All business in the field. Fun-loving at home. That's the Pointer to a tee. One of the earliest sporting breeds, Pointers have signaled the location of quarry with their signature stance for centuries. Their agility, focus, and ace scenting skills make them exceptional field companions. The breed is also known as English Pointer because of its origins in Britain. Pointers carry their noble heads high and move with grace. With a well-muscled chest and neck, and lean legs, they have the appearance of a true athlete. These are dogs of action who get bored easily. They need owners who enjoy exercising with them and keeping them occupied.
The Pointer's demeanor may be stately, but this breed has a fun-loving, spirited side. They are highly energetic, especially when young, and love to keep busy. Above all, they enjoy spending quality time with their families. Pointers are congenial and make excellent playmates for adults, children, and other dogs.
The Pointers coat is short, dense, and smooth, with an appealing sheen. The coat colors are liver, lemon, orange, or black. They may be solid, or one of the listed colors combined with white. According to the American Kennel Club breed standard, "a good Pointer cannot be a bad color."
Average Height: 23-28 inches
Male: 55-75 pounds
Female: 45-65 pounds
Breed Standard & History
Pointers are compact, powerful dogs bred for the field. They have a deep chest and are well-muscled through the neck, shoulders, and hindquarters. Their chiseled heads have a deep, square muzzle and an aristocratic profile. The Pointer's soft ears hang naturally, close to the head, and are soft to the touch. They have large, round eyes that convey intelligence and alertness. Pointers are calm and dignified, and make exceptionally good company.
Pointers have been hunting companions since at least the mid-1600s. Their ancestors were Spanish Pointers, who were skilled at pointing, but were bigger and slower going than their agile descendants. Among the breeds crossbred to create today's pointer were Foxhounds, Bloodhounds, Greyhounds, and setters—making it clear why they are often considered the quintessential hunting dog. As with many breeds, Pointers were favorites of aristocratic families before they were more widely embraced. It's unknown exactly when Pointers crossed the pond to the US, but in the late 1800s a Pointer became the symbol of the Westminster Kennel Club. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1870.
AKC Breed Category
Pointers are good-natured dogs who love spending time hunting or playing with their families. They are alert and energetic, but they also have a calm, self-possessed quality. Pointers are smart and take well to training. They have a touch of wanderlust, so walking them on a leash is imperative. Pointers are friendly towards strange people and dogs.
Are Pointers Good with Kids? Pointers adore kids. However, this breed is strong and rambunctious, especially as pups, so they are better suited to homes with older children they won't accidentally knock over.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Pointers Good with Other Pets? Pointers enjoy the company of other dogs, whether it's in their own homes or down at the dog park. Because of their potent prey drive, they are not safe housemates for cats, small animals or birds.
Pointers are protective of their territory, which they'll indicate with barking rather than physical aggression.
Are Pointers Good Guard Dogs? Pointers keep a close watch over their homestead and let their pack know the instant they sense trouble. Their formidable physiques will also give troublemakers pause.
Pointers have a great deal of energy and require owners who can keep them busy. Without adequate exercise and activity, Pointers will find unwelcome ways to fill the time.
- Pointers bore easily when not kept active.
- They will chew, dig, and bark if they become bored.
- They demand a lot of attention and exercise.
- Pointers are strong-willed.
- They require attentive, consistent training.
- They're not a great match for first-time dog owners.
- Pointers are even more energetic in their youth.
- They will find their way out of openings in the yard, if given the chance, so make sure your yard is properly fenced and your dog wears their personalized dog collar so they can easily be returned.
Pointers adore their people and should live indoors with them. As puppies, they are prone to knocking over knick-knacks and kids. Because Pointers need to spend time outdoors in rain, snow, or shine, it's helpful to establish a cleaning station by the entry door. A towel and a handy hose should keep most of the dirt outdoors. This breed sheds moderately, so fur around the house isn't a major nuisance.
Pointers should be outside for several hours every day in order to get their fill of exercise and engagement. They are not ideal apartment denizens, unless someone is home to take them out frequently. A large, enclosed yard is helpful when you own a Pointer because you won't have to walk for hours every day to wind down their batteries.
A healthy Pointer requires about two hours of daily physical activity to remain fit and well behaved. This can include dog sports training, field training, games of catch in the yard, running, and long walks. A Pointer on the move by your side, is a happy dog.
Pointers have the impressive stamina sporting dogs are well known for.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Healthy, adult Pointers can run with you for five to seven miles with ease. They are versatile athletes who can handle a steady jog, wind sprint practice, and running alongside you on your bike.
- Hiking Miles: Hikes mean going outdoors and exercising with you, so your Pointer is game. They are happy to tag along for a half day, or even full-day hike with regular breaks for water.
Generally, this breed requires about 2 to 3 cups of good quality dry dog food each day, given in two feedings. This will vary, however, based upon your Pointer's activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Pointer.
Pointers are an independent, self-assured breed, but they get bored easily. When left alone too long, they will act out through destructive chewing and barking. You can leave your Pointer alone for several hours at a time, but much beyond that isn't fair to this active breed. Crate training your Pointer is helpful so she can't get her choppers around the chair legs and has a comforting den where she can relax. Be sure to take her on a long walk before and after time in the dog crate, and leave her with her favorite dog toys.
Health and Grooming
Pointers are easy-care dogs. Brush your Pointer's coat once a week to remove dirt and keep it glossy. A bath every month, or when she gets dirty, will keep her clean and pleasant smelling. Wash your Pointer's ears weekly with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt buildup that can cause infections. Brush your Pointer's teeth several days a week, and trim her nails every month or so to prevent painful cracking.
Common Health Issues
Pointers may develop a number of breed-specific health conditions—some serious—including:
- Hip dysplasia
- Eye conditions, including progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts
- Neurotropic osteopathy
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Pointer by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Intelligent and alert, Pointers are lightning-quick learners, especially when their trainers are patient, firm, and consistent.
Pointers are natural athletes and excel in dog sports and agility training. Involving them in these activities is a great way to ensure this energetic dog gets the activity she needs to be happy and healthy.
Sporting Dog Training
Pointers are versatile gun dogs, making superlative upland hunters and strong retrievers as well.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about Pointers.
No. Pointers have a double coat that sheds regularly and, as a result, leaves pet dander in your home. Pet dander is the primary cause of pet related allergies.
No. Pointers are classified as sporting dogs rather than hounds. Both breed types are known for their hunting prowess, but for different reasons. Hounds track down their quarry by smell or sight, while Pointers signal the location of game by standing still and pointing. They may also retrieve the fallen game.
Pointers are not natural swimmers, though some may learn to swim and enjoy going into the water. Each dog has unique likes and dislikes, so let your Pointer take the lead with swimming and always watch her closely in or near water.