Showsight Presents The Pointer

Judging the Pointer

By Henri B. Tuthill

A

mong all sporting dogs, the Pointer has achieved a place in history through the paintings of some of our most renowned

the pointer standard is not the most dif- fi cult to understand. In fact, it presents a very moderate view of a fi nely hewn sport- ing dog ready and willing to work a fi eld. Th e connotations of what is stated in the standard relevant to the breed’s form and function, I detail in this article. I include several references to the Pointer’s fi eld capa- bilities to draw a tight coupling between form and function. Five Key Attributes While attending the AKC Sporting Dog presentations last August, practically every breed presenter provided the audi- ence with fi ve key attributes of their breed that ensured thorough evaluation of breed- ing stock. For the Pointer, the fi ve attri- butes that establish his true type are the head, front, feet, rear, and tail. Th ey are placed in the order you judge a dog. Th e two attributes unique to the pointer are his head and tail. To paraphrase William Arkwright 1 , for a certi fi cate of his heritage apply to the head, for a certi fi cate of his blueblood apply to his tail. t Head (see Figures 1a, b and c) I use the terms ‘classic dish’ as reference to the heads we fi nd in paintings and older breed references that called for a concave nasal bone, which brings the nostrils to a point higher than the base of the stop, as in Figure 1a. Parallel planes are exhibited by the dog in Figure 1b. Th e nostrils should be large with consider- able expanse as in Figure 1c. Th e stop should be pronounced with a rounded eye and proper placement to comple- ment their dark brown color and inten- sity. Th e skull should be fl at with a well de fi ned Occiput, and only as broad as the length of the muzzle from stop to nose. To understand pointer symmetry, it is important to understand several rel- ative ratios that aid our subjective evalu- ation. Relative ratios have a tendency to

artists, who depicted a dog of beauty and intensity working a fi eld on upland game. Over the span of several centuries, vol- umes have been dedicated to his abilities in the fi eld. Th e root of his origins is often debated among a fi cionados of sporting dogs. Was he a companion on hunting trips with the Egyptians 3000 years ago etched in carvings on the tomb of Th ebes? Did he stem from Spain with the in fl ux of the Spanish pointer brought by troops into France and England in the 1600s? Is he, perhaps, just a jumble of genes through a bunch of disparate crosses from blood- hound to foxhound, and ancient spaniel that produced, by luck of the cross, the breed we see today? Th ere is consider- able evidence in the bibliography to sup- port an a ffi rmative answer to the fi rst two questions, and a resounding refutation of the last one. My advice, should you hold interest in the modern Pointer, is to read these historical accounts and weigh their evidence and the arguments in support of their positions carefully. In the fi nal analy- sis, you be the judge. Th e purpose of this article is to provide judges, who are at the forefront in the eval- uation of the Pointer, a practical guide to ensure the evaluation of breeding stock is accomplished at its highest level of excel- lence. You should begin by reading the AKC Pointer standard, read it carefully, and read it often. Review the American Pointer Club Illustrated Standard. It is important to the evaluation process to translate the words of the standard into a mental image of the ide- al specimen. Our responsibility as judges is to evaluate breeding stock with respect to the breed’s ideal. Among breed standards,

Fig. 1a

Fig. 1b

Fig. 1c

get exaggerated if left unchecked, but the standard pulls us back to reality with the statement that the head should give the impression of length. Short muzzled, rounded back skulls are not acceptable in the breed standard. Th e ear is triangular in shape, somewhat pointed at the tip, and thin in leather carried at eye level

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