German Shorthaired Pointer

There is a sentiment pertaining to the German Shorthaired Pointer. Not only is this medium size, high energy breed the jack of all trades, but arguably, they are the most important part of any hunting team.

In fact,  the GSP can do it all, and is what many breeders call, the ultimate canine triathlete. This breed hunts, points, and retrieves. All in fashion.

Yet, once the German Shorthaired Pointer is home, they are every bit of a true companion.

So where did the breed get their start and are they the right dog for your family?

Here is what you need to know about the German Shorthaired Pointer.

History

There are some doubts, a few floating theories, and debate centering around the origins of the breed. It wouldn’t be a dog profile without some contestation to what makes the GSP and when the breed began developing. That said, there is a general consensus among many to help sort through the unclear details.

Without a doubt, the breed is from Germany. And many hunters in Germany had a pressing need for a true hunting breed. A dog that was all around versatile and a true companion at home. A dog that could retrieve, work the land but also the water. And, just as important, while working, the dog had to have endurance or stamina. The German Shorthaired Pointer would turn out to be that dog.

Roughly around the early to mid 1800’s, hunters began developing a dog that could do all of the things above. Historians know that pointer type dogs did exist during the 19th century. Also, many  believe that pointers were around as far back as the 13th century.

In fact, pointers were a vital component for hunting teams during this time in central Europe, France, Italy and Spain. Of course, each country would hold their own definition and meaning of what a true pointer was. Some would call the pointer a net dog, and others would label them a gundog.

In the 1840’s-1850’s, there was a small percentage of German pointing dogs in Germany. This had to and would change. Breeders began developing a dog that would be capable of land and waterfowl hunting. This is where contention begins…

Many writers and historians speculate that breeders were using a Spanish pointer and crossing it with the original German Gun Dog. Others speculate that a possible English Setter was a part of the stock, as well as a Hannover Hound. Regardless, at first, the breed’s development didn’t go as well as developers thought it would. Whether it was the appearance or the agility, breeders would struggle to find the German Shorthaired Pointer version until about the 1870’s.

In 1872, the first record proving the GSP’s development was a dog by the name of “Hektor.” Hektor was subsequently put into the German Kennel Club Stud Book that year. Immediately, the breed’s popularity began to spill over and throughout the West. 

For instance, the German Shorthaired Pointer began appearing in England at dog shows and events like the Barns Elms Show. Much like Germany, the breed was incredibly popularity due to their versatility and companionship. The unique appearance of the dog would also win over favor of fanciers including those from the United States.

However, like other breeds, both World Wars would prove to be hard on this breed. In fact, there was the idea that the breed could face a possible extinction. 

Fortunately, thanks to smuggling dogs from certain parts of Germany and the interest of fanciers from the United States, the German Shorthaired Pointer breed would survive. 

GSP’s first came to the United States in the 1920’s. The first GSP came via a kennel in Austria to a Montana fancier. Additionally, these dogs that came over would enter the registry of a 1926 Field Dog Stud Book. Imports steadily came pouring in as excitement about the GSP’s abilities became more pronounced. 

Breeding would continue throughout the 1930’s in the United States. Moreover, the American Kennel Club would accept the breed and officially gave them recognition in 1930.  In 1946,  the breed’s standard was met with acceptance aside from a few revisions since.

Today, the GSP is very much a popular breed in the United States and in England. According to the American Kennel Club, the German Shorthaired Pointer is the 11th most popular dog. The breed still works as a hunter and enjoys a fulfilling life of a companion.

Size

The GSP is a medium size breed. According to the American Kennel Club, a male should stand between 23 to 25 inches. A female should stand between 21 to 23 inches.

With regards to weight, the German Shorthaired Pointer male can weigh between 55 to 70 pounds and a female 45 to 60 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

This is a dog meant for the life out in the country. They love to run and chase after. In most instances, it is safe to say that the GSP isn’t going to enjoy an apartment. They will thrive at agility, obedience, field events and enjoy swimming including dock diving. 

If you take one look at the breed, you’ll see in their eyes a bold and brave dog. That’s because they are bold and courageous. They are friendly with strangers but won’t hesitate to set them straight if the situation warrants.

With pets and smaller children, your GSP is likely to be more jealous about the dog than the child. However, that isn’t to say they don’t get along with dogs because they do with supervision. Smaller pets and cats may need a careful watching as prey drive can be seen within the breed. Children are fine around the German Shorthaired Pointer. They are sweet, protective and loyal to all family members.

The GSP loves to work closely with their mates and master. In fact, they are a breeze to train and are highly intelligent. The GSP is eager to please and obeys commands without any issues. 

Don’t let the hard work ethic fool you, because at home, this dog is nothing but sweet and affectionate. They do enjoy warmer weather but their coat may offer some protection against inclement weather. There is a chance of wandering off, so you’ll want to leash or fence in your German Shorthaired Pointer. They love to run, fetch and play.

All in all, a wonderful dog with an amazing ability to hunt and work. At the end of the day, they are equally as enjoyable of companions.

Health

Working and Sporting group dogs can’t just work or play without sustaining a few bumps and bruises along the way. However, if you play your cards right by buying from a reputable breeder, who has the proper documentation, clearances and testing, then you should be fine. Couple that with scheduling regular visits with the veterinarian and there’s no reason to believe your German Shorthaired Pointer can’t fulfill a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years.

Hip Dysplasia, or a malformation of the hip joint, which can result in discomfort and pain, is a low risk for this breed. In fact, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals found the breed to be 163rd on the survey at a 4.0% dysplastic rate. This is rather low considering over 18,00 dogs were a part of the survey. This ranks them among the Aussie Terrier and Basenji.

The same can be said about the abnormal growth of the elbow joint or Elbow Dysplasia. The breed ranks 112th among the Bichon Frise and Finnish Spitz

For cardiac complications, the breed ranks 73rd in OFA’s survey, which puts them at a medium risk. 

Bloat is always a concern, as it can be deadly. Diet habits and how you keep your dog’s eating a balance will reduce those chances. Bloat or Gastric Torsion is when the stomach has an excess of air and will not release itself. This will cause the stomach to twist or distend. Bloat is painful.

A bleeding disorder, Von Willebrands Disease, has been found within the GSP. This is due to a lack of a special protein or a deficiency in Von Willebrand Factor, which is necessary for “platelets” to stick together and form clots. The clots are necessary in sealing up broken blood vessels. The Doberman has also been found to suffer from Von Willebrands.

Lymphedema, or an acute or chronic condition by result of a blockage in the lymphatic duct of a dog’s limbs. usually this condition shows up  in a dog around 8 to 12 weeks. Swelling in the limbs is a sign of this condition.

You’ll have to look out for conditions affecting the breeds eyes like Entropion, Ectropion and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Hypthyroidism may be an issue in certain German Shorthaired Pointers. 

Care

If you’re going to buy yourself a German Shorthaired Pointer, then you need some space. This isn’t a dog meant for apartment dwelling. By all means, your GSP needs to get out and do what it does best and be active. Regular exercise is a must. It also helps to give this breed a role or purpose. 

Early socialization and training is necessary. You’ll need to be consistent with this breed as they may show a sign of independency. A fair yet firm hand always work best with the German Shorthaired Pointer.

Field events, swimming, hunting, agility, and other outdoor activities are all the backbone to keeping this breed happy. It will help that you introduce them to other pets, smaller children and dogs as puppies. 

A fence and leash will be your best friend, as these types of dogs are the usual suspects to go running off. Crate training may help make life easier for both parties, as a crate can introduce the idea to the dog that they have their own space to go to when they need it.

Trim their nails and check those long droopy ears routinely. 

Feeding

Before you buy a German Shorthaired Pointer, you should ask yourself, what kind of dog will they be for me and my family? If you have a working dog, that will exert a ton of energy, you’ll need a high quality formula. Meat should be the formula’s first ingredient. Chicken, beef, fish, and other items like veggies or fruits will keep this breed healthiest. It never hurts to track some kibble with Omega 3 and Omega 6, which helps strengthen their joints and improve heart and coat health.

Breeders and owners seem to be happy with 2 to 5 cups of top quality dry food per day. Again, if you have an active dog, you’ll want to exercise the five cups as they will need to replenish what they burn. For dogs between 45 to 70 pounds, that are moderate workers, you’ll need 2000 to 2800 calories per day. For a typical dog, at the same weight, you’ll want to replenish 1200 to 1700 calories per day.

Break up their meals into two or three a day. This helps reduce the chances of Bloat and teaches them constraint and gets them on your routine.

As always, you should provide your German Shorthaired Pointer fresh drinking water.

Coat

Sure, the German Shorthaired Pointer isn’t much to worry about with regards to grooming. Their coats are simple to care for. Once a year, they may shed heavily, but they do shed throughout the year as well. You’ll certainly find some excess sticking around the house.

The GSP has a harsh, short and thick coat. It’ll be longer on the underside of tail.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are 8 color options: Black, black and white, black roan, liver, liver and white, liver roan, white, white and liver.

There are three acceptable markings: ticked, patched, patched and ticked.

Fun German Shorthaired Pointer Facts

  • In Germany, the breed goes by the name “Kurzhaar,” which means shorthair. Fanciers also call the breed shorthairs.
  • The German Shorthaired Pointer is the 19th most intelligent breed on earth. This, according to Stanley Coren’s “The Most Intelligent Working Dogs.” 19 puts them in a second tier, which means the breed obeys commands 85 percent of the time.
  • It’s not always serious, the GSP is also a winner of the Westminster Best in Show award in 2016.

Closing Words

It’s quite easy to see why the breed is so popular here in the United States. The German Shorthaired Pointer sort of embodies everything the American dream is built off of. Hard work, intelligence, love, loyalty and if you can be or do all of those things, you have a chance of being sucessful.

Yet, that’s what best describes the GSP. Successful. As a companion, a canine triathlete, which to any dog lover, makes the German Shorthaired pointer a true jack of all trades.