Choosing an English Pointer

The English pointer, also known simply as the pointer, is a renowned and much admired hunting companion. After spotting his quarry, the pointer instinctively stops and "points." When the dog is in his pointing stance, he is motionless with his nose pointing in the direction of the fowl and his tail held horizontal.

History and Origin

The English pointer is believed to be the first dog used to stand game and was developed years before the setters. Similar dogs were being used around the same time in Portugal, Spain, Eastern Europe and the British Isles but it was Great Britain that is responsible for much of the breed's development. The pointer has many breeds in his past. The foxhound, greyhound and bloodhound all played a role.

The first record of the pointer was in 1650. At that time, the dogs were used to locate rabbits. After the pointer found the rabbits, greyhounds were brought in to catch them. When firearms became popular in hunting, pointers became known as one of the best gun dogs.

The pointer is recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the sporting group.

Appearance and Size

The English pointer is a medium sized dog. The muzzle has a slight arch to elevate the nose for smelling. The nose is the same color as the dark coloring of the coat. The eyes of the English pointer are dark brown, hazel, red or chestnut and their ears are medium length, laying flat to the head. The muscular body of the English pointer has a tail that is thick at the base and thin at the tip. The pointer has an alert expression and stands 21 to 24 inches at the shoulder. The pointer weighs from 44 to 66 pounds.


The English pointer is an intelligent, affectionate and loyal hunting dog. He has an exceptional sense of smell, especially for fowl. This breed is a competitor at heart and is fast and courageous. They are born with a natural hunting instinct and puppies as young as 8 weeks of age have been known to point.

Home and Family Relations

The English pointer is an easy-going dog with a pleasant and friendly attitude, but can become stubborn if not properly socialized at an early age. They like to roughhouse and are good-natured with children. The English pointer is a loyal companion and bird dog that needs a large area to exercise, but will adapt to any situation. They get along well with other household pets, but need to be watch around birds. The English pointer will bark at strangers, but does not make a very good watchdog, because they are always eager to please.


The English pointer is an easily trained dog due to his intelligence and eagerness to please his owner. The breed makes for a good household pet, show dog and bird dog with some basic training classes.


The English pointer has a short and dense coat that does not require much grooming. After a good hunt, their feet should be checked for foreign objects. A daily rub-down of the coat, using a towel, will keep it shiny.

Special Care

The English pointer does not require much special care. However, they do not take to the cold very well due to their short hair coats.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the English pointer is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

In addition, although these occur infrequently, the pointer is also prone to deafness and frostbite.

Life Span

The average life span of the English pointer is approximately 13 to 14 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.