Lifespan: 12-15 years
Allergies: Not Hypoallergenic
Temperament: Friendly, Intelligent, Lively, Affectionate, Protective, Enthusiastic
Pointers are used by hunters to locate game. When they are hunting, pointing dogs will instinctively stop and point their muzzle towards the game, which allows the hunter to get into position for a good shot. In Germany, this breed was refined over a period of many years with the aim of producing a pointer that would help them hunt birds.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is excellent at his job, with a strong muzzle allowing him to retrieve heavy game, and webbed feet that enables him to swim after birds in the water. He follows scent very well so can hunt at night, point towards the game for his owner, and is also a friendly and affectionate companion. These dogs can hunt all kinds of game, including birds, waterfowl, deer and rabbits.
In 1925 the first documented GSP was imported to the United States by a breeder in Montana, and the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club five years later. During World War II many breeders sent their best hunting dogs to Yugoslavia to keep them safe, but then after the war they were not able to get to them because of the iron curtain. So the number of them left in Germany afterwards was rather small. However in the USA the breed had continued to grow in popularity, which safeguarded its continuation.
This pointer is energetic, lively, and has a lot of stamina, making him a great outdoor companion for a day of hunting. He loves to be with people although he can be boisterous. German Shorthaired Pointers are protective and alert, making them great watchdogs, but they are not generally aggressive.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is long and slim, with a large nose, floppy ears, and a long muzzle. They have either solid liver, solid black, patterned liver and white, or black and white colored coats. Their webbed feet make them one of the best breeds at swimming.
This breed is very active, and would not be a good fit for living in an apartment. They also are strongly attached to people, so may well develop separation anxiety if they are left by themselves for too long - and they can become destructive or start barking.
Very friendly dogs, this breed is good with children, although they can be a bit boisterous and knock them over. They are generally better with older kids, or if they have been raised alongside them. Children should be taught how to treat them and not be left unsupervised with them. They make good watchdogs and bark at strangers and noises. Because of their hunting drive, they may chase or hunt smaller animals. They often get on well with other dogs, though sometimes not so well with those of the same sex.
The German Shorthaired Pointer sheds all year round, and more at certain times of the year. A weekly brushing is usually fine, apart from during shedding season, when a daily brushing might be necessary if you don’t want the hairs to end up all over your house. Nails should be trimmed regularly, and ears checked and cleaned to prevent infection. A bath can be given as needed, and you can use a chamois or towel to make their coat shiny. Their teeth should be brushed every week to help keep their breath smelling nice and their teeth and gums healthy.
German Shorthaired Pointer puppies can be challenging when they’re young, as they keep their puppy brain for a few years longer than many other breeds and are very energetic with a high prey drive.
Puppy and obedience training classes are therefore incredibly important to help you channel your puppy’s energy into the right places. However they do learn quickly with consistency and firm leadership. They aren’t usually stubborn to train, but they can get bored if it is too repetitive. They also get distracted easily by smells and noises, so short training sessions work best.
They have a tendency to bark at noises and strangers, and if they get bored they will try to climb the fence. You will need at least 6 feet of height to prevent them escaping from your yard.
This breed needs a high amount of exercise, so you should only get one of these dogs if you can afford to spend a couple of hours a day outside to let him run off steam. They love to be outdoors, and were bred for hunting, with natural instincts for it that don’t need to be trained into them.
With their webbed feet it is easy and fun for them to swim, so if you have a swimming pool expect them to share it with you. They love to fetch sticks from the water and will happily run alongside you while you jog or cycle. However they will chase after small animals, so you will need to keep them on a leash and in a well fenced yard – as they like to both leap and dig.
This breed is prone to bloat, which is a potentially fatal condition that arises from gulping too much air. So they shouldn’t be exercised for an hour after eating, and should not eat directly after being exercised. They should be fed a food that is designed for active dogs, as this will contain a higher proportion of protein that is necessary for their needs.
When you bring your puppy home, start off feeding him the same diet and on the same schedule as your breeder fed him. Puppies usually need to be fed more than twice a day, but once they are over 6 months old they can transition to a morning and evening meal.
Some owners advocate feeding dogs a raw food diet, but others are against it, so you will have to do your own research and decide what you think is best for your family and your dog. Whatever you feed, you will need to make sure it is balanced and gives them all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that they need.
Recommended daily feeding amount: 2 to 3 cups of high quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
If your dog is training or hunting, he will need more than if he is inside most of the day. So be aware of what his activity level is, and tailor the amount of food he needs to your own dog. You should be able to feel his ribs, but not see them.
Hip Dysplasia is a common concern, but if you get your puppy from a reputable breeder they should have screened the parents for this before breeding. Breeders should also check their eyes for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which eventually causes blindness. Unspayed female GSPs are prone to getting breast cancer, but this risk is reduced once they are spayed.
They are prone to bloat (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus), where air gets into the stomach, causing it to twist and cut off the blood supply to vital organs. Dogs can die from this condition, so it is important that you do what you can to prevent it, by feeding more than one meal a day and avoiding exercise near meal times. It is best to stay aware of the symptoms and quickly get help if you suspect it.
German Shorthaired Pointers are also prone to a clotting disorder called Von Willebrand’s Disease. If your dog has this you will most likely see signs of nose bleeds, excessive bleeding after injuries or surgery, and bleeding gums. Transfusions can be given before surgery, injuries can be cauterized or sutured, and some medications avoided to help manage this condition.
German Shorthaired Pointers are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many German Shorthaired Pointers in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you towards a German Shorthaired Pointer rescue.
Breed Organizations: German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America
Above are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about German Shorthaired Pointers.
Stock Photos from Stannyfield Shorthairs & Nadezda Nikitina / Shutterstock
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