The German Shorthaired Pointer

The German Shorthaired Pointer

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We don’t know the precise origin of the German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP), but what we do know is that he was bred to be a prolific hunter. Able to hunt and retrieve all sorts of game, including pheasant, quail, grouse, waterfowl, raccoons, possum, and even deer!

Developed in 19th century Germany and a descendant of the German Bird Dog (with some English Pointer mixed in for good measure), the German Shorthaired Pointer is one of the most popular dog breeds in America.

Sizing Up
The GSP is a medium-to-large-sized breed. Here are some common physical traits of the GSP:

  • Weight: 45-70 lbs.
  • Height: 23-26 inches
  • Coat: Short and flat, with a dense undercoat that is both water resistant and insulating
  • Color: Liver (dark brown), black, with both colors sometimes mixed with white
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years

What are they like?
Energy, energy, energy!

There’s no better dog for someone who loves the outdoors than the German Shorthaired Pointer. Able to keep up on marathon hikes and swift dawn trail runs – and able to give you a sense of security as you forge new paths in the forest – the GSP is the quintessential outdoor dog for active people and families.

The GSP is a well-mannered, happy family dog. His high-energy ways require consistent exercise, but he doesn’t need all your attention. That is, unless he bolts to chase a squirrel or woodchuck. With some dedicated training, the GSP can be a well-behaved and well-loved dog, comfortable around new people or strange dogs (as long as they aren’t too small).

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a tough, hardy breed with just a few hereditary diseases, including:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eye problems, such as entropion
  • Epilepsy
  • Allergies
  • Some types of cancer

Right for you?
As with any new pet, there are some considerations to make before you welcome a German Shorthaired Pointer into your family:

  • It takes the GSP a little longer to mature: two years, to be exact. When it comes to training, you’ll have to be patient, start early, and stick with it. It will be worth it in the end, trust us.
  • He’s a hunter by nature. That means that he’ll bark at, and chase, everything that moves. He’ll also dig up your yard. With the right training, started at an early age, these behaviors can be addressed pretty easily.
  • Because he was bred for physically demanding work, it is extremely important to keep a GSP active physically and mentally. He needs at least an hour each day for exercise through walks, runs, hikes, or runs alongside your bicycle.
  • Grooming is minimal. A weekly brushing will keep a GSP happy and comfortable.

When trained well and exercised thoroughly, the German Shorthaired Pointer can be a great companion for the right person or family.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Reviewed on:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Animal Planet

Sporting Dog Breeds

Is the German Shorthaired Pointer right for you? Find your perfect match now!

The German Shorthaired Pointer is an all-terrain dog. German Shorthaired Pointers can do almost any job. These dogs have served in the Air Force to detect bombs, and one was even elected pet mayor of Montclair, California!

This breed is incredibly versatile, but they particularly excel as game hunters and water retrievers: Their webbed feet help this breed move through the water. The “pointer” part of their name refers to the arrow-like stance they assume when they spot their prey. These boisterous dogs have lots of energy and work in tracking, pointing, hunting, and even pulling sleds.

Originally from Germany, this medium-sized and high-energy breed can grow to between 45-70 pounds and lives an average of 12-14 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Sporting group.

AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Hunting
Origin: Germany
Breed Group: Sporting
Average Lifespan: 12-14 years
Size: Large
Bark Factor: Moderate

FAMILY gundog, pointer, versatile hunting dog

ORIGINAL FUNCTION general hunting

TODAY'S FUNCTION pointing, pointing field trials

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 23-25 Weight: 55-70

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 21-23 Weight: 45-60

OTHER NAME German pointer (shorthaired), Deutscher, kurzhaariger vortsehund, kurzhaar

Playfullness Very playful

Affection level Very affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Shy

Friendliness toward strangers Friendly

Ease of training Moderately easy to train

Protection ability Moderately protective

Grooming needs Low maintenance

Cold tolerance Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance



This breed is very intelligent, highly affectionate, and wants to play. They like to be with you but also have an independent spirit. This is a family-friendly dog who'll do better with active older kids their enthusiasm means they do best with supervised children. Play with other pets is not recommended.


We don't like to use the word “hyper,” but this is definitely a dog on the go. Your German Shorthaired Pointer needs regular, rigorous exercise and room to stretch his legs.

This breed is vigilant and moderately protective. Some tend to be vocal.


This smarty-paws likes challenges and is very trainable but needs lots of exercise and consistent, patient training. German Shorthaired Pointers are athletic and built for jumping, so it's no surprise they excel in dog sports.



This breed's short, thick single coat is flat and water-resistant which helps to regulate its body temperature.

A German Shorthaired Pointer's coat repels water and dirt which make them relatively easy to groom. However, this dog is a profuse shedder — its hair is wiry and can be hard to get out of clothing and upholstery. They also blow their coat seasonally, at which point there will be even more hair on your clothes and furniture. Brushing weekly and occasional baths will help keep the dust-doggies at bay.


This is a generally healthy breed. Rarely, German Shorthaired Pointers will develop hip dysplasia or joint problems.

Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.



The American Kennel Club doesn't list German Shorthaired Pointers among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.

You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large as a German Shorthaired Pointer! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.


“Today I climbed the tallest mountain in the world,” is what your German Shorthaired Pointer will think at the end of his best day ever. Maybe that mountain was only a small hill nearby, but nevertheless, it was the tallest mountain in the world.


These dogs do equally well in warm and cool climates. They're affectionate, playful, and above all, active. German Shorthaired Pointers don't require much grooming, but you'll need to be able to provide the time and space necessary to keep this busy breed satisfied. If you're an athletic person who wants to run, climb, hike, or train with your dog—and you don't mind tenacious and omnipresent hair—the German Shorthaired Pointer could be “fur” you.

Have you decided that a German Shorthaired Pointer is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.

Exercise and nutrition

German shorthaired Pointers are energetic dogs that need lots of exercise and love to learn skills. They need to be taken for runs several times a week as well as walked daily. They need socialization when young with people old and young, other dogs, and situations to make them a well-rounded family member.

They thrive at puppy classes, enjoying the intellectual challenges, meeting other dogs, and can do well at agility classes. They have a strong hunting instinct so can chase small furry animals, so they’re perhaps not the dog for you if you have cats or guinea pigs! They are relatively easy to train, and their hunting instincts mean it is essential or they can get distracted when out and about and disappear in search of prey! They will not suit a quiet inactive household and can become destructive if bored and under-exercised.

They are active, large dogs that need some feeding, especially while young and energetic. Older, less active dogs can become obese if their food is not tailored to their energy levels, which can cause significant health issues. A healthy weight dog should have a distinctive waist and you should be able to feel the last 2 ribs.

As a large dog they can be prone to developing Bloat. This twisted gut condition is painful and dangerous so avoid feeding just before or straight after strenuous exercise and feed high quality food in smaller more regular meals.

Is a GSP Right for You?

It is a special time in your life. You are considering adopting a displaced GSP, or acquiring a GSP from a reputable breeder, and making them part of your family. This is a lifetime commitment that, like any relationship, should not be taken lightly and can present its share of challenges.

Many things should be considered and many questions asked prior to selecting the breed and dog that would be appropriate for you, your family and your lifestyle:

  • Why do I want a dog? Does my family want a dog? What am I looking for in a dog?
  • Will I have the time required? The facilities needed?
  • How large will they get?
  • How much maintenance will be needed?
  • What are their characteristics?
  • How will they deal with strangers (both human and animal)?
  • How difficult and how necessary will training be?

These are just a few of the many questions that should be considered before selecting the breed and dog that is best suited to you, your family and your lifestyle.

GERMAN SHORTHAIRED POINTERS (GSPs) are not the breed for everyone. They certainly are not for the faint of heart or weak of spirit! They are a special breed with specific needs.

GSPs were originally bred with several definite goals in mind:

A versatile, tireless hunting dog capable of hunting feathered and furred game, pointing or treeing as necessary, retrieving to hand over land or water, and tracking wounded game.

A dog capable of dispatching predators.

A dog who is a loving, loyal family companion and hearth-warmer.

All of these goals and more have been achieved in the German Shorthaired Pointer. These same goals highlight many issues that should be considered prior to choosing a GSP as your companion.

GSPs retain a puppy level of energy throughout their lives. They require physical and mental stimuli to help keep this energy at a manageable level. A family with an active lifestyle geared toward activities that would include the dog is ideal. Access to areas with plenty of room for running, such as the home property, the park, the woods, etc., is beneficial. Devoting necessary time to fulfill a GSP's drive to "work" and learn through training and play and to satisfy their need for human companionship is essential. A sense of humor should be a prerequisite for any future GSP owner. A GSP can be quite mischievous and their pranks are often not appreciated by humans.

While GSPs are generally great with kids, care must be exercised around small children. A GSP's eagerness and playfulness could at times lead to unintentional injuries. (Note: Proper introduction of children to any canine, regardless of breed, and teaching children appropriate behavior around dogs in general, is essential. To NEVER leave any dog unattended with an infant should be an absolute.)

GSPs can be protective of their home and their humans. As a very social and human friendly breed, the GSP loves to be around people and activity, and handles this well, assuming they have been properly socialized. Care must be given to proper socialization and positive reinforcement training in order to avoid problematic behaviors.

GSPs are hunters. This does not mean they would be unhappy in a non-hunting home. It does, however, mean that other avenues to direct their energies may have to be found. GSPs get bored very easily if not kept busy. They are very inquisitive and can be quite inventive when entertaining themselves. Unfortunately, many things they consider fun (such as playing with all the neat toys in the kitchen garbage can, unspooling toilet paper, digging in the flowerbed, jumping or climbing fences, shredding pillows or furniture, and the list goes on) we consider destructive.

GSPs are very people oriented, sometimes to the point of being clingy (following your every step around the house, for example). They thrive upon human interaction and need it to be truly happy. They do best, whether hunting, competing, or just kept as companions, if allowed to live as a part of the family unit as a housedog rather than a yard or kennel dog.

GSPs are, by nature, often not very amicable with cats and other small furry or feathery pets. They can be trained to leave them alone and share home space, but their hunting instinct may interfere at times. When raised with such creatures, GSPs often do well. However, caution should always be used with any other small pet companions such as cats, rabbits, gerbils, birds, and some toy breed dogs.

The GSP and owner will both benefit from obedience and other types of training. A GSP's intelligence and independent-mindedness can often lead to pitfalls if not planned for. Many GSPs can be counted on to ignore commands if they don't feel that obeying the command is the proper thing to do at that point in time. Training shapes the GSP, teaching them both control and confidence in obeying commands. They thrive upon structure. GSPs tend to be easily trained, as they are a very biddable breed. As a working breed, they literally love and need to work.

None of the breed's characteristics are insurmountable obstacles. The key to success lies in realizing that these characteristics can exist and being prepared to deal with them. GSPs are very keen and will learn a variety of tasks presented to them. They are not only known as great hunting companions and accomplished Field Trial and Hunt Test Competitors, but have done well in the show ring, obedience and agility trials, Search and Rescue (SAR), bomb and drug detection, sledding, and as human patient therapy dogs.

To many GSP owners the most revered attribute of this breed certainly is the unwavering devotion and loyalty they bestow upon their human companions. They truly are a person's best friend.

Adapted from an article written by Ute Wullkotte, former GSP Rescue National Chair

Ready for a GSP? Read our Adoption Process and fill out the Adoption Questionnaire.

The German Shorthaired Pointer, or GSP, was developed in Germany in the late 19th century to meet the need for an all-round hunting dog. Breeders sought to develop an excellent pointer with a good nose—a dog that could retrieve birds as well as animals.

Initially, German hunters thought that a cross between a Spanish Pointer and Hannover Hound would possess these abilities. However, the resulting breed tended to bay when trailing. They then tried crosses with the Bloodhound, Foxhound, and various French hounds. But none hit the mark precisely.

Breeding with the English Pointer finally resulted in a dog that appeared perfect. Still, even this breed had an aversion to water and tracking at times. Fortunately, continuous breeding eliminated these unwanted traits. And the German Shorthaired Pointer became a lean, athletic, and responsive breed.

The German Kennel Club first registered the breed in 1872. German Shorthaired Pointers arrived in the United States in the 1920s. Impressed by the versatility of the breed after reading an article about it, a man named Charles R. Thornton shipped two dogs to his home in Missoula, Montana.

The American Kennel Club recognized the German Shorthaired Pointer as a breed in 1930. Today, it's consistently one of the top-winning breeds in competitive hunting events.

Watch the video: German Shorthaired Pointer - Puppy to Adult.


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