Health & Well-Being

The years ahead can be especially rewarding for both of you when attention is paid to your Pointer’s health and well-being. Pointers are generally healthy with a life expectancy between 10-14 years.

Although the incidence is small, as with any breed, there are a few known health concerns. These include epilepsy, hip dysplasia, and eye and autoimmune disorders (skin allergies, hypothyroidism, etc.). Even though parents have been x-rayed and cleared of genetic disorders, they can still carry the genes for them. It is always recommended that health tests be performed before you consider breeding your dog in order to decrease the odds of passing on harmful genes.

It is very important to find a veterinarian that you are comfortable with and have confidence in to care for your Pointer. All dogs should have an annual exam and be up-to-date on shots. Aim to feed a high-quality, nutritious, well-balanced commercial diet and always provide plenty of fresh, clean water. Brushing your Pointer’s teeth is also beneficial. Your vet can show you how and provide you with proper supplies.

Socialization & Training

Pointer adult and puppy

All Pointers (and all dogs in general) will benefit from some sort of positive-base obedience or family manners training, even if your Pointer is destined to be a house pet. It is important to start this training and socialization while your puppy is small; as their intelligence, and fun and boisterous personality will make them more difficult to manage as they grow older and rapidly gain in size. Not only will your puppy learn to mind its manners, but it will learn proper socialization as well.

When selecting a training facility, it is important to choose one that uses positive-based (or clicker type) training. Although the Pointer can be high energy, they can also be sensitive and do not respond well to forceful or negative training methods. If you are unsure whether your local training facility would be a good fit for your Pointer, you can contact a member of the American Pointer Club for advice.

The Pointer is built to do just about anything! Besides joining you on the sofa, the Pointer also excels in field trials, hunting tests, conformation competition, obedience, tracking, agility, and rally events. Check out and particularly to learn about where to find, train, and participate in the many available AKC events. Even if you do not choose to pursue one of these activities at the moment, getting together with other Pointer enthusiasts is a sport in itself.


Pointers are easy to groom and maintain – simply an occasional bath when needed, brushing with a soft/medium bristle brush or your hands to remove dead hair, regular nail trimming and gentle ear cleaning are all that is required.

Breed Or Spay/Neuter?

Before you consider breeding your Pointer, all health testing appropriate for the breed should be conducted, remembering that dogs with genetic defects should NOT be bred.

Breeding is a tremendous responsibility. Pointers have large litters, and often can be hard to place because they are not one of the more popular breeds.  Think carefully about the considerable time and financial investment you will shoulder to properly raise a litter. Ethically you will be responsible for the rest of their lives. Unless your Pointer is an exceptional representative of the breed (not just in your opinion), active consideration should be given to the option of spaying or neutering (castration).  APC encourages prospective breeders to participate in AKC events to get the objective opinions of several AKC-licensed judges before deciding to breed.

Spayed or neutered Pointers may participate in all AKC events (including Junior Showmanship) except conformation, and will generally enjoy a healthier life because of the greatly reduced chance of contracting uterine cancer or breast cancer in bitches and the elimination of testicular cancer in males. Speak with your vet about other health and behavioral advantages to having your Pointer spayed or neutered, as well as the best age to do so as recent research indicates it is best to wait to spay or neuter your Pointer until after the gr

What to Expect When

Many owners agree that Pointers are the best kept secret in the purebred dog world.  Their intelligence and desire to please contribute to charming personalities and overall good health so they tend to share our lives and own our hearts into their teen years.

These general guidelines will help you understand typical Pointer behavior at various ages through your dog’s lifespan.


Inquisitive and full of energy, they are busy exploring their world. Expect them to get into everything as they check things out.Six Week Pointer Puppies

  • They can’t read our minds and need to be taught what is yours and therefore off limits. Redirect their behavior by showing them toys and chews that are theirs, and ok to play with.
  • Because the breed has a strong hunting instinct, it is important to teach them to come when called at an early age to firmly imprint this important behavior. When recall training is delayed, some dogs will never be completely reliable off leash. For best results, always use positive, reward-based training methods for a Pointer of any age.
  • As a general guide to determine what to expect of a pup’s maturity, each month of age roughly correlates to a year for a human child.  So if you wouldn’t leave a 4 year old child home unattended while you run to the store, it is wise not to leave a 4 month old puppy unattended.  At 10 months, most are still be too young for that much freedom.  By 12 months, some may be mature enough to be unattended for short periods of time, while others not quite ready.


Expect 2 noticeable turning points as a young Pointer matures into an enjoyable adult:  15 months and 30 months.

  • At 15 months, a Pointer is a young adult and most can be left alone for short periods of time (15 to 30 minutes). They are still quite inquisitive but generally handle a bit more freedom around the house and don’t need the consistent observation prudent with a young puppy.
  • By 30 months, most Pointers are mature adults, both physically and mentally. Most can handle all the freedom you give them in the home.  Outdoors, they are still very driven by their hunting instinct and their senses are constantly telling them if game is nearby, so even dogs that are reliable off leash may need to be reminded to stay close when not in a safe, enclosed area.
  • Many Pointers settle down even more around 5 years of age. They seem to fully understand their role of living in partnership with their humans by five.  Many independent-minded dogs fully embrace working as a team in the field, in companion events, or everyday activities around home.

The Senior Years

While most breeds are considered seniors at age 7, the grey hairs and slower pace of a senior dog usually don’t appear in Pointers until 8 to 10 years of age. Keeping them active at this stage keeps their bodies strong and minds sharp into their teen years. Most are still ready, willing, and able to go out hunting on a fall day, accompany you on a run, or patrol the yard to keep the squirrels at bay for several years.

More frequent veterinary checkups (every 6 months) are a good idea at this stage and regular dental cleanings by your vet are more important than ever.  Believe it or not, there is a link between dental health and urinary tract health (yes, the bacteria from unhealthy teeth circulate throughout a dog’s body), so if you start to see signs of incontinence, check with your vet.  A simple dental cleaning may be all your dog needs to feel better.