Showsight Presents The Pointer

is oval and built for speed, never round as in the foxhound. Th e top line of the pointer should show a slight rise from the sacral vertebrae to the withers. It must not be fl at, slack, or too long as these traits will impede proper locomotion. Th e character- istic sporting dog formula of a short back and moderate length loin fi t the Pointer’s conformation as well. Soundness , in this article, references the merging of form and function. Th e Pointer should be moved on a loose lead to allow his head to come over his center of gravity. You should place equal emphasis on the up-and-back as well as movement in a circle. At the trot in the show ring, the head will come forward and slightly down when moved on a loose lead. Th e gait should be smooth and e ff ortless, with feet traveling in low arcs for e ffi ciency. Viewing movement from the side, a prop- er front assembly will permit the front foot to extend out as far as a vertical line through the tip of the muzzle. Feet and legs should move in unison, not crossing, paddling, winging, side-winding, pound- ing, or anything akin to hackney action. Th e latter is to be faulted. Th e pointer will tend to single track at the trot. Th is is an e ffi cient and e ff ective way to move and cover ground. In the fi eld, the pointer moves rapidly with front legs and rear moving in unison like a hinge supported by a strong back, capable of considerable speed. Th e pointer is a very fast running breed, well muscled and athletic. Temperament embodies the Pointer’s mental ability to demonstrate con fi dence and congenial behavior. He is very alert in all situations, and keenly interested in any- thing that has wings. Th e Pointer is eas- ily trained for work in the show ring, and responds favorably to consistent training regimens. Th e socialization factor should begin at an early age, as the Pointer does not fare well if brought to dog shows with little or no prior experience. Young dogs are often a bit unruly, but judges should be patient to allow the handlers to bring out the best from their younger exhibits. International Standards vary to some extent from the AKC standard. If you judge outside the US, you should be aware of the di ff erences that may exist in the breed stan-

dards. Some standards have size variations and emphasize the classic dish head. Most standard variations outside the US are associated with size limitations. I found the Italian standard to be most committed to relative ratios. Th e English standard pro- vides for the tri-color: black & white with tan markings. In the AKC standard, the color is irrelevant with a single comment that a good pointer cannot be a bad color. I have seen one liver tri-colored pointer in 48 years. Additional breed comments are detailed in the work of Solero 8 , and to some extent in Lola Mcdonald Daly’s book 4 . Sole- ro’s book is written in Italian, and the illus- trations are excellent. Enos Phillips 2 has portraits of tri-colored Pointers in his book that date back several centuries. In breed seminars, I am often asked to answer the question why there is such a dis- parity between the fi eld pointer and show pointer. Th e disparity is especially evident in the US. Th e answer lies in understand- ing the balance of form and function. With rare exception, those dedicated to fi eld trials in the US emphasized the functional aspects of the breed at the expense of optimal struc- ture. Th e fi eld pointer evolved as a smaller aberration of the breed with broader cathe- dral fronts and barrel ribs, shorter legs and a fl agpole tails. Th e tail designed, perhaps by happenstance, to illustrate some arcane association with desire and intensity, came in vogue as early as the mid-1930s. Th e late Robert Wehle 6 , whose pointers were a great success in fi eld trials, created his own stan- dard of the breed which called for the verti- cal tail. A photograph of a pointer skeleton with the vertical tail appears in the book. Th e AKC pointers are excellent gun- dogs, where form and function have been emphasized, without exempting the dog of its natural ability to hunt upland game. Di ff erent venues of competition have driven some to emphasize certain breed attributes over others. Hence, we have the divergence in breed type. Th e standard exempli fi es the importance of judging the entire animal as a smooth, balanced dog is more desired. Th e formula I provided encapsulates the entire animal perspective in the evaluation of breeding stock. Several years ago, I had an opportunity to chat brie fl y with Ed Gilbert. I presented

his book for an autograph. What Ed wrote are words I value: “Read, think and be chal- lenged”. Th is is practical advice for judges and breeders alike. Ongoing education is crucial to the success as a breed evaluator. I fi nd ringside observation of sporting dogs to be a valuable learning experience. Infor- mal discussions with your peers at judge’s seminars are of additional value. I should add an additional observa- tion-evaluation of breeding stock must begin with careful evaluation conducted by breeders whose intent is to present the pointer in the show ring, or compete in the fi eld. Th e best years of the modern pointer lie ahead with dedicated breed- ers and judges working together to ensure the breed’s quality remains intact. In ref- erence to dog breeders, Robert Wehle 6 said, “ Th e dog breeders of today then, are merely temporary custodians of the breeds that were handed down to us from the last generation of breeders and which we, in turn, shall hand on to the next gen- eration”. It is incumbent upon judges and breeders to ensure the preservation of the Pointer’s valuable and ancient heritage. BIO Henri Tuthill has been involved in the sport of dogs for 48 years. He and his wife Nancy are the breeders of 120 Pointer champions. Th ey have finished dogs in three groups: sporting, hound and terrier. Both Henri and Nancy are judges of sev- eral sporting dogs and continue to extend their education and ability to judge several more breeds. You may contact Henri at, or visit their web- site at References [1] Arkwright, William, “The Pointer”, [2] Phillips, Enos,”The True Pointer and His An- cient Heritage”. [3] Dogs of the British Isles [4] Daly, Lola Macdonald, “The Pointer as a Showdog”,Milo Delinger, 1936. [5] Gilbert, Edward & Thelma R. Brown, “K-9 Structure & Terminology”, MacMillan, Inc. 1995. [6] Wehle, Robert, “Wing & Shot”, The Country Press, Scottsville, New York, 1966. [7] Lyon, McDowell, “The Dog in Action”, Howell Book House, Inc. 1966. [8] Solaro,Giuseppe, “IL Pointer”, Milano, Italy. Edizioni. No date provided. [9] AKC Structure components from [10] American Pointer Club Illustrated Breed standard

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