Working Wednesday: The English Pointer

The English Pointer is a dog from the Pointer and Setter category of the Gundog group. They are notoriously known for their incredible amount of power, stamina and drive when working on a moor and they can cover a vast amount of land effortlessly. They will then come to a sudden freeze, lifting one leg up and holding their nose in the downwind of a bird, locking 'on point' until the handler commands the flush.


Pointers have been known to be in the UK from around 1650 and descend from Spanish and Portuguese Pointers which are larger, but heavier and slower and have an outstanding pointing instinct. However, the pointers we see today are most likely to have started as cross breeds between Foxhounds - for the endurance and well developed shape. Greyhounds for the speed and elegance and Bloodhounds for their scenting ability. Later in the line they were also crossed with various Setters for their temperament and tenacity.

English Pointer Fun Facts:

  • They were used for hunting birds even before gun sport became increasingly popular

  • They are excellent companions for children and families due to their open and happy temperaments.

  • They have a lifespan of over 12 years!

  • Currently, the KC recognises 7 different colours including Black & white, Liver, Orange and lemon.

  • Their coat is fine, hard, short and perfectly smooth.

Working English Pointers

Described as 'the supreme scenting machine' by the UK Kennel Club, the Pointer is a fantastic example of a breed fit for its original purpose. The English Pointer doesn't usually have any particular rhythm when hunting as it follows its nose to wherever the strongest source of scent is coming from, however they still look so stylish and elegant when doing so.

Pointers can cover an incredible amount of land at a phenomenal pace due to their stamina coming from strong hindquarters and only focusing on looking for prey. Their tail lashes from side to side as the scent becomes stronger and their head raises as they carry on hunting at speed. When they finally find their prey they halt into a frozen 'point' stance, where he stands tall and still with one foot raised and bending at the wrist to point the owner in the direction of sitting game. The dog will become so focused on the bird that he could stay pointing for hours, however the handler usually walks towards the dog which usually flushes the game or they will command the dog to flush.

Pointers should stay steady to the flush and the shot as they don't necessarily have a great retrieving instinct (which has been bred out of them) so you would usually find that after the shot a Labrador will retrieve the game.

To watch how an English Pointer works on a moor, click here.

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