Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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In 2017, there were an estimated 1.1 million pet dogs living in Turkey. There is also a considerable population of street dogs, estimated at 150,000 in Istanbul alone. Let’s say this makes a conservative dog population of 1.3 million. Now know that there are just 200 Catalburun (or Turkish pointers), meaning they represent a mere 0.015% of all Turkey’s dogs. A rare breed indeed.

Rare as they are, the Turkish Pointer is instantly recognisable. They have a distinctive ‘double’ nose. This is a deepening of the normal groove that runs down the centre of a dog’s nostrils, but it is so deep that the nose appears forked.

The Turkish Pointer is not an officially recognised breed. However, it leans heavily on their Pointer heritage and would fall into the gundog category. In their native regions, the breed is prized as a partridge hunter. As well as being a great hunting dog, the Turkish Pointer is intelligent, athletic and devoted to their owner.

About & History

With such a distinctive double-nose it’s hard to escape the similarity in appearance between the Turkish Pointer and the Spanish, Pachón Navarro. The accepted origin of the Turkish Pointer is that a small number of Pachón Navarro came over from Spain to Turkey. This may have happened back in the 18th century at a time when both Spain and Tarus where under the rule of Abbasid-Umayyad. The dogs then became established in the villages around the Talus region, and over time formed a separate breed.

This is, however, largely a matter of speculation. A Spanish dog expert, Dr José Manuel Sanz Timón, suggests this theory should be turned on its head. He speculates that the Turkish Pointer is the older breed, and it was from them that the Pachon Navarro descended. It’s likely we will never know the answer for sure. Whatever their origins, the Turkish Pointer has the attributes of a consummate hunting dog. As well as picking up a scent on a breeze and tracking it along the ground, the breed can also stand perfectly still and point the hunter towards the prey.


Ignore the double-nose and what does a Turkish Pointer look like. Actually, and it’s not a huge surprise, they have the look of a Pointer about them, albeit a slightly chunky pointer. They are a medium to large sized dog with a deep chest and athletic build. They have the typical Pointer drop ears that frame the face and a long straight whip-like tail. Their short coat is predominantly white, overlaid with patches or flecks of liver, tan, black or brown.

They have a classic skull shape with a long muzzle, finished off with that unmissable double nose. The nose isn’t actually double, but appears so because the left and right nostrils are separated from each other by a deep cleft. In some cases, this groove is so deep that each nostril appears to have its own root.

Character & Temperament

A wily hunting dog, the Turkish Pointer is perhaps best described as stealthy. They track silently, so as not to alert their prey to their presence. Then once they localise the partridge, they have an uncanny ability to stand perfectly still and point. This tendency to silence is translated into a lack of barking. Of course, they are able to bark but for the majority of the time, choose not to do so.

Character wise they are considered calm and reliable around children. However, they prefer human company to that of the canine kind and can become aggressive to other dogs. They can also be territorial and challenge strangers should they try to intrude.

The Turkish Pointer has the potential to be a good family dog, but only when their needs for mental stimulation and exercise are met. For example, they are NOT suited to apartment living, as the lack of space will soon frustrate them. However, their quiet nature does mean they are less likely to bother neighbours with barking when kept in a suburban neighbourhood.


A highly intelligent breed, the Turkish Pointer loves the mental challenge of training. The wise owner uses reward-based training methods to motivate their dog. When trained regularly, this breed can be supremely obedient and a great option for those interested in agility or other active dog sports.


With such low numbers not a great deal is known about breed related health problems. However, they are linked to certain common conditions including:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip joints have a poor shape, which leads to excessive friction and knocking with each step. Over time, this creates inflammation, which in turn, leads to early arthritis. The earliest hint of hip dysplasia in a young dog is hind leg lameness. Initially, this may improve with rest, but then recur when the dog exercises. As the condition progresses and secondary changes occur, the dog may become permanently in pain.

Management with appropriate pain relief is essential from humane reasons. Sadly, the issue can become so severe that the dog’s mobility is severely impacted. In these cases, the gold standard is hip replacement surgery, which is highly effective but costly.

Underactive Thyroid Glands

The thyroid glands produce a hormone that governs metabolic rate. When too little hormone is present in the dog’s blood stream, their metabolism runs too slowly. Signs of this include a lack of energy, a thin patchy coat, and wanting to lie in warm places. Another important consequence is a tendency to gain weight. Happily, hypothyroidism is treatable once identified. A simple daily tablet of supplementary thyroid hormone allows the dog to lead a normal active life.

Skin Allergies

The Turkish Pointer can suffer from allergies to common grasses and pollens found in the environment. The symptoms manifest as itchy skin, meaning the dog itches and scratches excessively. Not only is this uncomfortable for the dog but they often damage the skin so much that secondary infections set in.

There are now a range of highly effective medications that help control the symptoms of allergic skin disease. However, as with many modern medicines, they are expensive. With therapy being lifelong, this can mount up to a considerable financial burden.

Exercise and Activity Levels

This is a working dog through and through, and plenty of exercise is essential. When kept as a pet, they must be allowed at least one hour of off-lead active running and chasing, twice per day. Not to do so risks them becoming bored and developing antisocial habits, such as digging, chewing or even barking.


A short-coated breed they require little by way of grooming. However, regular brushing is advised as it helps spread the natural oils that waterproof the coat. Avoid over-bathing these dogs, as it strips out the essential oils, and instead, wash only when essential.

Famous Turkish Pointers

An unsung hero, the Turkish Pointer is waiting for someone to make him famous.


When a dog represents just 0.015% of the dogs found in their native country, it would be foolish to outbreed and create hybrids. Instead, breeding aims to maintain purity of the Turkish Pointer and support the numbers of this rare breed.

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