Fun-loving, amiable, clever, and eager to please, the German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) is a member of the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Sporting Group. Originally bred for hunting, today, this breed serves as a lovable human companion. Of the 193 breeds that are registered with the AKC, the GSP ranks #11.
The German Shorthaired Pointer originated in Germany. Though the exact origination of the GSP is unknown, it’s believed that the breed was the descendent of the German Bird Dog. In an effort to create an even more versatile hunting dog, Germans crossbred various different breeds of canines with the German Bird Dog, including English Pointers, Old Spanish Pointers, Arkwright Pointers, and various other types of tracking dogs, water dogs, and scent hounds. This crossbreeding resulted in the German Shorthaired Pointer, which was highly successful at locating various types of game on land and in water. The name for this breed was likely derived from the stance that he takes when he has spotted prey: a straight back with the snout pointing directly at the location of the animal it is looking for.
Though the first records of the GSP were document in the Klub Kurzhaar Stud Book in the 1870s, it is believed that variations of this breed existed prior to that. The first documented GSPs were heavy and relatively slow. In an effort to enhance the breed’s agility, speed, and intelligence, breeders continued to refine these hunting dogs, and between the latter part of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century, the German Shorthaired Pointer that we know today was created; a highly intelligent, agile, fast dog with a strong sense of smell that tracks equally as well on land as it does on water.
This new breed became extremely popular with hunters throughout Germany and the rest of Europe, and their popularity spread to the United States. American sportsmen began using the GSP for hunting in the early part of the 1900s. The breed was used to track various types of game, such as partridge, quail, grouse, woodcock, rabbit, duck, and even possums and raccoons. They could also locate larger game, such as deer. In 1930, the GSP was officially registered with the AKC. It is still used for hunting today, but due to its attractive looks, lovable disposition, and desire to please, the German Shorthaired Pointer is also a beloved pet.
Characteristics of the German Shorthaired Pointer
Next, we’ll go into the appearance and temperament of the German Shorthaired Pointer.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a lean, muscular, medium-sized dog. Females can stand between 21 and 23 inches tall and weigh between 45 and 60 pounds, while males can stand between 23 and 25 inches high and weight between 55 and 70 pounds. Both genders feature a long muzzle with highly expressive eyes, floppy ears, and a large nose.
German Shorthaired Pointers have a short, dense, water-repellent coat. The color of the coat is either a solid reddish brown (liver), or a combination of liver and white, with the two colors creating very unique patterns, which, according to breeders and the AKC, are referred to as either patched, roan, or ticked. The GSP has webbed feet, making this breed excel at swimming. They are fast, powerful, and have high endurance, and they do just as well in water as they do on land. The distinctive physique and coat coupled with its incredible hunting capabilities make this dog a highly versatile hunter. GSPs are often referred to as “noble” or “aristocratic” dogs.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is beloved for his good-natured disposition. This breed loves to be surrounded by his human companions and generally, does well with other animals. Being that the GSP was bred for hunting and remains one of the best hunting dogs, this breed is highly active and prefers to spend his time exploring and playing. German Shorthaired Pointers also have a high endurance level and can keep up with the most rigorous activities. After a day of playing with plush dog toys, swimming, and scouting for anything that he catches the scent of, the GSP likes to lounge in his dog bed or curl up with human pack members.
This breed is very good with young children. It can keep up with the most active child and enjoys rigorous play; however, because they are so exuberant, play with small children should be supervised, as the GSP may become over-zealous and unintentionally knock down his human playmates. The GSP is fiercely protective of his pack and will notify his human companions when someone unexpected is approaching with an alerting, non-aggressive bark, making this breed a great watchdog.
The German Shorthaired Pointer does have a few traits that some may find burdensome. For example, they tend to be overly exuberant and rowdy, particularly when they are not properly exercised. As such, this breed may not be well-suited for someone who cannot dedicate the time to providing this dog with the activity that he needs. If not properly trained, the GSP may be aggressive toward small animals, such as cats, as a result of their strong instinct to track and chase. While this breed is very people-friendly, if left alone for prolonged periods of time, the German Shorthaired Pointer can suffer from separation anxiety and may incessantly bark and become destructive. The use of dog calming aids and homeopathic remedies, such as CBD oil for dogs, can help to prevent anxiety; for example, offering your pet medications for dogs before leaving for work may help to ease his anxiousness.
The GSP is best-suited for families that are active and enjoy spending time outside. With proper care and plenty of activity, this breed will offer plenty of love, affection, and fun.
Caring for a German Shorthaired Pointer
Like all breeds, German Shorthaired Pointers have specific care needs. It’s important to understand these needs and ensure that they are being met in order to provide your pet with a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
In order to maintain optimal health, a German Shorthaired Pointer should be fed a well-balanced, highly nutritious diet. Since the GSP was bred for hunting and they are highly active, dog food that is made specifically for active canines is recommended. Generally, they require a high caloric intake; an average of 3,000 to 3.500 calories per day is recommended to ensure that they maintain a healthy weight and have the energy they need to thrive. The dog’s age and activity level should be considered when determining calorie intake; younger and more active canines will require more calories, while seniors and those that are less active will need less. Animal nutritionists recommend feeding twice a day; once in the morning and once in the afternoon or evening.
Typically, German Shorthaired Pointers aren’t picky eaters; they enjoy both dry dog food and wet dog food. It should be noted, however, that whichever option you offer your pet, it should contain a large percentage of protein, so a high protein dog food should be considered. Since the GSP is so active and because they are primarily carnivorous, this breed does best on recipes that contain premium quality sources of protein. They should not be fed starches or complex carbohydrates, such as wheat, corn, soy, or white potatoes. Therefore, a grain free dog food is the best option for this breed. Avoid recipes that contain gluten-based ingredients and other fillers, such as animal byproducts. Additionally, foods that are made with artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives should be avoided.
Dog food brands that feature a high percentage of healthy animal proteins, such as salmon, beef, chicken, bison, lamb, duck, and tuna are ideal for the GSP. While this breed is naturally carnivorous, the German Shorthaired Pointer can benefit from the nutritional content of wholesome fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, blueberries, cranberries, apples, peppers, peas, and sweet potatoes.
There are several commercial dog food brands that will meet the needs of a German Shorthaired Pointers. Some of the best options to consider include:
In addition to the pleasant, lovable, and generally easy-going disposition of the German Shorthaired Pointer, another desirable trait is the minimal grooming needs of this breed. Shedding is minimal and their hair is short, so tangles and mats are not a concern. Brushing once a week with a firm-bristled dog brush is all that is needed to remove any spent hair and keep the coat and skin healthy.
The German Shorthaired Pointer should only be bathed on an as-needed basis. The coat is naturally water-repellent, and excessive bathing can strip the skin and coat of natural oils, which can lead to dry skin and damaged hair. Generally, this breed should only require a bath once every 6 to 8 weeks or when visibly dirty. When bathing, select a high quality dog shampoo that is free of harsh ingredients, such as dyes and perfumes. Since this breed loves the water, bathing should be hassle-free. Baths should be given in a secure location and lukewarm water should be used.
Since the GSP is such an active breed, their nails wear down naturally; however, if you can hear your pet’s nails clicking when he walks, use a sturdy pair of nail clippers for dogs to trim them. This breed has webbed toes, so it’s important to check and cleanse their pads on a regular basis. Once a week, apply a dog paw wax to the pads to keep them pliable and to prevent drying and cracking.
The floppy ears of the German Shorthaired Pointer should be cleaned regularly, as built-up dirt, debris, and wax can lead to infection. Use a clean, damp cloth to gently wipe out the underside of the ears. A gentle dog ear cleaner can be helpful, too.
To keep the teeth and gums healthy and prevent bad breath, consider brushing on a weekly basis. If your pet does not tolerate tooth brushing, dental chews can be offered to remove plaque and tartar buildup and dog breath freshener can keep bad breath at bay.
Exercise and Activity
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a highly energetic dog. As such, they need a great deal of exercise on a daily basis. Exercise helps to build and strengthen muscles and joints; it also prevents boredom, which can lead to troublesome behavior.
Walks should be offered every day. Two shorter walks or one long walk is essential for the overall health and well-being of this breed. Do note, however, that the GSP has a strong sense of smell and has a tendency to pull when a scent is picked up; therefore, a leash for dogs that pull may be necessary. GSPs are avid swimmers, so your pet should be offered plenty of opportunities to get in the water; playing fetch with water toys for dogs and simply diving and swimming will be welcomed activities. German Shorthaired Pointers enjoy playing on land as much as they in the water. Fetching rope and tug toys, running in a secured yard, and playing with automatic fetch machines will keep your GSP physically and mentally stimulated and assure he is happy and healthy.
German Shorthaired Pointers are very intelligent and aim to please; however, due to this breeds innate desire to track, the GSP does have a tendency to become easily distracted. As such, your pet is highly capable of being trained, but patience and persistence are essential. By keeping training sessions highly engaging and offering plenty of positive reinforcement, your GSP will be able to learn various commands.
Though the GSP does have an amiable personality, it can become aggressive with other dogs and small animals if not properly trained; therefore, socialization is a must. Attending training classes and play sessions at dog parks is a great way to introduce your pet to other animals and humans. When training, start with the basic commands, and as your pet succeeds with these, you can begin introducing more complex commands and partaking in more rigorous training exercises. Because of their agility, speed, swimming skills, the GSP excels in various types of activities, including field and agility events, to dock diving.
Housetraining should begin as early as possible. Puppies can be trained as soon as they have weaned off their mother’s milk, and older GSPs can be housebroken as soon as they enter the home. Crate training is the most effective housebreaking strategy. Canines do not like to “mess” in their dens, and since they view a dog crate as a den, this method of housetraining is highly successful for virtually all breeds, including the GSP. Make sure that the crate is properly sized. Your pet should have enough space to stand and turn around without banging into the sides or top; but, he should not have excess room, as additional space can render crate training ineffective. Until completely housebroken, confine your pet in the crate when you cannot respond to his need to eliminate; however, do not keep him confined in the space too long, as doing so can lead to separation anxiety and aggression. As soon as your pet exits the crate, direct him to the proper location to use the bathroom. Establish a feeding schedule and take your pet outside 15 minutes after eating. Be sure to offer positive reinforcement and never scold your dog if he has an accident; it is a learning process and scolding is detrimental to the process.
On average, the lifespan of a German Shorthaired Pointer is between 10 and 12 years. Understanding the health concerns that are associated with this breed is essential so prevention and treatment can be offered. Like all breeds, the GSP is genetically predisposed to a few different health conditions, including:
- Like humans, canines can also develop diabetes, and the GSP is prone to this condition. Diabetic dogs either do not produce enough or any insulin, and as such, they are not able to break down glucose. This condition can be life-threatening and requires medical care.
- This condition occurs when the thyroid produces too much hormone, which can lead to weight loss, lethargy, anxiety, and depression. Medications are available to treat hyperthyroidism.
- Canine Gastric Dilation- A gastrointestinal condition that affects canines. It occurs when a dog consumes large amounts of food and the stomach dilates and the food and gas are unable to be expelled. Symptoms include dissention in the abdomen, weakness, drooling, and difficulty breathing. Emergency medical care is required, as this condition can be lfife-threatening.
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