Setters and the Pointer (English)
The magnificent Pointer with its unique head is as legendary as the three conventional Setter breeds together with the modern Red and White Setter. The History of Setters relates how they were developed for fowling, which is the capturing of wild birds with a net. The dogs mesmerized the birds by staring at them, then the huntsmen or fowlers threw a net over them, selecting the birds they wished to cook, and letting the small or young birds go free . Once the shotgun was invented in the early 1800's the the Setting Spaniel began working with shooters and the Setters and Pointers developed into the breeds we know today. Now, almost two centuries later, Setters and Pointers today still retain the instinct for finding birds.
How the Setters and the Pointer (English) Worked
Pointer Working in Australia c 1920
The dog(s) begin by searching for birds around the edges of the field. This helps to burn off the dog's initial exuberance. It also assist the dogs to establish their bearings and familiarise themselves with the type of smells are required to seek. The dogs then systematically work back and forth, starting near the huntsman and gradually working further and further afield until the bird or game is found. When two dogs work as a team, one works close to the huntsman while the other goes further afield. If either dog finds game, the other dog assists. The correct manner in which the dog assists is to be aware of where the huntsmen and the other dog are positioned. They also respond should the huntsmen send them towards an area such as undergrowth beside a river.
English Setter working in Australia 1934
Once game is detected, the dog freezes, the Pointer in an upright position than the Setters which generally crouch. If other dogs are present, they also freeze, "honouring" the first dog's point. The pointing or setting dog remains motionless until the huntsman is in position. The huntsman might also give a command instructing the dog to remain still. In times gone by, the dogs had to 'freeze' while a net was thrown over the bird(s). But once guns came into use, the bird was shot.
Many modern Setters and Pointers still retain this instinct to spot birds and 'freeze', despite never having been used for their original purpose. It is recorded that the very first dog show held in Newcastle upon Tyne in England in 1859 was exclusively for Setters and Pointers. So historically, these breeds are very important, their good looks retaining popularity for almost two centuries.
References and Further Reading
 Gilbert Leighton-Boyce 'A Survey of Early Setters' Self-Published London 1985 ISBN 0-9510417-0-3 Pages 5 and ix.