As with any breed there are many reasons why a pointer type of dog may be a perfect match for your family, but there may also be a good number of reasons why they may not. Considering not only your lifestyle and the traits you want in a pet, but also the possible challenges to owning a specific breed is often the best way to find the dog breed you are looking for. Each breed has both positive and negative aspects, plus each potential owner has aspects of their life that may make owning a dog difficult. Honestly making the evaluation rather than just getting a breed that you like, a puppy that is just too cute to pass on or a dog that you like the looks of is really the way to decide.
The great news about the pointer types of dogs in the sporting group is that, as a whole, they are typically very good family dogs and get along well with children of all ages. They are, like all dogs, best raised together with children to ensure that the dog is calm and knows what kids are all about. Some pointers, particularly those that are not raised with kids can be somewhat timid and distrustful of children since kids often make a lot of loud, unexpected movements. Dogs that are raised with kids typically don't have the same response at all.
Each breed of pointer type of dog may be more or less suited to households with cats. Typically, like with most dogs, raising the pointer with the household cat or kitten leads to the very best possible long term relationship between the two. Some pointers have a very high prey instinct as they have been bred to hunt, not only birds, but also small animals. Some pointers, just like some dogs of almost any breed or type, don't readily adjust to cats, even when raised together. However, this is relatively rare and is more common with an adult dog that is being rehomed to a family with cats.
In general pointers are not well suited to households with small rodent type pets. Gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits are just too similar to the type of game they were raised to hunt. Having both in a house is, however, possible as long as the smaller animals are kept secured in cages well away from the reach of the dog. It is important to teach children how to protect the smaller animals and not to let the dog in to see or play around with the other pets, no matter how friendly the dog may appear to be towards the other animals.
All of the pointer breeds are very high energy dogs. This means that prospective owners need to be able to commit to at least two hours of exercise time per day, every day, for the dogs. This exercise time may be split into several short training and exercise sessions but definitely needs to include a long, brisk walk or jog at least once a day. Playing fetch, going for a long walk in the country or even time spend at an off-leash park can all count into that exercise time. Since these dogs tend to be non dog-aggressive they are great in off-leash parks, but they dog need routine training and obedience work.
Pointers of any breed that don't have enough exercise can be very destructive dogs. They are so athletic they can learn to jump, climb and chew their way out of almost any fence or kennel if not provided with their basic needs. They also are prone to problem barking. This is partially due to the fact that barking to signal hunters is part of their instinct, and partly to do with the high strung behavior that can occur with poorly trained and under exercised dogs.
Owners that are looking for relatively easy to care for dogs with regards to grooming will find a good match in any of the pointer breeds. The shorthaired varieties including the English Pointer and the German Shorthaired Pointer will only need grooming with a soft bristle brush once or twice a week. The wirehaired pointers, including the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, will need to have the coat stripped several times per year, but this is not a difficult task. Plucking the old hairs can be done on a three or four times a year schedule and groomers can complete the process if you don't want to do it yourself. Pointers are average shedders year round with the double coated pointers shedding seasonally as well.
Routine maintenance for the pointers also includes checking the longer, flat to the head ears at least once a week. This will help prevent any type of ear infections. Ear infections are common in any dog with the pendant type of ears and most can be prevented by routine cleaning of the inner part of the ear on a regular basis. The pointers will also need to have routine dental care, however the naturally active dogs will use dental chews that can be very effective in controlling tartar and keeping the teeth and gums very healthy.
Almost all pointer types of dogs will show natural ability to actually point. This may start as early as a few months of age. This behavior can be enhance and trained to make an ideal hunting companion, or it may not be developed to make a great companion dog. Often dogs that are trained for hunting are also companion dogs and this training does not make the pointer breeds aggressive or difficult to have as pets.
Other than the English Pointer, the others in the group are good dogs for almost any weather conditions. The English Pointer is not tolerant of cold or wet conditions and is not a good outdoor dog in colder or wet climates. The German Wirehaired Pointer, with its very heavy, dense coat is not always comfortable in hot and humid climates but can be managed by providing an indoor, cooler area during the hottest parts of the day and seasons.
Typically pointers bond strongly with their human families and really work to please. They do have an independent streak and can be easily distracted by activities around them when they are working or being trained. Owners have to take the dog's high energy levels and natural instincts into consideration during training. Positive training methods are essential as harsh training can result in timid or highly submissive dogs or very headstrong dogs that simply don't respond to an owner they don't trust.
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