Types of Pointer Dog Breeds

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Updated: January 10, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/vik898
Share this post on:

A pointer dog is a hunting or sporting dog breed that stops and points at small game that a hunter might not be able to see. When in a pointer stance, the dog should be immobile and the head, body, and tail should be in a straight line. Some dogs also raise their paw. Because the prey is often a bird such as a grouse or a quail, these dogs are also called bird dogs. These types of pointer bird dogs are believed to have a common ancestor that originated in Spain, and their pointing instinct has been ingrained over hundreds of years.

Some retrieve game as well as point, while others such as the English pointer have only been raised to point. Lively, loyal, and obedient, these dogs tend to be on the larger side. Besides being good sporting dogs, many of them are excellent family pets. Read on for more information about different types of pointer dog breeds.

1. English Pointer

Types of Pointer Dogs
Red and white English Pointer in the field. They are great for tracking small prey and, unlike many other hunting dogs, their responsibility and instinct is to point to the game—not to retrieve.

Anna Pozzi – Zoophotos/Shutterstock.com

Only The Top 1% Can Ace our Animal Quizzes

Think You Can?

The name of this dog which was developed in the 17th century Great Britain says it all. Originally trained for tracking hares, the English pointer is both slender and muscular. Its neck and shoulders are long and sloped, it has a wide chest, and its feet have arched, well-padded toes. It holds its tail in line with its back, and its head has medium-length, folded ears and a pronounced stop above the muzzle. It stands 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 44 and 66 pounds. Its coat is short but hard, with a pleasing gloss, and it’s allowed to come in several color types as long as they are joined by large areas of white. Because it’s such an energetic dog, the English pointer needs plenty of exercise if it’s adopted as a pet.

Read here for more information about the English pointer.

2. German Shorthaired Pointer

Types of Pointer Dogs
Bred to be instinctive hunting all-rounders, these multitasking dogs can hunt, point, and retrieve, and have been used to hunt quarry of all kinds, including rabbits, raccoons, game birds, and even deer.

iStock.com/slowmotiongli

Developed in Germany in the 1800s, this breed is similar to the English pointer. It stands 21 to 25 inches at the shoulder and can weigh between 45 and 60 pounds. As with most dogs, the females are a little bit shorter and lighter than the males. Its legs are powerful, and it is used for hunting game on land and in the water. Because it is used to retrieve waterfowl, it has webbed feet.

The German shorthaired pointer is an excellent dog for families, but like the English pointer needs a lot of exercise and space to run around. The coat is short and hard and though the dog sheds it is not considered a heavy shedder. The coat just needs some regular brushing.

Go here for more information on the German Shorthaired Pointer.

What is the difference between a German Shorthaired Pointer vs. an English Pointer?

It is true that the German shorthaired pointer and the English pointer look very much alike, and breeders believe that the German shorthaired pointer breed was improved by some English pointer genetics somewhere down the line. The English pointer may be a bit smaller and lighter than the German shorthaired, which has a wide, deep chest and muscular legs. Another characteristic that separates the two dogs is that the German shorthaired pointer, like other German pointers, has webbed feet, since it also hunts in the water. Another difference is that the English pointer doesn’t retrieve game but only points.

3. Weimaraner

Types of Pointer Dogs
The Weimaraner is sometimes referred to as the “gray ghost” of the dog world, originating from its ghostly coat and eye color along with its stealthy hunting style.

iStock.com/MartinFredy

This beautiful, silvery gray sporting dog was also developed in Germany in the 1600s, though the story of just how it was developed is murky. It is not only a pointer dog but has been used to hunt and retrieve game. Its trademark coat can be short or somewhat long, with some fringing on the legs, the tail, and ears. The Weimaraner stands 22 to 27 inches high at the shoulder and weighs between 70 and 80 pounds, much of it due to its muscular build. Its eyes are famously amber or blue-gray, its back is level and clean, and it has a long muzzle, a long, strong neck, and deep and powerful shoulders.

For more information about the Weimaraner, go here.

4. Small Munsterlander

Types of Pointer Dogs
A purebred Kleiner Munsterlander dog without leash outdoors in nature on a sunny day.

BIGANDT.COM/Shutterstock.com

This is one of the types of pointer bird dogs that has a long coat with lots of feathering on the tail and the legs, which makes it look more like a setter than a pointer. It can be told from the Larger Munsterlander because it is, of course, smaller at 19 to 22 inches high at the shoulder and lighter at around 33 pounds. It’s also restricted to colors of liver and white with some ticking if it’s shown. Its front legs are straight and its feet are tight and well-padded. The Small Munsterlander originated in the 1800s and was and is prized for its pointing. This good-natured dog was developed in the Westphalia area of Germany.

5. Large French Pointer

Types of Pointer Dogs
Pointers are bred primarily as hunting companions, and as such, they are single-minded when out in a field environment. 

This dog, bred for tracking and pointing, originated in France in the 1600s and looks much like the German shorthaired pointer. However, its muzzle is wider and more angular, its skull is a bit rounder, and it appears to have pleats on its ears. The fur of its body is dense and thick, though short, but the hair on its head is fine. It has dewlaps that call to mind a scent hound. In fact, the large French pointer’s sense of smell is exemplary. The dog nearly went extinct, but its numbers are increasing.

6. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Types of Pointer Dogs
Wirehaired pointing griffons are famously known as a ‘supreme gundog’. 

Vaclav Sonnek/Shutterstock.com

This pointer, which has a rather messy coat, originated in France but was developed by a Dutchman, Eduard Korthals. It has powerful legs for tracking and a large head adorned with a thick beard and bushy eyebrows. Besides pointing, this dog also retrieves and hunts rats and foxes. It stands between 22 and 24 inches high at the shoulder, weighs between 50 and 60 pounds, and is known for its intelligence.

7. Cesky Fousek

Types of Pointer Dogs
The Cesky Fousek is believed to be an ancient dog, first setting its roots centuries ago in the time of the Kingdom of Bohemia.

Jan Danek jdm.foto/Shutterstock.com

This pointer originated in Czechoslovakia in the 1800s. It looks much like the Wire-haired Pointing Griffon except it is taller and heavier, and its legs are longer in proportion to its body. The Cesky Fousek also has a somewhat messy, bristly coat that is longest over its back and flanks. It also has a thick undercoat and long ears that are placed further back on its head. It is an energetic dog that needs to work to be happy, and unlike some types of pointer bird dogs don’t make the best pet.

8. Auvergne Pointer

Types of Pointer Dogs
A beautiful Auvergne pointing dog hunting with a duck.

Best dog photo/Shutterstock.com

This sporting dog has the coloration and markings of the English and German short-haired pointers, but it is a heavier set. It has a massive head in proportion to its body, with a round skull and a distinct stop. It has a short but glossy coat, powerful hindquarters, and large, well-cushioned feet. The area around the eyes and the ears must be black for the dog to be shown, and a coat pattern called charbonnée is a plus. These are bluish spots that come about when black and white hairs overlap. The Auvergne pointer was developed in France in the 1800s.

9. Old Danish Pointer

Types of Pointer Dogs
The Old Danish Pointer is a calm, steady dog with an incredible amount of determination and bravery.

Johnny Randen/Shutterstock.com

Among the different types of pointer dogs, this dog stands out because of the dewlaps around its neck. The dewlaps make this pointer’s sense of smell exceptional, as the folds of skin waft scent molecules up into the dog’s nose. Besides pointing, it is used for tracking wounded prey. Though the Old Danish Pointer isn’t as tall as other pointers as it stands 20 to 23 inches high at the shoulder, it is robust and muscular. Unlike the English pointer, it holds its tail down though its back is also straight. It also has a liver-colored nose, long, rounded ears, and a deep chest. The dog was developed in Denmark in the 1700s.

10. Perdigueiro Portugueso

Types of Pointer Dogs
The Perdigueiro Portugueso in action during a hunt.

Pedro Monteiro/Shutterstock.com

This breed of pointer dog was so good at its job that game, particularly the partridges it was named after, became scarce. It was actually forbidden to own the Perdigueiro Portugueso unless you were royalty. This happened in the 16th century, and the breed is far older than that, having been developed in Portugal in the 1200s.

This biddable and energetic dog stands 20 to 22 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 35 and 60 pounds. Its ears are large, folded, and shaped like rounded off triangles, and the muzzle is broad and short with a large nose with large nostrils. The neck is straight and powerful, and its body is short and broad with a bit of a curve to its back. There’s are long-haired and short-haired versions of the Perdigueiro Portugueso, but of the different types of pointer dogs, the long-haired Perdigueiro Portugueso is rare now.

Next Up: 7 Birds That Eat Snakes

Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?

How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.

What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?

X-Small
Small
Medium
Large
Xtra-Large

If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Kids
Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

Yes
No
How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?
Share this post on:
About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

More from A-Z Animals