Everything You Need to Know About English Pointers

An in-depth review of the English pointer dog breed. Everything You Need to Know About English Pointers thegearhunt.com

Not Just Another Pretty Face

There’s very few of us who haven’t heard of The Westminster Dog Show, but I bet you didn’t know that there’s actually an official face connected with the Westminster Dog Club. His name was “Sensation”, and that he was!

The Westminster Dog Club was originally formed with the purpose of being a shooting club. They wanted a stud dog with exceptional qualities to enhance their bloodlines here in America, so somewhere around 1876, they assigned George DeForest Grant the task of finding such a dog. After much searching, Mr. Grant received a picture of a dog named “Don”. The dog had won numerous championships throughout England. Thoroughly taken with the photographs of this dog, Mr. Grant immediately arranged to have “Don” transported to the US, however under the name of “Sensation”. It was at this time that “Sensation” was registered into volume 1 of Westminster’s Stud book of the National American Kennel Club, known to us today as the AKC. He immediately proved himself as a champion by winning in cities such as Baltimore and St. Louis. The members of Westminster were thrilled with their decision to bring Sensation to our country, as he was going to greatly strengthen the bloodlines with all the desirable qualities that a Pointer should have.

As Sensation’s popularity grew, so also did the number of artists who wanted to do portraits of him. In 1878 a head shot of Sensation, {from one of the portraits that had been done} was used on Westminster’s emblem. This shot was continually used on all of their catalogs and brochures, except for a brief period between 1896 thru 1903. It wasn’t until the year of 1935 that they changed the emblem, however, they continued to use Sensation as their mascot and emblem to represent them. In all of the portraits that had been done of him, one of the members came across a steel engraving that had been done by J. Wellstood. This engraving was a full body shot of Sensation and it showed him in a full point position. The detail in this portrait was so intricate that it even showed the muscles and veins in his legs, as well as his coloration spots. Everyone agreed that this picture should be the new insignia for the club. Sensation has represented the Westminster Club ever since then. His bloodline shows up in most well bred and pedigreed Pointers to this day.

In the Beginning

It seems that the first written word about the Pointer was in England around 1650. This, of course, was a time before guns were so widely utilized, so the Pointer was used to flush out rabbits so that the Greyhounds could then catch them. The Pointer bloodline was derived from a combination of Bloodhound, Greyhound, Bulldog, Setter, Italian Pointer, Newfoundland, and Foxhound. The Pointer was named from the distinctive stance he takes when he sees his game. He is extremely fast and is used by hunters to flush up their game while hunting. Pointers weren’t bred to have a coat that repels water, nor were they bred to retrieve a hunters kill, therefore they’re typically not used for sports such as duck hunting. Because of their short and sleek coats, they don’t do well in cold temperatures and you’ll often see pet Pointers wearing a coat in the winter.

When the pointer was originally brought to our country it was believed that Setters were the only true bird hunting dogs. In fact, the beloved Pointer was kept from participating in any kind of field trial competitions that Setters were in. However, in 1910 the Pointer began to out shine the Setter and started to excel beyond the Setters. Pointing Field Trials have recognized the pointer as the leader in field trials ever since then. The Pointer is most popular in the southern states where the temperatures are warmer and they can hunt game birds such as pheasant, bobwhite, woodcock, and grouse.

In 1877, it was a Pointer that won the elite title of Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Since then, the Pointer has won the honor of holding that title two more times.

Family Life

As a pet this breed needs an extreme amount of exercise, his energy seems to be endless. They tend to thrive best in the country where they have the room to run their energy off. When they don’t receive the needed amount of exercise, they’ll more than likely become uneasy and fidgety. As with any breed, this can lead to undesirable behaviors such as chewing. If you are a person that enjoys jogging or bicycle riding, a pointer may very well be the perfect breed of dog for you. However, if you are a hiker, for example, it would be a good idea to keep your dog on a lead as his natural instinct to flush out the game can easily lead him astray if not trained properly. Training this breed to heal at your side should be a priority and is one of the best things that you can teach him to keep him safe. If you are going to use him as a pet as well as a hunting dog, you’ll, of course, be training him hunting commands as well too. If you give the English Pointer the exercise that he requires he can make a great pet, being serene and even tempered.

The English Pointer is a kid’s best friend, playing tirelessly at his side. He’ll be friendly with the neighborhood kids and their dogs as well. Make sure that your dog is introduced to other pets and people outside of your family at an early age, especially if he’s going to be in social settings while out with his family. Due to his high intelligence and strong will, you need to make sure that you teach your Pointer that you’re the leader in your “dog/person relationship”.  Otherwise, this breed will take the lead in the relationship and walk all over you, becoming an ill-mannered and non-responsive dog.

Although an English Pointer will bark at that unexplained noise in the night, don’t expect him to attack an intruder, no matter how dedicated he is to his family. This would be something like expecting your child’s pet bunny to attack an intruder. It’s just not in his genes.

So you decided that the English Pointer is the dog for you and your willing to make that 12 to 14-year commitment….Well, you may have a hard time picking out which Pointer pup you would like to have since they come in a variety of different colors. Along with their primarily white coloring, there’s also black, liver, lemon, and orange. They can also have spots or “patches”, they can have three colors or as its called, “tri-colored”, they can have speckles or be one complete color. They can also have black or brown noses.

English Pointers have slightly pointed, pendulum ears and beautiful round, dark eyes that could melt just about any heart. Be careful that you don’t end up taking two puppies home.

Please make sure to purchase your puppy from a reputable breeder. Doing this ensures that you are going to get a puppy that grows into an adult that maintains the best qualities of the breed. It’s worth pointing out that there’s never been a Westminster dog that came from a puppy mill or a pet shop. There are also many purebred English Pointers in rescues if you’re looking for a family pet that’s an older or more mature dog.


  1. The Westminster Kennel Club Organization, The Road to Westminster
  2. Wikipedia, Pointer, (dog breed)
  3. Dog Breed Info, Top Breed Info, Pointer