Do Labradors Point? Can You Train Them To Do It?

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Key Takeaways

  • Some Labradors have been selectively bred to emphasize a pointing trait for hunting purposes.
  • Pointing Labradors combine the retrieving skills typical of the breed with the added ability to point at game, increasing their versatility in the field.
  • While traditionally not all Labradors point, those that do are sought-after by hunters, and across various environments, these dogs maintain their amiable Labrador disposition.

The term "Labrador Pointing" may have piqued your curiosity, and you're probably wondering what it's all about.

Well, you've got it right – some Labradors indeed show a pointing behavior, which is quite fascinating!

But what does it mean to "point"?

Simply put, it's an instinctive behavior that some hunting dogs display; they freeze in place, often with one paw up, to indicate the presence of game to their human hunting companions.

While not all Labradors display this trait, those who do are highly valued in the hunting community for their ability to locate and silently mark game birds.

If you're picturing the Labrador Retriever – friendly, outgoing, and a lover of fetching – you may now be visualizing this sporting breed in a new light.

Traditionally, Labradors are known as retrievers, but the pointing trait has been nurtured in some lines, giving rise to the aptly named "Pointing Labrador." This specialized trait has gained recognition and appreciation among hunters seeking versatile hunting dogs that can both point and retrieve.

Pointing Labradors retain the breed's good-natured temperament and trainability, making them suitable for a variety of roles, from upland bird hunting to loyal family companions.

In this article

History and Origins

Curious about how the lovable Labrador Retriever, especially those with a knack for pointing, came to be?

Let’s uncover the tale together!

Newfoundland Roots

Picture rugged Newfoundland in the 1700s: This is where the ancestors of your Labrador Retriever first splashed around!

They hailed from St.

John’s Water Dogs, working alongside fishermen to haul nets and retrieve fish.

Newfoundland handed us two gifts: the larger Newfoundland dog and our smaller, spry buddy, the Labrador.

By the 1800s, these dogs caught the eyes of English nobles and the voyage to their hearts—and homes—began.

Development of Pointing Labradors

But wait, when did your Labrador start pointing?

It's not a traditional skill for a retriever, right?

Well, the American Pointing Labrador got its fame for doing just that—naturally showing a knack for pointing game like a pro.

Breeders took note and through selective breeding, they fine-tuned this trait.

So, these dogs turned from champion fetchers to ace pointers, combining the best of both worlds in one loyal, friendly package.

Breed Characteristics

If you're intrigued by a dog that combines brawn with brains, the Lab Pointer mix might just be the breed you're looking for.

This blend of the sturdy, affable Labrador and the agile, sharp Pointer brings forth a dog that's both robust in physique and keen in intellect.

Let's fetch the details!

Physical Attributes

The Lab Pointer inherits a well-built frame from both its Lab and Pointer lineage.

Typically, you can expect your Lab Pointer to exhibit:

  • Weight: 35 to 70 pounds, depending on gender and diet.
  • Height: 22 to 28 inches at the shoulder.

Their coats are short to medium in length and can show the typical colors of their parent breeds black, yellow, or chocolate.

Thanks to their Lab genes, they often have a broad skull, strong jawline, and a thick otter-like tail that serves as a rudder in the water.


You're getting the best of both worlds with a Lab Pointer's temperament.

These dogs blend the Labrador's loyalty and eagerness to please with the Pointer's independence and tenacity.

Couple that with their keen sense of smell, and you've got a dog that's not just ready for fun, but also up for challenges.

Whether it's learning new tricks or tracking a scent in the park, your Lab Pointer is always game.

Their adaptability means they are well-suited for various living conditions, but do keep in mind they need space and exercise to keep their energetic spirits satisfied.

Color Varieties

Lab Pointers come in a concoction of hues, encompassing the signature shades of their parent breeds:

  • Labrador: Hues of black, yellow, and chocolate.
  • Pointer: Often exhibits a wider array of colors, generally in patterns and mixes.

When these two paintboxes mix, your Lab Pointer may sport a solid coat akin to their Lab parent, or they could inherit the distinctive patterning of the Pointer.

Each Lab Pointer is unique, so you'll be in for a colorful surprise!

Training Foundations

Wondering how to channel your Labrador's energy into something cool like pointing?

Let's walk through the foundational stages of training that transition your pal from a playful pup to a poised pointer.

It's imperative that you lay a solid groundwork with basic obedience training and slowly integrate activities focused on retrieving and pointing—all seasoned with heaps of positive reinforcement and patience.

Establishing Basic Commands

Before you even whisper the word "point," you need to ensure your Labrador responds reliably to basic commands.

Here's what you should focus on:

  • Sit: Your dog’s rear hits the floor, and it's the cornerstone for all subsequent training.
  • Stay: Your Labrador must learn to freeze in place, a perfect segue into pointing discipline.
  • Come: Comes in handy to bring your dog back during training and prevents them from wandering off.
  • Heel: Keeps your dog close and attentive to you, especially in the field.

Now, fancy a little secret?

Clicker training and using treats are like hitting the jackpot for your Lab's motivation.

Remember, a quick toot on the whistle can also do wonders to grab their attention.

Introduction to Retrieving and Pointing

You might be itching to get to the good stuff—seeing your Lab point with the grace of a ballet dancer!

Well, ease into it by intertwining their natural retrieving skills with the art of pointing:

  • Initiate play with fetching games to ignite their retrieval instincts.
  • Once they are fetch pros, gradually introduce them to the pointing stance by using a wing on a string or similar training aids; encourage any natural inclination to pause and point.

Keep sessions short and sweet—end on a high note when they’re still wanting more.

This strategy maintains their enthusiasm for the game and leaves them eager for the next round of fun.

Remember, shaping your Labrador into a pointing phenom is a marathon, not a sprint.

So, lace-up your patience sneakers and let the training journey begin!

Advanced Training Techniques

When it comes to boosting your Labrador's pointing skills, some advanced techniques can really tip the scales in your favor.

Sharpening your companion's natural instincts and reinforcing good practices goes a long way.

Remember, it's about refining those natural abilities with consistency and dedication from both you and your pup!

The Hold Method

What's the Hold Method?

You might ask.

Well, it's about ensuring your Labrador understands how to hold game properly:

  1. Begin with a soft object and encourage your dog to hold it in their mouth without applying any pressure.
  2. Gradually introduce the command "hold" and reward them for obedience.
  3. Practice this regularly, progressing to game-like objects.

Why does this matter?

A Labrador with a gentle grip won't damage your hunt.

Precision matters, and this method hones exactly that!

The Natural Method

Ever heard of tapping into your Lab's instincts?

That's what the Natural Method is all about.

Here's how you get down to it:

  • Always start during your Lab's puppy stage if possible; this is when they're super receptive.
  • Encourage their natural behaviors by hiding toys or game scents in your backyard.
  • Don't rush things. Let them explore and point at their own pace, reinforcing their natural pointing abilities with positive feedback.

A relaxed dog that trusts its instincts is your ultimate goal here—natural talent polished to perfection!

Use of Bird Launchers

Got a thing for gadgets that give your training an edge?

Enter: Bird Launchers.

  • These devices hold game birds and can be remotely triggered to simulate real hunting scenarios.
  • They help your Lab get accustomed to the sudden appearance of game, conditioning them for real-life hunts.

Sure, a little tech can go a long way, but your guidance is what makes the difference.

After all, you're the one turning your good ol' Lab into a Pointing Pro!

Keep this in mind: consistency is key.

Whichever technique you lean towards, sticking to a regular schedule and building up from simple to complex exercises ensures lasting results.

Happy training!

Hunting Applications

You know, when you pair up with a Pointing Labrador, you're not just stepping out with any retriever – you’re heading into the field with a versatile hunting partner.

They are a unique blend of gun dog that offers more than just fetching; they point!

Think of it as the best of both worlds: the steadfast determination of a Labrador retriever combined with the sharp instincts of a pointer.

Preparation for Hunt Tests

Getting ready for the big day?

Here’s what you'll want to focus on:

  • Desire, Boldness, and Independence: These traits are crucial in hunt tests. Your Pointing Labrador will be assessed on their natural inclination to hunt as well as their confidence and self-reliance.
  • Practical Training: Real-world hunting scenarios help fine-tune your dog’s hunting skills. Introducing them to various hunting situations is key in developing a well-rounded hunting partner.
  • APLA Hunt Test Requirements: If you're aiming to run in an APLA hunt test, remember your dog must be registered with the UKC. Joining the APLA and ensuring your membership is up-to-date is also mandatory before entering.

The Role of a Pointing Labrador in the Field

Ever wonder what makes your Pointing Labrador so special out there in the brush?

  • Versatility: They point at prey, letting you know it's there without startling it. Then they retrieve the game once you've done your part. A true dual-purpose companion!
  • Assistance in Hunting Scenarios: Whether you’re in wetlands or dry fields, your four-legged friend adapts. Their pointing can be especially handy in grassy areas where visibility is low.

Just think, next time you're out with your gun dog, you'll have a clearer picture of their amazing capabilities and how to harness them in the great outdoors.

Isn't it exciting to know you've got such an impressive partner by your side?

Now, let’s get you both out there showcasing those skills!

Health and Care

Caring for your Labrador Retriever involves a blend of adequate exercise, proper diet, and monitoring for common health issues.

It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle; every piece is crucial for the overall picture of your pup's health.

Let's piece this puzzle together!

Exercise Needs

Labradors are energetic dogs that require regular exercise to maintain good health.

Ever noticed how they seem to have a battery that never runs out?

  • Daily Exercise: Aim for at least one hour of physical activity each day. This can be split between walks, runs, and playtime.
  • Mental Stimulation: In addition to physical exercise, mental exercises like puzzle toys or training sessions keep their minds sharp.

Diet and Nutrition

Feeding your Labrador a balanced diet is as important as the affection you shower on them—trust me, they appreciate both.

  • Balanced Diet: A diet rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals will support their energy needs.
  • Portion Control: Be mindful of their food intake to prevent obesity, a common issue in Labradors.
Meal Type Portion Size Frequency
Puppy Food Follow package guidelines 3-4 times a day
Adult Dog Food Adjusted for activity level 2 times a day

Common Health Issues

Just like humans, Labradors can face certain health challenges.

Stay informed and proactive with veterinary care.

  • Joint Issues: Particularly hip and elbow dysplasia. Regular check-ups can catch these early.
  • Ear Infections: Their floppy ears are adorable but can trap moisture and bacteria. Check and clean them regularly.

Remember, a happy Labrador is a healthy one, and it's your love and care that keeps their tail wagging!

Breeding and Genetics

Ever wondered how your furry friend got their unique characteristics?

Let's journey through the world of Labrador breeding and genetics to see how breeders shape the traits we love in these four-legged companions.

Selecting a Breeder

So, you're on the hunt for a Labrador puppy!

Choosing the right breeder is crucial.

A good breeder not only ensures the health and demeanor of your puppy but also its genetic predisposition for certain traits, such as pointing.

When selecting a breeder, it’s essential to consider:

  • Reputation: Look for breeders with solid references and a history of healthy, well-behaved Labradors.
  • Transparency: A trustworthy breeder will be upfront about their breeding practices and the genetic lineage of their dogs.
  • Certifications: Check if they are recognized by organizations like the American Pointing Labrador Association (APLA).
  • Health Guarantees: Reputable breeders provide health clearances for genetic conditions.

Remember, a good breeder is also interested in where their puppies end up, so expect lots of questions—it shows they care!

Understanding Labrador Genes

Let's get genetic!

Labrador Retrievers, much like us, inherit a mix of genes from their parents.

  • Recessive and Dominant Traits: Some characteristics, like the unique 'pointing' ability of some Labradors, can be influenced by dominant or recessive genes.
  • Trait Selection: Breeders sometimes selectively breed Labs to enhance specific traits. In the case of pointing, this trait selection began to be more pronounced in the mid-1980s.

Remember, while genetics play a role in your Lab's ability to point, training and environment are also significant components.

Just like baking a cake, having the right ingredients (genes) doesn't guarantee success without the proper baking skills (training).

So, if you're hoping for a pointing Labrador, make sure you're ready for a mix of genetic potential and hands-on training!

Activities and Competitions

Labrador Pointing isn't just about having a great companion by your side; it's about tapping into their instinctual love for the hunt and showcasing their talents.

So, are you ready to discover the competitive side of your Pointing Lab?

Let's dive into the world of APLA hunt tests and other non-hunt test events where your four-legged friend can shine!

Participating in APLA Hunt Tests

APLA Hunt Tests: These events are your go-to for measuring your Pointing Lab's natural abilities and training against a set of standards.

They're not just any competition; they're a chance to earn ribbons and bragging rights!

  • Get Registered: Before you compete, ensure your pup is registered with the UKC because that's the ticket to the hunt tests.
  • Types of Tests: Whether it's a certified or advanced test, each level has its own challenges, designed to push your Lab's skills to the limit.
  • What to Expect: Realistic hunting scenarios where your dog's pointing precision, retrieving reliability, and overall obedience are put to the test.

Showcasing Skills in Non-Hunt Test Events

Non-Hunt Test Items: You've got options beyond the hunt tests to flaunt those skills.

Think dock diving, agility, or even scent work – the sky's the limit!

  • Competitions: These events are not just about hunting; they're also a fantastic way to strengthen the bond between you and your dog and meet fellow enthusiasts.
  • Achievement Recognition: It's not all about the ribbons. Each event is a chance to set personal bests and achieve new milestones with your faithful companion.

So, what are you waiting for?

Whether you're collecting ribbons or just out for the sheer joy of competition, there's a venue for you and your Pointing Lab to make some waves.

Get out there and let the achievements roll in!

Owner Resources

Ready to help your Labrador Retriever tap into their natural pointing potential?

Let's zero in on top-notch training materials and vibrant online communities that cater to your needs as a dedicated dog owner.

You'll find books that act as your personal training coaches and forums buzzing with advice from fellow enthusiasts.

Training Guides and Books

Do you thrive on structured guidance to elevate training sessions?

Let’s talk about the treasure trove of training guides and books:

  • "Training Pointing Dogs" by Paul Long: This classic offers foundational techniques for training a pointer, although not Labrador-specific, the principles stand strong.
  • Interested in tailored advice for your Pointing Labrador? Websites like Tiger Mountain Pointing Labs could be your go-to for breed-specific training book recommendations.

Why not swing by your local bookstore or library?

Or, if you're keen on convenience, a quick "click here" on your favorite online retailer should secure your next read.

Online Communities and Support

Longing for camaraderie on this journey?

Discover the hub of online communities!

  • American Pointing Labrador Association (APLA): This organization provides a forum filled with experienced Pointing Lab owners. Get firsthand insights and tips for training your own Lab.
  • Facebook groups and Reddit communities: Just a quick search away, these groups are a hotspot for advice, sharing successes, and seeking guidance.

And hey, while you’re scrolling, keep an eye out for local training seminars or webinars—they’re gold mines for up-to-date training practices and making connections with trainers and fellow Labrador enthusiasts.

Registration and Certification

Ready to showcase your Labrador Retriever's natural talents?

Let's get you in the know about how to officially register your dog and what it means in the world of pointing Labradors!

Registration is your first step to entering hunt tests and certifying your dog's abilities—a must for any serious pointing Lab enthusiast.

The AKC Registration Process

Have you just brought a pointing Labrador into your family?

Great choice!

Your first move is often to register your pup with the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Registering your dog is straightforward:

  1. Obtain registration form from the breeder (they usually provide one for new owners).
  2. Fill out the form with your Labrador's details: name, breed, date of birth, etc.
  3. Pay the registration fee—don't forget this part!
  4. Submit your form online or via mail and wait for the official AKC papers.

The AKC is a well-known registry but doesn't specifically recognize the pointing ability of Labradors.

For that, you'll need to look towards organizations like the American Pointing Labrador Association (APLA).

The UKC and APLA Standards

Now, onto the good stuff for pointing aficionados!

Did you know that the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the APLA have teamed up?

If you're dreaming of running your PL (Pointing Labrador) in an APLA Hunt Test, your dog must be registered with the UKC.

Here's what you need to do:

  • Prepare in advance: Registering with the UKC can be time-consuming, so start the process early—well before any hunt test dates.
  • Follow the APLA policy: Your PL's abilities in hunt tests are recognized by both the APLA and the UKC, adding prestige to your dog's pedigree.

Remember, registration with the UKC involves a few key steps:

  • If not already UKC registered, get your dog registered. The UKC is open to this as of a policy change effective September 1, 2019.
  • Check the specific title progression and hunt tests with the APLA since this can affect registration details and testing eligibility.

With both registrations under your belt, you'll open doors to certifying your Labrador's retrieval and pointing prowess.

Now, isn't that something to wag about?

Frequently Asked Questions

Curious about pointing Labs?

You've got questions, and we’re here to offer clear, concise answers about these unique Labradors.

What are the characteristics of a purebred pointing Labrador?

A purebred pointing Labrador possesses a natural instinct to point at game birds during hunting trips, a trait that has been selectively enhanced through breeding.

Apart from their pointing ability, they share the same friendly and trainable nature as regular Labs.

How do I find reputable breeders offering Labrador pointing puppies?

To find reputable breeders, start by checking the American Pointing Labrador Association (APLA), and look for breeders who perform health clearances and offer health guarantees.

Breeders who actively participate in field trials and have certified pointing Labradors are generally dedicated to the breed's quality.

What should I look for when selecting a pointing Lab puppy?

Selecting a pointing Lab puppy should involve assessing the puppy's health, temperament, and pedigree.

Look for signs of engagement, a willingness to explore, and responsiveness to stimuli, which can be indicators of a trainable hunting partner.

Is there a difference between a pointing Lab and a regular Lab?

Yes, there is a significant difference; pointing Labs have been specifically bred for their pointing behavior, which is a controlled stance they adopt when they spot game.

This is not a behavior typically seen in regular Labradors, which are more commonly known for retrieving.

How can I train my Labrador to point?

Training your Labrador to point involves encouraging their natural instincts.

Using bird launchers can be effective; they help the dog associate the smell of birds with the pointing stance.

Start with gentle guidance and let your Lab chase the bird after launching it to instill the pointing behavior.

What are the costs associated with purchasing and owning a pointing Lab?

Purchasing a pointing Lab typically costs more than a regular Lab due to their specialized breeding, ranging anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Ownership costs include food, veterinary care, training, and hunting equipment, potentially adding up to several more thousand dollars over the dog's lifetime.