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German Shorthaired Pointer
This Dog Always Gets the Point

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The German Shorthaired Pointer, known in canine shorthand as the GSP, hasn’t been around that long-the earliest specimens show up in the nineteenth century—but it has become of the best known hunting dogs around in the decades since. People who own them and love them will tell you that these are dogs that can do anything.

Here is the German Shorthaired Pointer at a Glance
Name German Shorthaired Pointer
Other Names GSP
Nicknames None
Origin Germany
Average size Medium large
Average weight 45-70 pounds
Average height 23-26 inches at the shoulder
Life span 12-14 years
Coat type Sleek, short
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black and white, brown and white, liver and white, roan
Popularity High
Intelligence Very High
Tolerance to heat Good
Tolerance to cold Okay
Shedding Sheds some
Drooling Not a drooler
Obesity Some risk when older
Grooming/brushing Minimal
Barking Not a lot
Exercise needs Extremely high
Trainability Begs to be trained
Friendliness Very friendly
Good first dog Not for everyone
Good family pet Very good
Good with children Very good
Good with other dogs Yes
Good with other pets Yes
Good with strangers Yes
Good apartment dog No
Handles alone time well No
Health issues Hip dysplasia, gastric torsion, ear infections
Medical expenses $260 annual average
Food expenses $235 annual average
Miscellaneous expenses $70 annual average
Average annual expense $635
Cost to purchase $550
Biting Statistics Human attacks: 5 Child Victims: 1 Maimings: 4

The German Shorthaired Pointer’s Beginnings

Today’s German Shorthaired Pointer, which in Germany is known simply as a Shorthair (Kurzhaar) is the result of a mix of many different dogs cross bred over generations and gradually evolving during the nineteenth century into the dog we see today. One of its ancestors is believed to be the German Bird Dog, a scent hound which was itself descended from a Spanish pointer brought into Germany in the seventeenth century. The GSP also probably has English Pointer and Foxhound genes in its mix, along with who know what else.

As opposed to hounds like the Weimaraners, which were bred by and for the nobility, the GPS was a peasant dog from the beginning, and some of its characteristics come from those roots. This was a time when wildfowl, deer and other desirable and edible game critters were reserved for the upper classes; so a successful peasant hunter also had to be a successful poacher. His dogs, as a result, had to have certain qualities. In addition to good noses and strong legs, they had to be quiet, smart, and obedient. That is a good description of the GSP.

New Lease on Life

The first German Shorthaired Pointer came to the United States—to the hunter’s paradise of western Montana, in 1925. That turned out to be a very good thing for the GSP. As was true of many breeds in Europe, World War Two was a bad time for the dogs. Many of them did not make it through the war, and many others were taken out of Germany and wound up in eastern European countries like Yugoslavia, behind the Iron Curtain, which put a major crimp in breeding. But in the U.S. there was no such problem. Hunters fell in love with the dogs, which were formally recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1930, and soon they had spread across the land.

The dog captured the imaginations of writers as well. Thomas Mann had a GSP that he loved, and that he wrote about in his book, “Bashar and I.” Mann wrote that Bashar taught him new things about the meaning of love. Mystery writer Robert Parker’s protagonist, Spenser, brings three different GSP’s to life in his books. And Rick Bass, a well-known outdoor writer who lives in northwest Montana, took home a GSP just because it was a runt that no one else wanted, fell in love with it, and wrote a book about it: “Colter – The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had.”

The Dog You See Today


Today’s German Shorthaired Pointer is a medium large hunting dog that stands twenty-three to twenty-six inches at the shoulder and weighs between forty-five and seventy pounds. It is a strong, well-muscled dog with a very deep chest and straight legs. The muzzle is broad and the nose can range from straight to Roman. The ears are long and floppy and set high on the head. The tail is straight, and typically docked at about forty percent of its natural length. The eyes are usually dark brown. The GSP’s feet, as fits a good swimmer, are webbed.

The GSP’s head is usually a solid color—black or dark brown—and its body may be solid black or brown as well; but more prized is a speckled or roan coat, which makes for good camouflage in the field.

The Inner German Shorthaired Pointer


If you had to describe the German Shorthaired Pointer with a single word, it would be “boisterous.” GSP’s are smart, affectionate, good natured, and friendly with everyone. They are not good at being alone for long periods of time. They don’t necessarily need special attention, but they do need and thrive on companionship.

But more than anything else, they are overflowing with energy and exuberance. They are joyful dogs, and fully expect everyone around them to be joyful, too. They need exercise and activity, a lot of it, all the time. If they don’t get it, they get bored, and if they get bored they will frequently become destructive, digging and chewing and just generally getting into mischief. They simply have to use up all that energy somehow.

Living with A German Shorthaired Pointer

Training a GSP

A GSP is not a dog to allow to just run around. It is a working dog, and its relationship with its owner should ideally be a partnership. This is a dog that wants to be given tasks, to be told what to be doing, and as a result it needs to feel respect from, and for, its owner. There needs to be no doubt about who is the boss, and early socialization and consistent training and discipline are required. The payoff will be obedience and devotion.

How active is it?

First of all, a GSP is most definitely not an apartment dog. They need quite a bit of space, at the very least a good-sized yard—and that yard needs a sturdy fence at least four feet high, and six feet is better, because GSP’s are magnificent jumpers.

Also, GSP’s need more than just physical workouts. They do not have a strong prey drive; they are hunters but not killers. The end point of the job for them is just that, to point, to show the boss where the birds are. They were born to work, to track and retrieve, and that is a vital part of their genetic makeup. Even if the owner is not a bird hunter, the dog still needs to be outdoors, exploring and tracking, even if it is only seeking squirrel sign. At the same time, they are easy to train, learn things easily, and have good memories.

Caring for the German Shorthaired Pointer

Grooming needs

The GSP has a short and thick coat with some feathering around the haunches and tail. It requires at least once a week brushing using a firm bristled brush. It does not shed a lot but a low to moderate amount. To get the coat shiny rub it with a chamois or towel. Bathe him just when it is needed and only use a dog shampoo.

If you use the GSP for hunting you should check its feet after being out and dry it down to stop a chill coming on. Brush its teeth twice a week at a minimum for good oral care and clip the nails if they get too long taking care not to cut through the quick.

Like all dogs with big, floppy ears, GSP’s can be prone to ear problems. The main task here is to examine your dog’s ears frequently and keep them wiped out and clean.

Feeding time

Adult dogs can vary how much food they need depending on size, activity level, health and metabolism. On average an adult GSP will need 2 1/2 to 3 cups of high quality dry dog food a day but that should be divided into at least two meals. There is more nutritional value in high quality dog food than the cheaper brands.

Getting on with children and other animals

GSP’s are super friendly, not at all aggressive, and get along well with almost everybody. They are natural family members and are great with children. They will bond well with every member of the household—it is not surprising to see one of these dogs sharing a snack with the family cat—although the strongest bond will be with one person, usually the one who provides the major part of training and discipline.


They get along with other dogs. They may even cozy up to cats, although they will chase every squirrel they see.

What Might Go Wrong

Health Concerns

German Shorthaired Pointers are strong, sturdy dogs, and aren’t prone to a lot of medical problems, probably due at least partly to the fact that they are a mix of so many other breeds. There are a few things, however, that may need dealing with.

Hip dysplasia, where the hip joint becomes dislocated. As active as they are, and with all the bounding around they do, it isn’t surprising that this can happen. If it is severe, or recurs a lot, surgery may be required.

Gastric torsion. This is where the stomach and abdomen become twisted, trapping the stomach’s contents. It can be dangerous, and requires the quick services of a veterinarian. However, it can also be prevented by taking some simple steps. For instance, don’t feed your dog just before or just after vigorous exercise. Don’t give it big meals; offer frequent smaller means instead. Don’t allow the dog too much water right after it eats.

Biting Statistics

Looking at data on dog attacks over the last 30 years or so the German Shorthaired Pointer can be linked to at least 5 attacks on humans. There has been a least 1 attack on a child and at least 4 maimings as a result of a GSP attack. Maiming means the victims suffered from permanent scarring, disfigurement and loss of limb. This data is specific to attacks on people, there is liley to be more on other dogs and pets. This averages at 1 attack every 6 years so while there is a history of attacks it is not something that is likely as long as the dog is well trained, socialization, maintained, exercised, loved and kept. Any dog can become aggressive given terrible treatment, lack of training and socialization and certain circumstances.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

Begin with the day you buy your dog. A registered German Shorthaired Pointer pup costs on average $550. If you can find one at a shelter the cost will be considerably less, usually around $150 to $200.

Next comes spaying, if the pup is female, or neutering if it is male, for around $220. At the same time, it will need shots, deworming, and other minor medical procedures that will usually run about another $70. You will also, of course, need to buy a pet license, along with a leash and collar, which will add up to about another $50. During the coming year there will usually be other medical expenses, some routine, some not. The annual cost for recurring medical work for a GSP works out on average to something like $260. Many dog owners these days purchase pet insurance to cover those kinds of expenses. That can easily run $200 a year, and some times more.

Obedience training is next, and unless you are experienced at working with dogs, and with the German Shorthaired Pointer specifically, you are much better off going to a professional; and in this case it should be someone who knows how to work with hunting and working dogs. An initial round of obedience training will usually cost in the neighborhood of $110.

Now you’ve got your puppy home—spayed or neutered, dewormed, inoculated, licensed and leashed. It’s cute as a bug, and it’s hungry, so you will need to buy it some food. Not just any food, because this pup is special, and deserves aa quality diet. Over the course of a year you can expect to spend about $235 for puppy chow. Then there will be treats, which will probably run around another $75a year, although some people go a little overboard and spend about as much on treats and toys every year as they do on dog food.

Overall, in the case of a German Shorthaired Pointer, you can expect to spend, not counting any medical insurance you purchase, about $635 a year.


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  • The German Shorthaired Pointer has become, over its relatively short history, one of the most popular hunting and working dogs around. It is an excellent tracker, and really does point, all aquiver, when it spots game. It is good with upland birds and waterfowl, and is hell on rabbits and squirrels, too. It is a joy to train, and remembers what it has learned. It is a good family dog, gentle and affectionate with people and pets. It needs firm discipline and needs to know who is the boss, but rewards that with obedience and loyalty. It is a boisterous dog and needs tons of exercise; it is not a dog that can just be left idle, lest it get itself into trouble. It is definitely not a dog for someone who lives in, or plans to live in, an apartment, and really should be in the countryside. But as long as it gets the discipline and companionship it needs, it is a hard dog to beat.

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