The Breed History
The Pointer, often termed English Pointer is likely the original pointer-type dog. The Pointer was primarily developed in Britain though dogs of this general type existed earlier on the Continent, especially in Portugal and Spain regions (e.g., Italian and Spanish Pointer). First records in England date to the mid 1600s and ancestral bloodlines are thought to include Greyhound, Foxhound and Bloodhound mixed with the primitive setting spaniel dogs. Spanish, French and German pointer bloodlines were also admixed. Subsequently, Setter lines were also crossed with Pointers. AKC recognition occurred in 1884.
Breeding for Function
An on-foot hunt birddog (then subsequently a gundog) was the primary function for which this breed was developed and refined. The Pointer was also used to track and set hares for Greyhounds. During breed development a strong pointing instinct was highly prioritized. Popular uses today include companion, field trials, and obedience.
Height at Withers: female 23-26" (58.5-66 cm), male 25-28" (63.5-71 cm).
Weight: females 45-65 lb (20.5-29.5 kg), males 55-75 lb (25-34 kg).
Coat: The dense, flat laying short glossy hard coat is most commonly liver and white, though other acceptable colors include solid liver, black, black and white, and orange, orange and white or lemon, lemon and white.
Longevity: 13-14 years
Points of Conformation: A lithe, compact, athletic build with an alert expression, high head carriage, and a powerful elastic graceful gait characterizes these dogs. They have a well-chiseled face, a prominent stop, a fairly flat skull with a prominent occipital protuberance, and slight furrow running between the eyes on the midline. The muzzle is deep and long, with a slight dishing, eyes are round, dark and moderately sized. The ears are pendulous with a moderately pointed tip, velvety hair cover and moderate leather thickness. The nose pigmentation matches the coat color and ranges from black through brown to flesh tone. The neck is long, slightly arched and well muscled. Limbs are straight boned and long bones are oval in cross section. The thorax is deep, ribs well sprung, and topline slightly descending towards the rear with a slight arch though loin and croup. The abdomen is moderately tucked up. The tapering tail reaches no longer than the tarsus and is carried slightly above the topline when active. Feet are compact and oval, have well knuckled up toes. Dewclaws on forelimbs may be removed.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Adaptable, does well in kennel, farm or home environments. Not considered an ideal apartment pet. He has lower needs for human companionship than many of the other gundogs but if housed inside with the family, becomes closely attached. Good with children, good alarm barker, early obedience training and socialization is very important. A very high energy and activity dog, he needs plenty of exercise or may become destructive. Possessing an independent will, high endurance, strong pointing instinct, intelligent, even temperament, low grooming needs, low shedding tendency, needs to be kept in during very cold weather.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Echocardiographic Normal Values:
Parameter Mean В± SD
AO (mm) - 24.1 В± 1.7
LA (mm) - 22.6 В± 2.0
LA/AO - 0.94 В± 0.07
LVd (mm) - 39.2 В± 2.4
LVs (mm) - 25.3 В± 2.4
%FS - 35.5 В± 4.0
VSd (mm) - 6.9 В± 1.1
VSs (mm) - 10.6 В± 1.0
LVWd (mm) - 7.1 В± 0.7
LVWs (mm) - 11.5 В± 1.3
Kg - 19.2 В± 2.8
N - 16
HR - 107 В± 17
Drugs - No
AO, aorta; LA, left atrium; LV, left ventricle; FS, fractional shortening; VS, ventricular septum; VS%О”, change in VS thickness between diastole and systole; LVW, left ventricular wall; HR, heart rate; N, number of animals.
In a UK study, 26% of litters were delivered via Cesarean section.
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 8.0% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 3.1% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Too few Pointers have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Hereditary Sensory Neuropathy: Rare, autosomal recessive disorder causing loss of sensation in the toes. Multiple feet can be involved, and affected dogs severely mutilate their paws.
Spinal Muscle Atrophy: Rare, autosomal recessive disorder causing weakness and incoordination from 4-6 months of age. Progresses over a few months to paralysis of all muscles except the head and tail.
X-Linked Cerebellar Ataxia: Rare, x-linked recessive disorder causing muscular incoordination, but not muscle weakness. Affected dogs slowly progress to constant falling.
Deafness: Autosomal recessive deafness is identified in an inbred research strain of Pointers. It is not known whether this form of deafness exists in the general population. Congenital deafness can be unilateral of bilateral. Diagnosed by BAER testing.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 13.1% positive for thyroid auto-antibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Demodicosis: Dorn reports an 8.52x odds ratio of developing demodectic mange versus other breeds. This disorder has an underlying immunodeficiency in its pathogenesis.
Cataracts: Anterior cortex punctate cataracts predominate in the breed. Identified in 2.14% of Pointers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Pointer with a cataract.
Retinal Dysplasia: Focal, folds and geographic retinal dysplasia occur in the breed. Can lead to blindness. Reported in 1.43% of Pointers CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding Pointers with any form of retinal dysplasia.
Corneal Dystrophy: Pointers can have an epithelial/stromal form of corneal dystrophy. Identified in 1.43% of Pointers CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Abnormal/Lack of Semen, Allergies, Bloat (Gastric Dilitation- Volvulus), Cancer, Dwarfism, Ectropion/Entropion, Overbite/ Underbite, Seizure Disorders, Skin Disease, and Umbilical Hernias are reported in the 2002 APC Health and Research Survey.
Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia, Central PRA, Cleft Lip/ Palate, Hypoadrenocorticism, Juvenile Cellulitis, Malignant Hyperthermia, Pannus, Prognathism, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Subaortic Stenosis are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Ciliary Dyskinesia: Electron microscopy was used to diagnose primary ciliary dyskinesia in a litter of English pointer dogs. Affected dogs present with chronic cough and nasal infection.
Hemangioblastoma: A 6-year-old male Pointer dog was presented with a 4-week history of progressive hind-limb stiffness. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a focal intramedullary lesion at the first thoracic vertebra. Necropsy revealed an intramedullary hemangioblastoma.
Myoblastoma: A granular cell tumor (GCT; myoblastoma) was diagnosed on the tongue of a 12-year-old English Pointer with clinical signs of mild oral dysphagia. Surgical removal was cruative.
Nervous Pointer Dogs: A family of pathologically "nervous Pointers" was inbred and established for psychiatric research in the late 1970s. Affected dogs "freeze" when nervous. This disorder is not reported in the general population.
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for black, liver, lemon, and orange coat color genes available from VetGen and HealthGene.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes hip radiographs, thyroid profile including autoantibodies, and CERF eye examination. Optional recommended testing includes congenital cardiac examination by a specialist, and BAER hearing test. (See CHIC website; caninehealthinfo.org).
Recommend elbow radiographs and patella evaluation.
- Breed name synonyms: English Pointer
- Registries: AKC, UKC as English Pointer, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club) under English Pointer.
- AKC rank (year 2008): 111 (369 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: American Pointer Club Inc.: americanpointerclub.org
The Pointer Club (UK): thepointerclub.co.uk/
Pointer Club of Canada: pawsandeffects.com/PCC/PCC/PCC.html
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