The English Pointer Temperament (Loyal, Devoted, Even-Tempered)

Although pointers were developed for one thing—to point birds—along the way the English Pointer temperament has proven exemplary in the field and in the home.



The English Pointer “Cadillac of bird dogs,” is Loyal, Devoted, and Even-Tempered

He is a regal, noble looking dog with a temperament that is coveted by those who love the energy and enthusiasm of the hunting breeds.

The English Pointer is loyal to a fault but can show a mind of his own that sometimes is at odds with his owner’s intent.

Because he was bred to hunt at a distance from the shooter, the English Pointer temperament includes a bit of wanderlust.

A good, strong fence is important to living successfully with this elegant, energetic dog.

As a family pet, the English Pointer has few rivals in the realm of congeniality. He thinks of himself as a member of the family and will eagerly climb up on the couch with you when he’s tired.

A bit too much for a first-time dog owner or those not strong enough to handle his physical needs, he makes a wonderful addition to a family looking for a dog to keep up with active kids.

He’s also an especially good running partner; in fact, an hour or two of activity makes for a happy, healthy companion.

A gentle pet, the English Pointer temperament lends itself to a family with children, although he may be too exuberant for toddlers.

English Pointer puppies can knock little ones down without intention, and a happily wagging tail can feel like a whip across the face to a small child.

The English Pointer Temperament is a Picture of Jubilation and Optimism.

Friendly, even temperament characterize the English Pointer temperament. His alert good sense lends toward a “congenial companion both in the field and in the home,” states the standard.

Never timid toward people or other dogs, he is nevertheless dignified in manner.

Intelligence

The English Pointer ranks high in the intelligence category, which means he wants to know the whys of commands, not just the dos and don’ts.

You may find yourself in a conundrum if you attempt to train him with commands alone. He requires not only physical exercise but mental activity as well.

The English Pointer left to himself in boredom will be very destructive and decidedly so. To avoid having to replace and repair all your possessions, engage both his mind and his body.

Bonding

The affectionate English Pointer is intensely loyal. His family—of which he is a full member—is well-protected when he is on duty.

He loves all the members of his family equally, but can be a bit standoffish with strangers. He even bonds with other animals in the household, although avian pets might be a problem

Activity needs

This is an ultra-high energy dog.

The English Pointer needs a minimum of an hour and a half to two hours of vigorous exercise every single day.

Running with you or galloping around the dog park is absolutely necessary for his health and the safety of your possessions.

Without adequate exercise, the English Pointer can be extremely destructive.

If you live in an apartment or a home without a yard, the English Pointer may not be the breed for you

Watchfulness

When you have an English Pointer in your household, about the only thing that can threaten your possessions is letting him get bored. Otherwise, he is an excellent watchdog, protective of his family and his territory.

Although not aggressive, he will sound the alarm anytime his perceptive mind tells him something is out of order.

He’s not an excessive barker, so if he’s making noise, you do well to check into what he’s disturbed about.

The English Pointer’s Looks: What the Breed Standard Says

Overall appearance

As a canine athlete, his every movement demonstrates a wide-awake, hard-driving dog with undeniable courage, enduring stamina, and constant readiness.

His beautiful expression indicates the loyalty and devotion that exemplifies man’s best friend.

Body type

Pointers are athletes and they very much look the part.

His noble head is carried proudly atop a graceful neck that blends into a powerful, muscular body.

Everything about him gives the impression of agile grace that has tremendous staying power.

Size

The English Pointer size is medium, standing 23” to 28” at the shoulder and weighing between 44 and 75 pounds.

Coat and Color

Devotees of the English Pointer say that a good Pointer can not have a bad color.

English Pointer colors ranging from lemon to black and including liver and orange combined with solid colored or white bodies make attractive dogs.

The coat is short, dense, and has a beautiful sheen.

History of the English Pointer

Originally from Spain

Early records show that Pointers originated in Spain and appeared in England in about 1650. Their Spanish progenitors were heavier, coarser, slower dogs, but pointing birds was strongly evident.

Crossing with Bloodhounds increased their scenting ability and constitution while speed, elegance, and grace came from Greyhounds.

The Foxhound contributed scenting ability, easy maintenance nature, and endurance.

The Spanish Pointers were ferocious dogs, so bringing in the personality and temperament of the Setters vastly improved the breed.

Although early colonists may have brought their Pointer with them to America, their presence here wasn’t documented until the Civil War era.

The Westminster Kennel Club adopted the image of a lemon and white Pointer named Sensation as their emblem.

What’s the Difference between an English Pointer and a German Shorthaired Pointer?

Both English Pointers and German Shorthaired Pointers make excellent hunting dogs.

If you’re looking for a family pet, the English Pointer is a somewhat calmer choice over the GSP.

The English Pointer may have a slightly more stubborn temperament than the German Shorthaired Pointer, so the GSP could be a bit easier to train.

How to train an English Pointer

Easily Bored

His enthusiasm and eagerness to please make the English Pointer a joy to train. But because he is highly intelligent, you’ll have to come up with ways to prevent his training from becoming stale.

Repetition becomes boring easily to this mischievous fellow who is always looking for something fun to do.

Once basic obedience training is accomplished, competing with the English Pointer in sports such as agility, rally, and field trials is a marvelous adventure so long as you are gentle and positive in your training methods.

Harshness will result in a stubborn dog, and the English Pointer can be unyielding if he thinks he’s being treated unfairly.

Give Him a Reason

English Pointers seem to want to know what’s in it for them. So give your English Pointer a reason to do what you want him to.

An English Pointer puppy is an easily trained dog, but what he learns is largely up to how you train.

Mistakes and bad habits at 10 weeks of age may seem insignificant or even cute, but at three years old when you take your English Pointer hunting, playing tug-of-war or chasing him around to get your pheasant from him ceases to be amusing.

According to expert trainer Brian Lynn:

 Don’t allow any behavior as a puppy that you do not want to see in an adult.

Because the English Pointer is very intelligent and naturally curious, he can get himself into trouble in the field. Let him.

“Some things they have to learn on their own,” says Lynn, “so that when it comes time to hunt, they know what’s important and what’s not.”

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your English Pointer dog take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

Caring for your English Pointer

How to feed the English Pointer properly

Nutritional information for feeding sporting and hunting dogs has determined that the optimal time to feed is after hunting or training for the day.

Since it takes 20-24 hours for your English Pointer’s meal to digest, and studies have shown that his endurance performance can double when on an empty stomach, it is best to feed 24 hours before or 60 minutes after exercise.

Since he’s an athlete even in off-season, don’t switch your English Pointer from a high-protein/high-fat diet to one that has carbohydrates as a fuel supply (a so-called “maintenance diet”).

He needs the protein and fat to maintain his high-level metabolism and cutting back on these nutrients are the equivalent of reducing endurance.

Grooming

English Pointers are exceptionally clean dogs (except when hunting), but they do shed.

Their short, smooth hairs don’t float around your house like the coats of Labradors, German Shepherds, and Huskies do.

English Pointers can get away with daily brushing and monthly nail trimming—if you’re not hunting your dog.

Hunting is downright dirty. Being in the field means mud, grass, and the mess of dead animals, too.

Bathing your dog after hunting keeps him, and your home as well, clean and sweet-smelling.

It is the perfect time to check for ticks he may have picked up in the field, too.

Additionally, look for injuries as you clean him up. Even minor scratches can get infected if not properly cleaned.

Health issues

English Pointers health problems are kept to a minimum when they are well-cared for. The English Pointer lifespan is from 12 to 15 years. However, they do have some tendencies you should be aware of. These include:

If you’re buying an English Pointer puppy, the breeder should have clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Check the OFA web site (offa.org) to confirm health clearances.

Note: Don't let the many issues above scare you. The best way to approach health problems is to prevent them in the first place. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is a great place to start. Get a copy to keep at home. It will help you prevent the painful health issues that can plague your lovely Canaan pet from expressing his winning personality and maximizing his life expentancy.

Exercise

English Pointers are not really suitable for city or apartment dwelling.

They need a few hours of exercise every day to be happy and mentally healthy.

A big backyard with a high fence will allow him to let off steam but without directed mental exercise, your English Pointer is still going to get in trouble.

If you decide not to hunt your English Pointer, obedience competitions, agility training, rally, and other dog sports provide physical and mental stimulation he so needs.

Finding your own English Pointer

How Much does an English Pointer Puppy Cost?

The average price from a reputable breeder for an English Pointer puppy is from $1,000 to $1,200.

If you want to consider breeding your English Pointer, plan to spend one and a half to two times that much or more.

How to find a reputable English Pointer breeder

English Pointer puppies are not a dime-a-dozen in the marketplace. In fact, there are relatively few breeders in the United States.

For that very reason, finding a reputable breeder may actually be easier because fewer people are in it “for the money.”

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has a form you can fill out to find a breeder who has English Pointer puppies for sale. You can also contact the American Pointer Club, a member of AKC, or check out the United Kennel Club (UKC) in England. If you want to compete with your English Pointer, there are lots of dog sports clubs who may know of breeders with English Pointer puppies for sale.

Watch your veterinarian’s bulletin board for English Pointer for sale flyers or ask the vet himself.

Since reputable breeders keep their dogs up to date on vaccines, routine health care, and emergencies, they often tell their veterinarians when they will have puppies available.

Visiting a sanctioned English Pointer show or field trial will definitely bring you into contact with many people who love the breed and produce puppies. You’ll discover that people who love English Pointers are eager to share their knowledge and experience with you.

What does a reputable breeder look like?

Most English Pointer breeders only breed their dogs when they, themselves, want a new puppy.

They choose the best one from the litter to keep and sell the rest. “Hobby breeders” are actually the best place to buy an English Pointer pup, because they usually keep them in the house and spend lots of time with individual puppies as they look for their own favorite.

Reputable breeders are at least as interested in where their puppies end up as they do in the price you pay.

They will want to talk about you and your goals and aspirations for the puppy. They will ask you about your home, your lifestyle, and your experience as a dog owner.

Don’t take offense at their questions. They are looking to place each puppy in the best possible situation for both the puppy and the new owner.

Don’t forget to ask questions of the breeder, too.

  • How well do they know the breed?
  • Are the parents available to look at?
  • Do they offer you a health guarantee?
  • If you have to ask for a health guarantee, be cautious.

A breeder who hesitates to show you certificates of health may be hiding something.

What if there are no puppies available?

You may live in an area where there are no puppies available.

What do you do then?

With good references in hand, start your search online to find breeders in other states.

Be patient while you wait for them to contact you, though. Most hobby breeders have day jobs. They aren’t in it for the money, so they have to have another way to earn a living. They’ll get back to you soon.

If you might consider an older dog, contacting people who show their dogs might turn up an English Pointer ready to step into your home.

Sometimes breeders have too many adult Pointers and are looking for good homes for their retired show dogs.

Adoption/Rescue

If you are not absolutely set on a puppy, want a dog for companionship, or don’t mind an English Pointer mix, contact the Pointer Rescue Organization.

Adopting an English Pointer is extremely rewarding and has the advantage of giving a dog in need a new home.

Most rescue organizations require you to return the dog to them if at any point you are unable or unwilling to keep your pet.

Is the English Pointer temperament right for you?

Taking into account all this brief English Pointer guide has given you to consider, if you think that the elegance, friendliness, and intelligence are what you want in a dog, and you have a couple of hours everyday to meet his exercise needs, then you will find in the English Pointer a wonderful companion.

Whether you just want a pet or you want to actively pursue dog sports, the English Pointer is a dog that you’ll love sharing your life with.

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