English Pointer Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
English Pointer Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
In the United States, this breed is simply called Pointer, while in other parts of the world, the name English Pointer is used to distinguish him from similar pointing breeds. For example, the German Shorthaired Pointer, Italian Pointer, Portuguese Pointer, French Pointers, etc. Since my website has an international audience, we'll use that clear name, English Pointer.
The AKC Standard says, "Every movement shows him to be a wide-awake, hard-driving hunting dog possessing stamina, courage, and desire to go."
Though dignified and sweet-natured, the English Pointer is bred primarily for hunting. He is packed with energy and belongs with an active owner who will give him the running exercise he needs to feel satisfied.
English Pointers, especially youngsters, become restless and bored when confined too much and may resort to destructive chewing and barking. A long walk is barely a warm-up for this superb athlete.
With strangers, most English Pointers are slightly reserved, but congenial. This is not a guard dog. He is also amiable with other animals.
A bit stubborn and easily distracted, but also very sensitive, the English Pointer responds well to patient obedience training that includes food rewards and praise rather than jerking around.
Commands such as "down" and "stay" are important for instilling self-discipline and control.
If you want a dog who...
- Is large, sleek-coated and tautly-muscled, a true athlete
- Is energetic and hard-driving, primarily bred to be a hunting dog
- Is usually congenial with everyone, including other animals
An English Pointer may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Vigorous exercise requirements
- Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young or not exercised enough
- Destructiveness and barking when left alone too much or not exercised
- A distractable mind of his own – likely to ignore your commands when an interesting sight or scent catches his attention
An English Pointer may not be right for you.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult English Pointers have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your English Pointer to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
More traits and characteristics of the English Pointer
If I was considering an English Pointer, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing LOTS of exercise. English Pointers are athletic dogs who need regular opportunities to vent their energy and gallop. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored, which dogs usually express by barking and destructive chewing. Bored Pointers have chewed through drywall and ripped the stuffing out of sofas.
If you simply want a pet for your family, and don't have the time or inclination to take your dog running or hiking or biking, or to get involved in hunting, I do not recommend this breed (unless you adopt an older adult with a mellow temperament).
- Bounciness. Young English Pointers (up to about two years old) romp and jump with great vigor, and things can go flying, including small children and infirm people.
- Training difficulties. English Pointers are not dominant dogs, but they can be a challenge to train because they are so easily distracted by exciting sights, sounds, and scents. It takes some training experience to hold the dog's attention. Read more about English Pointer Training.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.