1. Key Breed Facts
2. Breed Characteristics
7. Intelligence / Trainability
8. Children and Other Pets
10. Caring for a Pointer
14. Average Cost to keep/care for a Pointer
Pointers have been a firm favourite with hunters for centuries and not only are these handsome dogs highly skilled at the job they were bred to do, but they also boast having loyal and kind natures in a home environment too. They carry their heads proudly which gives Pointers a very aristocratic appearance which together with the way they gracefully move, their hard coats and unique slightly concave muzzles sets them apart from other native pointing breeds.
The history of the Pointer remains a little unclear although there are records of Pointers that date back to the 1600's. It is thought that various pointing breeds found across Europe were bought to England where they were crossed with chosen native breeds which included the Irish Setter, Greyhounds, Newfoundlands, Bloodhounds, Fox Hounds and Bull Terriers. However, there are those who believe they could be descendants of Spanish Pointers or Continental Pointers.
These dogs 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.
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 both as companion dogs and family pets too and for good reason because Pointers boast having such 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 are able to 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 sheen to them and the accepted breed colours are as follows:
Pointers are known to be well-balanced, placid dogs 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 as long as 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 by accident.
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.
It's really important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation has to 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 has to 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.
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 has to begin early, bearing in mind these sensitive dogs do not like being dominated. Their training has to 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 focussed 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 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:
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.
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 is allowed to build 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.
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 has to 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.
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 £21.87 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £57.54 a month (quote as of July 2016). 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 or not 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 all 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 pedigree or other puppy.
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