German Shorthaired Pointer – Hunting Dog Breed Profile

German shorthaired pointer

A look at the versatile hunting dog the German Shorthaired Pointer

This is the first in a series of Project Upland hunting dog breed profiles (The German shorthaired pointer). While the appearance and characteristics of bird dogs breeds vary greatly, individual dogs of one breed may have the skill and temperament equal to that of a dog of a different breed. It’s impossible to generalize about a breed without sparking objections somewhere along the way. With a nod to the pitfalls of generalizing, we’ve chosen to focus on the hunting characteristics that set one breed apart from another.

 Original purpose

The German shorthaired pointer (originally Deutsch Kurzhaar) was developed in the mid 1800s when the concept of the “versatile” hunting dog became a priority in western Europe as a practical alternative to the more aristocratic precedence of owning several breeds, one for each hunting task. The versatile dogs had to do it all – find and point upland game, retrieve waterfowl, track fur and feathers, and work consistently well on varied terrain and in varied weather conditions.  Early shorthair lines are believed to have been created primarily from Spanish pointers, with English pointers and setters mixed in among different German hounds. While many versatile breed developers at focused on traits serving the dog’s work after the shot, German shorthair breeders emphasized the pre-shot field work: search and point. As a result, shorthairs are renowned for the elegant athleticism of their points as well as their remarkable stamina and drive.

 Hunting style and temperament

Today’s German shorthaired pointer can be divided into three general types: field trial lines, show ring lines, and traditional hunting shorthairs. Those bred specifically for the foot hunter tend toward a medium range and pace when they work. And shorthairs love to work. They air and ground scent equally well, and adapt readily to the cover and tempo of all types of upland bird hunting. Shorthairs have stable temperaments with a solid balance of water and field drive. They take correction in training with resiliency and make wonderful, sociable family companions.

 Traits important to hunters

Size

Medium. Males generally run 55-70 lbs.; females weigh in at 45 – 60 lbs.

Coat

Short, tight, low maintenance. Colors range from all liver or black, to brightly ticked or roan, to all white with a brown or black head.

Maturity

Most German shorthairs’ point develops early as does their affinity for water. They are high energy dogs from puppyhood through adulthood, needing regular exercise to give that exuberance an outlet.

Health Risks

There are no major red flags in German shorthair health concerns other than those generally associated with large athletic breeds, such as the risk of gastric torsion or hip dysplasia.

Finding a Good Breeder

The U.S. has many fine German shorthaired pointer and Deutsch Kurzhaar (shorthairs bred under the registry of the Deutsch Kurzhaar Verband, e. V. parent organization in Germany) breeders, so there is a wide selection to choose from. It’s important to note,  however, that with such a popular breed with a wide variety in appearance and breeding program objectives (i.e. – show, trial, companion, hunting), prospective buyers need to know what type of German shorthaired pointer they want and be sure the dogs they’re considering were bred to fit that bill. Another pitfall of popularity is that there are many inexperienced breeders who may not understand what a particular genetic match might produce in terms of appearance, temperament, and hunting ability.

Last modified: August 21, 2017

8 Responses to :
German Shorthaired Pointer – Hunting Dog Breed Profile

  1. Laine Jewell says:

    I don’t think there will ever be a time in my life when I don’t have at least one.

    1. Hunternc says:

      Agreed

  2. Paul Jones says:

    Great breed profile Nancy. Reminds me of the book superb book Pointing Dogs Volume One: The Continentals by Craig Koshyk. Our family is particularly partial to Drents (Drentsche Patrijshond) which is a great pointers of the continental versatile type for grouse or partridge. Lots more information on Drents is available at http://www.dpcna.org and I might mention they got recognized as an up and coming breed by Outdoor Life (http://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/hunting/2015/09/4-and-coming-hunting-dog-breeds-you-should-know-about). Can’t wait to read future breed profiles. Respectfully.

  3. Jessica Barker says:

    Cancer is becoming more prevalent in shorthairs.

    1. Jess — I’d guess that an increase in cancer wouldn’t be breed specific; it may be occurring in many breeds. (You and I know more GSPs than other breeds and hear more about them.) I also wonder if there really are more incidents of cancer appearing in dogs these days or if it’s a matter of veterinary medicine having advanced in its ability to diagnosis cancers.

      1. Jessica says:

        Interesting conversation with Mike’s aunt tonight. Early 70’s her vet told her GSPs prone to tumors that turn cancerous. She had 3GSP they all passed away from cancer.

        I am second guessing all our supplements and top of the line food. $$$ spent and could not reach 10 years old with our son.

  4. Mark says:

    I had a rescue GPS for 13 years. She was my first and only dog I ever had. I would so much love to get another. My poor girl got cancer and that’s why she passed. But one thing I can say is she never wanted anything to do with Water? Thinking maybe she had a bad experiance in the water before she was found abandoned in the woods.
    The only thing that’s keeps me from getting another rescue is the adoption fees that are asked for now days. When I got her I did not have to spent a dime for her, and she came with food and toys. But today you could actually get a registered GPS from a breeder for less money than adopting.

  5. Dean Marshall says:

    An incredible breed and companion dog. You will never be the same after owning one.

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