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  • 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 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 are all the German Shorthaired Pointer facts you ever wanted to know.

German Shorthaired Pointers are extremely versatile hunting dogs

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

If there’s prey nearby, a German Shorthaired Pointer will 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.

German Shorthaired Pointers are 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.

You will want to take your German Shorthaired Pointer 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. 

German Shorthaired Pointers 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.

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.

German Shorthaired Pointer with a game bird in its mouth

There’s almost no dog sport a German Shorthaired Pointer won’t excel at

These dogs were bred as all-rounders, and it shows. You’ll find GSPs competing in Agility, Field Events 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.

Bloat is a serious concern that GSP owners should watch for

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.

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.

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.

German Shorthaired Pointer puppies

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