German Shorthaired Pointer
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Do you love a good romp through the woods? Wish you had someone to share it with? Meet the German shorthaired pointer—an absolute dream dog for any outdoor enthusiast and your new four-legged best friend.
German shorthaired pointers (GSPs for short) are bright, friendly dogs who are always up for an adventure. This regal breed is easy to train, eager to please, and makes an excellent family dog. Because they're so energetic, GSPs do best with an active family who loves to play and move as much as they do. If you give your German shorthaired pointer lots of love, affection, and playtime, he'll reward you with an unbreakable family bond.
These agile, athletic family dogs are also versatile hunting dogs. German shorthaired pointers can do it all in the field, from trailing and tracking to pointing and retrieving. If their humans aren't up for hunting, no problem—GSPs are great at retrieving toys, too. They're wonderful companions who love to fetch in the backyard with kids, join their pet parents for a morning jog, and go for a swim (those webbed feet come in handy!).
German shorthaired pointers are medium-to-large dogs with good posture and a regal stance. Males reach a height of 23–25 inches and a weight of 55–70 pounds, while females clock in at 21–23 inches and 45–60 pounds.
GSPs have a large brown nose, floppy ears, and dark, almond-shaped eyes. But it's their unique markings and color combinations that make them one of the most recognizable breeds in the world. German shorthaired pointers can be solid in color, but more commonly their coats are liver and white or black and white with spots (referred to as "patches" or "ticking"). But one thing's for sure: You'll never find a black nose on a liver-colored dog (and vice versa)—a GSP's nose always matches the color of his coat.
This breed doesn't need a ton of maintenance beyond regular brushing and the occasional bath. They need more frequent brushing during the shedding seasons to rid them of loose hairs, which can be difficult to remove from furniture and carpeting. But compared with other breeds, they're considered very clean dogs and mild shedders.
German shorthaired pointers are smart dogs, willing to please, and easy to get along with. They have lots of energy to burn and will let you know when they're feeling playful. They're active their whole lives—but from 6 months to 3 years old, this breed is particularly energetic and will need lots of activity and affection.
GSPs have a high prey drive because of their hunting history, which means they're wired to chase any small animal that crosses their path. A fenced yard and leashed walks are a must for this free-spirited breed. Your German shorthaired pointer is likely to wander off and do his own thing if he's not trained to stay by your side. The good news? With a little patience and lots of positive reinforcement, these dogs are quick to learn.
Kid-friendly and kind, GSPs get along with other dogs and are polite with most strangers. They love playing with children, but can be a little rambunctious at times—as with any dog, kids should be supervised during GSP playtime and be taught how to interact with pets. They won't bark excessively, but they will alert you to visitors and strange noises.
Above all, GSPs hate being bored. These working dogs were bred with a purpose and thrive on having a job to do. Left to his own devices, your playful pointer could become a daring escape artist on a mission to see what the rest of the neighborhood has to offer. Plenty of exercise, games, interactive toys, and puzzle feeders will keep his mind occupied.
German shorthaired pointers need room to run and play. Apartment life will not bode well with an energetic GSP in the mix. These dogs need an owner with an active lifestyle and ample space to accommodate their boundless energy.
This breed craves purpose and structure, and without it they can begin chewing and barking. Their high energy levels—especially as puppies—can be hard for impatient or first-time owners to handle.
German shorthaired pointers are sensitive dogs who need positive reinforcement and a stable living environment to thrive. They don't like being left alone, so if you're gone a lot, you may want to rethink owning a GSP. This breed needs patient humans with the dedication to stick through the puppy phase and keep these super-smart dogs occupied.
German shorthaired pointers are high-performers when it comes to organized dog sports. But if you're not into competitive agility training, your GSP will be more than happy to join your family on a camping trip or long hike.
These dogs are easy to groom. You'll need to trim their nails, check and clean their ears, and brush their coat with a groomer's mitt or firm bristle brush once a week. They'll also enjoy the occasional bath with mild shampoo—twice a year should be plenty for these dogs, who rely on natural oils to protect their skin. GSPs shed more in the spring and fall and need extra brushing during those seasons to keep them from leaving a trail of little loose hairs behind.
These enthusiastic dogs thrive on tons of exercise and movement. "German shorthaired pointers are bred for hunting, which makes them very outgoing, high-energy dogs," says Nicole Goudey-Rigger, owner and CEO of Pets a Go Go in Stamford, Conn. "They need so much exercise that they even make goldens and Labs look sluggish. Off-leash running and nose work are great ways for them to expend their energy." Just make sure they're trained to stick by your side before letting them off the leash!
Because these dogs are so smart, they're easy to train. Positive, encouraging methods early on are the key to success. Reward their good behavior with treats, praise, and play. These sensitive dogs only become defeated with harsh commands or inconsistent training.
"German shorthaired pointers need a lot of socializing to build up their confidence," Goudey-Rigger says. "Daily handling is important to get puppies used to being touched. As soon as the puppy has a couple of vaccines, they should be introduced to new people daily. You want them to get comfortable with new sights and sounds."
Feed your German shorthaired pointer dog food with high-quality ingredients. Check with your vet for information about how much and how often to feed your pup based on age, activity level, and individual needs.
The German shorthaired pointer has a lifespan of 12–14 years and is typically a healthy dog.
According to the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America (GSPCA), potential health complications for this breed can include hip dysplasia, eye issues, and heart problems. GSPs are also prone to bloat (gastric dilation volvulus), which can be life-threatening. Owners of German shorthaired pointer puppies should talk to their veterinarian about what they can do to prevent GDV.
Reputable German shorthaired pointer steer breeders will screen for health issues in your puppy. You can help your GSP steer clear of serious complications by scheduling regular check-ups and taking the advice of your veterinarian.
German breeders wanted one dog to "do it all," so they spent generations perfecting this hunting dog in the 1700s and 1800s. While it's hard to tell which breeds were combined to ultimately create the GSP, it's likely that a combination of German bird dogs and Spanish pointers is behind this versatile and intelligent gundog, according to the GSPCA.
Those early breeders did such a good job that even today GSPs are among the top-ranking hunting and tracking dogs. They're sleek, speedy, and full of stamina. They're prized for their keen sense of smell, their ability to retrieve waterfowl, and their courage to take on bigger animals like deer. The American Kennel Club recognized the GSP in 1930.
- The United States Air Force and TSA rely on German shorthaired pointers to sniff out explosives.
- Named for their stance, a GSP's body comes to a "point" when they find game. They'll drop their head, lift one paw, and lean forward to show you which direction.
- German shorthaired pointers have been named Best In Show by the Westminster Kennel Club three times—in 1974, 2005, and 2016.
- Famous owners of GSPs include actor Bradley Cooper, country music star Tim McGraw, and writer and politician Ben Stein.