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English Pointers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

English Pointer temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

English Pointer dog breed


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.

More traits and characteristics of the English Pointer

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If I was considering an English Pointer, I would be most concerned about...

  1. 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).

  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos 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.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

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