English Pointer Origin and History
English Pointers are primarily used as working dogs to hunt hare. Used by hunter’s their boxy shaped nose referred to as the ‘point’ gives them a strong sense of smell.
This strong sense of smell and direction, that ‘points’ the way to the prey the hunter seeks, usually a hare. While modern day English Pointer’s have only existed for about eighty years, the history of the pointer goes back over three centuries.
The first written recording of these fascinating intelligent hunting dogs goes back to 1650, in England . While there is some discrepancy as to when the first Pointer arrived, records indicate that it was sometime between the sixteenth and seventeenth century and was in fact the Spanish Pointer.
Listed as a pedigree dog, the pointer is actually a fascinating mix of approximately six different breeds. While it is not known exactly how the breeds initially came into contact with one another, scientific studies have found the English Pointer is a melange of Greyhound, Irish Setter, Bloodhound, Foxhound, Italian Pointer, and the Newfoundland. Each breed brought specific qualities to the English Pointer to make this breed an astounding hunter dog.
The Pointer arrived in the USA sometime during the 1800′s, where the hunting dog of choice was the Irish setter. Initially Pointer’s were not even permitted to hunt or compete in hunting games alongside the Setter. Just after the turn of the twentieth century (approximately 1910) the prowess of the Pointer began to be noticed, especially when they outhunted the Setter’s with their keen sense of smell. It would not be long until the Pointer became America ‘s choice of hunting, or gun dog.
The physical traits of the Pointer include a lean graceful body, usually white in colour with patches of brown or black. Along with their boxy nose, Pointer’s have long legs and tails. The average life span for a Pointer is between thirteen and fourteen years, while some do live beyond the age of fifteen. While some families do enjoy keeping Pointer’s as pets, these dogs require a large amount of exercise and are definately not apartment dogs.
One of the most famous Pointer’s in history was a dog named Sensation. Imported to the USA in 1876, Sensation is the mascot for the Westminster Kennel Club and his image is displayed on their emblem.
Equally popular as a hunting dog in the southern United States, the Pointer is often simply referred to as a ‘bird dog’, and is used by recreational hunters in hunting a variety of game including grouse, pheasant and pigeons.