GERMAN POINTER: Versatile Hunting Dog

If you have ever seen a cartoon dog discovering something with a quick stiffening of the body into a dramatic point, then you’ve seen the function of a Pointer; or at least a much exaggerated version of it!

The German Pointer also known as German Short haired Pointer, or GSP for short, is a sporty hunting dog that was developed in Germany and has been used through generations as an all-around hunting dog. This energetic and playful dog is extremely intelligent and makes an excellent house pet as well as a hunter or sport dog.

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, fly ball, dock diving, rally, field trials, skijoring, hiking, swimming, and simply going for a run are all activities in which the GSP will be happy to participate. Although hunting is their main purpose, the pointer is used more as a family dog and show dog nowadays.


The German Short haired Pointer was developed in Germany during the mid-19th century. These dogs were created by combining German bird dogs and scent hounds, which is where the original body style and personality comes from.

Although he is similar to its ancestors from the 17th century; this breed brought a bit of elegance to the Pointer sport dogs. Originally, Pointers were stockier and thick, but with the German Short haired Pointer, skinny and sleek were the new look. These dogs take their name from their country of origin as well as their sleek, short hair.

They were developed from the get-go to be extremely athletic and intelligent hunters that could retrieve game both on land and the water. They are much loved for their strong sense of smell and affectionate personality. Besides being fantastic at hunting however, this breed is also incredible in the show ring. They are capable of showcasing amazing grace and elegance, and have actually taken Best in Show multiple times since their creation. 

The first German pointer dog was welcomed to the United States in the year 1925. They were then bred by a man by the name of Dr. Charles Thornton in Montana, who helped to grow these dogs in popularity. A short time later, the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club and could partake in shows. While the breed is extremely popular now, number 16 in fact, they became quite difficult to find in the years following World War II.

This was due to the fact that people began to hide their cherished possessions away, including this breed. It took quite some time for the breed to be rebuilt after this event, but now these dogs are flourishing and used all over as wonderful family pets and hunters to this day.


There is no doubt that this hunting dog has stunning looks. They are of a medium build, with a long body that is wider in the chest (barreled) and tapers itself to a point at the tail. While this sounds odd, it is similar to the idea of streamlining, with a pointy nose and a slim body he is a very athletically build dog breed.

The tail is usually docked at 40% of its natural length to give it that stumped appearance at the end. German Shorthaired Pointers have a chiseled head with a muzzle that should be equally proportioned.

Because of the webbing between their toes, they are excellent swimmers, making them perfect for retrieving animals hunted over the water.

Physical Characteristics


  • Male 23-25 inches
  • Female 21-23 inches


  • Male 55-70 pounds
  • Female 45-60 pounds


They have a short, dense, and water-resistant coat.


  • Solid liver
  • liver and white
  • liver roan
  • liver and ticked

Ears and Tail

They have floppy ears and a distinctively docked tail, although many countries have banned tail docking.


The average lifespan is around 10 to 14 years.


This pointer is an excellent breed for active, outdoorsy families. These loving, loyal, protective dogs tend to be friendly towards children. GSPs enjoy being around people and want nothing more than to be included in family life.

This breed is usually safe around other pets and dogs. But it’s not uncommon for them to display dominant behavior. Because of their hunting instincts, they love to play and chase. However, GSPs may choose unwilling playmates, such as cats or wildlife.

They make commendable watch dogs. And though they may be reserved with strangers, they are generally very sociable dogs.

GSPs are an intelligent and highly energetic breed. They mature later than other breeds. The resulting elongated “puppy phase” can be challenging for some owners.

These hunting dogs need plenty of activity and exercise to be happy. If they get bored, they may take it upon themselves to find things to do, which can lead to undesired behaviors, such as barking or digging.


Even though it would seem that as a shorthaired dog, the GSP would not shed much, they do tend to shed quite often. Seasonally they will do something that is referred to as “blowing coat” where the average shedding then turns to much larger amounts of shedding.

In order to properly care for your dog’s coat, it is recommended to brush this breed weekly with a rubber mitt or firm bristle brush in order to minimize shedding and keep the fur and skin healthy.

The coarse hair of this breed can be difficult to remove from furniture and carpet so it may be wise to brush him outside and invest in a good vacuum to clean up any pesky hair. Besides brushing, he needs to be bathed only when necessary and can be rubbed with a piece of chamois afterwards to make the fur gleam.

Due to their floppy, low ears, this canine does not always have sufficient airflow to dry out any moisture within the ear. Because of this, it is important to clean the dog’s ears frequently in order to decrease the chance of any ear infections. Regular nail trimming should be done to keep the feet healthy and free of any sharp nails that could scratch people or floors.


Since these dogs were bred to be people-oriented, they have a strong desire to please their owners. Cultivate and develop this tendency through early and ongoing obedience training. You’ll have an attentive, well-behaved dog, and your GSP will better understand what you expect.

The gun dog persona is so intertwined with the personality of the GSP that many puppies exhibit pointing behavior on their own. An intense gaze, lowered stance, and a “pointed” foreleg often comes naturally to the breed. If you’re planning to adopt this breed for hunting, you’re sure to be pleased with the ease of training for this work.

These dogs generally get along well with others, but their high prey drive can lure them into chasing cats or other small pets. While the GSP is generally obedient when it comes to recalls, this prey drive can cloud your dog’s better judgment and lead to wild chases. Use caution if you exercise this breed off-leash.


German Shorthaired Pointers have a higher exercise requirement than most dogs. Long daily walks, running in enclosed yards, hiking, and swimming are all outdoor activities that they enjoy. But the ultimate way to a GSP’s heart is retrieving, whether that involves a tennis ball or frisbee.

This breed also seems to enjoy dog sports—such as field trials, tracking, agility, and competitive obedience—which provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation.


To meet their nutritional needs, feed your GSP a high-quality food appropriate for their life stage (e.g., puppy, adult, senior) and activity level.

German Shorthaired Pointers are prone to bloat (also known as twisted stomach). To help prevent this condition, don’t feed your dog immediately after any kind of vigorous activity. And wait at least an hour after meals before allowing them to run or exercise.

To keep your dog at a healthy weight, monitor their food intake carefully. Avoid accidental overfeeding by measuring out meals. And don’t forget to account for treats in their daily calorie totals. As a guideline, treats should make up no more than 10% of a dog’s calories.

Health concerns

These gundogs are generally a healthy breed, but like all dogs, they are prone to certain health conditions. While not all GSPs will experience these diseases, it is important to be aware of them if you are considering this breed. These clearances indicate that the dogs have been tested and cleared of specific conditions.

Some health concerns may include:

Hip Dysplasia 

A condition in which the hip joint does not develop properly. This can range from mild cases that require proper diet and exercise to severe cases that may necessitate surgical intervention. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be used for breeding.


They are reported to have a higher incidence of certain cancers such as mammary tumors, mast cell tumors, and lymph sarcoma.


This disorder causes swelling of tissues due to blockage or twisting of lymphatic ducts, impeding proper lymph flow.


A condition in which the eyelid rolls inward, irritating or injuring the eyeball. Surgical correction can be performed to address this issue.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

A blood disorder affecting the clotting process, characterized by reduced levels of von Willebrand factor. Dogs with this condition may experience nosebleeds, bleeding gums, prolonged bleeding after surgery, and blood in the stool. Although it cannot be cured, it can be managed with appropriate treatments.

Bloat or Torsion

This life-threatening condition can occur in deep-chested breeds like GSPs. It happens when the stomach fills with gas or air and then twists. Immediate veterinary attention is necessary to prevent severe complications.

Factors such as eating one large meal a day, eating rapidly, drinking excessive amounts of water after meals, and exercising vigorously can contribute to GDV. Elevated feeding dishes and specific types of food may also play a role.

Bottom Line

The German Short haired Pointer is a versatile and intelligent breed known for its hunting skills, friendly temperament, and adaptability.

Whether you’re seeking a loyal and active hunting companion, an affectionate and obedient family pet, or a dog with a strong work ethic and love for outdoor activities, the German Short haired Pointer is likely to capture your interest with its exceptional qualities and well-rounded abilities.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q. Do German Shorthaired Pointers shed a lot?

GSPs have short coats that shed moderately. Regular brushing can help manage shedding and keep their coat in good condition.

Q. Are German Pointers good with children and other pets?

Yes, German pointers are generally good with children and other pets when properly socialized. Their friendly and adaptable nature makes them suitable for families. However, their high energy levels may require supervision around very young children.

Q. Are these Pointers good watchdogs?

Yes, these pointers can be good watchdogs due to their alert nature and protective instincts. While they are generally friendly, their loyalty to their family may make them vocal in the presence of strangers. Proper training can help manage barking tendencies.

Q. Can they live in apartments?

They can adapt to apartment living, they require ample daily exercise. Living in an apartment would be more manageable if the owner is committed to providing regular outdoor activities, such as long walks, runs, or play sessions in a dog-friendly area.

Q. Can this breed prone to separation anxiety?

Like many breeds, this breed can develop separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. It’s important to gradually acclimate them to alone time, provide mental stimulation in the form of toys or puzzles, and establish a consistent routine to help prevent anxiety.

Q. Are these gundogs good for first-time dog owners?

These gundogs are intelligent and trainable, their high energy levels may be challenging for first-time dog owners who are not prepared for an active lifestyle. However, with dedication to training and exercise, they can make wonderful companions for committed individuals or families.

Q. What is the difference between German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers?

Both breeds are versatile hunting dogs, but they have distinct coat types. German Shorthaired Pointers have a short, dense coat, while German Wirehaired Pointers have a wiry, water-resistant coat. The choice between the two may depend on individual preferences and specific hunting or lifestyle needs.

Q. How should I socialize my German Shorthaired Pointer?

Early and consistent socialization is crucial for GSPs. Expose them to various people, places, and situations to help them develop into well-mannered and confident adults. Puppy classes, regular outings, and positive interactions with other dogs contribute to their social development.

Q. Do German Shorthaired Pointers make good family pets?

Yes, German Shorthaired Pointers can make excellent family pets. They are affectionate, good with children, and generally get along well with other pets when properly socialized. Their playful nature can be a great match for an active family.

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