A Hunting Man's Best Friend - The Pointer
Sporting dogs are a group within the American Kennel Club (AKC) categories.
As defined by the AKC, sporting dogs are the pointers, setters, retrievers and spaniels. These dogs are active and energetic with great stamina. They will not be happy unless given plenty of exercise, preferably with some purpose to it. These dogs were developed for hunting, flushing and retrieving birds and many still play important roles in these fields. Obedience and agility trials are options for some of these breeds if they can't be out chasing birds.
The 'pointers' are dogs which 'point' out the prey to the hunter. The main pointer breeds are the Weimaraner, the German Shorthaired Pointer, the German Wirehaired Pointer, and the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. Several other breeds such as the Vizsla and the Spinone Italiano combine pointing with other hunting duties.
The German Short-Haired Pointer (above) is a versatile gun dog with keen scenting ability and high intelligence. It is equally at home with hunting raccoons, possum and deer as it is finding land- and waterfowl. The breed has an aristocratic air and is of medium size. He may be solid liver or liver and white. His good looks and clean lines combine with a sound temperament to create a great utility dog. Being an athletic breed, he needs plenty of exercise but is a loyal family watchdog. His coat sheds but little grooming is needed. The average German short-haired pointer measures 23 to 25 inches at the shoulder and weighs from 55 to 70 pounds.
The German Wire-Haired Pointer (above) is just as versatile and useful as his short-haired cousin. However he has a distinctive wiry coat which is both weather resistant and water-repellent. The straight, harsh outer coat lies flat and assists in protecting the dog in rough cover when hunting. The undercoat insulates the breed against the cold in winter but thins out in summer to be the extent of being almost invisible. This breed is always liver and white, with the liver patches often being of shorter hair than the white patches. This tough, courageous dog is equally at home hunting on land or in water. They are loyal and affectionate, bonding closely to its family. It measures between 22 and 26 inches at the shoulder.
The Pointer (above) first appeared in England about 1650 and has been used to locate and point game from that time. He is bred primarily as a sporting dog and has the drive, courage and stamina that suit him admirably to the role. He is muscular with a noble bearing. He may be liver, orange, lemon or black – either solid coloured or with white. The coat is short. The pointer weighs between 44 and 75 pounds depending on sex and age, and measures between 23 and 28 inches at the shoulder. The overall impression should be of a dog that is alert and hard-driving with the courage and stamina to accompany his master all day in the field. He is a congenial companion with a sensible disposition and much good sense. Pointers need mental and physical activity and plenty of it if they are to be kept out of mischief.
The Wire-Haired Pointing Griffon (above) is of medium sized and bred to accompany a walking hunter over any terrain. He has no problem with entering underbrush or rough cover and has been called the '4-wheel drive of hunting dogs'. It has a catlike grace and is equally at home as a pointer in the field or a retriever in water. The Griffon is intelligent, outgoing, trustworthy and keen to please. He is an excellent dog for an active family as well as being an ideal hunting companion. The double coat gives good protection, even if it does make them look a bit unkempt. The hard, coarse outer coat has an undercoat of thick but fine hair. The most common colouring is steel grey with brown markings but other colours occur too. The wiry coat is not fully developed until the dog reaches two to three years of age. The breed was recognised by the AKC in 1887.
The Weimaraner (above) has the nickname of 'grey ghost'. His coat is a very distinctive colour and is short and sleek. The unique colour varies from mouse-grey to silver-grey but any tendency to blue or black is a disqualification in a show dog as is a long coat. The head and ears often blend to a lighter shade. The Weimaraner is graceful and aristocratic. As a hunter, it is speedy, brave and intelligent with good scenting ability. It is a German breed originally used for hunting wolves, bear and deer but has now adapted to be a bird dog par excellence. As well as superior hunting qualities, the Weimaraner is easily trained and a friendly, obedient, family member who loves children. It stands 23 to 27 inches at the shoulder.
The Spinone Italiano and the Viszla have multiple roles as hunters. The Spinone Italiano (above) is an all purpose hunting dog of the rather slower old school. He is robust and muscular with powerful bone. He is also friendly, docile and indefatigable. He is happy in cold water or heavy underbrush because of his wiry, dense coat and thick skin. He has a fast, extended trotting action and is a natural retriever. He may be white, white with brown markings, white and orange, orange roan or brown roan with or without markings. He is a great family dog but as he is naturally cautious in nature, he should be socialised at an early age. They range in size from 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder. The Spinone Italiano was recognised by the AKC in 2000.
The Vizsla (above) is of medium size and combines pointer and retriever characteristics. He is a golden rust colour and has a short coat. The Vizsla is happiest when teamed with an active family and is lively and affectionate in nature with a natural instinct for protection of his family. He is agile and energetic in the field with a far reaching, light and smooth gait. He has a great propensity for training. The breed was recognised by the AKC in 1960. The average size is 21 to 24 inches at the shoulder.
Despite being originally bred to accompany hunters in the field, the pointers in general make wonderful pets always provided (and have I said this before?) they get plenty of exercise and activity.