Portuguese Pointer Temperament: Meet the Intensely Devoted Hunter

If you’re looking for the “ultimate gundog” who will also be a great family pet, check out the Portuguese Pointer temperament.

The Portuguese Pointer is a bird dog that forms an unusually intense attachment to his people. Because of this, he is both an especially effective hunting partner and a loyal and loving family companion.

The Portuguese Pointer Temperament and Personality

Smart

The Portuguese Pointer is an intelligent dog. Some hunters say he often knows what they want before they give the command.

Devoted

He has a very strong attachment to his human family and is intensely loyal.

Affectionate

The Portuguese Pointer temperament is so affectionate that its breed standard says it can be “inappropriate and inconvenient.”

Friendly

He is typically happy to meet everyone, though he can be shy with strangers.

Alert

He will bark to alert you that a stranger is near. This makes him a good watchdog. As above, he is too friendly to make a good guard dog, though.

Dependent

He has a need for attention that makes him unlike most other intelligent dogs.

Playful

The Portuguese Pointer is very playful and he is also good with children.

Calm

He has a laidback, easygoing demeanor.

Adaptable

The Portuguese Pointer temperament is adaptable. He is content in the field, in the home, and with whatever his family wants to do. He is also an all-climate dog.

Submissive

He tends to be submissive around other dogs, and can also be shy and reserved with strangers. He needs early socialization to prevent this.

Lively

The Portuguese Pointer temperament is outgoing. He is enthusiastic and eager to follow commands.

Sensitive

He may find loud noises or voices distressing. He also needs gentle training methods.

Sociable

He needs to be near his family. If you leave him alone for long periods of time, he is prone to separation anxiety.

Energetic

This guy needs a lot of exercise and plenty of room to do it. He will be quite active in the house, too, though not hyperactive.

Enthusiastic

He is always happy to be busy and will be thrilled with any activity you suggest. He can’t get enough of working or playing with his owner.

Curious

The Portuguese Pointer is highly curious. He loves to explore his environment.

Hardy

He has high endurance in all climates and all types of terrain.

Hard-working

The Portuguese Pointer temperament is tenacious and determined. He loves his job and doesn’t like to quit.

Athletic

This breed is agile. His movements are smooth and powerful. He is an effortless runner on nearly all terrain.

Reliable

He is always ready to do whatever his owner asks him to. He is a trustworthy hunting partner who will rarely let you down.

Portuguese Pointer History

The Portuguese Pointer’s lineage goes back to the 12th century. It was once a falconry dog of Portuguese royalty. He comes from the Iberian Peninsula. Some think he has Spanish heritage as well.

In the 1700s, the English found their way to Portugal and established wineries in the Oporto region of the country. They discovered Portuguese Pointers there and took some back to England with them.

These dogs became an ancestor of the English pointer.

In the 18th century, the breed became popular with the lower classes and was no longer owned solely by the nobility.

By the 19th century, the breed was nearly decimated. In the 1920s, breeders sought out these ancient dogs in an isolated part of the country and saved the breed.

The breed standard was created in 1932, and to this day, the breed has changed very little from its ancient ancestors.

Later, when Portuguese explorers discovered the Americas, they brought their Pointers with them. These dogs were used to create the Labrador Retriever.

The Portuguese call him Perdigueiro Português, or partridge dog. They still use this breed for falconry.

Here in the US, they are bird and small game hunters. However, Americans keep him mostly as a family pet. The Portuguese Pointer temperament makes him well suited to family life.

For him to be at his most content, though, he needs plenty of exercise. Hunting activities would be the best way to exercise him. He is an ideal dog for the casual hunter who also wants a family companion.

He would also do well, however, with other types of active exercise if you are not a hunter.

Portuguese Pointer Training

The Portuguese Pointer temperament does not respond well to harsh training. He will simply resist. With gentle training methods, he is eager to please and easy to train.

The intense bond he forms with his master enhances the training process for both. He’s a natural when it comes to teamwork.

This breed does need a strong leader, however. He is naturally submissive. If he senses that you are not in control, he could become anxious and nervous.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Portuguese Pointer dog, you should 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.

Hunting with the Portuguese Pointer

Many consider the Portuguese Pointer to be the “ultimate gundog.” He requires little to no training to hunt birds—it’s what he was born to do.

Again, the Portuguese Pointer trait of strong attachment to his owner makes him an exceptional hunting partner. He thrives on activities where he and his “person” work together.

Portuguese Pointer Appearance

General Appearance

This is a medium-sized breed with a square build. The Portuguese Pointer has a short, coarse coat, though the face and ears are velvety soft.

Portuguese Pointer color is either light brown or yellow, with or without white markings.

He has drop ears, brown eyes, and a brown or black nose. He has a broad muzzle and a scissor bite.

The Portuguese Pointer also has loose skin, or a dewlap, at the shoulders and neck.

His tail is usually docked. It hangs straight down most of the time but extends straight out from his spine when he is moving.

Portuguese Pointer Size

The average weight of this breed is 35 to 59 pounds. Portuguese Pointer height averages 16 to 22 inches.

Fun Fact

Some Portuguese Pointer lines have included albino pups.

Life Expectancy

The Portuguese Pointer Lifespan is 12 to 14 years.

Portuguese Pointer Health Issues

As a rare dog that hasn’t been bred for show, the Portuguese Pointer is a robust, hardy breed. They have no major breed-specific health concerns.

However, all breeds are prone to certain conditions. The Portuguese Pointer is no exception. Recommended health tests for him include:

You will want to ask about health testing for these conditions if you purchase a Portuguese Pointer from a breeder.

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Caring for the Portuguese Pointer

Portuguese Pointer Grooming

This is a low-maintenance breed. He has a short, tight coat that needs only weekly brushing to remove dead hair.

Otherwise, his coat is self-cleaning. He only needs an occasional bath.

He is a shedder and is not hypoallergenic.

Portuguese Pointer Diet

This breed does well on any high-quality food. You may want to consider a medium-breed formula and/or an age-specific one (for puppies, adults, or seniors).

Portuguese Pointer Exercise

As a hunting dog, this breed has a moderately high exercise need. He needs at least 1 hour of vigorous exercise every day.

This is not an apartment dog. He needs the space and opportunity to run.

If he gets the exercise and mental stimulation he needs, he will be a content family member at home.

If not, he may become restless and bored. You will probably see some destructive Portuguese Pointer behaviors.

Finding Your Portuguese Pointer

Finding a Portuguese Pointer for Sale from a Breeder

The Portuguese Pointer is still a rare breed. The American Kennel Club (AKC) does not yet recognize this breed, but the United Kennel Club (UKC) does. They may be able to help you find a Portuguese Pointer puppy.

An Internet search should turn up several Portuguese Pointer breeders in North America.

The Portuguese Pointer Club of America (PPCA) is another good source for breeder recommendations. At the time of this writing, their Facebook group appears to be the best way to get in touch with them.

One last possibility is generalizing your search to hunting dog breeders. Again, an Internet search should turn up a few of these that would have information on the Portuguese Pointer.

Portuguese Pointer price is around $800 to $1000.

Finding a Reputable Breeder

If you are fortunate enough to find a breeder, you will want to be sure that they are reputable. You don’t want to buy a puppy from a puppy mill or backyard breeder.

It is never a good idea to buy a puppy online without trustworthy recommendations.

The best way to find a responsible breeder is word-of-mouth recommendations. The Portuguese Pointer is a rare breed, but it is possible to get good recommendations online.

Try an Internet search for forums or user groups for Portuguese Pointer owners. There you can get not only breeder recommendations but information on what it’s like to live with a Portuguese Pointer.

When you have a good recommendation, you should schedule a site visit if possible. Look for clean facilities and happy, healthy dogs.

Ask to see the parents of the puppy and/or their paperwork. A good breeder should be able to document good health for several generations back.

A responsible breeder will provide a guarantee of good health. They will also support to you for the lifetime of the dog. They will offer to take the dog back at any time if you ever need to surrender it.

A good breeder will also have questions to ask of you. Their priority will be the well-being of the pup and the breed. They will want to be sure their puppies are going to appropriate homes.

Portuguese Pointer Rescue/Adoption

If you would prefer to adopt a Portuguese Pointer, the PPCA may be the best place to start your search. On their web page, they write that they “assist in a rescue service for displaced Portuguese Pointers.”

Where this is a rare dog, at the time of this writing an Internet search does not find many rescue organizations.

However, if you are willing to travel or to import a dog, you might try contacting The Kennel Club in the UK. They recognize the Portuguese Pointer and list rescue among the services they provide.

If you do find a Portuguese Pointer for adoption, more than likely this will be an adult dog. There are many advantages to adopting an adult dog.

If they have found their way to a shelter or rescue, they will be spayed or neutered. They will be up to date with immunizations with a clean bill of health.

They may even be microchipped and have basic obedience training.

The cost of adopting a puppy is a lot less than purchasing one. Expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $200 at a local shelter, a bit more from a rescue.

Best of all, you would have the joy of giving a loving home to a dog that really needed one.

Why the Portuguese Pointer?

The Portuguese Pointer is unique as hunting dogs go. Most hunting dogs live to work and would have a poor quality of life if they were not able to follow their instincts.

However, the Portuguese Pointer is an adaptable breed. They also make wonderful family companions. Some experts believe that if they are given the attention and exercise they need, they are happy to live primarily as pets.

The key to making that work is exercise. If you do not hunt with your Portuguese Pointer, he will need some other type of vigorous activity.

Canine sports such as rally, agility, etc., would be ideal choices. Hunting and field trial activities would also be perfect.

But even regular long walks and family hikes would likely satisfy this breed. His primary concern is to have a close interactive relationship with his human or family.

With enough attention and opportunities for interactive exercise and to bond closely with you, the Portuguese Pointer temperament will reward you with unlimited loyalty and devotion.