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Like its longer-haired cousin, the German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) is a breed developed for hunting in Germany. Strong and muscular with powerful legs, the GSP is agile and speedy and can turn 'on a sixpence', making it the ideal companion for those seeking small, fast prey such as birds, although it's large muzzle means it can also retrieve heavier prey.
Like many large hunting dogs the GSP requires lots and lots of exercise and will quickly become bored and quite possibly destructive if he doesn't get the physical stimulation he needs. The GSP also needs plenty of human interaction and does not suit a kennelled lifestyle.
As it has been bred to be a family as well as a hunting dog, the GSP displays all the characteristics required for both jobs and is therefore is friendly, affectionate, tireless and intelligent with a very good nose.
Unlike its longhaired relatives the development of the GSP breed is a little unclear. It is thought that the Shorthaired Pointer is descended from the ancient German Bird Dog and shares some genetic traits with the Spanish Pointer, which was imported into Germany in the 17th Century.
It's very likely however that the German Shorthaired Pointer was also developed using the wide variety of pointers, tracking and hunting dogs abundant in Germany and England at the time of the breed's foundation. The studbook wasn't created until the 1870s so it's impossible to say for certain which breeds are involved in the creation of the German Shorthaired Pointer.
Average height to withers: 23"-25" (dogs) 21"-23" (bitches)
Average weight: 25-32kg (dogs) 20-27kg (bitches)
A very versatile hunting animal the German Shorthaired pointer has a well proportioned frame. Its head is not too large and the length of the muzzle should be the same as the length of the skull. Eyes should be dark - yellow eyes are seen as a fault - and the tail of working animals is usually docked.
With a short, thick coat the GSP has a very heavy undercoat and strong guard hairs that keep the GSP dry and warm. Accepted colours include liver, liver and white and black and white or solid black (black is not accepted by the American Kennel Club). Roan is also accepted as a colour and the German standards accept a slightly sandy colour known as 'Gelber Brand', although this variety is not accepted by the British or American Kennel Clubs.
The Colours displayed by the German Shorthaired Pointer are perfect for hunting conditions - particularly in winter when white and brown or black markings make the dog very hard to spot against snow and the winter landscape.
As a family and a hunting animal the German Shorthaired Pointer is a clever, brave and very affectionate dog that is biddable and responds well to training. They are known as excellent working animals and rank 17th on Stanley Coren's renowned intelligence study. The breed is unlikely to display fearfulness, aloofness, shyness or aggression towards humans - although these traits can occasionally occur.
The breed is generally excellent with children but adults should always be present when children are with these dogs as they can have a tendency to get overexcited - particularly when they're young. These are very definitely 'human' dogs and love nothing more than being with their human family. They would suit an active family that will provide them with plenty of opportunities to burn off their seemingly limitless energy. Some working animals are so fit and energetic they must be run many times a week.
The GSP makes a good watchdog and loves the company of other dogs - they are the original social animal! Females should be watched closely however, because they can be domineering. A powerful prey drive is present in the breed and this may mean they do not make suitable companions for small animals like cats and rabbits, although with consistent training it is likely they will learn the difference between prey and pets and will live happily with other animals.
The need for vigorous and regular activity cannot be overstated and if they are not provided with an outlet for their energy they may choose to take their boredom out on your furniture and belongings or may even try to escape - fences or walls of four to six feet in height will pose no problem for a bored and determined GSP. The German Shorthaired Pointer is definitely not a breed for a sedentary or inexperienced household.
The majority of German Shorthaired Pointers are healthy, robust animals but the breed is prone to a number of hereditary conditions like many other pure-bred animals. Hip dysplasia can be seen in some examples. This condition caused dislocation and lameness due to a malformation of the hip joint.
The GSP can also suffer from a number of genetic eye conditions, epilepsy, numerous skin problems and cancerous skin lesions. Female examples can be prone to breast cancer, although if they are used for breeding this disease is less likely to occur.
The breed, which has a deep chest, can also suffer from gastric torsion or 'bloat'. This can be avoided by not feeding just before or after vigorous exercise. Food should be offered little and often and the intake of too much water with dry food should also be avoided.
Like many hunting dogs, GSPs are given to catching bacteria and fungi from their liaisons with game so can sometimes develop fungal and bacterial infections. These can be controlled with appropriate veterinary treatment but owners should also ensure their dogs are always up-to-date with their vaccinations.
The number one concern for any GSP owner is exercise. These dogs need physical and mental stimulation and plenty of it. One or two 20 minute walks a day just won't be enough. The GSP can also suffer from separation anxiety and should not be left alone for long periods of time.
The coat needs minimal attention - a good brush every now and then will ensure it stays in tip-top condition and he should only be shampooed when necessary. A regular ear-cleaning routine should also be established in early life to keep any infections at bay.
The breed generally lives between eight and 12 years.