The early ancestors of the modern Pointer dog breeds were originally developed in the 17th century in Southern Europe. Those early pointing dogs that hailed from the hunting fields of France, Spain and Italy were developed to assist the hunter by pointing them in the direction of the quarry without scaring it off.
The Pointer dog’s hunting method is unique in style and fascinating to observe. The pointing position characteristic of the hunting Pointer came about because the 17th and 18th century flintlock action guns were extremely slow loading. Thus in order not to scare off the quarry once it was detected by further advance (and while the hunter was still busy reloading) the Pointer would freeze in mid-step, head held high, body rigid and its tail held out stiffly behind!
The Pointer would maintain its frozen position until that time that it was so instructed by the hunter. Such is the degree of the Pointer dog breed’s poise and self-discipline that some refer to it as the Zen-Master of dogdom!
During the 18th century significant improvement in the performance of sporting guns meant a significant decline in large game which meant that the hunters now had to go after smaller swifter game. This also meant that the hunter needed smaller swifter Pointer dog specimens that could readily embrace the new style of hunting. Thus new blood was introduced to that early stock of Pointer dog which resulted in the smaller, swifter Pointer of today!
These days there are two types of Pointer dog:
1. The so-called specialist Pointers that only point and do nothing else.
2. The all-purpose Pointer dog breeds that not only point but hunt and retrieve as well; this latter type of Pointer are commonly referred to as HPR breeds (hunter, pointer retriever).
Pointer Dog Breed Development
There is considerable controversy over when and where and by whom the Pointer dog breed was developed. Although the English Pointer is perhaps the most recognized Pointer dog breed these nowadays (thanks in no small part to the numerous dog encyclopedias in which it is featured) this by no means ranks it as the progenitor of all things Pointers!
Controversy, dispute and the such-like notwithstanding, the more widely embraced view is that the modern Pointers forebears were from Spain, Portugal, Italy and France. It is believed that after the War of Spanish Succession (1713) returning British army officers took with them the heavy-boned Spanish Pointer.
In England those slower cumbersome and larger dogs were crossed with the more streamlined and lithe Foxhounds and to a lesser extent, the Greyhound. Still there are those who readily contend that such line of thinking is absolute poppycock and that in fact the English Pointer was already a well-established dog breed which was only later on influenced by the genetic infusion of the larger Spanish dog!
Pointer Dog Temperament
The Pointer is truly the quintessential gundog and as a wide-ranging hunter possesses the stamina and endurance to run for hours. So it comes as no surprise that this dog breed requires a lot of exercise. In strict accordance to its genetic heritage Pointers are always on the lookout for birds, a habit that makes for a dog that is easily distracted from other chores.
However once it is on point the exact opposite is true in that it is almost impossible to distract from its mission. Personality-wise the English Pointer is a sweet, sensitive, intelligent dog that makes for a great companion just so long as it gets enough exercise.
Pointer Dog Upkeep
As mentioned previously this dog breed needs plenty of exercise and evidently is not the best choice of dog breed for apartment dwelling. In lieu of an actual hunting experience a long jaunt across the wilds of nature will delight this dog and it is quite happy to live outdoors in temperate to warm climates just so long as there is a comfy shelter to retire to.
As with most dog breeds though the Pointer does best with both human and other canine contact.