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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Pointer
Average Cost to keep/care for a Pointer
Breed Specific Buying Advice
Pointers have been a firm favourite with hunters for centuries thanks not only to their wonderful skills and endurance, but also because of the breed's loyal and kind nature in the home environment too. Pointers are extremely aristocratic in appearance and temperament making wonderful members of the family when in a home environment.
Pointers thrive on being in the great outdoors, but happy to relax and settle when they get back home. They are extra gentle around children and love being part of the family. With this said, Pointers are better suited to people who have large secure back gardens and who like to lead active, outdoor lives with a loyal and devoted canine companion at their side.
The history of the Pointer remains a little unclear although there are records of Pointers that date back to the 1600's. With this said, there are references to "Braques-type dogs" that were around in the 13th Century and there are paintings of Pointers that date back to the 15th and 18th Century. It is thought that various pointing breeds found across Europe were bought to England where they were crossed with chosen native breeds which included Irish Setters, Greyhounds, Newfoundlands, Bloodhounds, Fox Hounds and Bull Terriers. However, there are those who believe they could be descendants of Spanish Pointers or Continental Pointers.
Pointers were used with Greyhounds to hare-course during the 1600's, but by the beginning of the seventeenth century, wing shooting became fashionable and it's when pointing dogs really came into their own. However, it was not until the 20th century that Pointers were recognised as being excellent hunting dogs because Irish Setters had always been the dogs of choice before that time.
Pointers were first recorded in Britain during the early 19th Century with very little information about the breed before this time. As time passed, Pointers changed in appearance before a breed standard was established which is the foundation of the Pointers we see today.
Today, Pointers are one of the most popular hunt, point dogs both here in the UK and in the United States. They have remained a popular choice as working dogs, companions and family pets for good reason. Pointers boast having kind, placid and affectionate natures more especially when they are around children, making the perfect family pet for people who lead active, outdoor lives.
Height at the withers: Males 63 - 69 cm, Females 61 - 66 cm
Average weight: Males 25 - 34 kg, Females 20 - 30 kg
Pointers are medium to large size dogs that boast a lean, elegant, well-balanced frame. They move gracefully and can cover the ground quickly and smoothly which is why they have always been so highly prized as working dogs. They are real aristocrats and are just at home in a family environment as they are out in the field. They have elegant heads with well-defined stops and a very pronounced occipital bone. Their noses and eye rims are typically dark in colour although in lighter coated dogs, they can be a lighter colour to match their coats. Nostrils are nice and wide being moist and soft to the touch.
A Pointer's muzzle is slightly concave which gives the impression of a dog's face being a little dished which is enhanced by the fact that they have a slight depression under their eyes. They have well developed soft lips and a bright, gentle expression about their eyes which can either be brown or hazel in colour depending on a dog's coat. They have very thin leathers to their ears which are set quite high and which lie close to a dog's head being moderately long and a little pointed at the tips. The Pointer has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones.
Necks are long, well-muscled and a little arched which adds to the Pointer's graceful appearance. They have long, sloping, well laid-back shoulders and a nice width to their chests. Briskets reach down to a dog's elbows and their front legs are straight, strong showing a good amount of bone with sinews being very noticeable too.
Pointers have graceful, nicely proportioned bodies with well sprung ribs that carry well back to a dog's slightly arched loins. Their hip bones are prominent, but not overly so adding to a dog's elegant stance. Hindquarters are very muscular with dogs having strong, well-muscled back legs with nicely developed first and second thighs. Feet are an oval shape with well knit, arched toes and nice firm pads. Their tails are moderately long and well covered in hair being thicker at the root before tapering to the tip. Dogs carry their tails level to their backs and when on the move, they swish them from side to side.
When it comes to their coat, the Pointer boasts having a short, fine, hard, straight coat that's evenly distributed all over their bodies. Their coats have a lovely natural and marked sheen. The accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
It is worth noting that all the above colours can have a little "ticking" whether heavy or light speckles on the white areas of a dog's coat.
The good conformation of a Pointer is essential for the breed's wellbeing more especially because like many other deep chested dogs, Pointers are prone to suffering from bloat (gastric torsion) which can be a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.
When a Pointer moves, they cover a lot of ground with a smooth and flowing action having a tremendous amount of drive from behind. Their elbows do not turn inwards neither do they turn outwards and dogs do not show any sort of hackney action when they move.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is given as a guideline only.
Pointers are known to be well-balanced, social and placid dogs by nature which is why they have consistently remained a popular choice as family pets. They are loyal, gentle and extremely tolerant more especially when they are around children. They are the perfect choice for families who live in the country or who have large back gardens because Pointers thrive when they can spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors in the company of their owners.
With this said, when a Pointer has been given enough daily exercise and lots of mental stimulation, they are quite happy to get home and chill out with their families loving nothing more than to curl up on a comfy couch or chair. They are a good choice for first time owners providing the people have the time to dedicate to their canine companions and ideally in households where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out.
When puppies, Pointers can be a little "accident prone" which means they tend to bump into things quite a lot. This often includes toddlers and younger children. As such care needs to be taken when they are playing together just in case a toddler gets knocked over albeit unintentionally.
Because they form such strong, unbreakable bonds with their owners and families, Pointers do not like it when they find themselves on their own for longer periods of time and if they do, they can often suffer from separation anxiety more especially if they are not given enough exercise and mental stimulation every day. This could result in dogs developing unwanted and destructive behaviours around the home which is a Pointer's way of relieving any stress they may be feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty. Pointers thrive on human company and can even become depressed when left on their own for too long.
It's important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation must include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it must be consistent throughout a dog's life. A Pointer is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household they may quickly take on the role of a dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle.
As previously mentioned, Pointers love being able to roam around outside but gardens must be very well fenced off to prevent them escaping, bearing in mind that most Pointers have absolutely no road sense. In short, if a dog did manage to get out of a garden, they run the risk of being injured if they got onto a road.
Pointers are a very good choice for first time dog owners providing their owners have the right amount of time to dedicate to an active and intelligent canine companion and one that thrives on being in the great outdoors as much as possible. Pointers love to please and enjoy being taught things because they are so amenable.
Although Pointers are very social by nature their hunting instinct remains very strong even when they are in the home environment. As such, their training must include paying special attention to the "recall" and "leave it" commands. Care must also be taken as to where and when a Pointer can run off the lead in areas where they may come across livestock and wild animals.
Pointers are known to have a playful side to their natures and thoroughly enjoy playing interactive games whenever possible. They are particularly good when playing with children although puppies as previously mentioned tend to be rather accident prone which means they could knock a younger child over by mistake when playtime gets a bit boisterous and why adult supervision is always recommended.
Pointers are better suited to people who live in the country or households with large, secure back gardens. They do not adapt well to apartment living because they thrive on being in the great outdoors as much as possible. With this said, once a dog gets home they are happy to relax and settle down.
Pointers form strong ties with their families and dogs are never very happy when they find themselves left on their own for longer periods of time. They are better suited to people who either work from home or in households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out so they are never alone for any length of time which could see a dog suffering from separation anxiety. This can lead to them being destructive around the home which is a dog's way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained.
Most Pointers are not known to be "barkers" having been bred to hunt, point and retrieve which are traits deeply embedded in their psyche and which are generally performed with stealth. However, any Pointer that's left on their own for too long may start barking as a way of showing how unhappy they are at the situation and to get attention.
Pointers enjoy swimming and will take to the water whenever they can. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Pointer off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses and through marshlands just in case they get into trouble and need rescuing.
Pointers are not natural watchdogs although this is not to say a dog would not be quick off the mark to let an owner know when there are strangers about although they would rarely do this aggressively, preferring to keep their distance while alerting their owners to what they perceive as being threatening.
The Pointer is a very smart dog and a quick learner. The downside to this is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits as they are the good. They need to be well socialised from a young age and their training must begin early, bearing in mind these sensitive dogs do not like being dominated. Their training must be very consistent and always fair so that a dog understands what their owner expects of them. Pointers are never happier than when they are given something to do which is why they are so amenable to learning new things.
The key to successfully training a Pointer is to make their training as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions that much shorter which helps keep a dog more focused on what is being asked of them. Being so sensitive, they do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training methods. They do answer very well to positive reinforcement and high value food rewards which always brings the best out of these intelligent and eager to please dogs.
Pointers thrive on being to work alongside their owners and it certainly strengthens the bond that forms between a person and their dog. They excel at obedience and thoroughly enjoy the one-to-one attention they are given when being trained as well as when they compete in trials.
Pointer puppies like all puppies are very cute and it is all too easy to spoil them. However, new owners must start out as they mean to go on which means educating a puppy right from the word go. This must involve setting out boundaries and teaching a puppy what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. It is also very important to "crate train" a Pointer puppy when they around 7 weeks old because they like to know they have a "safe" place to be when their owners are not around. The first commands a Pointer puppy should be taught as early as possible are as follows:
Pointers are super well behaved around children and they make wonderful family pets thanks to their gentle, placid and kind natures. They seem to have a real affinity with children which in short means they are extremely tolerant around them. However, as with all breeds any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to be on the safe side. One thing they don't like is too much noise because of their sensitive natures.
Being so placid and laid-back, Pointers generally get on with other dogs they meet and more especially when they have been well socialised from a young enough age. With this said, they can be a little shy around dogs they have never met before which is just part of their make-up, but rarely would a Pointer instigate a fight preferring to just back away. They also get on with other pets in household if they have grown up together which includes family cats.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Pointer is between 12 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Pointer is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these handsome dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
Pointer puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
10 -12 weeks old, bearing in mind that a puppy would not have full protection straight away, but would be fully protected 2 weeks after they have had their second vaccination
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Some Pointers gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Pointers are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up, more especially as they are so prone to developing skin allergies. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Pointer breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restriction set out by the Kennel Club for all registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for Pointers.
Currently, there are not Kennel Club Assured Breeder requirements for the Pointer, but potential owners should always ask breeders about specific health issues that are known to affect the breed.
As with any other breed, Pointers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Pointer puppies are boisterous and full of life and quite accident prone which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a Pointer puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Pointer puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out.
Keeping vet appointments
As previously mentioned, Pointer puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be
Older Pointers need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
Living with a Pointer in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Pointers need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Pointers don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
The Pointer is low maintenance in the grooming department thanks to their smooth, short coats. A weekly brush and wipe over with a chamois leather will remove any dead and loose hair while at the same time keeping a nice gloss on their coats. They shed quite a lot all year round, only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things and to remove dead and shed hair from a dog's coat.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax builds up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The Pointer is a high energy, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need at least 2 hour's exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Pointer would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they may be experiencing. However, once a Pointer gets home, they will happily turn into couch potatoes and anyone who does not let their pets on the furniture might have to change their minds and invest in lots of dog throws.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing must be extremely secure to keep these active, inquisitive dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble bearing in mind that Pointers can jump very high fences with the greatest of ease when they want to.
With this said, Pointer puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Pointer puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Pointer puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 15 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Pointer must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Pointer can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Pointer, you would need to pay anything from £500 to over £700 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Pointer in northern England would be £23.52 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £59.71 a month (quote as of November 2017). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Pointer and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Pointer would be between £70 to £110 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred, healthy Kennel Club registered pedigree Pointer puppy.