Known for being a clever, spirited, and sociable breed, the German Shorthaired Pointer has enjoyed a stellar reputation among dog enthusiasts for years. The breed is most known for its work as a hunter and all-purpose gun dog.
But that doesn’t mean that German Shorthaired Pointers can’t serve as everyday companions too!
If you are confident that you can provide enough mental and physical exercise for a new canine companion, then the German Shorthaired Pointer might be the perfect dog for you.
But before you call up a breeder, you are going to want to read the rest of our post containing everything you need to know about the German Shorthaired Pointer so you know exactly what you are getting yourself into.
Before the 1800s, wealthy European hunters would recruit a large team of dogs to accompany them on their hunts.
Pointers would locate game.
Hounds would trail the game over long distances.
Setters would retrieve it.
But after the emergence of the middle-class huntsman, demand for an all-purpose dog began to grow. In response to this demand, German breeders set out to fashion an all-purpose hunting dog that could also guard the home and provide companionship for its master.
This eventually lead to the development of the German Shorthaired Pointer.
The breed was brought over to the United States during the 1920s, where it slowly grew in popularity.
In 1935, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the German Shorthaired Pointer. Today, the breed wins top prizes in agility events, and continues to maintain its reputation as a highly-skilled hunting dog.
In fact, eight German Shorthaired Pointers currently hold titles as Preferred Agility Champions (PACH). You may also spot these dogs playing or walking around with their human companions, as they are also known for being great family dogs.
Are German Shorthaired Pointers Good Family Dogs?
German Shorthaired Pointers are playful and tend to get along well with other dogs and children, making them great additions to almost any household.
However, German Shorthaired Pointers are highly-energetic dogs…so they will not do well in apartments or with owners who are usually away for most of the day.
A family that can give their GSP ample exercise and even access to a large yard will have a happy and healthy dog on their hands.
Keep your German Shorthaired Pointer in good health by feeding him a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Most owners feed their GSPs dry food designed specifically for medium to large dogs.
When researching different dog food labels, you will want to look for brands that contain:
- 2 – 3 meat proteins
- Chicken fat
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Fruits and vegetables will also keep your German Shorthaired Pointer in tip-top shape.
- Avoid feeding your dog anything that contains high percentages of carbs, such as corn, soy, or wheat.
Depending on your German Shorthaired Pointer’s activity level, he will need anywhere from 1,504 to 3,340 calories a day.
GSPs that require a high number of calories are typically ones that hunt or train for agility competitions.
Your dog’s age and metabolism will also impact its daily caloric needs.
While you don’t necessarily need to take out a calculator every time you feed your GSP to track its caloric intake, you will want to make sure you are feeding it a nutritious diet tailored to its unique lifestyle. This can be achieved through building a thought-out diet plan with your veterinarian.
A German Shorthaired Pointer’s most-basic grooming needs include:
- Regular brushing
- Monthly ear cleaning
- Occasional bathing
- Nail clipping when necessary
You will need to brush your GSP’s coat at least once a week with a grooming glove or a firm bristle brush to remove loose hairs and control shedding.
To clean your dog’s ears, simply swab and massage them with gauze that has been dampened with an ear cleaning solution. Don’t use Q-tips, because you can accidentally damage your dog’s ears with them.
German Shorthaired Pointers only need to be bathed once in a while. In fact, overbathing them can dry out and irritate your skin.
Use hypo-allergenic shampoo designed for dogs followed by a conditioner to keep your GSP’s coat healthy and smooth.
The frequency with which you need to trim your GSP’s nails really depends on how quickly they grow and if your walks are grinding the nails down.
Unless you are already skilled at clipping nails, you may want to leave this part to a professional groomer. Inexperienced owners are at a higher risk of cutting the quick of a nail, which can cause great pain to your GSP.
GSP dogs were bred to have enough energy and stamina to last all day in the field. Therefore, German Shorthaired Pointers need at least one hour of strenuous exercise a day.
GSPs who aren’t exercised enough are likely to suffer from anxiety and display destructive tendencies.
Strenuous and challenging exercises such as long hikes, intricate obstacle courses, and multiple rounds of fetch are guaranteed to keep your German Shorthaired Pointer entertained and in-shape.
German Shorthaired Pointers are incredibly intelligent dog breeds. However, they can also be quite stubborn!
Patience is key when training your GSP. Having a bag full of treats ready for when your GSP successfully obeys a command will also be helpful.
Never scream or hit your GSP if it disobeys you or has trouble learning a command. This impedes progress while damaging his trust in you.
Keep your training sessions short and entertaining, as GSPs are known for becoming bored and easily distracted.
Experts recommend capping training sessions at 15 minutes. This offers plenty of time for a productive training session filled with teaching and reviewing various commands.
Burning off your German Shorthaired Pointer’s energy with a little exercise beforehand is also effective in preventing it from becoming bored or distracted during these important sessions.
German Shorthaired Pointer Health Issues
German Shorthaired Pointers are considered a healthy dog breed with an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years.
GSPs who are at a healthy weight have a distinct waist. Their last two ribs should also be detectable through touch. It is imperative that you provide a proper diet and regular exercise routine for your GSP so that it may enjoy a long and healthy life.
Regular check ups at the veterinarian will be important for detecting health concerns, such as:
- Gastric torsion: twisted stomach
- Hypothyroidism: an underactive thyroid gland
- Canine Hip Dysplasia: malformation of the hip socket
- Osteochondrosis Dissecans: a joint disease that causes pain in the shoulders, elbows, and knees
- Von Willebrand’s Disease: inherited bleeding disorder
- Entropion: genetic condition where a portion of the eyelid is inverted
- Pannus: immune condition that affects the cornea
- Cardiomyopathy: heart disease that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: degeneration of the retina
As an owner, you should also educate yourself on common symptoms for these aforementioned diseases so that you may bring your GSP to the vet as you as you spot something amiss with its health.
Make it a priority to purchase your GSP from a reputable breeder, as he or she will have screened their breeding stock for common conditions that affect the breed.
Things to Know About German Shorthaired Pointers
1. The #1 Thing to Know: They Were Bred to Hunt
The German Shorthaired Pointer’s origins trace back to 19th century Germany, where middle-class hunters had begun their attempts to breed the perfect hunting dog.
Characteristics of a perfect hunting dog, in their minds, could:
- Hunt on land and water
- Hunt small game such as squirrels and possum as well as larger game like boar and deer
- Function as a loving companion when off-duty
- Turn heads with its sharp looks
After crossing various breeds together, including the German bird dog, the German Shorthaired Pointer finally came into existence.
Since then, it has enjoyed a reputation as both a formidable hunter and a loving companion. If your GSP sees a squirrel or rabbit, it may feel inclined to rush toward it due to its old hunting roots.
Therefore, is important to remain vigilant when spending time outside with your GSP to prevent it from breaking loose and running away from you.
2. They Need a LOT of Exercise
If you are looking for a new fitness partner, then the German Shorthaired Pointer might be your guy!
German Shorthaired Pointers require a rigorous exercise routine in order to stay healthy and happy.
Most GSPs need at least one hour of exercise each day. This can involve walking, jogging, swimming, and even biking!
Of course, your GSP wouldn’t be the one doing the biking. It would simply walk or run alongside you. That being said, you will likely have to slowly train and acclimate your dog to accompany you on bike rides.
German Shorthaired Pointers are not a good fit for inactive or inexperienced owners. If they are not exercised enough, GSPs will often resort to destructive tendencies that will disrupt your home environment, such as chewing or digging.
3. The Air Force Uses One
German Shorthaired Pointers excel at more than just hunting. One GSP, Haus, is used to sniff out explosives for the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. American Legion member George C. Evans donated the dog to the wing.
According to Staff Sgt. Zerrick Shanks, the Wing’s primary missions is to
“Search vehicles and packages for explosives upon entry to the base.”
They will also conduct random walking patrols to search for suspicious packages and activities.
4. They Score High in Sporting and Agility Events
If you ever attend an agility event, you are probably going to see at least one GSP contestant in attendance.
During an agility competition, trained dogs are led through rigorous obstacle courses comprised of different tunnels and jumps. Thanks to their athletic build and natural grace, German Shorthaired Pointers shine at these agility competitions.
As of 2015, eight German Shorthaired Pointers hold the Preferred Agility Champion title, the highest title an agility contender can hold.
GSPs excel in other dog sports such as:
- Pointing Breed Field Trials
- Dock Diving
5. A GSP Recently Won “Best in Show” at the Westminster Dog Show
A German Shorthaired Pointer named C.J. won “Best in Show” at the 140th Westminster Dog Show. He and his owner, Valerie Nunes-Atkinson appeared on Good Morning America and The View as part of their media tour.
According to Nunes-Atkinson, C.J. displayed his potential to be a show winner since he was a puppy. She told The New York Times that “At 6 weeks, he walked across the living room floor and we said, ‘Oh, my.’ He has that sparkle that makes you stop and look at him. We expected great things from him from the start.”
6. They Are Great at Swimming
German Shorthaired Pointers were born to swim.
Their webbed feet, muscular build, and water-resistant coats allow GSPs thrive in the water.
That being said, you should be careful about letting them swim in cold weather. While they do have a dense undercoat to protect them, GSPs can grow cold quite easily due to their short hair.
7. They May Not Be a Good Fit For Households With Young Children
While German Shorthaired Pointers are known to be affectionate and caring around their human companions, they can become quite rowdy at times.
Young children can also become easily excited and may not always have the self-control to properly handle themselves around a dog. For instance, they may attempt to grab or pinch a dog, which may cause it to act defensively.
When combining these two factors, someone might get hurt or injured.
That’s why households with toddlers or young children may want to wait before purchasing or adopting a GSP until their kids grow a little older. Most GSPs actually get along quite well with kids, and may even favor them over their parents at times. If you do decide to bring a GSP into a household with kids, it is always best to exercise caution when monitoring your children’s interactions with your GSP until they are old enough to watch over the dog alone.
8. They May Need to Be Enrolled in Obedience Classes
GSPs are intelligent dogs who enjoy pleasing their owners. However, their strong personalities and high energy can make them a lot to handle at times.
If you are worried that you are not providing adequate training for your German Shorthaired Pointer, then obedience classes may be the perfect solution for you.
With obedience classes, you will have a professional trainer at your side assisting you at all times. While there, you will learn effective techniques for training and disciplining your dog. Training classes are also a perfect venue for socializing your GSP.
You might even make a few friends yourself!
9. German Shorthaired Pointers are Prone to Bloat
While German Shorthaired Pointers tend to be a healthy breed, they can sometimes suffer from a serious medical condition called bloat.
This occurs when the stomach becomes filled with air. To prevent bloat, avoid exercising your GSP an hour before and after feeding it.
The best time to feed your GSP is at night, after all exercise has been done for the day.
10. They Shed More Than You Think They Would
While they certainly do not shed as much as long-haired breeds, GSPs do shed seasonally.
In warmer climates, they may even shed year-round. That is why it is important for you to brush your GSP at least once every few days.
A grooming glove is perfect for brushing away loose hairs and keeping them off of your furniture and carpets.
11. They Are Slow to Mature
While the German Shorthaired Pointer reaches physical maturity by 6 months of age, it can take a few years for it to mature out of its adolescent “puppy” behavior.
This could be due to its energetic nature and sometimes goofy personality. Even in old age, some GSPs retain the spry, lively nature they had when they were puppies.
12. You Might Spot Them Working With TSA
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has made good use of the German Shorthaired Pointer’s hunting instincts by employing them to sniff out suspicious odors in boxes and crates.
One particular GSP named Pina works for the TSA’s official canine explosives team. Under her position, she sniffs out packages in New York and New Jersey for any potentially dangerous materials located inside them.
13. A Variety of Dog Breeds Were Used in the Making of the GSP
While experts aren’t 100% sure which breeds contributed to the making of the German Shorthaired Pointer, most agree that these breeds make up part of its bloodline:
- German bird dog
- Spanish pointer
- English pointer
- Tracking hound
The uncertainty over the GSP’s exact bloodline stems from the fact that owners began breeding it before the first studbook was created in 1870.
14. There Are 8 Official Coat Colors for the GSP
The coat on a German Shorthaired Pointer is always regal and dignified thanks to its dark, earthy color.
The eight coat colors officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) are:
- Black Roan
- Liver Roan
- Liver and White
- Black and White
German Shorthaired Pointer FAQ
German Shorthaired Pointers are playful and tend to get along well with other dogs and children, making them great additions to almost any household. Active families are best-suited for German Shorthaired Pointers. Because they have high energy, they don’t do well in apartments or with owners who are away for most of the day.
No. A German Shorthaired Pointers’s temperament should be affectionate, boisterous, bold, cooperative, intelligent, and trainable.
German Shorthaired Pointers shed more than most people think. They don’t shed as much as most long-haired breeds, but they do shed seasonally. GSPs may even shed year-round if you live in a warmer climate.