A reader has always wanted a pointer ... Peter Rawlings gives his thoughts on the question

Q: I have been involved in shooting all my life, but 
have only begun shooting in 
a syndicate since retiring and have no experience of having 
a dog sitting at the peg.

I have always fancied having a pointer primarily as a house dog, but also to take out a few times a year when I go shooting. I know English pointers are not bred to retrieve but is it possible to teach one and could it be taught to sit at the peg as well?

An English pointer

English pointers have been bred specifically to be locating dogs

Is it possible? Or a bad idea?

A: Any breed can be taught to retrieve, but that is not to say that they will all retrieve game gently to hand and the methods used are not always in the best interests of the dog.

Birds not fit for the table

I knew of one English pointer that was used by a Gun at the peg and yes it did retrieve, but most of the birds were not fit for the table afterwards and it could not sit still for a moment.

However, I do know the Scandinavians teach their pointers and setters to retrieve and that is 
a requirement, I believe, in their field trials, but I don’t know if all puppies that are started succeed in this skill.

English pointers have been bred specifically to be locating dogs, to quarter wide beats in search of game birds to a point so that the Gun can get into position before the birds are flushed.

Retrieving and sitting still for long periods are certainly not among their natural skills.

German shorthaired pointer

The German shorthaired pointer

The very first time I saw a German shorthaired pointer (GSP) working was about 25 years ago. I had been invited to photograph…

And the advice?

I would advise you to favour one of the more traditional breeds that are used as peg dogs. They are much easier to train and you will enjoy 
your shooting much more if you 
have a calm, biddable retriever, or perhaps a spaniel, by your side. PR