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Highlight on Hunting Dogs: English Pointer

The English Pointer is a great hunting dog breed.


When looking for a bird dog, a hunter will be hard pressed to find a more loving and determined companion than the English Pointer.

Equally good as a hunting dog and a family pet, English Pointers will win over any heart.

View the slideshow to learn more about the English Pointer.

Spanish Origins

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The original Pointer breed is actually believed to have originated in Spain before branching out to other countries. Though this original breed was known for the same pointing pose that modern Pointers demonstrate today, it was a far heavier, slower dog. The pointing instinct was what made it a real catch, though, and it was that trait that led to careful breeding across Europe, particularly in Great Britain.

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The “England” in English Pointer

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Though pointing dogs are known to have existed in England from as early as 1650, it wasn’t until the early 1700s that the Pointer made its debut. After participating in the War of the Spanish Succession, it is believed that English officers brought the dogs back from the Netherlands in 1713. Around this time, Italian Pointers were introduced and swiftly bred with the Spanish Pointer.

Of course, the breeding didn’t end there. Because of the Spanish Pointer’s slow, heavy build, English breeders were determined to develop a sleeker, faster dog without sacrificing the pointing instinct. To do so, they crossed it with the Foxhound, Greyhound, Bloodhound, and even various setters. By the 1800s, the English Pointer had become more or less the dog we know today, with the speed of a Greyhound, the nose of a Bloodhound, the gentle temperament of a Setter, and the endurance of a Foxhund. By the end of the century, it was recognized by both the United Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club.

The Pointer in America

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The English Pointer in America can be traced back to the Civil War, though it is popularly believed that it arrived even earlier with the first colonists. The dog was so popular in the 1800s that the mascot for the Westminster Kennel Club is modeled after Sensation, an English Pointer.

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The Cadillac of Bird Dogs

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As bird dogs go, it’s hard to go better than a pointer. Speedy and durable enough to last all day in the field, Pointers are also known to “stand steady to wing and shot,” meaning it will hold its pointing position for over an hour, even when the birds fly and the guns blast. This was especially useful in the breed’s early days, as Pointers came into popularity long before the firearms did. The dog’s pointing would direct the hunter toward the hares or birds in question. Their ability to hold their position also meant they wouldn’t startle any prey before the hunter could cast a net over them.

Better still, Pointers are known for being lovable and personable, equally as good for company as they are for retrieving. They require vigorous exercise and even prefer to live indoors with the family. Nothing gives them greater pleasure than being with their owners and pointing. As the old joke goes, a hunter once lost his Pointer out in the moor. He found the dog a year later — as a skeleton pointing at the skeleton of a bird.

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Highlight on Hunting Dogs: English Pointer