Pointers are high-energy hunting dogs who love the outdoors and their families.

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Sporting
  • Height: 23–28 inches
  • Weight: 44–75 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12–15 years

This muscular, powerful game dog was bred for sport and makes a great companion for the home. The eyes are round and dark, and the nose is black, brown or flesh-colored depending on the coat color.

The ears hang with a pointed shape, and the tail tapers to a point and is usually thicker at the base.

The short, smooth coat comes in colors of liver, lemon, black and orange. The colors can be solid, appear in speckles or patches, or include 2 or more colors, although white is usually predominant.

2. Where They Came From

Pointers were the first game dogs and were specifically bred as a distinct breed much earlier than setters. Initially appearing in England near 1650, they were most often used to find rabbits and were popular with hunters. The name of the breed comes from the still stance the dog takes upon spotting game; the dog appears to point in the direction of the animal.

The breeds contributing to the pointer’s development include the greyhound, foxhound, bloodhound and some kind of setter or spaniel. The Spanish and English pointers were crossed at one point to enhance the breed’s pointing instinct. They were also crossed with setters to improve their temperament when they became even more popular in the 19th century.

The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1884.

Pointers are energetic and love the outdoors. By: Eric Isselee (Top: Waldemar Dabrowski)

3. How Friendly Are They?

Because pointers were bred for sport, they are focused, eager to hunt and have high endurance, stamina and energy to spare. The temperament is even, and they are adaptable to different situations and environments. They are alert and intelligent dogs who develop their instincts at a young age.

Pointers are dedicated and loyal dogs. They enjoy the company of children and generally get along with other pets. They can be reserved with strangers and should be thoroughly socialized.

Pointers are protective of their homes. Since they are such high-energy dogs, they need daily exercise, and obedience training is highly recommended.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs

VERY HIGH: This breed is, in a word, tireless. These dogs have an abundance of energy and stamina, so they make great jogging companions. Some enjoy swimming and retrieval activities. They require physical and mental exercise in addition to daily walks, running and play to expel energy.

They are much more active outdoors and should have a yard, though land or acreage is ideal. Without sufficient exercise or mental stimulation, pointers can become stubborn, disobedient and even destructive.

Grooming Needs

MEDIUM: The smooth, short coat sheds an average amount. Brush your pointer a few times per week and bathe when necessary, although pointers should be dried thoroughly after being wet.

The ears and feet should be cleaned regularly and checked closely for debris and insects if the dog has been hunting or in the woods. The teeth should be cleaned daily to maintain overall health and avoid periodontal issues.

Health Problems

HIGH: There are several health problems associated with pointers, such as:

There is no guarantee the dog will develop any of these conditions, but they are important to be aware of, especially if you contact a breeder to obtain a pointer. There are health clearances available that cover the hips, eyes and thyroid gland, and requesting these test results from a breeder is always recommended.

Whoa — check out this dog’s pointing posture:

5. Where to Adopt One?

Check shelters and rescues first — purebred dogs do end up in those places, and you can get started with our adoptable dog search. If you contact breeders, check them out and be aware of any puppy mill warning signs.

You can also ask for health clearances on the hips, eyes and thyroid. Keep in mind that these clearances alone do not guarantee the health of any dog.

Additional Resources

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