Pointer vs. Retriever-type dogs has been with humans for centuries. People bred them hundreds of years ago to assist hunters with their prey. These dogs are still popular today, but their role in our lives has significantly changed, as hunting has become more of a hobby and less of a way for the average person to put food on the table. Some people wonder if the Pointer and Retriever types of dogs are identical since their origins and purpose are similar.
Pointer dogs and Retriever dogs have several common traits, especially family pets. However, these two types of dogs also have several differences, and it is imperative to learn about them before committing to one as a pet.
Have you ever watched an old cartoon and seen a dog character freeze, pointing toward whatever poor critter the befuddled hunter Elmer Fudd is hoping to shoot? That archetypal dog pose isn’t something that all dogs can do. You need a Pointer dog! Pointers have the patience, steadiness, and good balance to assume the pointing posture to help their master locate the game.
Pointer Vs. Retriever Dogs: History Of The Pointer Breed
There are records of Pointer-type dogs being used as hunting dogs in England as early as the 1600s. These dogs would have been beneficial to a hunter at that time since, at that time, many hunted birds and other small game with a net. A Pointer dog would locate the prey and then assume a “pointing” pose in their direction so that the hunter could identify them quickly. The “pointing” pose has the dog holding one front foot off the ground, standing still and straight.
As technology developed and bird hunting became a shooting sport, Pointer dogs were still helpful in locating the prey and retrieving them for their masters.
Pointer dogs opt to be strong sporting companions, able to dash for long distances and with the stamina to hunt all day. They are observant and calm, with an unflappable nature that doesn’t spook at the sound of gunshots. Pointers are also known to be patient dogs who will hold their pointing pose for as long as it takes for their master to locate them. These loyal dogs are eager to please their people and take well to training.
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Pointer Vs. Retriever Dogs: History Of The Retriever Breeds
Dogs designated as Retriever type canines started appearing in the early 1800s in England and Scotland. These dogs opt to retrieve downed waterfowl for hunters and “flush” small game from their hiding spots. Other dog breeds used in the creation of the Retriever type include St. John’s Water Dogs, Bloodhounds, English Setters and Water Spaniels.
When trying to “design” the retriever type of dog, the early breeding enthusiasts aimed to ensure that these dogs met some specific criteria. They wanted their retrievers to be strong swimmers so they could quickly locate ducks in the water, have a strong willingness to please, be highly trainable, and have a strong desire to retrieve. It was also essential that retriever dogs be calm and patient, especially since they were often taken on small boats to hunt ducks. No hunter wanted to have their boat capsize because their dog spotted a rabbit on shore and started jumping around!
Today, both the Golden Retriever and the Labrador Retriever are among the most popular dog breeds in the world as companion/family dogs. Many qualities that made them excellent retrievers in the duck hunt have also made them great pets.
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Physical Traits Of The Pointer Vs. Retriever Dogs
The average Pointer dog will grow to be between 23 and 28 inches at the shoulder and anywhere from 45 to 75 pounds. Males tend to be larger than female Pointers. These dogs generally live to be 12 to 15 years old.
An average Retriever will be a bit stockier than a Pointer, with their average height being between 21 and 24 inches and their weight sitting between 55 and 80 pounds. Males are also larger than females. They generally live to be 10 to 12 years old.
Like any purebred dog, Pointers and Retrievers may be more likely to develop some genetic disorders and diseases. It is best to have your dog checked regularly by a vet familiar with their breed and who knows what to watch. Also, if you are adopting a purebred puppy, only deal with reputable breeders with vet-checked breeding stock. A backyard breeder or puppy mill will likely turn out puppies prone to medical issues.
The Pointer breed has a short coat that doesn’t require much in the way of care. They don’t shed much, but brushing them will occasionally help keep your black pants clear of any dog hair they drop.
Retriever-type dogs can be variable with the amount of grooming that they require. A Labrador Retriever is similar in coat length and care needs to a Pointer. However, a Golden Retriever has a longer coat that is more prone to shedding and will require more frequent brushing and grooming.
Mental And Emotional Traits Of The Pointer Vs. Retriever Dogs
A Pointer is an intelligent dog that can show profound stubbornness. They aren’t best for a novice dog handler for this reason. It’s essential to treat a Pointer with respect and kindness when you are training them, even when they drive you a little crazy. House training can take a while, but it will happen with consistency and proper crate training.
Retrievers are more easygoing dogs and can be a good fit with a new dog owner. Their eagerness to please and intelligence make them a quick study for most dog training.
Why Aren’t They Suitable For Young Children?
Pointers are excellent family dogs but aren’t suitable for very young children because of their size and power. They love to spend time with their families and should not be left to exist out in the yard. These loving companions want to be inside with you.
Retrievers are also excellent dogs for families and want to be inside with their people. These dogs are famous for their easygoing nature with any age of children. They are so eager to assist and learn that they are also often used as support animals for people with disabilities.
Both dogs can get along well with other home pets, except birds. Their deep-seated hunting instinct with our feathered friends is just too strong, so if you have a bird, consider a non-sporting breed of dog.
Both dogs will have a very protective streak toward their home and family. It is excellent, as you will always have your guests announced with some loud barking from Pointers and Retrievers. However, make sure to socialize your canine in all situations. With all types of people, their natural protectiveness doesn’t evolve into aggression.
Taking Care Of The Pointer Vs. Retriever
During long hunts, pointer and Retriever dogs were bred for frequent exercise in wide-open fields. While many no longer work as sporting/hunting dogs, their need for a significant amount of activity remains. These dogs require lengthy and demanding daily exercise. A lack of physical exercise will not only leave them with a ton of excess energy, but they will also be unhappy and bored. A bored, discontented dog is a dog looking for trouble. Protect your rugs and shoes, and ensure that your Pointer or Retriever exercises well.
A yard for your sporting type dog and a fenced one is also essential. These capable dogs will take off after potential prey if left alone in an open area.
Pointers and Retrievers excel at agility and flyball because these dog sports demand great attention and stamina. These dogs love to please their master, and they will be thrilled if they can compete in dog sports with you!
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Final Thoughts On Pointer Vs. Retriever Dogs
As you have read, there are a lot of similarities between Pointer dogs and Retriever type dogs. Both dogs developed when hunters needed canines to assist them hundreds of years ago. However, the pointer vs. retriever dogs has a few notable differences.
The Pointer is not suitable for very young children. They are also not great dogs for novice owners due to their stubborn nature. Retriever-type dogs are famous for their good nature with all ages of children, and their amiability makes them ideal dogs for first-time owners.
No matter your breed, you will benefit from your family’s love, natural athleticism, and intelligence.
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- Pointer, Dogtime.com, https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/pointer#/slide/1
- The History of the Retriever, A look back at the fascinating origins of the duck dog, https://www.ducks.org/hunting/retriever-training/the-history-of-the-retriever#:~:text=Developed%20in%20Scotland%20during%20the,its%20own%20strengths%20and%20weaknesses.
- Retriever, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retriever
- Labrador Retriever vs. Pointer https://www.dog-learn.com/breed-vs-breed/labrador-retriever-vs-pointer/