There is pictorial evidence as early as the 4th and 5th Centuries that dogs were used to hunt game for falcons and hawks. They were called bird dogs or hawk dogs and possibly descended from the 'Silk Dogs' of the Tibetan highlands. Some of these dogs, instead of putting up the game, hesitated and stood, staunchly indicating the position of the game with their nose, whilst other types flushed game for birds flown directly from the fist.
Later, when other methods of hunting were developed, this natural tendency to indicate the quarry before seizing it or putting it up gained in value and by selective breeding and training established what we now term 'pointing'
As more and more forests and wildernesses were brought under cultivation the hunt moved to open fields. The invention of firearms and later of shot cartridges was a significant development. The space, greater range and better chances of hitting a running or flying quarry meant a considerable increase in the demand from hunters for pointers.
In the first half of the 19th century there was no question of any scientific knowledge concerning breeding. The increasing demand for a better nose and greater speed and endurance than the coarse and slower type of fowling dog normally to be found among hunters initiated many experiments and several breeds of dog appeared.
Not every experiment had positive results and enthusiasts in Germany in particular set about correcting this. They also founded societies for the various breeds that were developed.
By the mid-19th Century a type of longhair had developed. It was large rather than small, fairly slim of build, long with a large head and sharp nose. The colour was light with patches and the conformation was considered to be elegant and beautiful. The character, on the other hand was self willed, headstrong and obstinate; a dog that was difficult to handle but faithful and hard in all weathers. The original longhair was both brown and white and black and white and thought to be like the Spanish fowling dog. These somewhat heavily built longhairs, which weren't fast and which hunted alongside the guns, were crossed with the faster Pointers and Setters from England.
The German societies each set a breed standard and held shows to promote their dogs, encouraging those lines which had inherited the best hunting characteristics.
To firmly establish these "pedigrees" the societies sought to lead by example, so for the first German Dog Shows in Frankfurt in 1878 and then in 1879, written breed standards were formalised. These two shows set the basis for the subsequent breeding of the variety of German Pointers where much emphasis was placed on improving and perfecting their hunting characteristics. The breed standards for German Shorthaired Pointers and German Longhaired Pointers set at this time were followed three years later by the breed standard for the German Wirehaired Pointer and twenty years later by the breed standard for the Weimaraner.
As breeding became more organized it was the male line which was selected to develop desired characteristics with much emphasis being put on dogs which had proved themselves equally in both the field and the show ring. This concerted effort by the early pioneers meant that the Longhairs of today represent the best of both aspects and the top dogs through the years may be traced from father to son.
In German terms whilst a bitch can belong to a specific genealogical line, it is only the males that dictate that line.
In 1883 a breed expert named Karl Brandt wrote in the "Illustrierten Jagdzeitung" the following comments:
"At field competitions (trials), which should be part of breeding programs, the dogs will hopefully prove that they have not lost their natural hunting ability during the years when only looks dictated breeding" (i.e. pre 1878.)
Within the Longhair breed there are five genealogical trees:
The ancestor of the Mylord tree was Mylord I 406. This dog was used as the first example of the standard breed of Longhair as recorded in Hannover in 1879. Karl Brandt said "Mylord is very long in the leg compared to his height. He has a narrow chest and body. He is fast but with little staying power". (A sprinter) However, the hunting qualities of the offspring of Mylord were superb.
We know from early records that at the same time that this development was taking place, the Longhair pioneers considered the black and white longhaired Münsterlander. Commentators tell us that whilst in the early stages some breeding between the two types took place, German Longhaired Pointer enthusiasts quickly concluded that although it was possible to breed a superb long haired gundog using the Münsterlander, in the first generation there were "faults" that were unacceptable to them. In terms of appearance they did not like the (then) straightness of the Münsterlanders legs or what, to them were, misshapen eyelids with the corners of the eyes covered. In terms of working they felt that the lower head carriage, which was ideal for tracking large mammals or dealing with game in the dense cover to be found in the area of Münster, was not conducive to locating birds at a distance in more open country, which was something they prized above all else.
Although both breeds shared similar geographical origins and their hunting capabilities were broadly the same, because of the widely differing racial origins there was little enthusiasm to weld the two breeds together. Having just seen Longhaired Münsterlanders at a show Brandt commented. "The dogs (Münsterlanders) were very different in height (to the German Longhaired Pointer) and their appearance lacked nobility. German Longhaired Pointer owners immediately decided not to inter breed with them."
An enthusiast named Von Kalckstein, from Cappeln, followed in the footsteps of his father in developing long haired hunting dogs. He was not perturbed by the strong views of others in the breed and continued to selectively breed using some of the long haired dogs from the Münster area. He managed to inject some speed and drive into the (then) heavier German Longhaired Pointers. These Kalckstein dogs tended to be white with brown heads and large brown patches. What he did caused much criticism until he was supported by a leading light of the time, Frieherr von Scholemer, who pointed out that Kalckstein had managed to retain the appearance of the German Longhaired Pointer whilst at the same time avoiding the "faults" so disliked by the other Longhair enthusiasts.
To this day the early, fierce separation between the two breeds is endorsed by the fact the black colouring in the German Longhaired Pointer, or brown colouring in the Münsterlander, is seen as a fault which disallows registration of such dogs as a pedigree animal.
Commodus represented the third generation of the "Jobstam" and, unlike his grandfather Job I, (which Brandt did not like because he had a heavy head and was slow in movement). Karl Brandt says: "This dog belongs to the most beautiful of Longhairs as it has the most distinguished features and is also known for its hunting qualities. It is the best Longhair that I have seen so far. Powerful and still mobile; middle sized and alert - exactly proportioned as we wish to see Longhairs, but most important are its hunting qualities which equal its looks in excellence. I have seen it for myself on the first hunting dog's test at Münster in 1890. He leapt after an old strong fox, which jumped into the very deep ditch, got into a fight with the fox and killed him. Afterwards he dived after a duck".
The Don lines are noted for beautiful heads and excellent hair. They are not of heavy build, but are of medium height, powerful and have a muscular body. The hair is not too long and lies flat. Don dogs had good noses and were slow but methodical and efficient hunters, suitable for all types of hunting work. It has been commented that Don III was short in the leg; had a strong body; a beautiful head and beautiful hair.
At the first gundog competition at Münster, Germany on the 19th September 1890, the originator of the Roland line, Von Caron ran Roland 1. He was a lightly built dog, high on the leg, elegant with a deep chest. He was the typical field trial dog - fast, covering a lot of ground. He was a remarkable dog with an excellent nose and was often successful in finding game when other dogs failed. His offspring also were very successful in trials and showed amazing speed and stamina. Much has been written about the Roland dogs. They were admired for their hunting and excellent looks. Karl Brandt talks of"these most beautiful and finest game dogs". From these descriptions it is clear that good body shape, health, character, hunting capability, appearance and beauty received a great deal of attention from the pioneers of the German Longhaired Pointer....