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The Turkish Pointer's Spanish Connection: Updated

Craig Koshyk

Since my previous post about the Turkish Pointer, I've received a few questions and comments regarding the origins of the breed, its 'double nose' and it's hunting style. Answers/replies below.

Origins: Personally, I believe that the Turkish Pointer is a transplanted Pachon Navarro. The most plausible explanation for it's origin is that somehow, probably in the 1920s or 1930s a small number of Pachones made their way to Turkey from Spain. Over time, a small local population formed in the Tarsus region and became known as the Tarsus Catalburun (Turkish Pointer).

Double Nose: All dogs have a slight crease between their nostrils but it is usually no more than a very shallow line. But many Pachones and Turkish Pointers have nostrils that are clearly divided by a much deeper furrow making it look like the business end of a side-by-side shotgun. This is the famous “double nose” referred to in the old literature.

Anatomically, it is actually a cleavage in the structure of the nose itself. It is not unique to the Pachon Navarro. In fact a good number of breed standards mention a split or double nose but when they do, it is always listed as a serious or disqualifying fault.

A 'double' nose.

It is interesting to speculate just how the double nose came to be viewed as a positive characteristic. It is certainly possible that an individual with a split nose just happened to be an excellent hunter with a very fine sense of smell. Was this then seen as “proof” that at double nose was better than a regular nose?

Nowadays of course, breeders understand that the double nose offers no advantage over a normal nose and that it is simply a cosmetic feature of the breed. Furthermore, not all Pachones and Turkish Pointers have a double nose. Nor do all breeders select for it. Pachon breeders understand that by using double-nosed dogs in their lines, they run the risk of producing pups with completely cleft palates. I was told that up to 10% of pups are either stillborn or are put down immediately after birth since the cleft is so profound that the they are incapable of breathing or nursing properly. But most Pachones have a moderate cleft and are fine. They can breathe and suckle, run and hunt just like any other dog. 

Hunting Style: I found a pretty neat video the other day showing a Pachon Navarro hunting. It is pretty much exactly what we saw in Spain when we were there to photograph them and if you read the old literature from Spain and from England about how the classic old spanish pointers hunted, my guess is that if you could go back 300 years or so and watch the first "Spanish Pointers" brought to England hunting, you would see more or less exactly what is in the video.
"There were Ponto and Tanto, the two great, solemn-eyed, double-nosed Spanish Pointers who lurked in a dignified way about the house, a gentle gloom upon their countenances. They were the grandchildren of the Spanish Pointers owned by my great grandfather, Robert Asplan, the little, old, dapper gentleman who wore black knee-breeches with stockings and silver-buckled shoes. I think those Spanish Pointers knew that their day was done, that they were the last of their race -- gone with the hand-sickle and the centuries of the long September stubbles, where partridges had sit like quails. --  J. Wentworth Day, The Dog in Sport, 1938
Spanish Pointer by George Stubbs (1724-1806)




UPDATE: A recent article by well known Spanish dog expert Dr. Jose Manuel Sanz Timón explores the connection between the Pachon Navarro and the Turkish Pointer. Sanz Timón feels that we may need to re-examine our theories of the Pachon's origin, suggesting that the Turkish Pointer may in fact be its predecessor.

Coincidentally, Sanz Timóns blog post appeared just a few days before this one. However, I was unaware of his post at the time and only read it today, after the good Dr. brought it to my attention. My post on the Pachon-Turkish Pointer connection was inspired by a discussion on the versatiledogs forum that followed my article on the Turkish Pointer published on June 17 and based on breed description found in my book published in 2011.

In any case, I am happy to see that the Turkish Pointer is getting some much needed attention. When I first started researching it in 2008, I could find almost no information on it. But I eventually contacted and interviewed Umit Dincer, who wrote a book about the breed. Now, there are several websites and blogs about the Turkish Pointer and even a few videos on YouTube and elsewhere.

Personally, I am not convinced that the Turkish Pointer predates the pointing breeds developed on either side of Pyrenées mountains in the 13th century. Of course, hunting dogs certainly existed in Turkey, and everywhere else, since the dawn of civilization. But training, selecting and breeding dogs specifically to seek and point game seems to have been a European thing, not an eastern or mid-eastern thing.

The fact that many Turkish Pointers and Pachon Navarros have split noses and other similarities in physical attributes suggests that they may be related, but offers no evidence one way or another for which one came first. In addition, a split nose is actually listed as a fault in many breed standards indicating that it can occur from time to time in just about any breed (in the same way as a cleft palate can occur in humans). In 1913, a small population of dogs with split noses was also found in Bolivia and recently 'rediscovered'. Does that mean they are related to Turkish Pointers and Pachon Navarros? And if so, which one came first?





Read more about the breed, and all the other pointing breeds from Continental Europe, in my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals
http://www.dogwilling.ca/index.cfm