As a group of different dog breeds all pointers within the sporting group have several very similar traits and characteristics, particularly when it comes to their temperament. Although not as common as a companion and pet type of dog than some of the other hunting dogs, pointer types can be a very good match for some families. As with any breed of dog, breed within a group or even individual dogs within a breed there may be some differences in overall temperament, trainability and traits, and a lot of these differences have to do with how the owners interact with the dog.
The most important thing to keep in mind when thinking about the pointer temperament type and typical traits is that they are first and foremost a very skilled hunting dog. Most pointers will start to show their definite hunting abilities by about the age of 4 to 6 months. This typically includes the standard frozen stand with the muzzle pointed towards anything unusual or that the dog perceives as possible game. Puppies will often assume the pointer stance at a wide variety of things in their environment. Depending on the breed, some pointers may be more prone to barking than others, but barking to alert hunters about the presence of game is certainly part of the inherited behaviors found in this group of breeds.
Overall, all dogs within the hunting group are very active, but pointers tend to be among the most active within the group. They need to have lots of very intense exercise and do not do well when kept in kennels or indoors for long periods of time. They absolutely crave being outdoors, in the woods, in the park and just going for long runs on a daily basis. In a securely fenced yard these dogs will run and exercise on their own, but they still need daily training and exercise routines to stay calm and focused.
Pointers all have a tendency to roam and wander and if they get engaged on a hunt they are often impossible to recall, unless trained and worked with on an ongoing basis. For this reason they do need to live in the country or in a city residence with a securely fenced yard. They are very active and can jump and climb amazing distances, which can sometimes make securing these dogs a bit of a challenge. Kennels and runs are often fully enclosed to prevent the more adventurous dogs from simply escaping.
Often originally used as pack dogs, the pointers as a general group are very friendly and have a low level of dog aggression. Some may be very shy around other dogs while some, particularly males, may want to be the leader and show more dominant types of behaviors. Routine socialization with smaller and larger dogs, cats and other pets from an early age will ensure that the pointer stays a very friendly and low aggression type of dog. Both male and female pointers that are not properly socialized or are abused or treated badly may be prone to submissive urination, although this is not unique to the pointer types of dogs.
A well socialized pointer is a great family dog. They are accepting of children and naturally curious as to what kids are up to. Their high energy level allows them to keep up with kids of all ages but their gentle nature and lack of aggressive or overly dominant tendencies also makes them a wonderful companion pet for kids. Typically the pointer breeds will be highly demonstrative in their affections and love to be close to their owner and the family. While some will bark a warning if strangers approach they are not an effective guard dog and some are so friendly they really don't make the best watchdogs either. Usually a pointer breed considers everyone a friend until they provide otherwise.
Training the pointer types of dogs requires knowledge of how to incorporate the dog's focus and level of independence into a working partnership. They need consistent and positive training, which happens at various speeds depending on the specific pointer breed you select. Overall the independent streak of the pointers means that they need to be taught to attend to the human over anything else in the environment. Bonding and developing a consistent, positive approach to the dog will be essential. Very short training periods broken up by exercise and play is the best possible options.
Pointers are not a group of dogs you can train once and they have it down. Repetitive training will be important and they need training refreshers all through their life. Generally a pointer that doesn't get these training boosters simply becomes more independent and does their own thing, seeming to ignore the owners. They are not, however, aggressive or hostile towards the people, they just seem to be able to selectively ignore.
Although there are different coat types within the pointer types, most pointers have a short, sleek single coat to a moderately long, double wiry type coat. They are outdoor dogs but most also love to be indoors with their human family. They also tend to bond very closely with other dogs in the family and are comfortable as one of the pack. Some pointers are better with more than one dog in the household rather than as a single pet. This is particularly true in working families where the dog may be alone a lot of the time. Having another dog, not necessarily a pointer, will really help to prevent boredom and also destructive types of behaviors.
Pointers are outstanding retrieval dogs and love to play fetch both in and out of the water. Different breeds and different lines are more or less trainable as actual hunting dogs. Like most of the sporting group, there are two different types of dogs within each of the pointer breeds. One section of the breed will be a field line, bred and raised as working dogs, while the other will be a show line, more suitable as pets and actual show dogs. Dogs of either line can be outstanding pets, provided the owners can provide the training, attention, socialization and exercise needed for these wonderful dogs.