So far we have spoken of dogs which when used for hunting purposes are usually supposed to catch and kill the game which they follow. We now come to a class of hunting dogs which are not expected to kill the game, but to help their masters to kill it, or to retrieve it after it has been killed. In the very front ranks stand the pointer and the setters – English, Irish, and Gordon – and which is the best is largely a matter of individual taste.
The chief duty of each is to scent out the game (usually such birds as partridge, grouse, and quail), and, when near enough, point out to the gunner the spot here it lies concealed. As the hunter approaches, the birds rise and are shot on the wing. Very often the dogs are trained to pick up and bring in the game after it is shot. The pointer, as the illustration shows, is smooth coated, and his name suggests his business.
This most popular of upland hunting-dogs has undergone many changes in standard as to size, conformation, and color. But certainly no "strain" has been more successful, nor stamped its virtues more generally upon following generations of pointers, than the famous "graphic" pointers of 20 years ago, and it is one of the best of these that was used as a model.
The working pointer should be a lean, hard limbed, and well-muscled dog of about 60 pounds weight, though 10 pounds either way would meet the preferences of different fanciers. He must be keen of eye and nose, obedient, teachable, and staunch. Many otherwise fine pointers lack the courage of their convictions, and it is easy to spoil a good dog either by too gentle or too rough handling.
Colors are legion; white should predominate, with liver, lemon, or black distributed in almost any fashion, according to taste. No finer upland bird-dog exists, and his endurance and energy are things to marvel at.
As in all working dogs, the "tools of his trade" must be right. Soft spready feet, weak legs or back, small or "snippy" nose are all vital defects. The head is shaped very like that of a setter, but should be wider across the ears. A good, square profile is essential, with a well-defined stop. The tail, strong and full at the base, should taper rapidly and be as straight as possible.
The breed is so popular and so widely used that there is little difficulty in getting well-balanced pointers.
The continental "pointing griffon" is a type of growing popularity, with little to commend it above the better-known field-dogs except its novelty. It may be described as a wire-haired pointer, whose coat is rough and quite long, particularly over the eyes and on the muzzle. It has a terrier-like expression that is rather prejudicial to the impression it makes upon one familiar with the frank, loyal look of a setter or pointer.