ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) is a dog breed of medium to large size that originated in the 19th century, in Germany. This breed is known for having a strong and powerful built together with great legs that make them run really fast. The ears are floppy while the muzzle is strong, broad and long which enables any German Shorthaired Pointer to retrieve game of almost any weight.

When it comes to this dog’s eyes, they are usually brown.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityBelow Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group: Sporting Dogs
Height: 1 foot, 9 inches to 2 feet, 1 inch tall at the shoulder
Weight: Generally 45 to 70 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Having in mind that this breed has a very short coat you’ll understand why they are very vulnerable to low temperatures and cold climate in general. They also have almost no undercoat at all therefore they should not spend too much time outside during winter.

When it comes to their adaptability with novice owners, it is not very high – this breed is intelligent, but also stubborn and requires much training. An owner who is a novice would not be able to handle all this pressure.

The German Shorthaired Pointer does not adapt well to apartment living, simply because he loves nature, hunting, running and spending a lot of time outdoors. If you cannot give this to your pet, you should not consider taking this breed at all. This is also related to them not liking to be alone, which means that you should never leave them confined for a long period of time. They like to be with their owner and they are even happier when they can be with him/her outdoors.

When it comes to barking and howling, the German Shorthaired Pointers do not do this very often, but they still make various noises when hunting down game. Another very important and also most known trait in this breed is their wanderlust potential. If they are not trained properly, they will simply wander off, which can turn into a disastrous situation. To avoid this, you need to train obedience from an early age so your dog does not take off whenever he hears an interesting noise or sees something that takes his interest.

The GSP is known as a very intelligent, aloof, active and playful dog. He is a great hunter and loves catching the game for his owner. Their specialty is going after water fowl in the water and going after all kinds of birds in the wild.

Main Highlights
  • The German Shorthaired Pointer is an active and playful dog who loves pleasing his owner.
  • They need lots of exercises and open space; which means that a small apartment is a big no for this breed.
  • His beautiful short coat does not need much grooming and he can get along with other family members great.
  • The tail used to be cropped but this custom has been banned in some countries.
  • Other names of this dog breed include Vorstehhund, Deutsch Kurzhaar and Kurzhaar.
Breed History

It is believed that the breed appeared in the 17th century in Germany. However, the precise origin is not very clear even today.

The German Shorthaired Pointers, as they are today, have been bred for the purpose of hunting the game in the wild, and that happened during the 18th century. They are well-known for their powerful scenting abilities and obedient nature.

The Prince Albrecht zu Solms-Braunfeld of the Royal House of Hanover was one of the famous people who contributed to the breeding of this dog. However, it was Dr. Charles Thornton of Montana who imported this dog into the USA in 1925.

Size

Male German Shorthaired Pointers are 23 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 55 to 70 pounds while female German Shorthaired Pointers are 21 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 45 to 60 pounds. They are considered to be of medium size. When it comes to their weight, they do not weigh more than 70 pounds.

Personality and Character

This breed is really easy to train as they learn very quickly how to disassociate between the prompts (such as ‘Sit!’), actions (such as sitting), and consequences (such as getting a treat). This is a very intelligent dog and yes, you will need much love and patience, but it will be worth the struggle. In the end, you will be awarded with a very skilled dog who will follow wherever you go.

The German Shorthaired Pointer belongs to the group of dogs who are prone to mouthiness. If you wonder what that is, it is a tendency to nip or chew on an owner or other family members, which does not include piercing the skin of course. You will need to train your dog in order to stop having this habit. You can do that by training your puppy that it is okay to nip on toys, but not on people.

Members of this breed have an inborn instinct and desire to hunt smaller animals or anything that whizzes by – and that includes cars, moving toys, cats etc. This is a common trait in all terriers and you need to keep your dog on a leash and away from dangerous places in order to avoid any trouble. This also includes birds.

In order to get an adult dog who is friendly, you should start socializing him from an early stage, or better said, when he is a puppy. The early socialization will ensure that your dog does not become suspicious, aggressive or vicious towards smaller pet animals, smaller wild animals, cats, birds in general, or even unfamiliar people.

Health and Potential Problems

The German Shorthaired Pointers are very healthy and tough dogs, but they are prone to some hereditary diseases. Some of them may be: hip dysplasia, lymphedema, entropion, Von Willebrand’s Disease, genetic eye diseases, epilepsy, skin disorders and cancer of various parts of the body.

Additionally, since this breed has a deep chest, it is prone to gastric torsion, also known as bloat. You must refrain from feeding your dog before and immediately after the exercise in order to avoid this problem.

Care Features

Keeping your GSP in an apartment is not recommended. This breed is suitable only for people who are active and love exercising or moving a lot. This breed is definitely not a coach potato and you should be aware of that before getting one. If you do not pay enough attention to your dog, he will not only become destructive, but he can also become depressed.

The GSP belongs to the high-energy dog group, which means that everyday exercises are a must. This breed is used to action, running and hunting. He loves spending time in the nature and open space, which means that being locked up in an apartment or small yard would be just cruel. Even if you would not train your German Shorthaired Pointer to be a catch-and-get dog, that does not mean that you cannot engage him in other physical activities. These can include playing, jumping, running, catch and retrieve games etc.

These dogs also enjoy mental exercises and love being in the spotlight. Do not forget that they can be easily distracted though. Having said this, it does not really mean that the intensity of these games and exercises should be really tough. On the contrary, you should not force your dog to exercise more than it is normal for him.

Feeding Schedule

The German Shorthaired Pointers need 2 to 3 cups of food of high-quality daily. This should be divided into two meals and it should be combined not only with dry food, but also with vegetables. It all depends on a dog’s size, age, built, metabolism and activity.

If your German Shorthaired Pointer is in a good shape and exercises regularly, then two nice meals should be enough for a day. However, if your dog is actually taking part on hunting quests daily, then it might be better to give him more. You can see this by yourself – look at your dog’s waist and touch it. If you can feel but not see the ribs, then he is completely fine.

Coat, Color and Grooming

When it comes to grooming, the German Shorthaired Pointer has a very short coat. This breed sheds a lot but, since the coat is very short, there is not much grooming needed, only brushing and occasional bathing.

The color of the coat is called ‘liver’ which is a very dark brown. However, it can also be completely black, white and liver or black and white. It is not unusual for a dog to have a coat speckled with dots of brown or white, plus rain coats are very common as well.

This breed has an undercoat which protects the skin from cold weather and water. This is not unusual, having in mind that this dog breed specializes in finding water fowls.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The GSP can be a great family dog. He may be independent and aloof, but he thrives in a household with children, especially if trained from an early age. Since this breed is prone to nipping, obedience training it is a must.

When a dog is raised in a home surrounded with family members, then that dog is more comfortable around humans in general. Yes, it is also important to remember that each dog is individual, and has a different personality; but it has been noted that the German Shorthaired Pointers are usually very kind dogs who will love you like there is no tomorrow, if you show them love and affection as well.

It is probably the most difficult to get a GSP used to small animals and strangers. Since he is used to hunting and it is in his genes, you must start training when he is just a puppy, so he won’t become unfriendly towards strangers, or even worse, aggressive towards other pet animals.

If you get a dog that is already an adult, then it would be difficult and even impossible to change his ways if he has not been already adapted to the living with other animals and children. All in all, this breed is known as affectionate and loyal, which means that if a pet grows up surrounded with family members and children he won’t have any problems with them. The same goes for smaller pets.

At the end of the day, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a dog that needs lots of exercising and playing. He loves being around his owner and he prefers a house over an apartment.

This breed has an inborn instinct for hunting and killing smaller animals, and he also can be easily distracted by interesting noises in the wild and movements. Additionally, he has a tendency for mouthiness, which means that he might nip at you or other family members, which is a way of showing affection and playfulness. However, as you already know, that is not comfortable for people, so he should be trained to nip at toys instead of your arms and legs.

An early socialization with other people, children and small pets is a must. Otherwise, your parrot, cats or hamsters might be in danger.

Before getting a specific dog breed, you should get informed beforehand about its specific characteristic, so you can be sure whether you can or not give the dog the best life he deserves. Hopefully this article has been proven helpful in that regard. The German Shorthaired Pointer is definitely a beautiful and intelligent dog that will love you as much as possible, and he also deserves the same.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Jem Stark

    My friend owns an active and friendly Jack Russel. Lately, she’s been asking around for opinions regarding ownership for a second dog, which is a German Shorthaired Pointer. Do you think the two dogs will get along since both are hunting dogs?

    • We might encounter a bit of a problem with the German Shorthaired Pointer. This is the type of breed that is not quite okay with the idea of having another dog around. They tend to be dominant and aggressive with other dogs.

  • Sally

    I dog walk a German Shorthaired Pointer ever week, and he is still basically a puppy. However, he is very naughty and some days he makes me feel like he is untrainable! I see that they require a lot of exercise, so how much is enough? Are there specific activities that they enjoy doing?

    • John Walton

      Walking should be incorporated with proper community and family socialization because if not, you’ll end up having a dog that only has the stamina but not the proper orientation with the people and pets that he’ll see often. Tricks are good, as well as variable play activities other than play fetch and frisbee.

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