Easygoing yet energetic, the pointer is an exceptional, well-rounded breed. These athletic, intelligent canines are not just for those who enjoy hunting. Although they have tremendous stamina and love just about any outdoor activity, they’re also happy hanging out with their human family indoors, in the comfort of their home. Pointers are a strikingly attractive, healthy breed with a nice long lifespan of up to 15 years. They make excellent canine companions.
As early as 2 months of age, pointers begin showing off their natural hunting instinct, an innate sense for tracking down prey. In the hunting world, this breed’s job is to pursue and point out game of any size. Once they pick up the scent, these dogs freeze in an “on point” position to alert the hunter. They lift one front paw off of the ground, extend their tail straight and erect behind them, and point their muzzle towards the hunted animal. Owners see this behavior during casual walks or romps through fields, not just on hunting expeditions
The first things you’ll notice about a pointer are its graceful agility and noble appearance. These sporting dogs have a shiny, short coat covering a sturdy, muscular body. Once they reach adulthood, pointers range in size from 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 45 and 75 pounds. Their faces are expressive and alert, with round, intense eyes that seem to show they understand every word their human companion says.
Like any energetic, athletic breed, pointers require vigorous exercise, between 20 and 30 minutes each day. Puppies and young adult dogs should get between 30 and 60 minutes of activity twice a day. However, until their bone growth plates close at around 15 months, avoid long-distance runs, treks through difficult terrain, running on hard surfaces, or jumping. These activities can stress the joints and lead to orthopedic issues. Be aware that some pointers are slower to mature.
Unlike some other sports group breeds, the pointer’s calm nature allows them to adapt to apartment life and small homes, as long as they get plenty of physical activity. A securely fenced yard allows the pointer to stretch out and run freely off-leash, investigating and trailing creatures that have ventured into their domain. Dog parks and organized canine sports events offer alternatives for owners without access to a fenced yard.
Pointers shed, but basic grooming works well for their dense, smooth, pointer coat. Use a grooming mitt or brush once or twice each week to remove loose hair. Keep their feet healthy by trimming their nails regularly and check their ears for infections. If a pointer gets muddy or dirty, most of it will fall off the coat once they’re dry. Baths 3 to 4 times a year are sufficient.
If you keep training sessions fun and interesting, pointers are receptive to learning obedience commands. Socialization leads to a well-rounded pet. They’re a fun fitness partner due to their athleticism and exuberance. These soft-tempered dogs thrive on human contact and being close to their family. You’ll soon learn that your pointer’s favorite lounging spot is your lap. Heavy-handed training or loud, aggressive owner personalities lead to fearfulness in these dogs and make them suspicious towards humans.
Don’t expect your pointer to be a ferocious guard dog. They’ll alert you when a stranger arrives, but they aren’t normally aggressive. These dogs are confident, congenial, and entertaining companions. People with active lifestyles will discover that the pointer is a great workout buddy for running or bike riding. They easily adapt to being around other dogs and their owners. The pointer’s gentle nature makes them a great choice for homes with children.
If there are other pets in the home, you don’t need to worry about adding a pointer to the household. They’re often submissive when meeting other dogs for the first time. Familiarize your pointer early on with other animals in your domain, including cats and pet birds, and they’ll happily accept their new friends.
Veterinarians screen pointers for hip dysplasia, eye disorders, and autoimmune thyroiditis. Deep-chested dogs like the pointer can experience bloat, so owners should be aware of the signs. They don’t require a special diet, but they do have high metabolisms and so their food should be one providing good nutritional value.
Dog historians believe that the pointer is an ancient breed, although they cannot pinpoint it’s beginnings. Writings in the Middle Ages describe pointing dogs found in Italy, Spain, and France. At the close of the War of Spanish Succession in the 1700s, English soldiers took some of the Spanish pointing dogs home with them after the war. British breeders refined and honed the dog’s athletic abilities and instincts to create a hunting companion, the English pointer. They were one of the first nine breeds registered in the U.S. In modern times, breed officials dropped the “English” from the pointer’s name.
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