All About German Shorthaired Pointers

german shorthaired pointer with a red collar holding a bone in his mouth

German Shorthaired Pointers are a wonderful breed. These dogs are intelligent, diligent, playful, and undeniably adorable. If you’re interested in adding a German Shorthaired Pointer to your family, first read up on some helpful information such as this breed’s personality and care-taking needs.

About the Breed

The German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) is a hardworking and versatile dog. Technically part of the sporting group, these dogs excel in many different activities. Dog agility, flyball, dock diving, rally, field trials, skijoring, bikejoring, hiking, swimming, and simply going for a run are all activities in which the GSP will be happy to participate.

Not to mention, these are skilled hunting dogs, excelling at both water and land retrieval of fowl. Unlike other dog breeds that have separated into field and show lines over the years, the GSP can still do it all.

Before adopting a German Shorthaired Pointer, it’s imperative that you understand the time and energy commitment that comes along with being a dog parent. Pointers have an abundance of energy, and they will require close to two hours of moderate exercise every day. Plus, many will want some additional playtime.

Luckily for dog parents, these pups aren’t picky with how they receive their exercise. So, whether you are looking for a running or hiking buddy or someone to join you as you train for a triathlon, look no further than the GSP.

Although they are a spunky and active breed, they also make for a great family dog. They are known to get along well with kids, though they may be a little too rambunctious for young kids who could easily get knocked over.

No matter your children’s age, all kids should be taught how to interact safely with a dog, which includes no ear or tail pulling, riding the dog like a horse, and bothering the dog while they eat. It is recommended that you supervise all interactions your dog has with kids.

With proper socialization, Pointers can learn to get along well with another dog in the house. Still, since every dog has their unique personality, it’s essential to consider whether your GSP would truly enjoy another dog in their home. Although these dogs can learn to live with a cat or other small pet, it’s crucial that you keep this dog’s hunting instincts in mind—the family cat won’t appreciate being chased.

Breed History

The German Shorthaired Pointer first appeared in the 1800s in Germany, but what kind of dog is a German Shorthaired Pointer? Though there is no definitive way of knowing all the early breeds used, there are records that the GSP is descended from the German Bird Dog, the Old Spanish Pointer, and various German scent hounds and English pointers.

The GSP first appeared in the United States in the 1920s. Imported by Dr. Charles Thornton, a resident of Montana, the GSP gained significant recognition throughout the States in just a handful of years.

Similar to many other dogs, the breeding of German Shorthaired Pointers in Europe was strongly affected by World War II. Along with their fine jewels, precious artwork, and Lipizzaner stallions, many Germans sent their German Shorthaired Pointers to Yugoslavia for safekeeping. However, after the war, Yugoslavia was behind the Iron Curtain, so West German breeders no longer had access to most GSP. Instead, they had to work with a limited gene pool and rebuild the numbers of their beloved breed from the few dogs they did have.

Meanwhile, in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s, the German Shorthaired Pointer skyrocketed in popularity, and these dogs began ranking as the best in field competitions.

Today, the GSP still ranks as a relatively popular dog breed in the U.S. Used as a hunting, agility, and companion dog, these pups have rightfully earned their spot as a favorite in the canine world.

german shorthaired pointer resting on the floor by the front door

Attributes

German Shorthaired Pointers are not the best fit for every person, so it’s helpful to examine your lifestyle and consider what kind of dog you would like.

Do you have a demanding work schedule and a busy social life? Do you want a dog that will lounge around and be your movie-watching buddy? Then the GSP may not be the best fit for you. However, if you spend most of your evenings and weekends at home and live an active life, then a GSP could be an excellent choice.

Before adopting a GSP, there are some other attributes you should first consider. These include:

How Big Do German Shorthaired Pointers Get?

An average weight for German Shorthaired Pointers is 45-70 pounds, and they typically stand around 21-25 inches at their shoulder. Though these are the expected sizes for dogs of this breed, the chance always exists that your GSP will be smaller or larger than these averages.

How Long Does a German Shorthaired Pointer Live?

The average life expectancy for a German Shorthaired Pointer is 12-14 years. Just like a dog’s size, their lifespan can also vary. Factors that can affect this number include your dog’s diet and exercise regimen, living environment, and overall health.

How Much Exercise Does a German Shorthaired Pointer Need?

German Shorthaired Pointers require quite a bit of vigorous exercise every day—guarantee you’ll run out of energy before they will. Most GSP dogs will need one to two hours of daily exercise, whether in the form of a walk, hike, run, swim, or combination of multiple activities.

How to Keep a German Shorthaired Pointer Entertained

Being both an energetic and intelligent breed, German Shorthair Pointers need mental and physical stimulation daily—otherwise, they will become bored. As any dog parent already knows, having a bored dog on your hands can quickly lead to poor behaviors or destructive habits.

Thankfully, with this breed, you can have your cake and eat it too. By walking or hiking new routes, you’ll be able to provide your pal with physical exercise while also keeping their mind busy with new smells and environments. Other great ways to keep your dog entertained include:

At the end of the day, you know your dog best, so you’ll learn what keeps them happy and amused.

How to Train a German Shorthaired Pointer

When it comes to training your German Shorthaired Pointer, you should begin as early as possible—even the very day you bring your dog home. Dogs of this breed are intelligent, and you may be surprised how quickly and how much they can learn at a young age.

It is best to begin with basic commands, such as ‘sit,’ ‘down,’ ‘stay,’ and ‘drop it,’ plus crate and house training. After your pup begins mastering these skills, try moving on to more complex commands such as ‘speak,’ ‘back,’ ‘heel,’ and ‘place.’ You can additionally work on recall and having your dog remain in the ‘stay’ command for longer periods.

Although these dogs can learn quickly, their attention span is not always the longest, especially for puppies. In order to help combat this possible problem, it’s helpful to keep training sessions short and exciting. Be sure to additionally reward your pup with a treat, toy, or pat on the head after a job well done.

Going hand-in-hand with training is socialization. Socialization mainly involves introducing your dog to new people, places, sights, and sounds. Like training, socialization should begin soon after adopting your GSP and continue throughout their lives. Keep in mind that young puppies should not be around other dogs until they are updated with all their necessary shots.

Socialization and training can help raise a well-tempered dog with a friendly personality.

german shorthaired pointer playing fetch out in the yard

Grooming

The amount of German Shorthaired Pointer shedding you will need to prepare for may catch some dog parents off-guard. Though their coat is short, it is also thick and sheds at a constant rate, plus more heavily a few times a year. Shorter hairs are notorious for being more difficult to get out of furniture and clothes.

Coming as good news to GSP parents, by brushing your dog multiple times throughout the week, you can help reduce the amount of hair that’s left around your home. Since this breed has a shorter, denser coat, you may find that a rubber grooming mitt will be more efficient than a regular brush.

Throughout the week, you should also brush your dog’s teeth. Using a dog-safe toothbrush and toothpaste, starting good dental hygiene practices with your dog can help reduce their chances of developing periodontal disease, and, as a bonus, their breath will smell fresh.

Don’t forget to check those adorably floppy ears every few weeks. If they appear dirty, gently wipe the outer ear with a soft cloth or cotton ball and dog-safe ear cleaning solution. Be sure never to clean their inner ear or use a cotton swab, as these could both accidentally cause injury.

Because their ears flop over, German Shorthaired Pointers’ ears will not dry as quickly or thoroughly as some other breeds. After your dog has had a bath or gone for a swim, make sure to dry their ears out—this can help keep ear infections at bay.

With that in mind, even with diligent care, ear infections can still occur through no fault of your own. Signs to look out for include unusual redness and a bad odor. If you notice either, schedule your pup an immediate visit with their veterinarian.

German Shorthaired Pointers require a bath every few months, but if yours is prone to rolling in mud puddles, then their bath schedule may need to be bumped. About every month, your dog will also need their nails trimmed. While some dog parents prefer to save nail cutting for the professional dog groomer, you do have the option to buy your own clippers and trim their nails at your home.

Akin to training and socialization, grooming routines should be started soon after bringing your pup home, and they should be carried on throughout your dog’s life. Until your GSP becomes more comfortable with their entire grooming routine, it is recommended that you keep grooming sessions a short and positive experience.

How to Care for a German Shorthaired Pointer

Common inquiries about caring for this breed include, “How to tire out a German Shorthaired Pointer” and “When will my German Shorthaired Pointer calm down?” From these alone, it’s easy to see how taking care of a German Shorthaired Pointer is not the job for everybody.

The not-so-secret trick to getting all your dog’s energy out of their system is simple—exercise. If you’ve wanted a running buddy, look no further than the German Shorthaired Pointer. These pups are also excellent accountability partners. Plus, if you ever need motivation, just remember how happy a quick run will make your best pal. On top of about two hours of daily physical exercise, be sure to give your dog activities to keep their mind occupied.

Another essential part of caring for a GSP is to provide them with a nutritious diet. Particularly if you adopt your dog from a young age, the food they eat will change as they grow from puppy to adult, and then senior. To keep those extra, unwanted pounds off your dog, measure out the food for each of their meals.

If you are unsure about your dog’s diet or exercise plan or would like better clarification on what a healthy weight looks like for your pup, talk with your veterinarian.

When caring for a German Shorthaired Pointer, perhaps the most important thing you can give your dog is quality time. These pups adore spending time with their loved ones and prefer not to be left alone all the time. Even if you are going on a weekend hiking or beach trip, consider taking your GSP along for the adventure.

Common Health Issues

German Shorthair Pointers are relatively healthy dogs, but they are still susceptible to health issues. According to our claims data,** the top five most common issues include,

  1. Ear infections
  2. Allergies*
  3. Sensitive Skin
  4. Cancer
  5. Lacerations

As a GSP parent, you may find it helpful to familiarize yourself with the most prominent signs for these top issues. By knowing what to keep an eye out for, you can hopefully catch the problem early on.

One of the best ways to keep your dog in tip-top shape is to schedule annual visits with their veterinarian. Even if your dog appears to be in perfect health, you should never skip these appointments, especially since many health conditions can easily go undetected.

These yearly check-ups aren’t just for the benefit of your dog, but they can also be valuable to pet parents. These provide you with time to bring up any questions or concerns you may have about your dog’s health and behavior. Your veterinarian can be a valuable resource to you through your pet-parenting journey.

**Internal Claims Data, 2015-20

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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