail. Since then, Pointers have remained largely the same except that they have become somewhat more refined in appearance. Illustrations dating from 1786, in fact, look very much like the modern Pointer.

The Pointer was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1884. Today they are members of the Sporting Group.


A powerful hunting dog with a long neck, wide head, and deep muzzle, the Pointer is compact and full of energy. In the field, the expression is alert and ready to go. At home, the expression is relaxed and can be mischievous and playful. Coat colors are black and white, orange and white, lemon and white, or liver and white, but can be solid in color, as well. When mature, Pointers stand 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 45 to 75 pounds.


Although aristocratic and dignified, the Pointer ironically can also be very sly. This truly "bird-brained" dog has birds "on the brain." Yet, it also loves to spend time with family and friends, whether adults or children. This dog senses that it is the center of attention, and strives always to be in the midst of everything. Whether acting as your hunting companion or playmate to your children, Pointers are comfortable in just about any situation as long as it is with someone it knows. Pointers are extremely sensitive to a young child’s needs, in fact, instinctively standing patiently still if a toddler needs to balance while learning to walk.

Exquisitely on task during the hunt, once home the English Pointer is once again a calm family dog. However, this is not your average pet. By instinct, it is a hunter first, and therefore needs a lot of exercise. Make sure you build vigorous activity into every day, at least for several hours. Take your dog for a couple of long runs, with you on your bike if necessary, and hunting, training for hunting, or doing trials for show. However, keep in mind that until your dog is at least two years old, overexertion can lead to bone or joint injury so a judicious approach while the dog is young is most beneficial.

Finally, in spite of your pet's good nature, make sure that you always provide the upper hand, as the "alpha dog" in charge. With timid owners or without much direction, Pointers can become destructive out of boredom. This dog needs a loving but firm owner who provides the structure it needs for best behavior.

Proper Environment

Pointers are actually relatively quiet indoors, even somewhat reserved but loving with family, and generally quite relaxed. Nonetheless, Pointers cannot tolerate apartment living and need room to run and play. Daily vigorous exercise outside as well as enough room to roam a little bit inside will keep your pet happy. You should have some acreage outside in the immediate vicinity – in your own "backyard," as it were – if at all possible, so that your pet can run and play at will whenever the need arises, and it will arise often, because this dog has a lot of energy.

With hunting as its prime purpose, this intelligent dog needs to be shown firm boundaries. When is it time to hunt, and when is it not? Once your pet learns the distinction, it will remain placid and content in its non-working time, but eagerly ready to go to work when you say so.


Pointers can be prone to thyroid problems, hip dysplasia, and, in some cases, chondrodysplasia, also known as dwarfism, where limbs are shorter than they should be. Some dogs are nearly normal, while others have exceedingly short limbs. Even though dogs with chondrodysplasia can live normal lives, they should not be bred to avoid perpetuating the condition. Pointers can also be prone to Addison's disease, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, and demodectic mange. While all dogs can carry tiny demodex mites who live in hair follicles, Pointers can develop weakened or compromised immune systems that will result in demodectic mange. Usually a puppy disease, this most often clears up on its own. At the first sign of mange, though, seek your vet’s care because this condition can escalate quickly. Spay or neuter your pet once it has had mange even if you had originally planned to breed, because demodectic mange has a genetic link.

Life expectancy for the Pointer is 13 to 14 years.


The Pointer's smooth coat is easy to groom on a regular basis with a firm bristle brush. Bathe only if necessary. A rub-down with a chamois cloth will leave your pet's coat shiny and smooth. Pointers are subject to chill, so dry your dog thoroughly after hunting or any extended period of exertion outdoors to prevent this from happening.


AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Pointer.

Retrieved August 5, 2014.


Retrieved August 5, 2014.


Retrieved August 5, 2014.

Pointer (English Pointer).

Retrieved August 5, 2014.

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