Pointer Care

The Pointer, sometimes called the English Pointer, is a medium-sized, athletic, sometimes stubborn hunting dog that is excellent both in the fields and as an affectionate companion to active families. Overall Pointer care and maintenance doesn't take a great deal of work, and will mainly consist of plenty of exercise to satisfy these dogs' high energy levels.

Below you'll find plenty of details on caring for a Pointer, including info about puppy development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more. For answers to your questions about owning this sporty, loving breed, keep reading!

Pointer Breed Development

As a medium-sized breed, Pointer puppy development typically spans 21-24 months from birth to full maturity; though the breed's physical development is on par with other breeds of this size, the Pointer is slow to mature socially.

Physical Development: Pointer puppies grow steadily in height and length for the first 8-9 months, then those growth rates slow somewhat while the adolescent "fills out" by gaining muscle mass and fat. A Pointer normally reaches its full adult size (an average of 26 inches at the shoulders in height and 60 pounds in weight) at 11-13 months of age.

Social Development: Pointer pups reach adolescence at 6-7 months (and remain in that stage for quite some time), sexual maturity at 10-11 months, and full mental maturity by 24 months (though most retain their excitable, puppylike behavior well into adulthood).

For specific milestones in Pointer development, refer to the chart below.

(NOTE: Pointers can be stubborn and independent, and they're also slow to mentally mature--a combination that makes these dogs difficult to train. New Pointer owners are advised to begin training as early in their dogs' lives as possible to allow extra time for puppies to learn commands and tasks. The good news is that once a Pointer does learn instructions, the dog usually retains them for life.)

Pointer Exercise Needs

This breed is incredibly active and athletic, so Pointer dog exercise requirements are quite extensive. For centuries, these dogs have spent many hours at a time hunting in the fields, so they'll need activities that both allow them to stretch their legs and stimulate them mentally. Pointers make excellent jogging and bicycling partners as well.

The typical adult Pointer, depending on its age and overall activity level, will need about 90 minutes of proper exercise per day, which you can accomplish with a couple of long walks, jogs, or bike rides and another activity (like hunting or fetch). You can start exercising your Pointer puppy at three months old by taking it on short (5- to 10-minute) leashed walks--then you can increase the walks' length and frequency as the puppy grows. And these early walks are a great opportunity to start teaching your Pointer pup obedience, by way of leash training: make sure the puppy walks beside or behind you on the leash instead of being allowed to lead or "tug" on it. In the puppy's mind, this establishes you as the leader, and should make training the Pointer less difficult as the dog matures.

A few things to consider when exercising your Pointer: first, puppies younger than nine months old shouldn't participate in activities that include a lot of jumping, running on hard surfaces, or navigating of stairs, as doing so can injure their still-developing joints and bones. And regardless of age, all Pointers will need to be leashed when in public. These dogs have high prey drives, and will chase interesting-looking critters--birds, squirrels, cats, even small dogs--if given the chance; they're also independent and strong-willed, and might run off simply because they have the opportunity! A leash will help you control your Pointer in these situations. Even when exercising in your own yard, the area will need to be securely fenced to keep the dog from running away. Otherwise, Pointers are healthy and hardy dogs that can exercise in a variety of situations and weather conditions.

Precautions aside, exercising your Pointer every single day is a must. These dogs are known for being very destructive and disobedient if they're bored or restless--so consistent exercise will be great for both the dog's and your own peace of mind. A few exercise ideas:

  • Walking/Jogging/Bicycling: Two 30-minute walks (or 20-minute jogs or bike rides) per day is a good target
  • Hunting: Puts these dogs in their natural element
  • Tug-of-War: Great indoor, rainy-day activity; use a rope or old towel
  • Canine Sports: Pointers are fantastic competitors in agility and field trials, lure coursing, and other events
  • Dog Park: If properly socialized, a Pointer will enjoy the company of other dogs
  • Hiking: Excellent bonding activity; bonus if you can find a remote area where the dog can be off-leash

When indoors, it's a good idea to give your Pointer access to one or more balls or chew-toys that will allow the dog to burn excess energy. It's also recommended that you establish a regular exercise schedule for the dog, such as walks, jogs, or bike rides after breakfast and dinner and a play period in the afternoon.

Pointer Maintenance

In terms of shedding and drooling, these dogs don't need much care. English Pointer shedding is year-round, but pretty light; drooling isn't an issue.

Dogs of this breed have short-haired, smooth coats--and for the Pointer dog, shedding isn't much of an issue. Owners will need to brush their Pointers weekly with a rubber curry brush or grooming glove to minimize shedding and to keep the coats in good shape. Hair cleanup--vacuuming the floors, and lint rollers on clothes and furniture--will only be necessary once in a while.

And Pointers rarely drool. If your Pointer is drooling excessively, it may be a sign of a medical issue, in which case a veterinarian's care is recommended.

Pointer Diet

As an athletic breed, the Pointer diet is essential for maintaining these dogs' high activity levels. Like all breeds, Pointer dog food will need to have plenty of animal proteins and carbohydrates for energy, vitamins and minerals for digestive and immune health, and omega fatty acids for coat and skin wellness. This mean the best Pointer food is the premium dry kind, because it contains balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients these dogs need on a consistent basis.

The typical adult Pointer, depending on its age, size, and activity level, will need about three cups of premium dry food per day, divided into two meals. Pointer puppies, again depending on age, will need a bit less: about 2¼ cups per day, divided into three meals (not two) until six months of age. For further details on feeding a Pointer from puppyhood through maturity, refer to the following chart:

*--Around this time, transition to adult food by first mixing in a bit of adult formula with the puppy formula. Over the course of a week, with each meal add a little more adult food to the mixture, until the dog is eating it entirely.

If possible, try and stick to the above-listed portions. While these dogs don't have a high tendency for obesity, they certainly can become overweight if constantly overfed (and under-exercised)--and a fat Pointer will have joint, digestive, and breathing problems, not to mention a shortened lifespan. You can help control your Pointer's weight by establishing consistent feeding and exercise schedules, by not feeding the dog table scraps, and by not leaving food in the dog's bowl all the time, thereby allowing it to eat anytime it wants. It's better to put your Pointer's bowl down only at mealtimes, then pick it up a few minutes after the dog begins eating.

If you're worried your Pointer is overweight, give the dog this simple test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time. Reduce the dog's daily food consumption by one-fourth, and add an extra walk, jog, bike ride, or play period to its daily exercise schedule.

Living Environment

Generally speaking, the Pointer will be fine as either an inside or an outside dog. If you do choose to keep your Pointer outdoors, though, do not chain the dog up! Doing so will almost certainly lead to destructive and even aggressive behavior. And for the Pointer, apartment living is not at all recommended, as these dogs are just too energetic for such confined spaces.

Regardless of whether your Pointer lives indoors or out, make sure the dog gets plenty of exercise!

Another consideration for owners of a Pointer: weather. These dogs will be fine in hot weather--but when temps are cool, Pointer dogs may chill easily. Overall, this breed is best suited to life in mild to warm climates.