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English Pointer

Pet Road Tests > Dogs

English Pointer


Breed: Pointer, English Pointer
Temperament: sensitive and biddable
Lifespan: 13-14 years
Recommended for: active families
Maintenance: low to medium


The ancestry of the Pointer is obscure. Breeds such as the Spanish Setter, Portuguese Pointer, Foxhound, Greyhound and Bloodhound were possibly involved in its development. It is believed to have originated in Spain, and existed in Portugal and France before the 18th century. However, the Pointer as we know him today was perfected wholly in Great Britain. The Pointer is a gundog, which adopts an 'on point' stance after finding a game bird. Dogs point their noses towards their find and freeze in this position, often with one foreleg raised, until the hunter arrives with his gun. They have been known to hold this position for over an hour.

The first dog show in Australia in the 1800s was exclusively for pointers and setters. Pointers were probably one of the first breeds to be bought here to help with food gathering.


Pointers have a strong, yet lithe appearance combining strength, endurance and speed. They have a fine, short coat with a definite sheen. Colours are liver, lemon, black or orange, either solid or in combination with white. Tri-colours are also acceptable. They range in height from 61-69cm (24-27in) and weigh from 23-25kg (50-55lb). They are very neat, trim, athletic-looking dogs.


The Pointer has a kind, even disposition and is considered an excellent field, show and family dog. They are gentle but fun loving, and are happiest when given regular exercise and affection. Like many gundogs, they are said to be easy to train because they enjoy human interaction and are bright, affectionate and very responsive. They can appear highly-strung. Breeder Sue Wright said that these dogs love people, and although they may bark if someone comes into the yard, they would never bite.

Health and lifespan:

Pointers usually live about 13-14 years. They are a deep-chested breed and have a tendency to develop bloat, a life threatening condition caused by the build-up of gas in a dog's stomach. Owners should familiarise themselves with the symptoms of bloat, and be prepared to seek urgent medical attention if necessary. There have been cases of dwarfism in the breed, which means puppies either die at birth or soon after. A pancreatic insufficiency has caused problems in some lines, especially in young dogs. This condition can be treated with medication. The thin coat can also lead to callouses on the dog's joints, so good bedding is needed.


Litters usually consist of 5-9 puppies. The pups are lighter in colour than their parents, but darken as they mature. Some puppies show hunting instincts as early as two months old. Some breeders reported problems with a tendency towards uterine inertia, needing a caesarean in up to 30% of births.


Puppies cost from $500-$600, depending on quality.

Housepet potential:

Pointers are clean and neat and love living inside the house and sleeping on the lounge. However, they do shed short, fine, white hairs all year round.

Space and exercise:

Pointers should not be kept in flats or townhouses unless the owners are highly-committed to the dog's exercise needs. Daily exercise off the leash is ideal. This usually means having a reasonable sized backyard or living near a big area where dogs are allowed to run free.

Ideal owner:

Pointers are ideal for active families with children, or for active people who want a companion dog. They are probably too active for elderly people, and a little too boisterous for very young children.


Little grooming is required, except for the occasional wash and a light massage with a hand glove a few times a week. Dirt usually brushes off the short coat very easily.


Pointers are used both in Australia and overseas as gundogs.


Sue Wright says the dogs have never really taken off in Australia because they are not very well known. They are better known in Europe where they excel as gundogs.

National contacts

To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

Dogs NSW
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 - Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

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