Our pointers come from the many European breeds of pointers and are quite often a happy mix. You will see various breeds mentioned in the descriptions, so I am attempting to give a brief over view of some of the pointers we come across in the Spanish shelters.
The pointing breeds of dog originated in Spain, for centuries they bred working dogs known as the Old Spanish Pointer or Bracco Español. Today the nearest breed to this ancient dog is probably the lovely Pachon Navarro. In the 17th and 18th centuries dogs were brought to England where they were mixed, possibly with Foxhounds and Greyhounds, to increase speed, and bred into the (English) Pointers we have today. And similarly dogs were taken to Germany and crossed with German hounds and bred into the German Pointers.
In most of continental Europe these hunting dogs were bred as general purpose gun dogs, known as HPR (hunt, point, retrieve), dogs which suit the types of shooting and hunting enjoyed in those countries. In England the hunting scene was more the large organised shoot and the gun dogs were bred more as a single purpose dog, each specialists at different work, the spaniels to flush working with the beaters, the pointers and the setters working with the guns and the retrievers to retrieve.
The pointing breeds are sensitive, and it is probably this sensitivity or hesitancy in their character that has allowed a dog’s natural stalking behaviour to be transformed over generations into the static point or set that we see in all the Pointers, Brittanys and Setters. The (English) Pointer is particularly sensitive in nature, some call them highly strung and this maybe because it is not the all-rounder HPR, but has been bred as a specialist pointer.
All the pointers are energetic hunting dogs, they have great scenting abilities, athleticism and stamina, they can quarter a field, covering a great deal of ground quickly and efficiently and pick up any scents of birds, hare, squirrels, deer etc Another breed characteristic is the gentle nature, the ability to quickly accept other dogs and people, very necessary in a gun dog that may work alongside different dogs each week.
These dogs all need lots of exercise and training. Recall can be hard as the dogs may pay you little heed when their attention is caught by a scent, so longline training or a securely fenced field is essential, particularly with a young dog. While Pointers were bred to be hunting dogs, they are perfectly content to be given adequate exercise by other means. Since they are a galloping breed regular exercise is important for them and many adopters have found they love canicross where they can run safely with you. At home the pointer may well be a couch potato, enjoying your sofa after a good run.
A quick summary of some of the breeds of pointers we rehome from Spain..
The Pointer (sometimes referred to as the English Pointer). The tall, elegant Pointer is a beautiful, sensitive dog that loves to run. They are intelligent, affectionate and intensely loyal, they can seem a little aloof with strangers. As mentioned above the pointer was bred as a single purpose gun dog and has a strong hesitancy in its nature and this can express itself in fearful reactions to unknown things and sometimes as separation anxiety. They love the companionship of another dog, they are very playful and affectionate together and for a rescue Pointer a friendly dog in the house can make all the difference. They are incredibly gentle and sweet natured dogs and their gorgeous goofiness is bound to make you smile.
German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) These very versatile popular hunting dogs are well known and loved. They are athletic and intelligent, easy to train and slightly less sensitive than the English Pointer. Although active hunting dogs, they have also earned themselves a solid reputation for being wonderful companions thanks to their kind, placid and loyal natures.
German Wirehaired Pointer (GWP) These attractive, grizzled and wirey coated dogs are increasingly popular, they are however probably the most capable hunters of all the breeds we rehome. The GWP is no teddy bear, they are strong, bold, courageous, loyal dogs with a tenacious drive and keen hunting instincts. These are not dogs for the faint hearted but absolutely wonderful companions in the right home. They are very intelligent, they love to learn and will work relentlessly for you. Like all of our breeds these are active dogs and some GWP adopters do canicross which is a great redirection of their energy.
Korthals Griffon is similar looking to the GWP, they were also bred as a rugged, versatile sporting dog but to work in close proximity to the handler, while the GWP is a longer-ranging sporting dog. The Korthals Griffon is a loyal, intelligent dog, easy to train and very willing to please.
Pachón Navarro. These are the nearest thing to the Old Spanish Pointers. These heavily built, low slung pointers have a strong following because of their wonderful personalities. They have great strength and stamina (they are sometimes referred to as the rhinoceros of the dog world) and also a very characteristic nose, with a deep cleft between the nostrils. They are hardworking dogs, with droopy ears and mouth which gives them a solemn appearance which is dispelled by their warm brown eyes. The Pacon Navarro has a wonderful nature, they are great with people, affectionate and fun loving, they relate well to other dogs, and are gentle and kind with children. They are quiet, smart, strong and loyal, and those who meet them tend to fall in love with the breed.
Weimaraners and Vizslas, these pointers are much more common in the UK than in Spain, we occasionally rehome them but they are rare.
Bracco Italiano, another ancient pointer breed, heavily built and with a wonderful temperament. These are rarely seen in the dogs we rehome but may be crossed with other pointers. The French pointers, Braque de l’Ariège, Braque du Bourbonnais, Braque d’Auvergne similarly are rarely seen.