Description & History

It is most likely that today's Pointers are descended from the Spanish Pointer, although other varieties - the old English Pointer and the French Pointer - could have been crossed with the Spanish breed to form the foundation of today's dogs.

The Spanish Pointer was introduced to Britain in the early part of the eighteenth century. Although it was a dog with strong scenting powers, it was nevertheless a slow animal and, with a new style of hunting gradually developing, sportsmen required a faster dog.

In the latter part of the eighteenth century, strains from the Foxhound and the Greyhound were introduced into the breed. This added the qualities of speed and endurance to the fine scenting and quartering abilities of the Spanish Pointer. Pointers are bird-dogs and work in pairs. With their noses held high they quarter the ground well in advance of the guns, but in opposite directions to one another. The first dog to scent game, will freeze instantly, 'pointing' in the direction of the covey, with foreleg lifted as if in mid-stride and with tail extended. His partner will automatically halt and adopt a similar stance - this is known as 'backing'. The Pointers task is now complete. Pointers in Britain do not retrieve - as they do in continental Europe and America - this is left to other field dogs.

Pointers have competed in field trials since 1865. They are also successful in the show ring on both sides of the Atlantic. They were shown at the first dog show in the British Isles, which was held at Newcastle upon Tyne in 1859.

Rosamund Walters.

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