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German Shorthaired Pointer on point in a field.
  • German Shorthaired Pointers were first bred as all-around, companionable hunting dogs.
  • GSPs possess high energy, a strong prey drive, and athletic prowess.
  • A GSP makes a great family dog, but be prepared for shedding and shenanigans.

The first German Shorthaired Pointers (GSPs) were bred in Germany in the late 1800s, by breeders who wanted an all-round hunting dog that was also a friendly companion. They couldn’t have been more successful: today, the highly-active and energetic GSP is one of the world’s most accomplished hunting and sporting breeds, and for many, a beloved family pet—though not always an easy one. Here’s everything else you need to know about the German Shorthaired Pointer:

1. GSPs are extremely versatile hunting dogs.

Bred to be instinctive hunting all-rounders, these multitasking pups can hunt, point, and retrieve, and have been used to hunt quarry of all kinds, including rabbits, raccoons, game birds, and even deer.

2. If there’s prey nearby, they’ll find it.

Because they were bred to hunt, GSPs have razor-sharp instincts for anything that could be prey, such as squirrels, birds, or rabbits. This prey drive might cause them to bolt during off-leash exercise, or scale fences or walls in pursuit of their quarry. They should be kept in a well-secured area, and off-leash exercise should be approached with caution and adequate awareness of the surroundings.

German Shorthaired Pointer leading a hunter through the tall brown grasses of a field in the fall.

3. They are brown-and-white bundles of endless energy.

This is not a quick-walk-after-work kind of dog. The GSP requires serious exercise: running, swimming, long walks, playing in a fenced area, and anything else you can do to take the edge off their energy. Two daily sessions of ample physical activity are recommended, though with a GSP, there’s no such thing as too much exercise.

4. You will want to take your GSP to training classes.

Because they have so much energy and such a strong prey drive, GSPs can become destructive, especially in their early years, and especially if they don’t get enough activity. Early and consistent training can help keep these destructive tendencies in check. And luckily, they’re very quick-learning and eager to please, making obedience classes fun for owner and dog alike. 

5. They make great family dogs, but can be a handful for small children.

The German breeders who developed GSPs wanted companionable family pets, as well as hunting dogs—and they succeeded. The GSP is a very affectionate, loving companion that mostly likes children and other dogs, though since they’re so rambunctious, some experts advise against having them in households with children under seven.

6. GSPs are very good swimmers.

Thanks to their webbed feet and sleek, muscular build, GSPs are adept in the water—and most love it. But watch out in winter: with their shorter hair, GSPs can easily get too cold, even in water that works well for a longer-haired dog such as a Labrador Retriever.

7. There’s almost no dog sport GSPs won’t excel at.

These dogs were bred as all-rounders, and it shows. You’ll find GSPs competing in Agility, Field Events such as Coursing and Pointing Breed Field Trials, Dock Diving, Flyball, Rally, and more. With all that energy to burn, finding the right sport for your GSP is a great outlet for both dog and owner.

8. Bloat is a serious condition that GSP owners should keep an eye on.

Though generally a healthy breed, GSPs can suffer from bloat, a medical emergency in which the stomach fills with air. Exercise and activity should be avoided for an hour either side of eating and drinking. The best time for GSP’s dinner is at night, after all activity is done.

9. Be prepared for your GSP to shed. A lot.

In warm climates, GSPs might shed year-round; elsewhere, the shedding might be more seasonal. Either way, their short hairs can get embedded all around the house. Grooming every few days with a grooming glove or rubber horse brush will help keep the worst of them from your carpet, couch, socks, feet, etc…

10. They may grow old, but GSPs are always young at heart.

Though your GSP might look physically mature by the age of six months, it can take a few years for these dogs to mature out of puppy behaviors—which equates to a puppy with the strength of a full-grown dog (hence the need for training). GSP owners also report that their beloved pets often stay spry and ready to run or chase even into their old age.

National Sibling Day

Purchasing and Registering your German Shorthaired Pointer

Think the energetic, noble German Shorthaired Pointer is the breed for you? Check out German Shorthaired Pointer puppies on the AKC Marketplace.

After becoming the owner of a German Shorthaired Pointer, it is important to register your dog. Why? The AKC is the only purebred dog registry in the United States that maintains an investigation and inspection effort. The AKC conducts thousands of inspections each year to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of dogs and the environments in which they live.

You can register your dog here, and you will receive your official AKC certificate in the mail. There are many other benefits, including a complimentary first vet visit, 30 days of pet insurance, and eligibility to compete in AKC events and sports.

German Shorthaired Pointer Products You May Be Interested In:

German Shorthaired Pointer Parade Socks

Put your best foot forward! Thanks to their Pima cotton construction, these socks are soft, durable, and remain so after many, many, many, washes. The dog breed imagery is fun and also shows off your dog’s personality. There’s a stretch for added comfort and they make a great gift for any stylish dog lover! Price: $24

German Shorthaired Pointer Key Ring

This brand is known for their designer jewelry and gifts for dog lovers, all made in the USA. And this brass key ring, with a breed-specific solid bronze mini-sculpture of your favorite breed makes a great gift, even for yourself! Price: $25

German Shorthaired Pointer Collar and Leash Set

It’s always a treat when everyday items can be both functional and good-looking, like these breed-specific collar and leash sets. Breed designs are woven onto the collar and four-foot leash in colorful, lively images and then sewn to nylon webbing. The collar features a quick-release clasp and steel D-ring and leash clip and the leash is a practical four-foot length.

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