The Pointer

It has never been made quite clear in history why the Spaniards had

a dog that was very remarkable for pointing all kinds of game. They

have always been a pleasure-loving people, certainly, but more

inclined to bull-fighting than field-craft, and yet as early as 1600

they must have had a better dog for game-finding than could have been

found in any other part of the world. Singularly enough, too, the

most esteemed breeds in many countries can be traced from the same

source, such as the Russian Pointer, the German Pointer, the French

double-nosed Griffon, and, far more important still, the English

Pointer. A view has been taken that the Spanish double-nosed Pointer

was introduced into England about two hundred years ago, when

fire-arms were beginning to be popular for fowling purposes. Setters

and Spaniels had been used to find and drive birds into nets, but

as the Spanish Pointer became known it was apparently considered that

he alone had the capacity to find game for the gun. This must have

been towards the end of the seventeenth century, and for the next

fifty years at least something very slow was wanted to meet the

necessities of the old-fashioned flintlock gun, which occupied many

minutes in loading and getting into position. Improvements came by

degrees, until they set in very rapidly, but probably by 1750, when

hunting had progressed a good deal, and pace was increased in all

pastimes, the old-fashioned Pointer was voted a nuisance through his

extreme caution and tortoise-like movements.

There is evidence, through portraits, that Pointers had been

altogether changed by the year 1800, but it is possible that the

breed then had been continued by selection rather than by crossing

for a couple of decades, as it is quite certain that by 1815 sportsmen

were still dissatisfied with the want of pace in the Pointer, and

many sportsmen are known to have crossed their Pointers with Foxhounds

at about that time. By 1835 the old Spanish Pointer had been left

behind, and the English dog was a perfect model for pace, stamina,

resolution, and nerve. The breed was exactly adapted to the

requirements of that day, which was not quite as fast as the present.

Men shot with good Joe Mantons, did their own loading, and walked

to their dogs, working them right and left by hand and whistle. The

dogs beat their ground methodically, their heads at the right level

for body scent, and when they came on game, down they were; the dog

that had got it pointing, and the other barking or awaiting

developments. There was nothing more beautiful than the work of a

well-bred and well-broken brace of Pointers, or more perfect than

the way a man got his shots from them. There was nothing slow about

them, but on the contrary they went a great pace, seemed to shoot

into the very currents of air for scent, and yet there was no

impatience about them such as might have been expected from the

Foxhound cross. The truth of it was that the capacity to concentrate

the whole attention on the object found was so intense as to have

lessened every other propensity. The rush of the Foxhound had been

absorbed by the additional force of the Pointer character. There has

been nothing at all like it in canine culture, and it came out so

wonderfully after men had been shooting in the above manner for about

forty years.

It was nearing the end of this period that field trials began to

occupy the attention of breeders and sportsmen, and although Setters

had been getting into equal repute for the beauty of their work, there

was something more brilliant about the Pointers at first. Brockton's

Bounce was a magnificent dog, a winner on the show bench, and of the

first Field Trial in England. Newton's Ranger was another of the early

performers, and he was very staunch and brilliant, but it was in the

next five years that the most extraordinary Pointer merit was seen,

as quite incomparable was Sir Richard Garth's Drake, who was just

five generations from the Spanish Pointer. Drake was rather a tall,

gaunt dog, but with immense depth of girth, long shoulders, long

haunches, and a benevolent, quiet countenance. There was nothing very

attractive about him when walking about at Stafford prior to his

trial, but the moment he was down he seemed to paralyse his opponent,

as he went half as fast again. It was calculated that he went fifty

miles an hour, and at this tremendous pace he would stop as if

petrified, and the momentum would cover him with earth and dust. He

did not seem capable of making a mistake, and his birds were always

at about the same distance from him, to show thereby his extraordinary

nose and confidence. Nothing in his day could beat him in a field.

He got some good stock, but they were not generally show form, the

bitches by him being mostly light and small, and his sons a bit high

on the leg. None of them had his pace, but some were capital

performers, such as Sir Thomas Lennard's Mallard, Mr. George

Pilkington's Tory, Mr. Lloyd Price's Luck of Edenhall, winner of the

Field Trial Derby, 1878; Lord Downe's Mars and Bounce, and Mr. Barclay

Field's Riot. When Sir Richard Garth went to India and sold his kennel

of Pointers at Tattersall's, Mr. Lloyd Price gave 150 guineas for


The mid-century owners and breeders had probably all the advantages

of what a past generation had done, as there were certainly many

wonderful Pointers in the 'fifties, 'sixties, and 'seventies, as old

men living to-day will freely allow. They were produced very

regularly, too, in a marvellous type of perfection.

Mr. William Arkwright, of Sutton Scarsdale, Derbyshire, has probably

the best kennel in England at the present time. He discovered and

revived an old breed of the North of England that was black, and bred

for a great many years by Mr. Pape, of Carlisle, and his father before

him. With these Mr. Arkwright has bred to the best working strains,

with the result that he has had many good field trial winners. For

a good many years now Elias Bishop, of Newton Abbot, has kept up the

old breeds of Devon Pointers, the Ch. Bangs, the Mikes, and the

Brackenburg Romps, and his have been amongst the best at the shows

and the field trials during the past few years. There are, of course,

exceptions to the rule that many of the modern Pointers do not carry

about them the air of their true business; but it would appear that

fewer people keep them now than was the case a quarter of a century

ago, owing to the advance of quick-shooting, otherwise driving, and

the consequent falling away of the old-fashioned methods, both for

the stubble and the moor. However, there are many still who enjoy

the work of dogs, and it would be a sin indeed in the calendar of

British sports if the fine old breed of Pointer were allowed even

to deteriorate. The apparent danger is that the personal or individual

element is dying out. In the 'seventies the name of Drake, Bang, or

Garnet were like household words. People talked of the great Pointers.

They were spoken of in club chat or gossip; written about; and the

prospects of the moors were much associated with the up-to-date

characters of the Pointers and Setters. There is very little of this

sort of talk now-a-days. Guns are more critically spoken of. There

is, however, a wide enough world to supply with first-class Pointers.

In England's numerous colonies it may be much more fitting to shoot

over dogs. It has been tried in South Africa with marvellous results.

Descendants of Bang have delighted the lone colonist on Cape partridge

and quails, and Pointers suit the climate, whereas Setters do not.

The Pointer is a noble breed to take up, as those still in middle

life have seen its extraordinary merit whenever bred in the right

way. As to the essential points of the breed, they may be set down

as follows:--

* * * * *

HEAD--Should be wide from ear to ear, long and slanting from the top

of the skull to the setting on of the nose; cheek bones prominent;

ears set low and thin in texture, soft and velvety; nose broad at

the base; mouth large and jaws level. NECK--The neck should be very

strong, but long and slightly arched, meeting shoulders well knit

into the back, which should be straight and joining a wide loin. There

should be great depth of heart room, very deep brisket, narrow chest

rather than otherwise, shoulders long and slanting. LEGS AND

FEET--Should be as nearly like the Foxhound's as possible. There

should be really no difference, as they must be straight, the knees

big, and the bone should be of goodly size down to the toes, and the

feet should be very round and cat-shaped. HIND-QUARTERS--A great

feature in the Pointer is his hind-quarters. He cannot well be too

long in the haunch or strong in the stifle, which should be well bent,

and the muscles in the second thigh of a good Pointer are always

remarkable. The hocks may be straighter than even in a Foxhound, as,

in pulling up sharp on his point, he in a great measure throws his

weight on them; the shank bones below the hock should be short.

COLOUR--There have been good ones of all colours. The Derby colours

were always liver and whites for their Pointers and black breasted

reds for their game-cocks. The Seftons were liver and whites also,

and so were the Edges of Strelly, but mostly heavily ticked.

Brockton's Bounce was so, and so were Ch. Bang, Mike, and Young Bang.

Drake was more of the Derby colour; dark liver and white. Mr.

Whitehouse's were mostly lemon and whites, after Hamlet of that

colour, and notable ones of the same hue were Squire, Bang Bang, and

Mr. Whitehouse's Pax and Priam, all winners of field trials. There

have been several very good black and whites. Mr. Francis's,

afterwards Mr. Salter's, Chang was a field trial winner of this

colour. A still better one was Mr. S. Becket's Rector, a somewhat

mean little dog to look at, but quite extraordinary in his work, as

he won the Pointer Puppy Stake at Shrewsbury and the All-Aged Stake

three years in succession. Mr. Salter's Romp family were quite

remarkable in colour--a white ground, heavily shot with black in

patches and in ticks. There have never been any better Pointers than

these. There have been, and are, good black Pointers also. HEIGHT

AND SIZE--A big Pointer dog stands from 24-1/2 inches to 25 inches

at the shoulder. Old Ch. Bang and Young Bang were of the former

height, and the great bitch, Mr. Lloyd Price's Belle, was 24 inches.

For big Pointers 60 pounds is about the weight for dogs and 56 pounds

bitches; smaller size, 54 pounds dogs and 48 pounds bitches. There

have been some very good ones still smaller.

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