Galician Pointer

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Galician Pointer
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The clue is in the name. An ancient breed, the Galician Pointer shares a common ancestry with other better known pointer breeds, such as the English Pointer and German Shorthaired Pointer.

As you might expect, the Galician Pointer is a hunting dog. Their speciality is using scent to find and retrieve game birds, such as partridge, woodcock, and quail. An elegant breed, their athletic lines hide a surprisingly robust mental attitude, which means they think nothing of plunging into a gorse bush, and they are well suited mentally and physically to working on rough terrain.

Words, such as courageous, intelligent, and docile are associated with the Galician Pointer. In the right circumstances, they can make for a great family dog, provided they get plenty of exercise. The main problem being that strong prey drive, which puts other smaller fur-family members at risk of predation.

About & History

The name Galician Pointer refers to the region in Spain, Galicia, where this breed originates. But to get to this point involves a long history that goes back to the Romans. Going back tens of centuries, as the Roman Empire expanded they took livestock with them. This included an ancient breed, a type of Bracco Italiano that accompanied the migrating Romans. These dogs settled widely in what is now France, Spain, and even England.

As the Bracco Italiano types inter-bred with local dogs, strains with different characteristics came into being. With Galicia being an area of forest, woodland and scrubland, so the Galician Pointer responded by adapting to show the characteristics we see today.

It’s an interesting aside, that other better known breeds, such as the German Shorthaired Pointer and the English Pointer have similar origins. This is a little ironic since in the 1970s, these more popular breeds were almost the undoing of the Galician Pointer.

In the 1970s, an influx of these other breeds had a disastrous effect on the Galician Pointer. Crossbreeding, along with a drop in the popularity of the native breed, led to a dramatic downturn in their numbers. It’s only recently that real attempts to save the breed have been made. Even now, the numbers of Galician Pointers are limited, and in some cases, the purity of their bloodline is questionable. Hopefully growing awareness of this underrated dog will lead to resurgence in popularity.


Given a picture of a Galician Pointer and made to guess as to the breed, you’d stand a good chance of identifying the ‘Pointer’ in them. From their overall silhouette to the coat colouring, the Galician has much in common with their better known cousins.

A medium-to-large sized dog, they are perfectly adapted to an active lifestyle. Their long legs are built for endurance and also for sudden bursts of speed. Of course, they also have that inherent pointer instinct to tuck up a foreleg and ‘point’ when they see something of interest.

As with many working dogs, the Galician Pointer has a deep-chest and plenty of lung capacity. Their tucked up waist and long legs suggest athleticism, as is indeed the case. The breed has a long nuzzle, broad forehead, and drop ears that frame the face. Look into their eyes and you glimpse willingness, intelligence, and enthusiasm, which is also reflected in their active stance.

An interesting feature of the Galician Pointer is that the occasional pup is born with a cleft nose. This defined division down the centre of the nasal planum gives them the appearance of having not one but two noses! This is not the case, since the internal plumbing is the same, but it’s easy to understand how huntsmen centuries ago might think these double-nosed dogs had a superior scenting ability.

This is a short haired breed, which comes in a variety of colours. Most commonly the base colour is white, with patches of black, cinnamon, brown, or orange. Tricolour coats of with black or brown and tan cheeks are also seen, as are solid coats of yellow, brown, or black.

Character & Temperament

The Galician Pointer is a veritable paragon of a dog, with words such and obedient, willing, courageous, and affectionate used to describe them.

Through and through a working dog, they are never happier then when nose down following a scent trail. They also thrive on the thrill of retrieving the feathered prey, rabbits, and hares they were bred to hunt. Indeed, once intent on their tracking, the Galician Pointer is brave and ignores the discomforts of prickly gorse or brambles in order to capture their quarry.


This is a breed that likes to be part of a team. They work close to their handler, watching for cues and waiting for the moment when they will be given a job of work to do. An intelligent breed, the Galician Pointer responds brilliantly to reward-based training techniques. They love the mental challenge of being set new tasks to learn and do well at recreations, such as agility.


As a rare breed, there are few records as to health problems that are specific to the Galician Pointer. However, it’s not unreasonable to look for clues amongst their cousins, such as the English and German Shorthaired Pointer. Typically, common health issues in these breeds include:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition passed from parent to pup, where the youngster inherits poor hip anatomy. Unfortunately, less than perfect hips quickly become sore and painful, especially in active dogs. Over time, this inflammation causes remodelling of the hip joint, which further interferes with movement of the joint.

Treatment in mild cases requires the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, with the worst cases needing total hip replacement surgery. Ideally, prevention is better than cure, with breeding stock being screened for healthy hips ahead of mating.


Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid glands don't produce enough thyroid hormone. The latter governs the metabolic rate, and those dogs with low thyroid levels tend to gain weight easily and lack energy.

Happily, this condition is easy to diagnose with a simple blood test. A daily supplement of oral thyroid hormone can correct the problem and enable the dog to lead a normal, active life.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The lean muscular lines of the Galician Pointer hint strongly at their need for plenty of exercise. To be happy, this is a breed that needs plentiful exercise daily with a chance to range off lead to sniff and explore. Not to do so will risk the dog becoming frustrated, which can lead to antisocial behaviours, such as barking, chewing or digging.


The short coat of the Galician Pointer requires little maintenance. In common with all dogs, they do benefit from brushing at least twice a week. This massages the skin, spreads natural conditioning oils over the hair and reduces shedding.

Also, regular grooming sessions help an owner to become familiar with what’s normal for their dog and then spot any new lumps or bumps that develop.

Famous Galician Pointers

With numbers of the Galician Pointer dwindling in the latter part of the 20th century, all efforts are focused on preserving the breed. Thus, purebred matings are encouraged in order to bolster numbers and preserve the authenticity of this delightful breed.


Moving forward, the interests of this noble breed are cared for by the Galician Kennel Club who oversee the welfare of the breed. This is a great starting place for those who wish to know more.

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