english pointer
(Photo/Jelena Safronova)

Hunting Dog Profile: The Iconic English Pointer

Often called just called the Pointer, English Pointers are a bedrock breed for pointers the world over.

Their origins are unknown, but most folks agree that the original Pointers came onto the scene permanently near the year 1650.

Originally developed from Spanish pointers, these remarkable bird dogs began to set a course that ranged the world over. Their elegant lines, big running ways, and obsessively birdy nature brought them to the forefront for upland hunters, and there they’ve stayed.

A key component missing from many modern pointers is easily noticeable on the English Pointer: She has a tail. And that tail flags her point in a way that acts as a notification for the hunters at heel.

Not many speak anything but highly of the English Pointer. Read on for more about this iconic dog breed.

The English Pointer, by the Numbers

english pointer
(Photo/Viktoria Hadlaczki)

Size can vary in the English Pointer, with larger males standing 28 inches and weighing up to 75 pounds. On the small- to medium-sized scale might be a female at 23 inches and 45 pounds.

Parentage is obviously a great way to gauge how big an English Pointer might grow. And it’s also wise to pay attention to the hunting sensibilities of the parents.

Temperamentally, the English Pointer is a bit more even-keeled and quiet than some of its pointing brethren. Though high energy, she’ll make a great house pet, loves people and small children, and is very affectionate. The regal nature of the English Pointer simply continues beyond the hunting field and into life; they are great companions.

Healthwise, they’re one of the longer-lived sporting breeds with limited health problems. Their life expectancy ranges from 12 to 17 years, and they’re known for their heartiness and stamina.

In addition to hunting, they’re a great active partner, though a GPS collar may help with locating where your big-running dog is in her joyful cavorting through field and dale.

Hunting With the English Pointer

english pointer
(Photo/Håvard Dyrø)

Having hunted game birds behind English Pointers myself, I will say that they’re an impressive breed to follow. Work is written into their DNA and joyfully so. They may judge you when you miss the shot, but they’ll also try their damndest to get that bird.

It’s noted that this is a pointing breed with less retrieving bred into their system. The point, however, is priceless in its stone-set manner. And the truly frozen hold of a well-trained dog allows hunters the time to get within shooting range. It is something to behold, that point.

And like most intelligent dogs, versatility can be trained into their system. But, consider your hunting grounds. This is a dog that fares better in the heat than cold weather and prefers to run big. Horseback hunters prefer English pointers for these reasons.

If you go the way of the elegant English Pointer, well then. You’re gonna have to keep up.

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Final Thoughts on the Pointer

english pointer
(Photo/Jelena Safronova)

If you’re an upland fanatic who loves to be on the move, the English Pointer makes for an easily trainable and lovable companion in the field and with family.

This is a dog that carries itself in the utmost high confidence. Writ into their blood is the hunt. And hunt for you they will. They’ll do it with an air of regality unlike any other bird dog I’ve seen.

I’ll never forget hunting behind one, in which she snubbed her owner a few times. But then again, she was 10 years old and knew well better than he did.

Birds were underfoot. There was work to be done. She turned her nose up at him and got back to it. I laughed and followed in step.

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Nicole Qualtieri
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Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.