The German Shorthaired Pointer is, as the name suggests, a gun dog developed in Germany. The breed, which was developed in the 19th century, were used primarily for hunting quail, raccoons, deer, and other smaller animals. Their ancestry includes the German Bird Dog and Spanish Pointers, and when the English Pointer blood was introduced to the breed, the result was the ideal combination of sporting ability, good looks and intelligence.
These dogs were a good all-round hunting dog. They would point at birds, and retrieve them over rough terrain and water. They have a good nose, and would tirelessly follow a scent until they find their quarry. These days, they are popular with hunters in all parts of the world.
The German Shorthaired Pointer made its way to the United States in the 1920′s, and was first recognized by the AKC in 1930. It is regularly listed amongst the most popular breeds in the United States.
The physical characteristics of this breed are well suited to work in the field. Their outer coat of short guard hairs over a dense undercoat is very water resistant and will keep the dog warm and dry in all weather conditions. Their ear pinna (or flap) is pendulous, which helps to protect the ear canals from grass seeds and other foreign bodies that they may pick up while running through bushes. They have webbed feet, which makes them quite at home if they have to take to the water.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a big dog, standing 25 inches or 63cm at the shoulder, and weighing up to 70lbs (30kg). Their tail is docked to around 40% of its length in those countries where it is legal. These handsome dogs come in a range of colors including liver, liver and white, and black and white.
Extremely intelligent, these dogs are very quick learners. Because they have been developed to work alongside their owner in the hunt, they are also co-operative and easy to live with. However, they do best with a human master who is a firm and consistent leader.
They have a strong instinct to chase, and this can create problems if they live with other small animals such as cats. Having said that, if they are taught from a young age to tolerate smaller pets, they will live quite amiably with other species.
It’s important that this breed is given the chance to use their intelligence. Obedience training, agility classes, and field and retrieving trials are ideal for letting them use their brain and their body.
The German Shorthaired Pointer loves to run, and are best suited to an active family who will give them the opportunity to expend their boundless energy. They are great with children, but their exuberant and boisterous nature may mean that they accidentally knock over their young masters.
This breed is usually extremely healthy, with few health issues. They are prone to hip dysplasia, which can lead to painful arthritis, and make it hard for them to enjoy an active lifestyle. X-rays of potential parents will allow breeders to only mate those dogs with sound hips, and this will reduce the incidence of this disease in the next generation.
The German Shorthaired Pointer can suffer from progressive retinal atrophy, an eye disease which initially shows itself as night blindness, and progresses to complete loss of vision. This is hereditary and dogs can be tested to see if they carry the genes for this disease, which should be done before they are bred.
The German Shorthaired Pointer may also develop epilepsy. This too is thought to be hereditary.
Bloat is always a concern in a deep chested dog and the German Shorthaired Pointer is at risk of this condition. When a dog bloats, the stomach swells and may twist, resulting in severe shock and possibly even death. At-risk breeds like these should be fed two meals a day, and they should not exercise for at least one hour after eating.
The German Shorthaired Pointer needs a lot of exercise. If they aren’t given the opportunity to use up all their excess energy, they will find their own way of expending it. Their owner may not be impressed by this, as they may dig excessively, and annoy the neighbors with their barking. Their frustration can lead them to escape, and they can find their way over 6 foot fences with relative ease.
Conversely, their coat needs very little care. They shed once a year, and they just need brushing occasionally to remove loose hair. It’s important to keep an eye on their floppy ears, as the ear flap can interfere with air circulation and predispose to infection. Clean inside the ears with a cotton ball and ear cleaning solution when necessary.
Although these dogs have a gentle and friendly temperament, and love being with people, they aren’t a breed to be taken lightly. Their intense need for exercise means they are not a good dog for less active people, nor those who aren’t experienced dog owners. They thrive when they are a part of a busy family, if they can share in family outings and activities.
As with any dogs, they prefer to live indoors with their families. However they will happily live outdoors, as long as they can spend plenty of time with their loved ones, and they are protected from the elements. A good fence and a warm dry kennel will keep them safe and comfortable.
The German Shorthaired Pointer prefers a home with a back yard, and is often too active for apartments.
They will be your best friend for up to 14 years.