Portuguese Pointer

Gemma Gaitskell
Dr Gemma Gaitskell (BVetMed MSc MRCVS, Royal Veterinary College, London)
 
Photo of adult Portuguese Pointer

The Portuguese Pointer is a medium sized dog belonging to the gundog group of breeds. It is lively, extremely affectionate and dedicated with an extreme desire to please its owner. Originally descended from the Spanish Pointer the breed was developed to point and mark game during hunts, in particular partridges. It is well adapted to its native environment in Portugal and is hardy with plenty of stamina. The breed is a fast learner, and when combined with their willing character this makes them easily trainable.

The Portuguese Pointer is very sociable and likes to stay close to its owner. The breeds needs a fair amount of exercise, but less than many other gundog breeds. It is usually good with children due to its gentle nature but should be well socialised from a young age with dogs and other animals. The Portuguese Pointer has a short, easy to maintain coat, which does not require any specialist grooming. It is not known to suffer from any common breed related health problems.

About & History

The Portuguese Pointer is a medium sized breed of dog that belongs to the gundog group of breeds. The UK Kennel Club only recently recognised it as a breed in 2014. The breed is also known by its Portuguese name – the Perdigueiro Português. It descends from the Spanish or Iberian Pointer, which was initially used to develop the breed which was first described in literature in its native Portugal in the 12th century, and then in works of art in the 13th century. The breed was originally used to ‘point’ or mark game alongside a falcon or hawk, which would then kill the prey. Although used as an all round gundog it was most commonly used to hunt partridge, which is where its Portuguese name derives from as Perdiguero refers to partridge. The breed is well adapted to the climate, terrain and types of game found in Portugal.

The Portuguese Pointer was also introduced to England in the 18th century and although smaller and stockier influenced the development of the English Pointer where some of its characteristics can still be seen today. The modern type of the Portuguese Pointer became established at the beginning of the 1900’s when the breed had become endangered and a group of breeders worked together to reestablish its numbers. Today, the breed is still used as a working dog but also kept as a companion, as well as excelling in sports, such as flyball and agility, which require athletic capabilities.

Appearance

Portuguese Pointer Large Photo

The Portuguese Pointer only has two colours that are accepted for registration with the UK Kennel Club:

  • Yellow
  • Yellow & White

The breed is of a medium size and should stand between 50 to 58 cm tall at the withers and weigh between 16 and 27 kg. Female dogs should be slightly smaller than male dogs. The Portuguese Pointer is a well-proportioned dog with a slightly arched medium length neck that leads to strong well-angled shoulders and straight forelegs with plenty of bone. The short, wide back slopes a little towards the hind end, which is muscular with powerful thighs. The tail should be thick at the base and gradually taper, hanging at rest, but carried higher when active.

The Portuguese Pointer has a distinctive head with a ‘square’ face that is in proportion to the overall size of the dog. There is a distinctive differentiation between the broad, slightly arched skull and the beginning of the muzzle that is deep and wide. There should not be excessive wrinkles or folds of skin on the head. The jaw should form a perfect bite and teeth should be correctly spaced and healthy. Eyes are typically brown, large and oval in shape with a bright expression. Ears are fine, soft to touch, of medium size and high set, falling down onto the cheek. Their position indicates how alert the dog is.

The Portuguese Pointer should move with an effortless, elegant movement giving the impression of power and coordination.

Character & Temperament

The Portuguese Pointer is a loyal, dedicated dog that can be a little shy at first with strangers but is extremely kind and affectionate. The breed is generally calm and curious but also hardy and persistent. The Portuguese Pointer is a gentle breed, which is usually good with children and can therefore make a good family pet.

The Portuguese Pointer is a very sociable breed of dog and is especially partial to human company so can suffer from separation anxiety if not accustomed gradually to being left alone for short periods. The breed is not typically a guard dog by nature, but it will use its natural barking ability to warn of danger.

Trainability

The Portuguese Pointer has an overwhelming desire to please its owner, which means that it is usually quick to learn with gentle training using positive reinforcement methods. This means that recall training is not normally a problem and neither is house training if puppies have a regular routine and plenty of access to outdoor space.

The Portuguese Pointer is usually good with other dogs when socialised from a young age but its hunting instincts mean that if it is expected to live with other pets it should be accustomed to them from puppyhood.

Health

The Portuguese Pointer has an average life expectancy of around 10 to 12 years of age. It is classed as a Category 1 breed by the UK Kennel Club with no specific points of concern. It is a healthy breed, and there are no common breed specific health problems that are known to affect it.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Portuguese Pointer is has working roots and should be walked for an hour to an hour and a half a day to keep it happy and healthy. Ideally, some of this time should be spent off the lead running freely, however, it requires less exercise than many other breeds from the gundog group. It is important that the breed has plenty of mental stimulation, as it can easily become bored and this may lead to the development of destructive behaviours.

Grooming

The Portuguese Pointer has a short coat that does not require any specialist grooming. The breed does shed throughout the year but occasional brushing is sufficient to keep hair from being left around the house. The breed can occasionally be prone to ear problems so ears should be checked regularly and kept clean to help reduce the chances of infections becoming established.

Famous Portuguese Pointers

The Portuguese Pointer is a relatively uncommon breed of dog, especially outside Portugal, and there are no well-known examples of the breed in popular culture.

Cross-Breeds

The Portuguese Pointer is not currently used to form any well-known cross breeds .

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