The Pointer Dog: Here's What You Need to Know

Have you ever wondered what a pointer dog is? The breed includes the Weimaraner, German shorthaired pointer, and the German Wirehaired pointer, among many others. They are all strong hunting dogs bred for their keen sense of smell. Pointing dogs have long been used in Europe to find a game for hunters such as pheasants, woodcock, and quail. In North America, they're still used by hunters but also by farmers who employ them to catch rodents that infest their grain fields or livestock feedlots.

Different Types of Pointer Dogs

The pointer dog breed is a group of dog types known for their bird hunting abilities. Research indicates the line began five centuries ago in Spain. However, some experts believe they originated in Central France over 500 years ago, and other historical data suggests the pointing dogs were found in England less than 500 years ago. Nonetheless, today there are 38 known bird dog breeds. Outside of the popular German pointer dog, which is three types, wirehaired, short- and long-haired, some of the other top pointers include,

  • Burgos pointer (Spanish)
  • Majorcan pointer (Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain)
  • Old Danish pointer (Denmark)
  • Portuguese pointer
  • Slovakian wirehaired pointer

These are only a few of the 38 types of pointer dogs. The canines are easily identifiable for their pointing stance (hence the name) and hunting abilities. However, pointing dogs can differ by markings and the type of game they're best at fetching. For example, German pointer dogs are excellent for waterfowl hunting, and the Portuguese pointer's specialty is the partridge

Life Expectancy of Pointer Dogs

The average lifespan of a pointer dog is 12 to 17 years, depending on the breed and care. Pointing pups are popular for hunting and are midsized. Fortunately, pointer dogs are a reasonably healthy breed. But, like many dog types, they're prone to a few conditions. To prevent surprise health worries, always review the breeder's documents. Many diseases are genetic.

Keeping Your Pointer Dog Healthy

A common ailment pointer dogs experience is canine hip dysplasia. It's a hereditary condition that affects many breeds. It occurs when the ball and socket of the hip don't fit properly, causing grinding that deteriorates as they age. Hip dysplasia is a painful condition that requires regular veterinary monitoring. 

Early treatment can improve your pointer's quality of life. Watch for signs of hip dysplasia, such as lameness in the hind end, decreased activity, reduced range of motion, stiffness, limping, and reluctance to jump or climb stairs. 

For all dogs, including pointing breeds, maintaining a healthy weight is essential to longevity. Feed your canines nutritious meals and keep an eye on portion control. A high-calorie diet without the proper nutrients can be harmful to any animal, even ones that spend an hour or more daily running around and staying active.

Another condition that pointers are susceptible to is progressive retinal atrophy. Also known as PRA, it's an eye disease that leads to the deterioration of the retina. When choosing a breeder, review the parent's yearly ophthalmologist's report.

Nonetheless, no matter how well you study the breeder's information, there's no 100 percent guarantee that your dog won't develop a serious medical condition. However, preventive care with annual and bi-annual checkups can catch problems early, providing the best opportunity for successful treatment. 

Pointer Dogs' Temperament

The pointer dog breed has an excellent temperament and is a great dog for families with kids. However, the pup might not be a good fit for homes with toddlers. A rambunctious dog can lead to unintentional injuries.

They're very energetic and athletic dogs that need lots of exercises. The breed is generally well-behaved and easy to train. However, if they don't get enough time outdoors to run and burn off energy, they're likely to get into mischief when left unattended. Nonetheless, no matter the occasional trouble a pointer may cause, it's a fiercely protective pup that makes a great guard dog for your home and family. 

Similar to how the different types of pointer dogs get along with people, the breed interacts well with other pets. But to ensure all relationships in your home are friendly, provide early socialization opportunities and consistent training. For example, a timid dog that doesn't spend much time with other animals may have trouble living with other pets, causing friction in your home. 

Caring for Pointer Dogs

Grooming depends on the type of pointer dog. A long-haired and wirehaired pointer requires more care than short-haired hunters. Owners need to clean and check around their naturally floppy ears to ensure they're clean and free from scratches or cuts that can become infected. Check with your veterinarian for an approved ear cleaning solution.

No matter what length their coat is, brush your pointer at least once weekly to clean off the dirt and loose hair. Additionally, groom your dog's nails regularly to prevent accidental scratches. However, if they're outside and running daily, trims might not be necessary very often. 


If you’re looking for a loyal and good-natured companion that can also do some hunting, pointer dogs may be a perfect choice. The midsized hunters are active sporting dogs who need plenty of time outdoors, so they have room to run. They typically live 12-17 years with care from their owners and regular veterinary checkups. Additionally, if you're not one for regular spa visits for your pup, pointer dogs are easy to groom and require very little pampering to look great.

What is a pointer dog?

The pointer dog breed is a group of dogs known for their easy-going temperament, pointing stance, midsized stature, and hunting abilities.

How much does a pointer dog cost?

Costs of the pointer dog breed vary by type. However, the average price is between $800 and $1,000.

What do pointer dogs look like?

Their coat comes in solids or patterns in several different colors. Males average 28 inches at shoulder height and weigh up to 75 pounds. Female pointers are smaller, with a maximum size and weight of 23 inches and 45 pounds.

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Written by Leo Roux

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