Content with being at home and around family, the Pointer is a true sporting breed. They are happy to play, go for walks and run like crazy.
However, when it comes to pointing and hunting, the English Pointer is on another level.
So what makes this breed such a wonderful choice as a companion both at home and in the field?
Here is what you need to know about the English Pointer.
As a breed, the Pointer has tons of talents when it comes to hunting. While the bulk of the English Pointer’s work is pointing, the breed can also retrieve game as well. There are historians that believe the breed’s true ancestry and origins begin in Spain. It is likely that the English Pointer is made up Spanish pointing breeds. The United Kennel Club believes that the Pointer has Bull Terrier, Greyhound, Bloodhound and Foxhound bloodlines.
It would make sense that the breed has Spanish pointing lineage. Following the Spanish Succession War, historians believe that British troops brought home with them a breed similar to the English Pointer. Historians estimate that troops took the dogs to England around 1713.
However, it is possible that the breed dates further back than that. Some say that the Pointer’ existence goes back to the 1650’s, while others believe the breed may have been around in the 1500’s. According to the English River Website, Pointers or a breed resembling the English Pointer, could be seen in painting and other works during the mid-16th century.
That said, the breed became very popular within sportsmen, who would use them to hunt and spot hare. In addition, the breed would point out the location of the game, and the Greyhound would course or chase them into nets. Of course, the Pointer and other hunting breed importance was significant considering hunters didn’t have rifles then.
Even after the invention, however, the breed would still prove to be of importance for hunters.
Beyond the fields, the breed has won several times as best in show. The first time the Pointer did appear at a dog show was at the Westminster Dog Show in 1877. By then, the breed had already made a name for itself.
By 1884, the Pointer would receive recognition by the American Kennel Club. Many historians believe the breed’s presence in America dates back as far as the Civil War. The United Kennel Club would follow suit in the early 20th century by giving the English Pointer recognition.
Their popularity has hit a snag in the last century due to technology and better equipped guns. Today, the breed is still a winning show dog, a talent in the field, and a versatile service, search and rescue and therapy dog. According to the American Kennel Club, the English Pointer is the 117th most popular breed among 194 breeds.
While the majority of English Pointers are medium dog breeds, it isn’t uncommon for some to fall under the large breed class. According to the American Kennel Club, a male should stand between 25 to 28 inches, while a female should between 23 to 26 inches.
With regards to weight, a male should weigh between 55 to 75 pounds and a female should weigh 45 to 65 pounds.
Personality and Temperament
The English Pointer is full of endurance and will definitely put it on display as they run around the yard or in the field with excitement. This is a hard working dog. Pointers aren’t afraid of getting dirty and making their owners happy. As versatile as it gets, the breed is a multi-purpose talent. The Pointer can learn search and rescue missions, just as well as the breed can be a service dog for those with disabilities. Additionally, the breed receives tons of praise for their ability to work with other dogs. Some say that the Pointer is the best sporting breed for getting along with other dogs.
This is a trainable dog, and fairly simple as well. Pointers enjoy new tasks and learning new skills. As hard as workers they are, the breed is agreeable and alert.
As a family companion, the English Pointer just wants to be close with family. Whether that be in the field or on the couch with their master. Close contact and bonding is certainly in this breed’s wheelhouse. Although they are very active, the Pointer can be somewhat of a couch potato when the mood is right.
The Pointer may be aloof with strangers, and act territorial with dogs and people they don’t know. Children can’t get enough of this lively and playful dog. Agility, coursing, fetching, obedience are all activities this breed will thrive doing.
All in all, the breed is bold and confident in what they do. Many consider them to be the best upland hunters, but not everything to the Pointer is about work. It’s about a loving home and getting attention. It’s about affection and showing their loyalty to family. An English Pointer is a family dog you can trust.
English Pointers do have some health issues like any breed. In general, the breed is relatively health, and if you do all you can to keep them that way — there’s no reason you won’t get 12 to 17 years of life expectancy.
You can make life much easier for yourself when you buy from a reputable breeder. Spend time researching the person you’re buying from. Read reviews, ask questions, and steer clear from puppy mills. You should always get the proper documentation and health clearances to ensure you have a healthy Pointer.
Additionally, you’ll want to schedule regular visits with the veterinarian to maintain your English Pointer’s health.
The breed may suffer from a condition Vets call, Cherry Eye. This is a protrusion of the third eyelid that can cause damage so severe that it impairs the dog’s vision. You’ll notice a pink type of color with irritation.
Cataracts may also be an area of concern for the English Pointer. A white cloudy substance that surrounds the crystalline lens affecting the dog’s vision at night, first, and then possibly total blindness.
Degeneration of the photorod cones and cells of the retina, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, has been found to affect the English Pointer. If you ignore the issue, then PRA can progress to blindness.
Hypothyroidism is a hormonal defect of the thyroid gland that causes the metabolism to slow. This may cause your dog to behave oddly, lethargic and you may notice hair loss to name a few symptoms and signs. According to a study by Michigan State University, the English Pointer has the 12th highest rate for Hypothyroidism. Another authority studying this issue, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals ranks the breed the 42nd worst for thyroid problems.
The breed ranks 131st for Hip Dysplasia, according to the OFA. Hip Dysplasia is the malformation of the hip joint, which will result in wear and tear due to the rubbing from the loosen joint. The OFA survey reveals the breed has a 7.6% dysplastic rate out of 4,000 plus evaluations. This ranks them next to the Bichon Frise.
Elbow Dysplasia is the most common reason for the elbow pain. The abnormal growth in the elbow joints and cells causes wear and tear, pain, lameness and discomfort. It can also result in other serious issues especially for a sporting or active dog. The English Pointer has a 5.2% dysplastic rating, according to the OFA survey. This ranks them 56th among the Belgian Tervuren.
Additionally, the breed may also suffer from allergies, epilepsy and heart diseases or issues (16th worst cardiac rate in OFA’s survey).
With the English Pointer, you have yourself an active dog. This means they’ll need an active recipient. someone who enjoys dog parks, walking trails or going for hikes, this will be the proper fit for the breed. The breed must get plenty of exercise and plenty of mental or physical stimulation. Again, obedience, agility, rally, coursing, etc… are all dog activities the breed does well with. You can walk them an hour a day or give them two short walks with the same time allotment.
Early training and socialization will go a long ways for you. This is a better that does better with positive reinforcement and consistency. Someone with experience will do much better with an active breed such as the Pointer.
You should have plenty of space and may need to invest in a fence. The breed may show a side of prey drive and wanderlust. Avoid cold weather as the Pointer does have a short coat that doesn’t offer much insulation.
Ultimately, this is a working dog, who enjoys hunting with his or her favorite people. They don’t like being left alone for long periods of time. Smaller children will require supervision around the breed, although they do play well with younger kids. The breed is strong and may inadvertently push a smaller child over.
Trim their nails regularly to protect from overgrowth and splitting. Check their ears routinely to avoid bacterial infections. Most importantly, keep them happy by keeping them busy and active. Plenty of exercise and outdoor time for this indoor sporting breed.
Like most breeds, the English Pointer will require a high quality formula diet. The first ingredient should be protein and protein from animal. Calories wil be of the essence with a breed with higher energy needs. You should always limit the treats and table scraps and avoid overfeeding to prevent further health issues.
Most owners recommend between 2 to 3 cups of top quality dry kibble per day. Of course, you can always break that up into two meals. Once in the morning and once in the evening will help keep your Pointer on schedule with your family’s. Also, splitting up the meals will help lessen the chances of Bloat. Bloat is when the stomach distends due to an excess of gas, and it can be deadly.
As always, you’ll want to provide your English Pointer with plenty of fresh drinking water to hydrate them throughout the day.
An English Pointer has a short, smooth and dense coat. They are simple to care for and the breed is a seasonal shedder requiring occasional grooming. At best, you’ll need to brush once a week.
According to the American Kennel Club, the English Pointer has 8 colors for coat options: Black, black and white, lemon, lemon and white, liver, liver and white, orange, orange and white.
There are four acceptable markings: Ticked, self colored points, liver points, black points.
Fun English Pointer Facts
- During World War 2, an English Pointer by the name of, Judy, became a national hero after helping save soldiers by aiding them to find fresh water. The Pointer was then given the prestigious “Dicken Medla” for her bravery and service.
- According to Stanley Coren’s “Intelligence of Dogs,” Coren ranks the Pointer 72nd. This means the breed obeys commands 50 percent of the time in its first attempt.
- In 1925, Governor Moscow won the Best in Show honors at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. In 1932, yet another English Pointer would win. And in 1986, Marjetta’s National Acclaim became the third Pointer to win Best in Show honors at Westminster.
- The English Pointer is also a two time winner for Best in Show at the Crufts show.
For centuries, the English Pointer has been a reliable and consistent star as a pointing breed. Their intelligence and hard work makes them a force out in the field. Most bird game stand no chance, and the breed is one of the best at working with other dogs.
Yet, the breed has another side to the coin. As a companion, they work just as hard winning over your love and show devotion that is hard to rival. With those traits, and how useful of a hunting dog they are, it’s quite clear why the English fell head over heels for the English Pointer centuries ago, and why people still do.