The Pointer deservedly occupies a high place in the esteem of American sportsmen, for he is attractive in form and possesses fine field qualities. The pointing dogs, from which they are descended, originated in Spain during the Middle Ages, and early in the seventeenth century crossed the mountains into France, and eventually found their way over to England. These early Spanish dogs were so heavy, coarse, and cumbersome that English sportsmen, with the object of lightening up their heavy frames and gaining more speed, crossed them with the Foxhound. In the colonial days of this country there were many enthusiastic sportsmen, particularly in Maryland and the Carolina’s, who imported Pointers from abroad. These were judiciously mated, new dogs brought over from time to time, and eventually their progeny became scattered throughout the country, making warm friends and admirers, so that today they are one of the most popular of America’s sporting breed.
The Pointer as a rule does not make up to strangers as readily as a Setter, but to his owner he is an affectionate and loyal companion. Pointer admirers claim that as a class their short-haired favorites are more naturally inclined to point than Setters; that they are more easily broken, retain their training longer, and are more obedient in the field. No question will be raised over the fact that their shortness of coat constitutes a strong recommendation for warm climate or for summer shooting on the prairies or in sections of the country where cockle burrs, sand fleas, nettles, and other pests abound and annoy long-haired dogs to distraction.
There is a group of English breeders who are always attempting to improve the Pointer by Foxhound crosses. There is another group, led by William Arkwright, Esq., of Sutton, Scarsdale, Derbyshire, who have vigorously opposed these crosses. Mr. Arkwright has always stood firmly for pure breeding. He is the foremost living authority on the breed, his opinions have been closely followed by American breeders, and as a result our American strains have been kept pure and have arrived at a most gratifying regularity of type, combined with brilliant field qualities.
There are no accurate records of the Pointers brought to this country previous to i870. At that time the magazine Forest and Stream was founded, and it soon attained a wide circulation among sportsmen and fanciers, who began recording in its columns the descriptions and pedigrees of various celebrated dogs as well as the pedigrees, records, and appearance of the Pointers that were being brought to this country from abroad.
The first of these of importance was Sensation, imported by the Westminster Kennel Club. This dog was widely heralded, but he never rose above mediocrity either as a sire or in the field. Bang Bang, a smaller dog of the celebrated Price strain, brought over at the same time, was in every way his superior, and one of his sons, Consolation, was pronounced the handsomest specimen of his day. A few years later the club imported Naso of Kippen, a dog of pronounced character, who had a great influence upon his breed. There was also a noted field dog in St. Louis by the name of Sleaford, and later a dog named Bow, a son of Price’s Bang, which was his equal in the field and his superior on the bench. St. Louis sportsmen then imported Faust, a magnificent animal both in appearance and in the field. The dog, however, that made the greatest impression on the breed was Croxtieth. He was not particularly attractive in appearance, being on the large order, generally coarse, ungraceful in action, with a long, narrow head. He was fast in the field, however, and his sons were better than their sire. Among them may be mentioned Trinket, Trinket’s Bang, Ossian, Robert le Diable. The next dog to be imported was Meteor, who was considerably overestimated. He was followed by a symmetrical dog named Graphic, that was widely advertised and did considerable winning, but was of ordinary ability. In the same kennel were Brackett, Meally, and Lad of Bow. One of the latter’s sons, Lad of Rush, did considerable winning in the nineties. Hempstead Farm Kennels imported Duke of Hesson, and there was another dog named Tammany, that did considerable winning about this time. The blood, however, that made the greatest impression upon our present-day dogs was a combination of the old English Mike-Romp, the most conspicuous success of this combination being Rip Rap, by King of Kent-Hops. Among other great descendants of King of Kent were Maid of Kent, Kent’s Elgin, Strideway, and Hal Pointer. Jingo, who was the same blood as Rip Rap on his sire’s side, and also founded a family. Among his progeny are Young Jingo, Lad of Jingo, Jingo’s Pearl, Jingo’s Boy, Pearl’s Dot, Syrano, and Two Spot, all names that look well in Pointer pedigrees.
Following these dogs came Alfred’s John, one of the greatest bird dogs that has ever been seen at American field trials. At one time there was some uncertainty of his breeding, and while he left some good sons and daughters, they were not regarded with the favor of those that we have previously mentioned.
Another dog that made a great impression upon the breed was Fishel’s Frank, a consistent winner all over the country, and whose son, Comanche Frank, ran some celebrated races, eventually became a double champion, and whose daughter, Mary Montrose, was the first bird dog to win the Edward Dexter cup. She was brought out and handled by Robert Armstrong, a son of Edward Armstrong, who won the first field trial ever run in England.
The Pointer standard is as follows:
SKULL.-Of good size, but not as heavy as in the old Spanish Pointer, and in a lesser degree his halfbreed descendants. It should be wider across the ear than that of the Setter, with the forehead rising well at the brows, showing a decided stop. A full development of the occipital protuberance is indispensable, and the upper surface should be in two slight rounded flats, with a furrow between.
NOSE.-Long (4. inches to 4 3/4 inches) and broad, with widely opened nostrils. The end must be moist, and in good health is cold to the touch. It should be black or very dark brown in all but the lemons and whites, but in them it may be a deep flesh color. It should be cut off square and not pointed-known as the “snipe nose” or “pig jaw.” Teeth meeting evenly.
EARS, EYES, AND LIPS.-Ears soft in coat, moderately long and thin in leather, not folding like the Hound’s, but lying flat and close to the cheeks, and set on low, without any tendency to prick. Eyes soft and of medium size; color brown, varying in shade with that of the coat. Lips well developed and frothing when in work, but not pendant nor flew-like.
NECK.-Arched toward the head, long and round, without any approach to dewlap or throatiness. It should come out with a graceful sweep from between the shoulder blades.
SHOULDERS AND CHEST.-These are dependent on each other for their formation. Thus, a wide and looped chest cannot have the blades lying flat against its sides; and consequently instead of this and their sloping backward, as they ought to do in order to give free action, they are upright, short, and fixed. Of course, a certain width is required to give room for the lungs, but the volume required should be obtained by depth rather than width. Behind the blades the ribs should, however, be well arched, but still deep; this last, depth of back ribs, is especially important.
BACK, QUARTERS, AND STIFLES.-These constitute the main propellers of the machine, and on their proper development the speed and power of the dog depend. The loin should be very slightly arched and full of muscle, which should run well over the back ribs; the hips should be wide, with a tendency even to ruggedness, and the quarters should droop very slightly from them. These last must be full of firm muscle, and the stifles should be well bent and carried widely apart, so as to allow the hindlegs to be brought well forward in the gallop, instituting a form of action which does not tire.
LEGS, ELBOWS, AND Hocks.-These chiefly bony parts, though merely the levers by which the muscles act, must be strong enough to bear the strain given them, and this must act in the straight line of progression. Substance of bone is therefore demanded, not only in the shanks, but in the joints, the knees and hocks being especially required to be bony. The elbows should be well let down, giving a long upper arm, and should not be turned in or out, the latter being, however, the lesser fault of the two, as the confined elbows limit the action considerably.
The reverse is the case with the hocks, which may be turned in rather than out, the former being generally accompanied by the wideness of stifles which I have already insisted on. Both hind and fore pastern should be short, nearly upright, and full of bone.
FEET.-All-important; for, however strong and fast the action may be, if the feet are not well shaped and the horny covering hard, the dog will soon become footsore when at work, and then will refuse to leave his master’s heels, however high his courage may be. Breeders have long disputed the comparatively good quality of the round, catlike foot and the long one resembling that of a hare. In the Pointer my own opinion is in favor of the cat foot, with the toes well arched and close together. This is the consideraturn of the M. F. H., and I think stands work better than the hare foot, in which the toes are not arched, but still lie close together. In the Setter the greater amount of hair to a certain extent condones the inherent weakness of the hare foot; but in the Pointer no such superiority can be claimed. The main point, however, is the closeness of the pads, compared with the thickness of the horny covering.
STERN.-Strong in bone at the root, but should at once be reduced in size as it leaves the body, and then gradually taper to a point like a bee’s sting. It should be very slightly curved, carried a little above the line of the back, and without the slightest approach to a curl at the tip.
SYMMETRY AND QUALITY.-The Pointer should display goodly proportion, no dog showing more difference between the “gentleman” and his opposite. It is impossible to analyze the essentials, but every judge carries the knowledge with him.
TEXTURE.-The coat in the Pointer should be soft and mellow, but not absolutely silky.
COLOR.-There is now little choice, in point of fashion, between the liver and the lemon whites. After them come the black and whites (with or without tan), then the pure black, and lastly the pure liver. Dark liver-ticked is, perhaps, the most beautiful color of all to the eye.
VALUE OF POINTS.-Skull, 10; nose, 10; ears, eyes, and lips, 4; neck, 6; shoulders and chest, 15; back quarters and stifles, 15; legs, elbows, and hocks, 12; feet, 3; stern, 5; symmetry and quality, 7; texture of coat, 3; color, 10. Total, 100.