German Shorthaired Pointer

 

Both the German Shorthaired Pointer and the German Wirehaired Pointer are sporting breeds developed in Germany and although it is generally believed that the two breeds are closely related, their exact relationship remains unclear.  Both breeds are known as versatile gundogs, capable of working in many different types of terrain and performing a variety of different hunting tasks. Originally these breeds were primarily bred and used solely for hunting, but in more modern times a growing number of fanciers have taken to keeping them as companion animals, especially in the United States.  The German Shorthaired Pointer is also known as the German Shorthair, the German Shorthaired Pointing Dog, the Deutsch Kurzhaar, and the GSP.

 

Breed Information

Breed Basics

Country of Origin: 
Size: 
Large 35-55 lb
X-Large 55-90 lb
LifeSpan: 
12 to 15 Years
Trainability: 
Moderate Effort Required
Energy Level: 
High Energy
Grooming: 
Brushing Once a Week or Less
Protective Ability: 
Good Watchdog
Space Requirements: 
House with Yard
Compatibility With Other Pets: 
Generally Good With Other Dogs
May Have Problems With Non-Canine Pets
Not Recommended For Homes With Small Animals
Litter Size: 
6-9 Puppies
Names: 
German Shorthair, German Shorthaired Pointing Dog, Deutsch Kurzhaar, GSP

Height/Weight

Males: 
55-70 lbs, 23-25 inches
Females: 
45-60 lbs, 22-25 inches (AKC), 21-24 inches (UKC)

Kennel Clubs and Recognition

American Kennel Club: 
ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council): 
CKC(Canadian Kennel Club): 
FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale): 
KC (The Kennel Club): 
NZKC (New Zealand Kennel Club): 
UKC (United Kennel Club): 
History: 

 

The German Shorthaired Pointer, in the form as it exists today is a relatively new creation, although it is descended from much older breeds. The breeds ancestors were originally kept by sportsmen in rural areas of Germany who kept few if any records of their breeding efforts.  As a result, very little is known about the true origins of this breed, although many theories exist.  What is known for sure is that this dog is native to the German-speaking parts of Europe, and that it was first standardized sometime between  the 1860’s and 1870’s.

 

Until the invention of the gun, European hunting dogs hunted in one of three major ways.  There were pack hounds that would pursue quarry, primarily large mammals such as deer, wolf, and boar, by scent.  These hounds would then attack the prey and either kill it themselves or wait for their owners to follow on horseback and dispatch it with lances or spears.  There were also sight hounds, which would be released when speedy prey, especially rabbits and hares, were sighted.  These breeds would then rapidly run down their game and kill it.  There were also a few breeds which were bred to locate either birds or the fast game pursued by scent hounds.  These dogs would use their keen nose to locate their prey and then would either scare it out of hiding or get into a special stance to notify their masters of its location.  The hunter would then capture the prey by the use of a trained falcon, nets, or sight hounds.  This third group was made up of Spaniels and a few specially bred scent hounds, and were the ancestors of the modern gundog. 

 

One breed which was bred to locate game but not to kill it was the now-extinct Spanish Pointer.  Not much is known about the Spanish Pointer other than it entered into a distinctive pointing stance when it had located birds or small mammals.  It is generally believed that this dog was created in Spain, and was developed from a mixture of Spanish scent hounds and possible Spaniels, but none of that is known for sure.  Other pointing breeds were developed in Italy, the Bracco Italiano and the Spinone Italiano, possibly independently and possibly with the influence of the Spanish Pointer.  These breeds were imported to many countries across Western Europe, where they became influential in the development of similar breeds.  It is widely believed that the origin of the German Shorthaired Pointer lies with the Spanish Pointer, and possibly the Bracco Italiano as well.

 

The Spanish Pointer was likely imported to Germany sometime between the 15th and 17th Centuries.  Once there it was crossed with native German breeds, likely scent hounds such as the Hanoverian Hound and Pinschers such as the German Pinscher.  It is highly likely that various breeds of Braque (French Pointers) and descendents of the Saint Hubert Hound were used as well. The lack of records; however, means that exactly which breeds were used is not known, nor will it likely ever be.  Eventually, a new type of dog was developed, which became known as the German Birddog.  The German Birddog was probably not a breed in the modern sense, but rather a group of localized types bred for hunting birds with guns.  Unlike English hunters, who sought to develop dogs which were highly specialized for a specific hunting task; such as flushing, retrieving, scenting, or pointing, German hunters wanted a dog that could do everything with great skill, even if they would not be the best at any single task.  Initially, the German Birddog was probably kept primarily by the German nobility, who were the only ones allowed to hunt over most of the German-speaking lands.

 

Many social reforms took place over the 18th and 19th Centuries, and middle-class Germans began to gain access to the hunting preserves which had previously been the exclusive domain of the nobility.  Such hunters desired an even more versatile dog.  These men wanted a dog that could work in a variety of environments and climates, from the mountainous peaks of the Alps to the cold seashores of the Baltic.  They also wanted a dog that would be useful to a hunter who could only go hunting once or twice a month, and an excellent family companion and watchdog the rest of the time.  They also wanted a dog that was equally skilled at hunting birds and mammals.  They began to select for further versatility and companionship ability.  It is thought that these early German dogs were stockier and slower working than modern German Shorthaired Pointers.

 

Beginning in the 1700’s, and continuing through the 1800’s, the English began to keep studbooks of their dogs and to standardize the many breeds found in that country.  One of the earliest breeds to be standardized was the Pointer, which became renowned as a fast-working and elegant gun dog.  German hunters began to import the Pointer, and to use it to improve their own stock.  The Pointer is not commonly used as a retriever, nor is it well-suited to working in wet or cold climates.  This meant that German hunters greatly preferred crosses between Pointers and local dogs than pure bred Pointers.  However, most dog experts agree that the Pointer did make the German Pointers more elegant and refined, as well as enhancing their speed and pointing abilities.  Many argue that English Foxhounds were also crossed with German Pointers to improve them.  This is quite possible, but no evidence exists to support this claim.  Sometime during the early 1800’s, breeders began to cross German Pointers with various wiry-coated breeds, with the end result being the German Wirehaired Pointer.  To distinguish it from its wire-coated descendant, the older-type dogs became known as the German Shorthaired Pointer.

 

Eventually, the desire to standardize dog breeds which had started in England spread across Europe, first to France and then to the many independent German-Speaking states.  This process was sped up by the Unification of German led by Prussia, and a subsequent wave of nationalism.  Beginning in the 1860’s and 1870’s, breeders from across Germany began to keep studbooks of their German Shorthaired Pointers.  This resulted in the breed being standardized into its modern form.  The German Shorthaired Pointer first formally entered the studbooks of the German Kennel Club in 1872.  The German Shorthaired Pointer began to make regular appearances in German show rings, but was always primarily a working dog. 

 

The German Shorthaired Pointer was first introduced to America during the 1920’s by American sportsmen.  The breed caught on slowly in that country, as American hunters were accustomed to working with more specialized breeds.  The German Shorthaired Pointer is more versatile than the Pointer, but is often beaten by that breed in field trials which focus exclusively on hunting speed.  In 1930, the German Shorthaired Pointer was granted full recognition by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a member of the Sporting Group.  The German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America (GSPCA) was founded to promote and protect the breed, and became an official affiliate of the AKC.  Eventually, the German Shorthaired Pointer grew in popularity as American hunters began to appreciate its versatility.  This dog became especially popular with those who hunted infrequently, but enough to make it worthwhile for them to acquire a gundog. 

 

The United Kennel Club (UKC) registered the German Shorthaired Pointer in the Gun Dog Group in 1948.  As the decades passed, the German Shorthaired Pointer became more and more popular.  By the 1970’s it had become one of the most commonly used gundogs in the United States.  Around that time, the breed began to compete more successfully in field trials.  This breed became especially popular in the Midwest, where it most frequently hunts quail and pheasant.  Although relatively common across the United States, the German Shorthaired Pointer is considerably less commonly used in Southern States, where the Pointer remains more popular.  Most American hunters take advantage of the German Shorthaired Pointer’s retrieving ability.  However, Americans rarely use the breed for any game other than birds.  Instead, American breeds such as Coonhounds, Catahoula Leopard Dogs, Feists, and Curs are greatly preferred for this purpose.

 

Although the breed was initially slow to catch on, the German Shorthaired Pointer has begun a rapid rise in popularity.  Although it is impossible to get accurate statistics, this breed is now either the most commonly used working gun dog in the United States or a close second behind the Brittany.  Over the past couple of decades, more and more Americans are keeping the German Shorthaired Pointer as primarily a companion animal as well.  Unlike most working breeds, the German Shorthaired Pointer has become very common in America.  In 2010, the German Shorthaired Pointer ranked 16th out of 167 total breeds in terms of AKC registrations.  This placed it above such well-known breeds as the Siberian Husky, the Pug, and the Akita.  Most German Shorthaired Pointer breeders continue to place a premium on hunting ability, and continue to breed their dogs with that purpose in mind.  However, there is some fear that as the breed becomes more popular it will fall victim to disreputable breeders who will care more about the profits they can make than the quality of the dogs they produce.  Luckily, this has not yet become a major problem.  In recent years, the breed has begun to excel at obedience and agility competitions.  The German Shorthaired Pointer has become very popular in America, but it has likely reached the peak of its popularity.  This breed is a skilled hunting dog, but there are only so many people who want a hunting dog.  Because it is a working dog, German Shorthaired Pointers have very high exercise and space requirements.  This means that comparatively few dog owners are able to meet its needs.  However, it is very possible that pet lines of the German Shorthaired Pointer may be created, and this breed will begin to occupy a primarily companion animal role similar to the Labrador Retriever.

 

Appearance: 

 

The German Shorthaired Pointer is similar in appearance to other pointing breeds, and to most shorthaired gun dogs in general.  The German Shorthaired Pointer is a medium to large breed.  AKC standards call for males to stand between 23 and 25 inches tall at the shoulder and for females to stand between 22 and 25 inches tall at the shoulder.  UKC standards are identical for males but desire females to be between 21 and 24 inches tall at the shoulder.  The average weight for a German Shorthaired Pointer in good condition is between 55 and 70 pounds for males and 45 to 60 pounds for females.  German Shorthaired Pointers are a very athletic and lean breed, and generally weight slightly less than what one would expect for a dog of their height.  However, this is a sturdily built dog.  German Shorthaired Pointers are a generally well-proportioned breed, although they are slightly longer than they are tall.  This breed tends to have a relatively wide chest.  The tail of the German Shorthaired Pointer is traditionally docked to roughly 40% of its natural length.  However, this practice is falling out of favor and is actually banned in some countries.  The natural tail of this breed is of medium-length and carried either straight or in a slightly saber-like position.

 

The head and facial features of the German Shorthaired Pointer are mostly average.  This is because exaggerated features tend to be damaging to the dog’s working ability.  The head and neck of the German Shorthaired Pointer are proportional to body size, although somewhat narrow.  The head merges gently into the muzzle, which is roughly the same length.  The muzzle itself is long and deep enough to make room for plenty of scent receptors, and is large and strong enough to carry large birds.  The muzzle is quite wide, and rises gradually from nose to stop.  This rise is more pronounced in males than females.  The nose itself is large either black or brown depending on the coloration of the individual dog.  The ears of the German Shorthaired Pointer are of medium length, and hang down.  When at attention, the breed’s ears are folded, but are otherwise flat.  The eyes of this breed are medium-sized and almondAmong experts, the use of Almonds, or Almond derived products in pet food appears to have been met with mixed reviews. While some feel that there is no issue and that the .... shaped.  The overall expression of this breed is intensity and friendliness.

 

The coat of the German Shorthaired Pointer is as one would expect from the name, rather short.  This is a double-coated breed, with a short, dense and soft undercoat and a slightly longer, coarse, and slightly oily outer coat.  This coat gives the breed added protection from cold climates and harsh vegetation such as thorns.  The hair of this breed is generally slightly longer on the bottom of the tail and the backs of the legs.  The hair is shortest and softest on the ears and head.  The AKC and UKC differ on what colors are allowed in German Shorthaired Pointers.  Both clubs allow this breed to be solid liver, liver and white, liver and white ticked, liver spotted and white ticked, and liver roan.  The UKC, but not the AKC, allows for them to be solid black, black and white, black and white ticked, black spotted and white ticked, and black roan.  The UKC also allows for tan markings on any dog, but the AKC does not.

 

Temperament: 

 

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a working gun dog through and through, and has the temperament one would expect of such a dog.  This is a very human-oriented breed and forms very close attachments to its family.  These dogs become extremely attached to their families, and will follow them anywhere.  This is a breed that likes to be as close to its master as possible.  This can be problematic as German Shorthaired Pointers are known to suffer from severe separation anxiety and may become destructive or excessively vocal if left alone for long periods.  German Shorthaired Pointers exhibit a range of temperaments when it comes to meeting strangers.  When properly socialized, these dogs are usually friendly with strangers, although it is not uncommon for them to be reserved.  This breed is definitely one which prefers the company of its own family to others. 

 

When not properly socialized, this breed has a tendency to become timid.  Some German Shorthaired Pointers take a little while to warm up to new people such as roommates or spouses, but most will eventually come around.  These alert dogs make excellent watchdogs, and will definitely alert their owners to the approach of visitors.  However, this breed makes a very poor guard dog as they show low levels of aggression.  German Shorthaired Pointers are generally good with children, and most will form close bonds with them.  Many German Shorthaired Pointers are very loving and affectionate family dogs.  Different breed members will tolerate different amounts of rough play.  German Shorthaired Pointers which have not been properly socialized with children may be somewhat nervous around them.  Also, young German Shorthaired Pointers may not be the best breed to have around very young children, as they can be overly exuberant and may play a little bit too rough.

 

Most German Shorthaired Pointers are good with other animals.  Most breed members get along relatively well with other dogs.  When properly socialized, the average German Shorthaired Pointer will make a peaceful housemate for a dog of the opposite sex.  This breed is not known for having extreme dominance, territorial, or aggression issues.  However, dog aggression issues are far from unknown in this breed.  Some German Shorthaired Pointers, especially unsocialized ones, may be somewhat dog aggressive.  This usually results in displaying and posturing, but in extreme cases may result in attacks.  These issues are much greater between dogs of the same sex than opposite sexes.  Unlike most breeds, it is more common for female German Shorthaired Pointers to develop issues with other dogs.

 

When properly trained and socialized, most German Shorthaired Pointers are tolerant of non-canine pets.  However, this breed was bred for hunting and does have a strong prey drive.  It is definitely unwise to leave German Shorthaired Pointers unsupervised with small pets such as rabbits or guinea pigs, as their instincts might take over.  While training from a young age will help, most German Shorthaired Pointers do have a tendency to chase cats.  While this behavior in many dogs this will only result in a harassed cat, more than a few German Shorthaired Pointers have become cat killers.  Always remember that a German Shorthaired Pointer which would not harm the family cat which it knows well may still attack and kill a neighbors cat which it is not familiar with.  German Shorthaired Pointers left outside for any length of time will probably bring back “presents” of dead animals.

 

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a very intelligent and trainable breed.  Most canine studies intelligence studies place them somewhere between 15 and 20 of all AKC registered breeds.  This breed is known for being a very fast learner, particularly when they are young.  German Shorthaired Pointers excel at obedience and agility competitions.  In particular, this breed is a natural hunter and will take to field training very rapidly.  These dogs are generally quite willing and rarely stubborn.  However, this breed is somewhat more challenging than many other sporting breeds, and owners must make sure that they are always seen as the dominant pack member.  German Shorthaired Pointers due pose some training difficulties.  This breed is extremely distractible.  They have a tendency to catch wind of a scent or a movement at the corner of their eye and to follow it.  These dogs have a tendency to do whatever is most interesting to them at the moment and may ignore or disobey commands if they seem less fun.  This tendency gets much worse if these dogs are not properly exercised or if their owners are not in complete control.

 

As any owner will tell you, German Shorthaired Pointers are extremely energetic dogs.  This breed can work very hard for very long hours, and loves to play hard for long hours as well.  German Shorthaired Pointers have one of the highest exercise requirements of any breed, and are only topped by possibly a few herding breeds and working terriers.  At the very least, these dogs need more than an hour of vigorous exercise every day, and preferably more than that.  German Shorthaired Pointers are more than capable of running the most active family into the ground, and then waking up and doing it again the next day.  Even long walks will not satisfy the average German Shorthaired Pointer as this breed needs to run.  Although they make excellent jogging companions, this breed almost needs time to run off leash.  It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to keep one of these dogs without a yard, and the bigger the yard the better.  It is absolutely imperative that owners meet the exercise needs of German Shorthaired Pointers.  Without proper exercise, these dogs will develop behavioral and mental issues, which can become quite severe.  German Shorthaired Pointers need an outlet to release their energy, and will find one on their own if one is not provided for them.  If confined for too long, breed members will almost certainly become destructive, and there are few if any breeds that can become as destructive as this one.  This is not a breed that will simply chew up a table leg; instead, these dogs will destroy every cushion on a sofa and rip up all of the carpet from a room. 

 

These dogs also have a strong tendency to become excessive barkers, and some will bark for hours without stopping.  Many dogs become hyperactive and overly excitable.  These issues are often only symptoms of deeper mental issues.  It is far from uncommon for bored German Shorthaired Pointers to develop severe problems, such as manias, neurotic behaviors, and even self-destruction.  If you are not prepared or able to spend around two hours every day giving your dog exercise, as well as preferably allowing it to run around outside for several more hours, you should definitely not acquire a German Shorthaired Pointer.  However, the energy of this dog makes it very desirable for some active families.  This is a breed that is capable and willing to go anywhere at anytime, and to do any activity, no matter how extreme, once there.  A German Shorthaired Pointer would absolutely love to go hiking in the mountains or swimming in the ocean.  Some runners use these dogs to help them train for marathons.  For those looking for a weekend hunting companion, the German Shorthaired Pointer may be ideal.  If you are a very active family looking for a dog that will accompany you on any adventure, a German Shorthaired Pointer would love to come along for the ride.

 

German Shorthaired Pointers are infamous escape artists.  They have a natural urge to explore.  This breed is highly inquisitive and loves to follow its nose.  Most would love to break out of a yard and go to see new places and to smell new smells.  Unfortunately, this is also a breed which is more than capable of finding its way out.  A highly intelligent problem solver, the average German Shorthaired Pointer is more than capable of figuring out any possible escape route.  If no easy route is available, breed members are able to make their own.  They can dig under a fence, or they can bust through with their teeth or brute strength.  The most commonly used method is to simply jump over.  This canine athlete can scale four or five foot fences with almost no effort, and most will get over 6 foot fences with little difficulty.  Any enclosure which holds a German Shorthaired Pointer must be extremely secure and very tall.

 

This breed is known for developing physically quickly, but mentally slowly.  These dogs get to full size and strength at a young age, sometimes months before the average breed.  However, their minds often take longer to develop, often between two or three years.  This can result in a year or two of a full grown gun dog, with the mindset and exuberance of a young puppy.  Owners must be prepared to share their homes with an extremely bouncy and rather large animal.

 

Grooming Requirements: 

 

The German Shorthaired Pointer has a very low maintenance coat.  This breed should never require professional grooming, and only needs a regular brushing with a firm bristle brush.  Bathing should only be done when absolutely necessary.  After a day in the field, the dog should be carefully checked for injuries, especially around the feet.  The ears should also be cleaned on a regular basis.  Other than that, German Shorthaired Pointers only require the care common to all dogs, such as teeth brushing and nail clipping.  This breed is an average to heavy shedder.  If you or a family member have allergies or simply hate the thought of cleaning dog hair, this is probably not the ideal breed.

 

Health Issues: 

 

The German Shorthaired Pointer is considered a generally healthy breed, although strictly working lines are considered somewhat healthier.  The life expectancy for a German Shorthaired Pointer is between 12 and 14 years, rather long for a dog of this size.  A health survey conducted by the GSPCA found that the leading cause of death of German Shorthaired Pointer was cancer, which was responsible for almost 28% of all German Shorthaired Pointer deaths.  Cancer was followed by old age (19%), euthanasia (6%), and gastrointestinal problems (6%).  The study found that the most common health problems experienced by German Shorthaired Pointers were skeletal such as arthritis or hip dysplasia, epilepsy, cancer, and heart problems.  As is the case with all breeds, German Shorthaired Pointers are victim to a number of genetically inheritable diseases.  However, most of these conditions are found in this breed at substantially lower rates than is common among purebred dogs.

 

One problem to which German Shorthaired Pointers are somewhat susceptible is epilepsy.  Epilepsy is a name which describes a number of disorders of the nervous system.  Epilepsy is experienced by a number of species, including dogs, humans, and cats.  While each individual form of epilepsy is different, most result in seizures or a stiffening of the body.  Seizure episodes are usually short, but may continue for a long period of time.  Owners of an epileptic dog must be very careful, as seizures may result in injury.  While there is no cure for most forms of epilepsy, a number of treatments (most of which are quite expensive) are available.

 

Although a generally healthy breed, German Shorthaired Pointer owners must be aware of the potential for the following conditions:

 

 

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