Breeds of Pointer Dogs

German Shorthaired Pointer pointing in a grassy field

If you're not acquainted with the word "pointing," it refers to a canine breed that follows the smell of a prey item and then instinctively freezes when it finds it. The dog's body stiffens, one paw is raised in the air, the tail points upwards, and the nose indicates towards the smell in the standard pointing posture.

Breed Characteristics

Pointing dogs are known for being energetic, clever, and eager to please. They're usually good at tracking and nose work, and they're all outstanding retrievers that enjoy being in the water. These motivated canines require a tough workout program.

Pointing dogs are high-energy canines who need plenty of exercise, training, and mental stimulation to be entertained. When provided a regular, stimulating routine, a bored puppy will participate in disruptive or mischievous conduct as an interesting pastime.

Here is more about the history and temperament of 10 popular pointing breeds.

  • 01 of 10

    Bracco Italiano puppy

    The bracco Italiano, also known as the Italian pointer, has roots dating back to the 5th century. They are one of the oldest pointers in Europe. A devoted breeding operation in the early twentieth century used two bracco kinds, one from Piedmont and the other from Lombardy, to help restore their numbers.

    The bracco is known for being highly dependable in the field, but at home, it is more gentle than other pointing breeds. They're friendly and loving dogs who create close ties with their owners. The breed is loud and drools a lot. In North America, they're also still uncommon.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Foundation Stock Service/miscellaneous class (AKC)

    Height: 21 to 27 inches

    Weight: 55 to 90 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, dense, and glossy coat that comes in solid white, white with orange or chestnut patches, orange or chestnut roan

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years

  • 02 of 10

    The Brittany is a pointing breed that is commonly referred to as spaniels. These dogs originated in Brittany's northern area in the 17th century. These tiny, medium-sized hunting dogs are quite flexible. These dogs are in high demand because to their size, talents, and disposition. They get along well with other dogs and children that are kind. A sensitive spirit prone to separation anxiety, a Brittany is eager to please and responds very well to positive and calm training practices.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 17.5 to 20.5 inches

    Weight: 30 to 40 pounds

    Coat and Color: Flat or wavy, dense coat that comes in orange and white or liver and white markings and sometimes with roan patterns

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 03 of 10

    The pointer in English is commonly referred to simply as a pointer. The breed acquired shape in the next century, although its origins extending back to the 17th century. With the popularity of the pastime of shooting birds in flight in England, these dogs rose in favor.

    English pointers are today regarded as one of the most adaptable, hardworking, and popular pointing breeds. They thrive in field trials, but their dynamism and ambition also allow them to compete in other canine sports like as agility, canicross, and obedience. English pointers are affectionate, loyal, and sweet-tempered at home.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 17 to 21 inches

    Weight: 45 to 75 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, dense coat; color combinations of white with liver, lemon, orange, or black markings; may have solid coloring

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 17 years

  • 04 of 10

    The English setter, one of three silky-coated setters that originated in the United Kingdom, is the most popular. This breed, like the bracco Italiano, has a lengthy history. Dogs that like this setter appear in 15th-century paintings. Owners of big English estates who liked hunting learned to love these dogs in the 18th century.

    Although considered a pointing breed, these dogs, like their Gordon and ancestors, were originally created to lie down and "set" when they found their target. The breed is recognized for being quite placid and prefers to be in the company of other dogs and youngsters. Despite the fact that English setters require plenty of activity, they are frequently more placid about the house than other pointing breeds.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 25 to 27 inches

    Weight: 65 to 80 pounds

    White coat foundation with Belton markings that can be specks or interwoven roan; long, flat, smooth, and somewhat wavy coat; Belton colors are orange or black (blue), and they can even be tricolored.

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Germany is renowned for its dedication to the breeding of highly talented hunting dogs. According to some experts, they are the most adaptable and capable all-around hunting dog. The English and Spanish pointers were crossed with the now-extinct German bird dog to create this breed. The breed had an official studbook by the late nineteenth century, and they were being transported to other nations.

    This dog is the most popular pointing dog in the United States and is among the top ten most popular breeds according to the AKC. GSPs are clever, cheerful, and friendly animals. They have webbed feet and a strong need to be near water. A near relative is the German wirehaired pointer.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 21 to 25 inches

    Weight: 45 to 70 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, smooth coat with a solid liver or a combination of liver and white

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 06 of 10

    Spinone Italiano

    Another Italian pointing breed is the spinone Italiano. These canines are from the Piedmont area of Italy, and their name comes from the prickly "spino" vegetation they had to forage through. When they were tracking in tough terrain, their coarse hair and strong skin protected them. Following the World Wars, the breed was on the verge of extinction. Although they remain one of the more unusual pointing breeds, their numbers have significantly grown.

    The spinone, one of the most popular pointing breeds, attracts to certain owners because it is more docile than some of its cousins. They can be difficult at times, and teaching them may require a bit extra patience and sweet incentives.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 22.5 to 27.5 inches

    Weight: 65 to 90 pounds

    Coat and Color: A harsh, coarse, dense, flat single coat with bushy eyebrows and beard; solid white, white and orange, and white with brown markings; markings can be roan or solid colors; markings can be roan or solid colors.

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 07 of 10

    The Hungarian vizsla (meaning "tracker") dates back to the 8th century, when the land was ruled by old Magyar tribes. The tribesman relied on these nimble dogs for hunting because of their exceptional stamina. They were revered by the country's noblemen for their speed and adaptability.

    Vizslas have a huge heart, are loyal to their owners, and are adaptive. They're also known as "velcro dogs." They like spending time with their people. They may suffer from separation anxiety. Wirehaired vizslas, a different breed, are closely linked to them.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting

    Height: 22 to 23 inches

    Weight: 45 to 50 pounds

    Coat and Color: Copper or rust-colored short, smooth, dense coat

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 08 of 10

    Another German breed famed for its pointing abilities is the Weimaraner. The Weimaraner began to acquire favor as an all-around gun dog, despite its origins as a big game hunting dog. They were coveted in Germany and across the world for their innate ability to aim and retrieve. These dogs are noted for their ability to solve problems. They require a lot of enrichment in order to stay occupied and avoid causing havoc at home. Weimaraners thrive in social situations.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 24 to 26 inches

    Weight: 70 to 85 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, smooth mouse gray or silver-gray coat

    Life Expectancy: 11 to 13 years

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    The Irish setter is a hunting dog. It "sets" or locates gamebirds and directs hunters to them. These dogs are versatile hunters who do well in fields and on wet or dry moors. They hunt for birds using their keen sense of smell. The Irish setter is pointing towards the direction where the bird is hiding. The Irish setter arrived in America in the early nineteenth century.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 25 to 27 inches

    Weight: 60 to 70 pounds

    Coat and Color: Red, medium length with feathering on ears, chest, legs, and tail

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 10 of 10

    The Gordon setter, the biggest of the three setter breeds, is a difficult dog to train. It is wary of strangers and has a strong protective instinct. This hunter's companion crouches, freezes, and "sets," alerting hunters to the brush's quarry. They are larger, more muscular, and can hunt for longer periods of time, making them ideal for the harsh Scottish highlands.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 23 to 27 inches

    Weight: 45 to 80 pounds

    Coat and Color: Shiny, straight, or wavy single coat; black with tan markings

    Life Expectancy: 11 to 13 years

Breeds to Avoid

None of the pointer breeds are well-suited to unless their owner is willing to provide them with extensive daily walks and lots of other physical and mental stimulation. Lower-energy dogs, such as pugs and Chihuahuas, are better off sleeping in a dog bed or on your lap than roaming and running.