German Shorthaired Pointer
Other names: Vorstehhund, Kurzhaar
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a breed that was first seen to accompany the German aristocrats of the 1800s on their hunting forays. It was originally (and in some parts of the world still is) an all-purpose gun dog capable of catching game as well as retrieving it. This breed of Pointer has webbed feet as a result of generations of selective breeding: a trait which was useful to the dog when recovering wild fowl from lakes and marshland.
Key facts about the German Shorthaired Pointer
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Origins and history
The descendant of the German Shorthaired Pointer is believed to be a German Bird Dog, itself descended from dogs of Spanish origin and brought to Germany in the 1600s. Other hounds and pointers are thought to have then been bred with the Bird Dog to bring about the German Shorthaired Pointer that we know today. The breed is unchanged since the 1800s and still retains the characteristic of an agile and versatile hunter.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 7 - Pointing Dogs
Section 1 : Continental Pointing Dogs
Physical characteristics of the German Shorthaired Pointer
Female : Between 23 and 25 in
Male : Between 24 and 26 in
Female : Between 62 and 71 lb
Male : Between 62 and 71 lb
The most obvious physical attribute of the German Shorthaired Pointer is its coat. The coat can be solid liver colour or liver and white, and is often speckled through with small patches of black hairs or a mixture of colours including white.
Type of coat
The hair is short.
Short and dense and rough to touch; the coat is thinnest across the head and ears.
This dog is bred to move effortlessly and as such it has a streamlined body. From the withers at the top of the shoulders to the croup above the tail the back falls gently in an almost straight line. Its long ears are floppy and set high on its head. The dog’s muzzle has a Romanesque length to it and its jaw is broad and strong.
An affectionate dog despite its hunting heritage, the German Shorthaired Pointer does not have an aggressive tilt. It is robust and boisterous and may at times accidentally knock a small child or elderly person off their perch. It means no harm by this. Regular and plentiful exercise and some obedience training will wind in the energy of this loving dog.
An active dog that likes to play and interact, and will do so all day long if given the opportunity. A German Shorthaired Pointer likes to please its owner but it can be a bit of a show and a little rough.
This is a dog not given to undue nervousness. Its lust for life and enthusiasm to tackle any task pushes timidity and agitation into the background. The Pointer does not however enjoy being left alone or isolated, and will suffer separation anxiety if it is.
Willing and able to learn new things, enthusiastic and keen to please its owner: just some of the traits of the German Shorthaired Pointer that constitute the dog’s more than ample intelligence. It is a dog easily distracted though, so training needs to be consistent, forthright and include a variety of training measures. Once you have the Pointer’s attention it will be cooperative to a tee.
Hunting was the reason the German Shorthaired Pointer was originally bred, but its German masters were also careful not to instil too much of a blood lust. Obedience training puts pay to some of the dog’s desires to chase other animals but to hunt is an instinct deeply ingrained in the dog’s psyche. Regular and plentiful exercise is a must for preventing this dog from causing a nuisance.
Fearful / wary of strangers
German Shorthaired Pointers are not afraid of new people visiting their domain but some may be reserved at the initial meeting. Others are warm and friendly to strangers and may even bark an excited welcome.
German Shorthaired Pointers are independent but can be trained to be exceptionally obedient. Pointers are on the whole very easily distracted by sights and sound around them and will often plod off if something interests them more than your command.
Behaviour of the German Shorthaired Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointers do not tolerate solitude. Separation anxiety is seen of Pointers that are left alone for long periods of time. Not only do they miss their family but the lack of exercise that comes with being left alone will bring on depression.
Easy to train / obedience
The German Shorthaired Pointer is reasonably easy to train. However training must be done properly and consistently, and at all times the trainer must make an effort to hold the attention of the Pointer. If the attention is lost, the pupil is too. In order to ensure that what you are teaching a Pointer is learnt your training sessions should be short and done only when the dog is alert and responsive to you.
This dog doesn't bark to excess and will soon settle again once a perceived ‘danger’ has passed.
Tendency to run away
Some Pointers are easily distracted by the Call of the Wild. However, these are the Pointers that have not had sufficiently long or consistent obedience training. The hunting heritage of the Pointer may be difficult to eradicate but in most cases a well-trained Pointer can be recalled.
If it finds itself at home for long periods of time without human company the German Shorthaired Pointer will inform you of its displeasure by destroying your furnishings and carpets, and with a big dog comes big damage.
Greedy / Gluttony
To own an active dog does not preclude someone from administering a strict dog food diet. German Shorthaired Pointers need two meals a day of high-quality dog food, ideally formulated for active dogs. The breed is prone to obesity if fed too many treats or too much human food.
This breed is an excellent watchdog; it will alert you to there being someone near the house and will bark. Its ‘big dog’ bark has a tendency to ward off undesirable callers.
The Pointer is not a suitable first dog. Inexperienced dog owners should be alert to the vital need to exercise this dog almost all the time in order to avoid it falling into a cycle of antisocial behaviour. A short walk for even 20 minutes is not enough for this breed of dog. A German Shorthaired Pointer also needs to be challenged physically and mentally in order to stay happy and out of trouble.
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German Shorthaired Pointer in a flat
Even a well-fenced shared garden is an insufficient provision for this dog. Pointers need to be outside often and running a lot. They can escape from confined gardens and have been known to jump over six-feet high fences. Flat living is not for this dog.
Need for exercise / Sporty
The German Shorthaired Pointer needs a lot of exercise, and that exercise must be vigorous and prolonged. The dog’s love of hunting is difficult not to ignore but it can be substituted with long and exciting walks and adventures. Deny the Pointer a daily exercise routine and you will cause it to become destructive and unmanageable.
Travelling / easy to transport
Once trained, a German Shorthaired Pointer is exceptionally obedient and comfortable with new experiences. It is a dog that thrives on adventure and travel.
German Shorthaired Pointer and cats
Even of German Shorthaired Pointers that have been raised amid cats and other smaller creatures there is a danger that the dog’s hunting heritage may displace its reasoning and goodwill. It is therefore not advisable to house this breed with anything except another dog (ideally another Pointer).
German Shorthaired Pointer and dogs
The female of the breed is more dominant that the male in meetings with other dogs. Generally speaking though the Pointer is amicable and will respond well.
German Shorthaired Pointer and children
On the whole this breed is good with children, in that the dog does not harm children deliberately or bare malice towards them. However, Pointers are boisterous and energetic, and may accidentally knock over even a large child over (incidentally, do not berate the dog for doing this).
German Shorthaired Pointer and the elderly
Because it is a dog that requires such a lot of exercise the German Shorthaired Pointer is not a good choice of dog for people of senior years.
The price for a German Shorthaired Pointer dog varies according to their origins, age and gender. Therefore, for a dog registered at the Kennel Club, the price will be approximately £825.
Your average monthly budget to satisfy the German Shorthaired Pointer varies between £150 to £190.
The coat of the German Shorthaired Pointer is relatively easy to groom. Being short it requires a weekly brush with a firm bristle brush. The dog should only be bathed if it needs to be; after bathing dry the coat thoroughly. It is worthwhile to examine the ears of the Pointer on a regular basis to check for mites, fungal infections and a build-up of wax.
Pointers shed a moderate amount. The hairs that come from its shedding are small and difficult to remove from fabric around the house. Seasonal and hormonal changes affect the rate at which the dog sheds: it will shed more vigorously as the weather improves towards the summer. This is not a good dog for allergy sufferers.
Nutrition of the German Shorthaired Pointer
It is always worthwhile to feed a Pointer a high-quality and specially formulated dog food rather than human food. The German Shorthaired Pointer’s diet should consist of good amounts of protein and fat.
Health of the German Shorthaired Pointer
12 to 14 years.
Strong / robust
The German Shorthaired Pointer is an active and adventurous dog that likes nothing better than a day of outdoor exploration. It is tougher than many pointing breeds and can adequately repel attacks by other animals.
The short coat of the German Shorthaired Pointer allows it to be more tolerant of hot temperatures than most. Make sure there is plenty of fresh water on hand for this dog. Do not leave ANY dog in a car in the summer, even if you have parked in the shade.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is robust enough to withstand walks in the snow and rain, but care should be taken after cold walks to dry the dog’s coat.
Tendency to put on weight
Weight gain is not usually a feature of a well-exercised Pointer. But if your Pointer is not exercised as regularly as it should be and is fed too much human or substandard food it will quickly become obese.
- Hip dysplasia
- Gastric torsion
- Von Willebrand’s disease