I wrote the Pointer column for the AKC Gazette approximately 15 years ago. In one of my assignments, I was describing the breed and stated that the Pointer is the "best-kept secret," and I meant that in the context that it makes a wonderful family dog.
That phrase in regard to describing this breed has "caught on," and I even heard it used recently in reference to the breed by one of the commentators during a dog show featured on Animal Planet. It's true that the general public does not realize what a versatile breed Pointers are. While I would not like to see this breed become so wildly popular that it is exploited and overpopulated as Labs and Goldens have become, still, this breed deserves a little "respect!"
Unfortunately, there are two widely divergent "types" of Pointers. While the word "type" is typically used to describe the essence of the breed standard in living form, I will use the word differently here - for lack of a better, more easily understood word, for what I want to convey. In the United States, there are "field Pointers" and there are "conformation or show-bred Pointers." Seldom do they look or act like the same breed. That is most unfortunate, because along with the field variety comes, unfortunately, a mentality among some owners/hunters that the field Pointer is not a pet but a possession to be utilized during bird season, and the rest of the year to be relegated to a pen or kennel with little or no human companionship. I have been reprimanded for trying to "pet" a field Pointer. "Don't pet 'dat bird-dawg, 'cause 'den he won't hunt!" That is, sadly, the opinion of the breed that many competitive hunters have.
Like race car afficiaionados and luxury car fans, there are uses and venues for different hobbies. But the Pointer, if properly bred and raised and maintained as a family pet, has the temperament and inherent instinct to "do it all," without being treated as if it's untouchable because it will misunderstand kindness as an invitation to "slack off" as a working dog.
This breed originates in Europe. The Pointers across the pond, regardless of the country, generally all look the same. They are beautiful, with lovely heads and good temperaments. They come in all colors, both parti-colors and solids. Hunters abroad use their beautiful dogs successfully for upland game birds, even rabbits and hares. Then, the dogs go home and relax in front of the fireside with the family, and might take a weekend off and compete in a dog show. That is the way it should be. The breed should look the same and be treated the same, regardless of its function.
Only in America, sadly, has the breed been divided into two virtually separate breeds, the Field Pointer and the Pointer which one will see in dog shows and as family pets on plantations and in town and country homes among those who have the knowledge and appreciation of the proper appearance and background of the breed.
Many field "type" Pointers in the U.S. are found in pounds, and the rescue organizations for Pointers typically state that the abandoned Pointers are almost always the field-bred variety. Attention is not generally paid to the entire aspect of structure, temperament, health and other important considerations prior to breeding Pointers for the field. Show dogs and companion dogs from lines developed for proper adherence to the breed standard (which is a similar standard in U.S. and abroad) are conscientiously bred, raised and socialized, making them a lovely family addition, athletic companion and brilliant bird dog or agility/obedience star.
Pointers have been used for search and rescue, even underwater cadaver location. They "freeze" and point - whether it's a bird or the bird's scent, a human buried under a pile of rubble, or a body under a layer of dirt or underwater, depending on the job for which they've been trained and asked to perform. They remain on point until verbally released. They have also be trained and utilized as service dogs for the disabled.
One step at a time - if we can educate the public on this fabulous breed and encourage hunters to consider the entire qualities of this breed, considering its intelligent mind, correct conformation, kind heart, loving spirit and desire to serve as part of the whole package, to be admired and treated with kindness and respect, we can make steady progress in gaining proper recognition and appreciation for the Pointer.