A complete guide to the fascinating German Shorthaired Pointer breed.
In this article we will be taking a look at the German Shorthaired Pointer.
Allowing prospective owners to get to know this fascinating breed, and to decide whether a GSP is the right dog for them.
German Shorthaired Pointer History
GSPs comes under the category known in gundog work as HPR, or Hunt Point Retriever.
An all purpose group, who are skilled at flushing and locating game for their handlers, as well as fetching it back them.
The German Shorthaired Pointer as we know him today actually has a relatively recent place in history. They were first imported to the UK in the early 1920’s and the United States in the mid 1920’s. They were recognised by the AKC in March of 1930.
The GSP’s lineage originates from the Spanish Pointer and Hannover Hound, who were cross bred in the 1600’s. Later adding the English Pointer in to the mix to produce an all purpose hunting, pointing, retrieving breed.
It is thought that this was at the direction of Prince Albrecht zu Solms-Braunfeld of the Royal House of Hanover, who was a fan of Schweisshunds and wanted something similar but with a faster working pace.
The first AKC German Shorthaired Pointer Show was held in 1941, and the first GSP Field Trial was held just three years later in 1944. For many years these dogs were seen as dual purpose – being both worked in the field and shown in the ring.
German Shorthaired Pointer Characteristics
German Shorthaired Pointers have an athletic build. Lean in appearance but strong and tough, they are built for stamina and duration of exercise.
They have an alert natural body position, and their heads have a long muzzle and delicate profile.
These athletic bodies and proud heads give a calm and regal appearance to this very active and loyal dog.
German Shorthaired Pointer Colors
German Shorthaired Pointers have short, tough coats of hair.
Although GSPs are most commonly seen as liver and white dogs, they can come in a range of color combinations. These include the following:
- Black German Shorthaired Pointers
- Black & White German Shorthaired Pointers
- Black Roan German Shorthaired Pointers
- Liver German Shorthaired Pointers
- Liver & White German Shorthaired Pointers
- Liver Roan German Shorthaired Pointers
- White German Shorthaired Pointers
- White & Liver German Shorthaired Pointers
German Shorthaired Pointer Size
German Shorthaired Pointers as adults will grow up to around 25 inches tall to the shoulder, and will weigh around 60 pounds.
German Shorthaired Pointer Temperament
German Shorthaired Pointer temperament is a product of their breeding. As working gundogs they tend to be intelligent, biddable and loyal to their owners.
They do not tend to have the over enthusiasm for strangers that Labradors or Golden Retrievers show, instead coming across as more relaxed and sometimes giving the impression of being aloof. In fact they are fun loving and enthusiastic dogs when in the company of their families, and love taking part in exercise related activities.
They are very committed to their family, especially their primary carer. This means that they are one of the easier breeds to train, but also that they prefer human companionship to time alone.
German Shorthaired Pointer Family Dog
If you are looking for a family dog, then you will need to take into account some of the traits of a GSP. Although they are usually placid and biddable by nature, they can also show some nervousness around small children if not properly socialised.
When you bring your German Shorthaired Pointer pet puppy home you will need to be very careful about socialising them to people of all ages. If you do not yet have kids of your own, then taking them for walks near school yards around opening and closing time will help to familiarise them with the movements and noises that children make.
If you have friends with young children and babies, make sure that they come over for lots of little playdates when the puppy is between 8 and 16 weeks old.
As with any dog, supervision is key. Do not leave any children unattended with a dog, even your own. Make sure that they learn to respect his boundaries, and teach them the signs he will display if he is feeling unhappy.
Simple rules like ‘do not touch the dog in his bed’ and ‘if he walks away, don’t follow him’, will help you to keep a harmonious household.
German Shorthaired Pointer Behavior
German Shorthaired Pointers are not the quietest of breeds. They have been known to rather like the sound of their own voices, and will need to be encouraged from an early age to avoid barking. Praising your puppy for quiet behavior, and ignoring any vocalisations will help to reduce the amount of chatter you will hear from them as they grow.
He will probably always provide a watchdog voice when guests come to the house, but it is something that you can help to keep to a minimum.
Due to their need for companionship, GSPs may become destructive if left for long periods of time unattended.
German Shorthaired Pointer Shedding
German Shorthaired Pointer shedding can come as a surprise to some new owners. They are a very high moulting breed. Be prepared for that short tough coat to leave a fine layer of hairs all over your floors, most of the year around.
German Shorthaired Pointer Training
German Shorthaired Pointer training is an essential part of their ownership. Although they are naturally biddable dogs, they also have a strong drive to seek prey and run.
German Shorthaired Pointer hunting traits make them fantastic in the field, but can be a problem in a family home if they are not managed.
Getting a good recall, and some basic obedience commands such as sit and stay will help you to keep control of your dog. Meaning that you are both able to enjoy outings together without worrying about them disappearing into the undergrowth.
Modern positive training techniques are highly recommended for GSPs. They are independent and intelligent dogs, but they are also stubborn in the face of unpleasantness.
German Shorthaired Pointer Exercise
German Shorthaired Pointers need a lot of exercise. Combining this need with their natural instincts to run, hunt, point and retrieve will give you both a huge amount of enjoyment. Gundog style training is a great way to get the best out of a GSP, even if you have no interest in actual field work.
Helping them to burn off their energy with long retrieves, or running in hunting patterns across the fields, will increase your bond together and help your dog to feel more relaxed and satisfied when he is at home.
German Shorthaired Pointer Health Problems
German Shorthaired Pointers are generally healthy dogs, with a good body structure and well proportioned head.
However, there are some GSP health problems you need to be aware of.
GSPs have floppy ears, so it’s important to remember to regularly check and carefully clean these when your puppy comes to live with you.
They are also prone to some diseases and illnesses that come from closed registry breeding.
As a prospective puppy buyer, it’s important to be familiar with these so that you can avoid them where possible.
Bloat or Gastric Torsion is something that many larger breeds of dog are prone too. If you own a puppy who is a member of one of these high risk breeds you can reduce the chances of him getting it by encouraging slow eating (using a slow feeder or smaller more frequent portions) and ensuring that he doesn’t eat from a raised bowl.
GSPs can be prone to hip dysplasia, where the joint is malformed causing pain and lameness as the puppy grows. To have the best chance of avoiding this, ensure that both of your puppy’s parents have been hip scored. They should have results better than the breed mean of 10.
German Shorthaired Pointers can also suffer from elbow dysplasia, a similar condition to hip dysplasia, but where the elbow joints instead are affected.
Both of your puppy’s parents should have elbow scores of 0 – this attribute being measured on a different scale to the hips.
Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD)
GSPs have been known to suffer from Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD). This is a condition which causes lameness and mobility problems, due to problems with the formation of the puppies bones. The process where cartilage is replaced by bone in the womb is disturbed, resulting in thickening of the cartilage.
This means that the dog’s legs are less resistant to stress, and more prone to injury. A dog known to suffer from OCD should never be bred from.
von Willebrand’s Disease
The blood disorder known as von Willebrand’s Disease causes problems with clotting. Bleeding noses, gums, or prolonged bleeding after injury or birth are signs of von Willebrand’s. Although it can be managed it is incurable, and does not usually become apparent until 3 years of age.
Ensure that your puppy’s parents have both been tested. If they are both clear, your puppy will be hereditary clear. If one is clear and the other is a carrier, your puppy will not be able to develop the disease but may be a carrier himself. This is only a concern if you would like to then breed from himself yourself later on.
Entropion is a nasty condition, in which the dogs’ eyelid rolls inwards. It causes irrigation, injury and in severe cases can result in blindness if untreated.
Entropion is treatable through surgery, but you should not buy a puppy if either of his parents have had this as it would increase the likelihood of your dog requiring the same intervention as he grows up. Watch out for signs in the litter, such as red eyes or persistent rubbing.
Lymphedema occurs when there is a blockage or twist in the lymph ducts, causing tissues to swell from an accumulation of fluids.
There is no test for this at present, but you should ask your breeder if they know of any history of it in your puppy’s pedigree.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA is a fairly common cause of blindness in a range of pedigree dog breeds. It is a disease of the retina which causes a gradual and permanent loss of sight. Fortunately, there is a DNA test for this disease. Ask for evidence that your puppy’s parents are both clear, or one clear and one carrier, to ensure that she will not suffer from PRA herself.
German Shorthaired Pointer Lifespan
German Shorthaired Pointer lifespan is thought to average at 12 to 14 years of age. The UK Kennel Club list them as living over 10 years, the AKC state 12 to 14, and most sources I have checked seem to agree that 15 years old is generally the maximum age for the breed.
German Shorthaired Pointer Breeders
If you are looking for a German Shorthaired Pointer puppy, then the first thing you need to do is contact a lot of breeders.
If you want to work or show your GSP when she is older, then you will need to ask the breeder whether this is something they are experienced in. A show breeder will know which puppies are most likely to do well in the ring. A working GSP breeder will work at least one of the parents, and be looking to produce a litter of puppies with legally docked tails.
If you are simply looking for a family pet, then find a breeder who’s bitch lives in the house or has a particularly kind and mellow temperament. If possible go to view both parents before making your decision. German Shorthaired Pointers are not overly pushy or attentive to strangers, but they should be calm and relaxed in your company. Watch how they interact with their owner, and if you have children bring them along to gage the dogs’ reaction.
Your chosen breeder should be well versed in the breed. Their dogs should have a purpose in their lives, and be valued as a member of the family or working team of gundogs. Be suspicious of anyone who has a lot of different breeds of dog, that don’t appear to play a role in their families other than producing puppies.
You should also ask to see health clearances for both parents. For GSPs at the minimum these should include clear eye tests, DNA tests for PRA and von Willebrand’s Disease, and certificates showing low hip and elbow scores.
German Shorthaired Pointer Puppies
Once you have found a German Shorthaired Pointer breeder than you are happy with, you might have to wait for them to have a litter with a puppy available.
Good breeders often reserve all the pups in the litter before they are even born. However, most will not require a deposit until they are at least three weeks old and you have had the opportunity to visit them.
If you are lucky enough to have the pick of your litter, then you will need to decide whether you want a male or female puppy.
German Shorthaired Pointer Price
German Shorthaired Pointer puppy costs range from around £650 to £850 in the UK, or $600 – $800 US.
However, the cost of buying your GSP will not be the major monetary consideration when you bring home your new puppy.
Ensure that you are able to budget for weekly food costs, veterinary insurance, annual vaccinations and any one off costs including beds, toys and training equipment.
German Shorthaired Pointer Mix
A German Shorthaired Pointer mix will probably be cheaper to buy than a pedigree puppy, but will incur the same lifetime costs. If you are buying a cross bred GSP, then make sure that the breeder has relevant health tests carried out not just for the German Shorthaired Pointer parent but for the other parents’ breed as well.
German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue
If you are looking for a German Shorthaired Pointer, but aren’t really interested in bringing up a puppy, then a rescue GSP might be what you are looking for. Although rescue dogs may come with behavioral or training issues from their pasts, you may find that you are happy to tackle these in exchange for helping a dog in need and perhaps getting a more known quantity.
When you bring home a puppy you can get an idea of the temperament that they will have based upon their parents’ natures and the general breed standards. If you want to have a better idea of the dog you will bring home, rescuing a GSP could prove more informative.
Is A GSP The Right Breed For Me?
If you have a large home, large garden and love spending time outdoors, then a GSP puppy could be a great choice.
Make sure to commit yourself to regular cleaning of all that shed fur, a good programme of socialisation and training, and a continuing dedication to lots of exercise and time together.
Ensure that you are confident you can spend the time with your pup that he needs, and you will have a wonderful companion to share your life with.