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Portuguese Pointer

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021
The Portuguese Pointer is a medium to large dog bred in Portugal to be a hunting dog. It is one of a number of pointing dogs but is considered by many to be one of the best, especially at hunting red legged partridge. It is a brave and loyal dog that is also a great companion too and has a lot to offer. It is also called the Portuguese Pointing Dog and in Portuguese its name is Perdigueiro Portugues. It has a life span of 12 to 14 years.
The Portuguese Pointer at a Glance
Name Portuguese Pointer
Other names Perdigueiro Portugues, Portuguese Pointing Dog
Nicknames PP
Origin Portugal
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 35 to 60 pounds
Average height 18 to 22 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Smooth, short,
Hypoallergenic No
Color Yellow or tan, white markings
Popularity Not fully recognized by the AKC
Intelligence Very good
Tolerance to heat Very good to excellent
Tolerance to cold Good to very good
Shedding Average – will be some hair in the home
Drooling Moderate
Obesity Average – measure food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Above average – brush twice a week and have trimmed regularly
Barking Occasional – some barking but should not be all the time
Exercise needs Very active – needs active owners
Trainability Easy to train
Friendliness Very good
Good first dog Good but better with experienced ones
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Good but high prey drive – socialization is needed
Good with strangers Good but wary – socialization is needed
Good apartment dog Low – needs space and a yard
Handles alone time well Low – prefers not to be alone for long periods
Health issues Quite healthy but a few issues include hip dysplasia, albinism and ear infections
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $250 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $650 a year for grooming, license, basic training, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1385 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $900
Rescue organizations Dogs of Portugal, check local rescues and shelters too
Biting Statistics None reported

The Portuguese Pointer’s Beginnings

The Portuguese Pointer was bred in Portugal and is thought to be almost a thousands years old. It was developed to help hunters to hunt local bird especially the partridge. Its name in Portuguese, Perdigueiro Português comes from the word perdigon meaning partridge. Its ancestor is thought to be the Iberian hunting dog who could be found in Portugal as far back as the 1100s. At first the dog was bred in royal kennels only and was a favored hunting dog for bird hunting amongst the nobles and Portuguese royalty. It was used by falconers, the dog would point to the game and then the hunters would use a hawk or falcon to swoop in and kill it. Later when guns were developed hunters would shoot the prey.

Coming into the 18th century the breed was also owned by the common people and it became more popular for a time. This was also a time when English families moved into parts of Portugal for wine production and sent the dog back to England where it played a part in the breeding of the English Pointer. However in the 19th century the breed faced some problems and its numbers declined mostly due to the social difficulties that were happening in Portugal. It was now endangered and facing extinction.

New Lease on Life

It was then that the modern form of the Portuguese Pointer as we see it today was started. Breeders saw the dog was in trouble and at the start of the 20th century took the dogs they could find that were in the north of the country and worked to bring up the numbers together. In 1932 the pedigree book was started and in 1938 the first breed standard was written. While there are a small number elsewhere, the UK has more, then there are a few in Canada and the US for example. The UK Kennel Club recognized it recently in 2014, the UKC though recognized it in 1996 but the AKC has yet to do so. It is still kept by some as a gundog but also is a valued companion and does well too in canine sports like agility and flyball and in some dog shows.

Portuguese Pointer

The Dog You See Today

The Portuguese Pointer is a medium to large dog weighing 35 to 60 pounds and standing 18 to 22 inches tall. Females are a little smaller than males. It has a square shape build and a tail that is long naturally but in places where it is still practiced is docked to to two thirds or half that. It is well balanced and has a medium length neck that is a little arched going down to strong shoulders then straight front legs. At the back the thighs are powerful and the tail is thicker at the base and then tapers.

The coat is sleek, short and a little coarse in most places, but softer and silkier on the ears and face. Usual colors are yellow or tan with some white markings. Its face is squared and the head is in proportion to the rest of it being a little arched. The muzzle is wide and deep and its ears hang down, are set high and medium sized. There should not be folds of skin or wrinkles. The eyes are oval and large, usually brown and very expressive.

The Inner Portuguese Pointer


The Portuguese Pointer is a brave, loyal and hard working dog. It is completely committed to its family too so when kept to hunt with by day it is reliable, focused, joyful and active and then in the evenings or when not out, it is playful, affectionate, likes to cuddle and be with its people. Its devotion to its owner can be quite intense and in the Portuguese standard for the breed it even states its level affection can even be “…occasionally even embarrassing”! It will stay close to wherever you are.

It is alert and can be a good watchdog, it will bark to let you know of an intruder but is not likely to to be a good guard dog. It is not people aggressive, its drive is just when it is out hunting its usual prey. It tends to be shy or wary at first with strangers so socialization is important. These dogs can be lively and friendly, kind and calm and are eager to please. They can also be curious about things. It does not like being left alone for long periods of time and can suffer from separation anxiety.

Living with a Portuguese Pointer

What will training look like?

The PP is eager to please, intelligent and easy to train with owners who are firm, confident leaders who train in a positive manner. Keep sessions interesting, praise and reward it and encourage it. Harsh training sessions could make it become withdrawn and resistant. Treats and positivity are the way to go and with patience and consistency you will have success. Along with early training, also start early socialization so that it learns how to deal with different places, people, animals, sounds and situations and so on. Be aware though that house training can be a bit more difficult so be patient, set a regular schedule for it and stick to it.

Portuguese Pointer

How active is the Portuguese Pointer?

These dogs are very active, energetic, a lot of stamina and playful too. It needs owners who are active as well so there is not a disconnect and frustration about meeting its needs. It can take long walks, go hiking, play fetch for hours, play, run somewhere safe off leash. This is why it ideally would be with someone that takes it hunting often, or kept and trained for canine sporting activities, or at least kept active for a good 90 minutes a day. It is not an apartment dog, it needs space, and a large yard or even some land to play on. If it has nothing to do and gets bored it can be destructive, hyper and hard to live with. When walking make sure it is leashed as it will want to chase after what it sees as prey, like birds and small animals.

Caring for the Portuguese Pointer

Grooming needs

The Portuguese Pointer needs a fair amount of maintenance, it sheds an average amount so there will be some hair to deal with in the home. Brush it at least twice a week with a firm brush or hound mitt. It may also need regular trimming. Try to avoid giving your dog a bath too often, or using products that are not meant for digs as both can damage its natural oils and dry out its skin.

Its nails if they get too long need to be trimmed using dog nail clippers or scissors. Be sure you do not cut too much of the nail off as the lower part of it has blood vessels and nerves that will cause pain and bleeding. If this is unfamiliar to you there is the option of a professional groomer or having your vet show you. It can be prone to ear infections so make sure you check weekly for signs like wax build up, irritation and so on, and then clean them using a dog ear cleanser not by putting anything down into the ear. Then the teeth should be brushed at least two to three times a week, there are toothbrushes and pastes made especially for dogs.

Feeding Time

A Portuguese Pointer will eat between 1¾ to 3 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. How much exactly depends on metabolism, activity level, health, age and size. Give it water too and try to keep that as fresh as possible.

How is the Portuguese Pointer with other animals and children?

This breed is very good with children with some good socialization and especially when raised with them. They will help each other burn off some energy with play and running around and also be affectionate and loving. Young children can get knocked over accidentally with its energy especially when it is younger though so be sure to supervise. Make sure you also teach them how to touch, approach and play nicely with dogs. It can get along well with other dogs but it does have a high prey drive especially with birds for obvious reasons. Socialization can help but the urge to chase such creatures is pretty strong in it.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

With a life span of 12 to 14 years the PP is somewhat healthy but there are some issues that can come up such as hip dysplasia, thyroid problems, deafness, skin problems, heart problems, eye problems, allergies, epilepsy and albinism

Biting Statistics

Over 35 years of reports of dog attacks in North America were gathered to see what breeds are involved and what kind of injuries are they doing. In the statistics gathered there is no mention of the Portuguese Pointer. Pointers are not likely to be aggressive towards people but all dog breeds have a potential to react. Make sure you socialize, train, look after and give enough attention and exercise your dog to lessen the risks.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Portuguese Pointer puppy will, if buying a pet quality dog from a good breeder, likely cost around $900. From a top breeder who perhaps has a lot of success breeding top show dogs, the cost of the dog is going to be a fair bit higher. Be sure about the source when you are looking for a new dog, do not go to places like pet stores, back yard breeders or puppy mills. Another option is adoption if you are only wanting a companion and have no other expectations. Check out rescues and shelters and while the chances of a Portuguese Pointer especially a purebred, may be smaller, you may find a dog that pulls at your heart for other reasons. Adoption will usually costs around $50 to $400.

Other costs are then some initial things needed and health care needed. Things include a crate, collar and leash, carrier and bowls and these will cost about $220. Those health needs that cover things like a physical exam, shots, deworming, micro chipping, spaying or neutering and blood tests will come to about $290.

Annual costs are then another cost of pet ownership. You can expect to spend around $1385 a year as a starting figure to supply your dog with what it needs. A good quality dry dog food and dog treats are a cost of $250 a year. Miscellaneous costs of $650 a year will then pay for basic training, grooming, license, miscellaneous items and toys. $485 will cover basic health care like flea prevention, shots and check ups along with pet insurance.


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The Portuguese Pointer is an active breed and needs active owners, a home with at least a large yard and lots of play, outings, challenge, jobs and a roles to play. It can be a kind, gentle and very loyal dog that has a lot of devotion towards its owner and family. It does love to hunt and that high prey drive means it needs watching around birds but it is playful and gentle with children.

Featured Image Credit: Pedro Monteiro, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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