The elegant German Shorthaired Pointer, or GSP for short, is a brilliant hunting dog who also doubles as a loving family companion, making them one of the most popular sporting breeds. They adore being outside, but after a day of adventure, they are also content relaxing on the couch to a movie of your choice.
Origins and History
Early variations of this breed date back to the 17th century, but modern German Shorthaired Pointers were developed as versatile hunting dogs in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. The German Pointer, also known as the German Bird Dog, was created by crossing Spanish Pointers and Bloodhounds, resulting in a large hound-like dog with a keen nose. Hunters sought dogs with eager-to-please attitudes, but they also desired beauty to go with their obedient nature and strong scent skills. They added flair with Pointers imported from England, and they produced a dog who could work in both water and on land.
Dr. Charles Thornton of Montana brought the first known German Shorthaired Pointer in the United States in 1925 and began breeding the dogs. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed only five years later in 1930.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is now ranked 19th out of 155 breeds and variations recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Characteristics of the Breed
The GSP is unique in their appearance and their versatile personality. Their loyalty is unmatched and their eagerness to please is something dog owners yearn for.
The overall appearance of this breed is a sleek, graceful, well-primed canine, ready for duty at a moment's notice.
According to the American Kennel Club breed standard, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a medium-sized dog, slightly rectangular in appearance. Its bone density should neither be fine nor heavy, but proportionate to its size. Balance and condition are of prime importance.
The GSP has a finely sculpted head with dark, almond-shaped eyes, a clever, good-humored countenance, and a wide, dark nose, and is somewhat smaller than a Pointer. The broad, drooping ears are situated high on the skull and lie flat against their head. Typically, the tail is docked, leaving around 40 percent of its original length. Males stand 23 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 55 to 70 pounds. Females stand 21 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 45 to 60 pounds.
The German Shorthair has a short, thick, water-repellent coat that is significantly longer on the underside of the tail and the back corners of the back end, referred to as the haunches. Fur is softer, thinner, and shorter on the head. Acceptable colors outlined by the AKC include:
- Solid Liver
- Liver and White
- Liver and White Ticked
- Liver Patched with White Ticking
- Liver Roan
German Shorthaired Pointers are openly friendly souls, with solid, steady characters. They are quite enthusiastic and willing to please, without actually being hyperactive. Their abundance of energy is tempered by their keen intelligence.
In the field, there are few better companions than these pointers. Their innate hunting instincts make an easy job of training this breed to point and retrieve.
If raised with children, GSPs can be great family dogs. They have a lot of energy and make great playmates for older children who are more active. They can be too rambunctious for toddlers. They may knock them over accidentally during play or spurts of the zoomies. Adult GSPs that aren't used to being around kids may do best in a family with older children who know how to engage with dogs.
German Shorthaired Pointers get along well with other dogs most of the time, though some can be aggressive toward other dogs of the same gender. They may be aggressive toward small furry animals, such as cats or rabbits, because they are hunting dogs with a high prey drive. They can generally do well with them if they are raised with other pets from puppyhood, but strange animals who trespass on their property may not receive the same treatment.
The athletic GSP requires a significant amount of exercise. Expect them to require a minimum of one hour, but preferably two, dedicated to some sort of exercise each day. They're fantastic water dogs who are excellent swimmers, thanks to their webbed feet and their water-resistant coat. Going for a swim in the pool or lake is highly recommended if you have an area available.
German Shorthaired Pointers are known to be relatively easy to train, yet they can be independent thinkers due to their hunting lineage, which often forces them to work far away from the hunter. In other words, they can be stubborn at times.
Positive reinforcements, such as yummy treats and praise, can be utilized to provide incentive while training. When a GSP is handled harshly, they will become more headstrong and less ready to follow commands. Keeping their interests and motivation high is the best method. Keep training sessions short and to the point, and always end on a positive note by praising what they accomplished during the session.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a hardy breed, but there are a few health issues linked with this breed, as with so many others.
Conditions commonly associated with this breed include:
- Hip Dysplasia: In milder cases, dogs can have a full and active life with appropriate diet and exercise adjustments. Surgery may be recommended if the condition worsens.
- Von Willebrands Disease: This is a blood condition that affects humans and dogs alike. Due to a decrease in von Willebrand factor in the blood, it inhibits the clotting process.
- Bloat: This is a life-threatening illness that can affect large, deep-chested dogs such as GSPs, especially if they are fed one large meal per day, eat quickly, drink significant amounts of water after eating, or exercise intensively following a meal.
- Entropion: This condition causes the eyelid to fold inward, irritating or damaging the eyeball. It is usually noticeable by 6 months of age in GSPs.
- Cancer: In a recent study conducted by the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America, this was one of the most commonly reported health issues. Mammary tumors, mast cell tumors, and lymphosarcoma were the most often reported cancers.
With a life expectancy of about 13 years, it just makes good sense to spend some time carefully considering whether a German Shorthaired Pointer will fit into your lifestyle. If you can give one the amount of exercise they need and deserve, you will likely have found yourself a wonderful new companion.
Fun Facts About the GSP
There are interesting facts that many prospective owners don't know. If you already have a GSP, many of these will be like second nature to you, but if you don't, you're in for a treat.
- Nothing you throw will escape your dog's grasp. Your GSP has strong retriever instincts, and will learn to retrieve what you ask as a puppy.
- GSPs are often known as "velcro" dogs due to their striking loyalty.
- Nothing escapes the attention of your dog's nose. They're not just smart, they also have an excellent sense of smell. Their nose detects everything, whether they're sniffing out a scent during a hunt or smelling what you're making them for lunch.
- GSPs have been used to guard homes, pull sleds, and sniff for bombs.
- The US Air Force has a GSP named Haus responsible for detecting explosives.
- The TSA also uses GSPs to sniff out dangerous items.
Buying or Adopting a GSP
German Shorthairs are frequently purchased without a full grasp of the responsibilities that come with having one. Unfortunately, as a result, many end up in rescues or shelters. Searching for a rescue is one option or you can choose to purchase a GSP from a reputable breeder if you're searching for something specific.
A German Shorthaired Pointer puppy from a reputable breeder will typically cost between $800 and $1,500, with a top-quality German Shorthaired Pointer puppy costing upwards of $3,000. The price is determined by the dog's lineage, breed conformation, age, and training. A directory of reputable breeders and puppies is available on AKC Marketplace. There is also a list of breeders available on the German Shorthaired Pointer of America Club's website.
If you're searching for a GSP, you can start by looking at the directories on PetFinder and Save-a-Rescue. There are also a number of rescue groups depending on where you live in the United States, including:
Is the GSP Right for You?
If a good daily romp just isn't your style, it's best to admire this breed from a distance. Better to leave them to those who truly understand these pointers' strengths and talents, and who will dedicate the time necessary. If you are searching for a loyal companion who enjoys outdoor activities and spending as much time as possible with their owner, this could be the breed for you.