The exact origin of pointing dogs is not entirely clear, but certainly frescoes depicting BraccoItalianadogs being used for netting birds, date as early as the 14th century. Virtually every royal household in Europe had an Italian Pointing Dog. It is uncertain when pointing dogs arrived in England, but during the 18th century, English breeders crossed Portuguese short haired pointing dogs with other breeds such as Foxhounds, Greyhounds, Bloodhounds and Bull Terriers to arrive at today’s English Pointer. During the 19th century strong infusions of French and Italian pointer blood were introduced. The English Pointer Club was founded in 1891. Since then the breeding lines have been kept pure, with no external genetic introductions.
Pointers were brought to South Africa by the British officers during the late 18th century. Given the abundance and variety of large mammals, not much attention was given to the recording of bird hunting in Southern Africa. In Victorian times, wing shooting flourished in Europe and was regarded as a sport of gentlemen. With this popularity came the consequence of registrations of pedigree, and inevitably, the advent of field trials to determine “who has the best dog!”
The first recorded field trial was held in Stafford, England in 1866. The South African Field Trial Club was founded in 1908, and hosted its first field trial in August of the same year in Vereeniging. The improvement of working pointers is inextricably linked to field trials and the enthusiasm of the participants and remains a work in progress all over the world.