The pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs

CH Dance Smartly (CH Northern Dancer x CH Vanidestine's Rail Lady, 1991 - 1999) was our first grouse champion and the beginning of our line of pointers.

CH Dance Smartly (CH Northern Dancer x CH Vanidestine’s Rail Lady, 1991 – 1999) was our first grouse champion and the beginning of our line of pointers.

Perhaps no other breed of bird dog has had more selective breeding based solely on their performance in the field than pointers. Even so, pointers are also excellent hunting companions and house pets.

In addition to our English setters, Jerry and I always have owned pointers. We’ve bred, trained, competed and lived with them for more than 20 years and are now producing our fifth generation.

Northwoods Vixen whelped two males and seven females on April 21, 2013, by CH Elhew G Force. It can be difficult to get them all in a photograph--especially at seven weeks of age.

Eight of the nine puppies Northwoods Vixen whelped on April 21, 2013, by CH Elhew G Force at seven weeks of age.

Pointer bias
In the southern part of the country and in particular where bobwhite quail are sought, pointers far outnumber setters and other bird dogs. But in the north, there is much misinformation and bias against them. New clients, friends and others invariably ask two questions:  Don’t they run too big?  Do they make good pets?

Don’t they run too big?
This bad rap likely comes from field trial competitions where pointers dominate. Even though setter Shadow Oak Bo won the three-hour National Championship in 2013 and 2014, pointers hugely outnumber setters at the high end of horseback shooting dog and all age competition and have since the early 1900s.

Representing the third generation of pointers, Northwoods Prancer (Dashaway x Fallset Fate, whelped March 22, 2008) points with high head and confidence. Jeff Hintz moves in for the shot.

Representing the third generation of pointers, Northwoods Prancer (Dashaway x Fallset Fate, whelped March 22, 2008) points with high head and confidence. Jeff Hintz moves in for the shot. Photo by Chris Mathan.

But our pointers—whether male or female—hunt the cover at the proper distance. On the prairie, they open up but in the grouse woods or southern piney woods, they hunker down. Most importantly, our dogs handle easily and want to go with the hunter.

Do they make good pets?
Absolutely! Our pointers have two speeds—one for the field and one for the house—and they are smart enough to know the difference. Again, whether male or female, they are wonderful pets. Some traits are intangible, some tangible and others are just plain interesting.

Northwoods Vixen (CH Westfall's Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, whelped April 17, 2011) is a sweet, calm dog in the house and loves to lay in the warmth of the sun.

Northwoods Vixen (CH Westfall’s Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, whelped April 17, 2011) is a sweet, calm dog in the house and loves to lay in the warmth of the sun.

Intangible traits
•    sweet natured
•    even tempered
•    gentle
•    intelligent
•    intuitive
•    independent but never aloof

Tangible traits
•    very easy to house-break
•    rarely  bark (except to guard the house)
•    natural tendency to retrieve

Interesting traits
•    love to lay in the sun, even on a hot summer day
•    can seemingly “hold it” for hours on cold, blustery days
•    short, stiff hair is shed twice per year and can be difficult to remove from furniture and clothing

Dashaway (CH Brooks Elhew Ranger x CH Dance Smartly, 1997 - 2010) had extraordinary strength, grace, ability and personality. He represents our second generation.

Dashaway (CH Brooks Elhew Ranger x CH Dance Smartly, 1997 – 2010) had extraordinary strength, grace, ability and personality. He represents our second generation.

Beautiful, powerful, graceful, cool.
Besides endearing personalities, our pointers have all shared appearance and performance traits in the field and on point.

Our pointers are beautiful with nicely shaped heads and sharp eyes that don’t miss anything. Most are evenly masked. Some have clean white bodies while others are ticked and have body spots.

Their conformation is beautiful, too, and they move with power, strength, flair, grace and agility. On point, they are breath-taking. Posture is lofty, intense, cool and composed. Jerry and I once found Dancer, ankle-deep in snow, 20 minutes after time at a championship in Gladwin, Michigan. Even though shivering, she stood tall and staunch and had that grouse pinned.

lies have landed on fourth-generation Northwoods Vixen (CH Westfall’s Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, whelped April 17, 2011) but they don’t bother her composure and posture on point.

Flies have landed on fourth-generation Northwoods Vixen (CH Westfall’s Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, whelped April 17, 2011) but they don’t bother her composure and posture on point.

Our line of pointers.
Jerry and I strive to breed dogs that have it all—talent, brains, personality, conformation and looks. Even though our final decisions are joint and mutually agreed on, Jerry deserves credit for masterminding our breeding program. Through travels for training and field trial competition, he has a vast network of friends in the bird dog world and talks to them often. He studies canine genetics, anatomy and personality and his stack of reading materials always includes bird dog magazines. Plus, he has a photographic memory for pedigrees.

The foundation of our pointers is the Elhew line which was conceived by the late Bob Wehle and practiced for more than 50 years.  His goal was to breed a dog that not only performed well in the field but also trained easily, had pleasing conformation and the personality to be good companions. Bob usually stayed within his line but continually looked for outcrosses that “nicked” with his dogs to improve what he had.

We also use Bob’s approach. We stay in our line with its strong Elhew background but constantly look for outside pointers that successfully nick with ours.

Pesto (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, whelped April 21, 2013) is the fifth generation of pointers bred by Northwoods Bird Dogs. She exhibits all the best traits--style, confidence, conformation, intelligence, talent, temperament and looks.

Pesto (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, whelped April 21, 2013) is the fifth generation of pointers bred by Northwoods Bird Dogs. She exhibits all the best traits–style, confidence, conformation, intelligence, talent, temperament and looks.

 

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