Yesterday’s post caused me to ponder a very serious question – are my English Pointers normal?! I suspect they are but they do get up to the most hilarious antics and this causes me to shake my head, usually on a daily basis.

I can tell from the stats that many people land on this blog because they are searching for information on English Pointers. There are some common search questions, so I thought I’d take the opportunity in this post to answer them. Zeph is now 14 months old and Zsa Zsa 11 months – so I can tell you all about the difference between male and female Pointers.

Let’s start off with the number one question people seem to need information on.

How do I stop my English Pointer from roaming?

There’s good news and bad news here. Zeph is a male Pointer and males do indeed roam. Pointers were originally bred as gun dogs and they were bred to roam a good distance away from their owner in search of birds or rabbits. Our Pointers are not hunting dogs so that means we had to teach Zeph to have the freedom to roam but also return to us on command.

The most essential thing with male Pointers is to have a securely fenced property. Beyond this, we did two things with Zeph that seem to have worked very well. The first thing was to buy an invisible fence and remote dog collar. We went with Innotek, an American brand that is available in New Zealand. Basically, you lay out boundary wire either above or below ground – this establishes the perimeter your dog will be contained within. You also get a special collar. The collar emits a warning tone if the dog approaches the boundary area. Should the dog continue on, a mild electrical stimulus will be emitted.

The key thing is to train your dog when the invisible fence is installed. It takes 10 minutes a day over a one week period. Zeph learnt very quickly where the boundaries are. You also get a remote transmitter. I take this with me when Zeph is around the chickens or at the back of the property (both these areas are beyond the invisible fence). Should he decide to run after chickens, I can simply press a button and he hears the tone. I now don’t really have to use the remote because he has learnt what is and isn’t acceptable. You can read about the dog containment system here.

The second thing we did with Zeph (once he’s beyond the invisible fence) is to allow him to roam but keep an eye on him. Then call him back every five minutes. We gave him big cuddles and praise when he returned and he quickly started to associate our calling him with cuddle time. After a few weeks, we noticed that he automatically returned to either of us within a few minutes – it’s like he’s checking-in. Your Pointer will always know where you are.

Female Pointers don’t roam like the males. They will stick by your side and always keep you in eye contact. I often see Zsa Zsa playing in the front yard but constantly looking through the window to see where I am. Should I move out of her line of sight, I’ll quickly find her next to me. So we have not needed to use the special collar for her.

Because we had Zeph for four months before getting Zsa Zsa, and because he knew the boundaries, we found that he taught Zsa Zsa. Basically, where Zeph goes; Zsa Zsa goes but if one of us is out of sight, we always find Zsa Zsa quickly returning to us. Female Pointers are extremely loyal.

Why does my Pointer stare at moths and butterflies?

Your Pointer will spend many happy moments staring at and chasing little moths, butterflies and even bees. Don’t be alarmed – this is normal Pointer behaviour.

Why does my Pointer stare out the window?

Well, all dogs have a tendency to do this. Some are simply anticipating their owner’s arrival home. Others, like Zeph and Zsa Zsa, seem to enjoy just having a good old look out the window. Who knows what they’re looking at but it’s perfectly normal.

What should I feed my English Pointer?

You can listen to the vets and pet food industry and feed them processed, crap dry dog food. Or you can put in some effort and provide them with a diet that is as close as possible to their original diet. Pointers have a long and traceable history back to the middle of the 17th Century in England but their origins are in Spain where they enjoyed a diet of brown rice, vegetables and fruits, and raw meat such as rabbit or venison.

I’ve done a number of posts on what I feed Zeph and Zsa Zsa, as well as the herbal supplements they get. You can read them here, here, here and here. Both dogs get a varied and organic diet of raw meat, brown rice, couscous, yoghurt, fruits and vegetables, pasta and goat’s milk. Yes it takes a bit more time and effort to prepare their food but their health is your paramount concern.

How much exercise does my Pointer need?

One word – HEAPS. English Pointers are powerful, athletic dogs and they need plenty of space to exercise and run around like mad things. If you want a dog that will laze around most of the time, then the English Pointer is not for you. You cannot lock them up in an apartment whilst you go to work either.

Pointers love to run. I can often hear the thundering of Zeph running behind me as I walk around the property – and then he whooshes past me on his way to wherever. If you like to jog, your Pointer will be more than a match and will keep you company.

I’ve found that Zeph and Zsa Zsa have a pattern, which is this:

  • get up and have breakfast
  • run around like mad things
  • have a post-breakfast snooze
  • spend the day roaming, running, sniffing, exploring
  • interspersed with a midday and late afternoon nap
  • dinner followed by vigorous running around
  • crash around 8.30pm and sleep like babies until 6.00 or 7.00am.

How easy is it to groom and care for my Pointer?

Dead simple. Pointer coats are smooth and short-haired. There is very little dog fur left lying around. Just get a good grooming brush and groom twice a week. I also wipe them down with a chamois as this seems to make the coat shiny. And speaking of shiny coats – give your Pointer a daily fish oil capsule. I chuck it in their food.

Pointers are prone to shivering. This is natural but make sure your Pointer is always warm. You don’t want arthritis later in their life. Zeph and Zsa Zsa have special winter coats and I put these on when they’re out and about during Winter. The crates they sleep in have lots of soft blankets and cushions. Pointers seem to LOVE being wrapped up in warm blankets.

Does an English Pointer make a good family dog?

Yes, if your family has plenty of space to accommodate exercise requirements and if your family is pretty active. Pointers are not aggressive; they have a very even temperament. They LOVE being part of the family and when they’re not running around like mad things, like nothing better than snuggling up next to you on the couch.

What are the common health problems with English Pointers?

I’ve read that hip dysplasia is a common problem as well as skin conditions. Zeph has the latter. He gets red skin in the groin area and between the toes. You can get your vet to administer a cortisone shot but…read about the dangers of that here. I’m a great believer in alternative, natural remedies. The first thing you’ll need to do is eliminate any allergies. Are you feeding too much protein? Is your Pointer running through long grass?

I found the most simplest of solutions is to lay your hands on a huge tub of Zinc and Castor Oil and slap this all over the bits where your Pointer has skin problems. Perfectly safe. Zinc and castor oil ointment is used on baby’s butts after all.

Your Pointer will probably spend a lot of time doing this – staring out a window, into space.

Make sure your Pointer has plenty of dog toys. Even so, you will find they steal your shoes and socks.

Your Pointer will always have an innocent look on his or her face when questioned about what items they have stolen.

Your Pointer will spend a lot of time staring at (and chasing) moths, butterflies and even bees.