12 Types Of Pointer Dog Breeds

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Have you ever heard of pointer dogs? They get their name from the way they suddenly stop and “point” their tails up and their snouts in the direction of their targets, typically waterfowl and other small prey.

It’s quite a sight to watch, to be honest, and so enthralling to watch them at work. They may also be called bird dogs or gun dogs, depending on the person’s locale and preference.  

These gorgeous pointing dogs are also retrievers, not in the breed sense, but in the fact that when their hunters take down the prey, they fetch it and bring it back. This typically involves retrieving waterfowl.

Breed Traits

The most common traits of pointer dog breeds are their energy levels, enthusiasm, smarts, and utter devotion to pleasing their owners, which makes them versatile hunting dogs. They can become very destructive if not kept busy because they are sporting dogs that require physical and mental stimulation to keep them engaged. They need plenty of exercise!

Types of Pointer Dog

There are many different types of pointing breeds, each with their own unique traits. Let’s take a look at a few! Each of these pups on the list is recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as part of the Sporting group.

1. Pointer

GROUP Sporting
DOG’s SIZE 23″ to 28″
WEIGHT 45 to 75 pounds
FUR AND COLOR Smooth, short glossy coat; multiple colors, including black and white, lemon and white, liver and white, orange and white, black, lemon, solid liver, or orange
LIFE SPAN 12 to 17 years

Commonly known as the English Pointer and shortened to Pointer, this pup has origins that go back to the 17th century. They are often compared to German Shorthaired Pointers, but the breeds differ in a few ways.

Where many Pointer breeds point and retrieve, the English Pointer only points, though it can be taught to retrieve game.  

The Pointer dog breed has a reputation for being one of the most versatile in the category. Because they do so well, they’re often touted as the “Cadillac of Bird Dogs.” The English Pointer is a sociable dog, but not while in the field, where it has a job and doesn’t like distractions. They are also amazing family dogs who are loving and sweet.

2. Brittany

types of pointer dog
GROUP Sporting
DOG’s SIZE 17.5″ to 20.5″
WEIGHT 30 to 40 pounds
FUR AND COLOR Short, wavy, double coats; liver, liver roan, liver & white, white & orange, orange roan, liver, white & orange
LIFE SPAN 12 to 14 years

Once called the Brittany Spaniel, this pup, to me, is one of the sweetest-looking dogs on this list, kind of bearing a sort of resemblance to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

But make no mistake, Brittany is all business and will not be content to sit on your lap all day. It has a strong work ethic, and despite its medium size, Brittany is an in-demand dog.  

The Brittany was actually developed by poachers and peasants in the French Medieval times. It has boundless stamina and can track down game birds with its excellent scent skills.

While it’s a fun-loving dog with a strong willingness to please its owners, you’ll want to keep Brittany happy with either hunting outings or plenty of exercise! 

3. Bracco Italiano

types of pointer dogs
GROUP Sporting
DOG’s SIZE 21″ to 27″
WEIGHT 55 to 90 pounds
FUR AND COLOR Short, smooth coat; white, white & chestnut, white & orange
LIFE SPAN 10 to 14 years

As its name might imply, the Bracco Italiano is an Italian pointer dog, but it’s also an ancient breed. It has been around since the fourth century BC. The Bracco Italiano is actually a cross of different breeds: the Asiatic Mastiff and sighthounds.  

Like most working dogs, he is all business when out in the field helping hunters track down prey and retrieve birds, but at home, the Bracco Italiano is an entirely different creature.

Despite its size, it’s a very gentle dog that listens and loves other animals and other dogs. It’s an affectionate dog, but be warned — it will drool… a lot. It’s also a very vocal breed, so it might not be suitable for apartment life.  

4. Spinone Italiano

pointer breeds
GROUP Sporting
DOG’s SIZE 22″ to 27″
WEIGHT 65 to 85 pounds
FUR AND COLOR Medium wiry coats; white, white & orange, orange roan, brown roan
LIFE SPAN 10 to 12 years 

Like the Braccio Italiano, the Spinone Italiano is from Italy, its name referencing undergrowth common in Italy’s Piedmont region. Thanks to its coarse fur, it can easily track in rough terrain.

During World War II, the breed was on the cusp of extinction, but thankfully, people banded together to help boost its numbers. The Spinone Italiano is still one of the rare types of Pointer dog, but it isn’t in any danger of falling out of the dog world.  

These pups are one of the more docile of the Pointer breeds, but they can also be quite stubborn! When you’re training, it’s a great idea to keep puppy treats handy to bribe them; after all, who doesn’t love a tasty snack when learning how to behave? 

5. English Setter

point setter dog
GROUP Sporting
DOG’s SIZE 23″ to 27″
WEIGHT 45 to 80 pounds
FUR AND COLOR Medium, double silky coat; multiple colors, including Belton (blue, lemon, liver, or orange), and tricolor 
LIFE SPAN 12 years

The English Setter is a Pointer dog that originated in the UK and has a history dating back to at least the 18th century, where it served as a hunting dog to elites. Instead of pointing, however, it tends to “set,” a laying down motion that lets their owners know they have found their quarry. 

One way the English Setter stands out is in terms of its mellow personality. They are intelligent dogs and hard workers in the field, no doubt about it, but inside? The pup is calmer than other pointers, loves to socialize with children and other dogs, and thrives on human companionship.

Don’t forget to exercise your English Setters, though, because as a water dog breed, they need the workout to stay in shape to show off their hunting prowess. 

6. Gordon Setter

pointers dogs
GROUP Sporting
DOG’s SIZE 23″ to 27″
WEIGHT 45 to 80 pounds
FUR AND COLOR Medium, double coat; black and tan, though they might come in red or tan
LIFE SPAN 12 to 13 years

The Gordon Setter is another pointer dog that actually “sets” when it finds prey. This pup was originally bred with the help of Scot Alexander Gordon, who was looking for a dog to not just point and retrieve but also flush the prey out.  

These hunting companions have a lot of energy and will need someone who can handle them, as they are not really ideal for first-time pet owners.

However, it’s an affectionate dog that will make a wonderful family companion and watchdog since it thrives on spending time with its people and is wary of strangers. As well as being happy and enthusiastic, the Gordon Setter is loyal and devoted.

7. German Shorthaired Pointer

dogs like german shorthaired pointer
GROUP Sporting
DOG’s SIZE 21″ to 25″
WEIGHT 45 to 70 pounds
FUR AND COLOR Smooth, short coats; liver, liver & white, liver roan, black, black roan, or black & white
LIFE SPAN 10 to 12 years

If you’re looking for the most popular of the pointers, here you go! Hailing from Germany, the German Shorthaired Pointer breed is typically touted as an all-around gun dog, and for good reason.

It’s more than capable in the hunting field and can track down everything from deer to raccoons. The ancestry of this pointer dog dates back to the 19th century when its popularity began to grow.  

German Shorthaired Pointers are medium-sized dogs that also fit in well around the home, but be warned — they still need to be kept busy! Take them swimming, as they love the water and have webbed feet to prove it.

However, you can rest assured that your German Shorthair, once it’s calmed down, will be an amazing pet. It’s a happy and affectionate pointer breed.  

8. German Wirehaired Pointer

types of pointers dogs
GROUP Sporting 
DOG’s SIZE 22″ to 26″
WEIGHT 50 to 70 pounds
FUR AND COLOR Medium, double wiry coat; liver, or liver & white
LIFE SPAN 14 to 16 years

There’s more than just the coat at stake here; the German Wirehaired Pointer is an entirely different breed than its shorthaired counterpart. They can work in all kinds of weather and terrain thanks to their water-repellent fur.

German Wirehaired Pointers also have cute bushy eyebrows and beards. They thrive in hunting situations and work well with one or more people.  

At home, you need to keep this pup busy, lest it become destructive, but they’re amazing watchdogs who love to guard their homes, people, and property. If you don’t hunt, and you want this pup, engage it in dog sports. With its intelligence, it’ll thrive and be happy, then cuddle up with you afterward. 

9. Irish Setter

pointer hunting dogs
GROUP Sporting
DOG’s SIZE 25″ to 27″
WEIGHT 60 to 70 pounds
FUR AND COLOR Medium-length silky coat; red, chestnut, or mahogany
LIFE SPAN 12 to 15 years

The Irish Setter came to the US from Ireland, where it originated in the 1800s. Their coats are a shade of red, sleek and gorgeous, only adding to the pup’s allure.

In the field, the Irish Setter is a workhorse, using its excellent sense of smell to sniff out birds. Then, like the other setters, it lays and points in the direction of the target.  

At home, this pointing breed is playful and fun, with an affectionate nature that draws people in, even if they aren’t hunters. However, if you do decide to adopt this pup, it’s important to make sure you meet the physical and mental stimulation needs it enjoys to keep it happy.  

10. Irish Red and White Setter

Irish Red and White Setter
GROUP Sporting
DOG’s SIZE 22.5″ to 26″
WEIGHT 35 to 60 pounds
FUR AND COLOR Medium double, silky coat;  white with red patches
LIFE SPAN 11 to 15 years

The Irish Red and White Setter is even older than its crimson-colored cousin, the Irish Setter. Beginning in the 1600s, it became a steady fixture in the hilly countryside of Ireland.

Like the Spinone Italiano, it nearly went extinct, but fortunately, this bird dog was saved from such a fate in the 1920s, which is a great thing for the dog kingdom. Their strong work ethic and penchant for sniffing out birds makes them a great hunter’s companion — plus, they really love the work they do. 

The Irish Red and White Setter is shorter and stockier than its cousin, but this pointing breed is energetic and playful when it’s not working. They are friendly and really enjoy being around their families.  

11. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

large wire haired dog breeds
GROUP Sporting
DOG’s SIZE 20″ to 24″
WEIGHT 35 to 70 pounds
FUR AND COLOR Medium-length, double wiry coat; brown & gray, chestnut & gray
LIFE SPAN 12 to 15 years

If you want a floofy hunting companion, look no further than the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. Its coat is rough on the body, but it actually has a soft, fluffy head.

This pup dates back to the 1800s, when Eduard Korthals crossed several breeds to create the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, because he wanted a dog that was capable of being a workhorse on dry land and in the water.  It has webbed feet to propel it through the water.

Despite its unkempt look, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a sweetheart of a Pointer dog that is affectionate and loyal to its family. It’s also a low shedder, which may appeal to you if you prefer not to sweep multiple times a day. 

12. Weimaraner

pointer dog breed
GROUP Sporting
DOG’s SIZE 23″ to 27″
WEIGHT 55 to 90 pounds
FUR AND COLOR Smooth, short coat; gray, blue, silver gray
LIFE SPAN 10 to 13 years

The Weimaraner is the last bird dog on our list, but it’s certainly nowhere near the least of the breeds. As its name may indicate, the breed is from Germany, and was created when breeders crossed French and German hunting dogs with Bloodhounds.

Despite it being a Pointer dog, the Weimaraner was actually a hunter first. It sought big predators such as wolves, bears, and mountain lions.  

Known as the “Gray Ghost” to many, the breed is a real sweetheart at home. It does need plenty of mental and physical stimulation, as well as obedience training like most of the Pointer dogs on our list, but it is happy to be mellow and rest with its owners and family members when it’s sated. 

Tips for Caring for Pointer Dog Breeds

As with any dog breed, you’ll need to take care of your Pointer dog to ensure it lives up to its potential. Pointing breeds are workhorses and, thus, need a lot of physical activity, they will not be happy being lapdogs.  

When you adopt one of the types of Pointer dogs on this list, make sure you do your due diligence in considering breeders and their standards. Typical health issues may involve hip dysplasia as well as eye and thyroid issues. Sudden bloat isn’t out of the question either due to the deep chest areas.  

Since these pointing breeds are likely always out in the elements, you’ll need to pay extra care to grooming, too. They will need baths frequently, especially if they dive into muddy waters to retrieve, and you’ll need to clean out their ears and trim their nails. 

Other Considerations for Apartment Living 

As with most high-energy dogs, pointing breeds aren’t suited for apartment living. They need too much stimulation, and some are very vocal, which is likely to irritate your neighbors.

If you must live in an apartment, make sure you keep your pups worn out so they can’t cause too much ruckus.


What Is the Difference Between an English Pointer and a German Shorthaired Pointer?

Both of these pointing breeds are beauties! But, the main difference between the two is their size. The German Shorthaired Pointer is smaller in terms of weight and height, and it comes in a few more colors than the English Pointer.

Additionally, German Shorthaired Pointers tend to be a bit more involved with training, shedding, and their energy levels. 

What Is the Biggest Pointer Breed?

There are several large dog breeds on this list, but the biggest one is a tie between the Weimaraner and the Bracco Italiano, both of which can stand up to 27″ tall and weigh a whopping 90 pounds! Other pointing breeds aren’t far behind in size, either.

What Is the GREY Dog That Looks Like a Pointer?

Again, this is the Weimaraner — it’s such a popular pup in terms of its appearance and personality! 

What Dog Breed Looks Like a German Shorthaired Pointer?

French Pointers, the Braque Francais gun, are known to look like their German counterpart, but they are an entirely different breed of hunting dog.


When it comes to types of Pointer dog breeds, you really can’t go wrong with any on this list. They’re all very skilled at hunting and sniffing out game birds, and they are all amazing family pets when their jobs are over.

As I always say, just make sure you get one that fits your needs and lifestyle rather than one based on its looks. Keeping these pups busy is a full-time job!

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