English Pointer, Gun Dog

The Pointer, often called the English Pointer, is a dog breeds developed as a gun dog. It is one of several pointing breeds. Pointers were bred to work with hunters. In the past they were sometimes used in combination with a retriever, to point out the game for the hunter. Pointers were also used as falconer's dogs. As early as the 17th century, sportsmen used Pointers to locate hares and then Greyhounds to chase them.

English Pointer Appearance

The English Pointer should be athletic and graceful. The immediate impression should be of a compact, hard-driving hunting dog, alert and "ready to let go." The primary distinguishing features of this breed are the head, feet, and tail. Hound or terrier characteristics are undesirable for show purposes.

Grooming English Pointers is not time-consuming. Their coat is very short and needs only a quick rub with a soft brush to minimize shedding.

Coat and color

The standard colorings of the Pointer are liver, lemon, orange or black. A good Pointer cannot be a bad color. In the darker colors, the nose should be black or brown; in the lighter shades it may be lighter or flesh-colored.


Most country's breed standards prefer symmetry and balance to perfect size, and most will allow an amount of variation if a dog's size does not encumber it in the field. The approximate measurements in the United States, from the Pointer standard, are as follows:

  • Male Height/Weight: 60 - 70cm / 25 - 34kg
  • Female Height/Weight: 58 - 66 cm / 20 - 30kg

English Pointer Temperament

The English Pointers are even-tempered, congenial dogs happiest living indoors as part of the family. Pointers are affectionate and loyal. Their aggression level is very low to non-existent and they can happily co-exist with other dogs and often cats. Pointers are typically not territorial, although their size and bark will intimidate most people that come to your door. Pointers are very good with children, although young children and a clumsy young Pointer are often not the best combination.

While English Pointers were bred to be a hunting dog, they are perfectly content given adequate exercise in a non-hunting home. Since they are a galloping breed, regular exercise is important for them, as it is for all sporting breeds. A good sized, securely fenced yard is a must to keep a Pointer safe since they are bred to hunt a good distance from their person. They typically do best indoors when they are left for the day. Pointers are habitual "couch potatoes" who enjoy relaxing on the family's chairs or sofas. This is a natural part of their desire to feel part of the pack.

English Pointer Health

The average life span of a Pointer is 12 to 17 years. Pointers are fairly genetically sound as a dog breeds. Some problems that can occur in the breed include hip dysplasia, cherry eye, epilepsy, and allergies.

English Pointer Skill

The English Pointer is employed to find upland game. In performing his task as a hunters' aid, there are some skills that may be expected when hunting with pointers.

  • Point: The dog should find and point out the location of birds.
  • Honor: Honoring is defined as when a dog stops immediately or within a few steps, usually in a pointing stance, upon observing a bracemate on point.
  • Retrieve: Pointers are not expected to be natural retrievers, but are often trained and expected to find dead or wounded game.

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