Looking for a Pointer?
A Commentary

If you are looking for a Pointer, there are some things to be aware of. Are you looking for a pet, a show dog, or a hunting dog? Do you want to field trial or do hunt tests? Or don't you know?  

You should first be aware that there are two major registries of Pointers, the AKC and the American Field. If you wish to field trial in the American Field, your choice may be the Field Pointer. These are registered with the FDSB and are rather different, in general, from the AKC-registered Pointer. Some FDSB dogs can be too much dog for the beginning dog owner to deal with, and I don't know that I would recommend them for a first breed. If you're an experienced field dog owner, then you know what you're looking for.

If you're looking for a good all-around dog, the AKC Pointers can be wonderful companions, useful as bird dogs as well as calm, affectionate family members. They are generally more easy to handle in the field and love living in your home. I know that I will never own another breed!

That said, there are some breeders who breed strictly for conformation (looks), but will tell you that their dogs are suitable hunting companions. This is not necessarily true, even though you MAY get a dog with field ability this way. If you are dealing with someone who breeds "show" Pointers, you should ask, "Do the parents have any hunting titles? Do they compete in any field events?" Often, the answer will be "no," or possibly a "Junior Hunter." A Junior Hunter simply requires a Pointer to use their instincts. (The dog must find and point birds, for 4 tests, to earn its JH.) For the record, EVERY Pointer should be able to be a Junior Hunter just on the basis of their natural ability and instincts.  Just because a dog's parents have a JH does not mean that the parents have the ability to produce well-mannered gun dogs with calm temperaments, nor does it tell you anything about the trainability needed for a finished performer.

If the parents have no titles, you should watch them work in the field, and make sure you like what you see. I'm quite sure there are some excellent bird dogs out there who haven't been to any events.

Another question you may ask is "Do you screen your dogs' hips before breeding?" This can be done by submitting hip x-rays to the OFA (see my link section) or Pennhip. Occasionally, you'll hear a comment that it isn't necessary in Pointers, "the breed doesn't have a problem," et cetera. If dogs aren't being screened for hip dysplasia before they're bred, it will appear. (9.5% of reported Pointer hips are dysplastic; the actual rate is probably higher because not everyone reports them.) So, you can believe what someone tells you, or you can simply ask for that OFA or Pennhip certificate. The majority of breed clubs contain an OFA provision in their Code of Ethics.

Another question you may want to ask is "How many litters do you breed a year?" Anyone in Pointers who is breeding more than 1 or 2 litters a year is most likely not doing it to improve the breed!! Or maybe they want to produce 9 or 10 title-holders of some sort out of 25 or 30 puppies so they can receive an award based on the number of titles attained, not on the QUALITY of those titles. Far better to buy from a selective breeder who really cares about producing a uniformly good litter.

And let me make this very clear: Just because someone has a reputation for winning lots of shows, and having beautiful winning dogs does not make them a responsible breeder. A responsible breeder is judged by their care and concern for their dogs and dogs in general as demonstrated by their breeding decisions.

Enjoy your search. Don't settle for mediocre! Pointers are a terrific breed and in general have very few health problems. If you take the time to ask a few questions, you won't be disappointed.

(These are general observations and are in no way directed at ANY particular people, dogs, clubs, kennels, etc.!!)

  • Natural ability, including pointing, backing, AND retrieving
  • Trainability
  • Desire to run and hunt
  • Intelligence
  • Nose
  • Stamina
  • Calm, sensible, sweet disposition
  • Good looks & moderate size
  • Improvement over the average Pointer

We support AKC field trials, hunt tests, NAVHDA, and shows. (After all, Pointers CAN do everything). We guarantee health, hips, and field ability.