Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a German Shorthaired Pointer
Average Cost to keep/care for a German Shorthaired Pointer
The German Shorthaired Pointer is among the most popular Hunt, Point and Retrieve working dogs to have been imported to the UK since the end of the World War II. They are handsome, athletic and dedicated dogs that over the years have also earned themselves a solid reputation for being good companions and family pets. GSP's are athletic, large dogs that boast a noble, elegant appearance which paired to their well-balanced natures sees them enjoying success both in the field and in the showring too.
The actual origins of the German Shorthaired Pointer remain unclear, but it's thought the breed is a descendant of the ancient German Bird Dog and that these smart, handsome dogs share a few of the Spanish Pointer’s genetic traits which was a sporting dog introduced to Germany during the 17th century. With this said, the GSP probably came about using various pointer breeds as well as a few tracking and hunting dogs which could well include Bloodhounds, more especially because there were so many in both Germany and England at the time.
Prince Albert zu Solms-Braunfeld was a breed enthusiast and he encouraged breeders to develop a hardworking, biddable, hunting dog rather than choose stud dogs for their looks alone. The first studbook was established in the 1870's, but before this time breed records were not kept. The first dog was taken over to the States in 1925 when a breeding programme was established. However, World War II had an impact on the breed in that nobody wanted a German hunting dog because of their connection with the "Fatherland".
However, breed enthusiasts hid their dogs in order to save them with the best of the breed being sent to Yugoslavia which at the time was behind the Iron Curtain. At the end of the war, breeders could not get to their best dogs because of this and as such it was necessary to re-build breed numbers using a very limited gene pool. Today, the German Shorthaired Pointer remains one of the most popular hunting dogs around, but they have also earned themselves a solid reputation for being wonderful companions and family pets thanks to their kind, placid and loyal natures and more especially with people who lead active, outdoor lives.
Height at the withers: Males 58 - 64 cm, Females 53 - 59 cm
Average weight: Males 25 - 32 kg, Females 20 - 27 kg
The German Shorthaired Pointer has a noble look. They are strong and powerful, yet athletic, always on the alert which are just some of the reasons why they have always been so highly prized as working dogs in the field. They are well-proportioned and boast having nice broad heads. When viewed from the side, they have well-defined stops which are enhanced by a dog's charming eyebrows.
Muzzles are moderately long rising slightly from the tip to a dog's forehead a trait that is more pronounced in males than in their female counterparts. They have well developed lips without them being too over hung. Their noses are brown or black depending on the colour of a dog's coat and they have wide open nostrils. Eyes are medium in size and can be various shades of brown to match a dog’s coat colour. GSPs always have an intelligent, gentle look about their eyes.
Their ears are set high being broad and hanging close to a dog's head without having a pronounced fold in them. They are rounded at the tips and quite long, reaching to the corners of a dog's mouth when they fall forward. The German Shorthaired Pointer has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are quite long and well-muscled being slightly arched and thicker at the shoulders than at a dog's nape. Shoulders are muscular and sloping. Their front legs are lean, straight and well-muscled without showing too much bone.
The GSP has a very athletic body with a deep chest that's not too wide. Ribs are also deep and very well sprung being nicely let down which adds to a dog’s athletic appearance. They have wide and slightly arched loins and wide, long croups with dogs having level backs that gently slop towards the tail. Bellies are nicely tucked up. Their hindquarters are powerful and strong with dogs having broad, wide hips that fall away to the tail. Back legs are well muscled and strong with well-developed thighs. Their feet are compact and well-padded with close knit toes and strong dark nails. They have moderately long tails which are thicker at the base before tapering to the tip which dogs carry horizontally or just below the level of their backs.
When it comes to their coat, the German Shorthaired Pointer boasts having a short, close lying coarse coat with the hair being slightly longer under their tails. The accepted breed colours are as follows:
The German Shorthaired Pointer is an intelligent dog and one that likes to be kept busy. They make great family pets for people who lead active, outdoor lives and in households where the children are older. They are extremely loyal, forming strong ties with their owners and they thrive on being in a home environment just as much as they do when they are working in the field.
They have a tremendous amount of energy which means not only do they need to be given the right amount of mental stimulation, but they also need enough daily exercise for them to be truly happy, well-rounded and obedient characters. Females tend to show a more dominant side to their natures than their male counterparts which needs to be gently curbed when a dog is still young and before it develops into a real problem.
They are a good choice for first time owners because the GSP is so biddable and eager to please. However, anyone wishing to share their home with one of these high energy dogs would need to have the time to commit to their canine companions’ needs. They would not suit anyone who leads a more sedentary, quiet life because these dogs thrive on being in the great outdoors as much as they can with their owners.
Because they form such strong bonds with their families, they do not like to be left on their own for long periods of time and if they are, a GSP could quickly develop a condition known as "separation anxiety" which could lead to dogs becoming neurotic and stressed out which can it very hard to live with them. It's essential for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation has to include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated.
It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life so they understand what is expected of them. A German Shorthaired Pointer is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household, they may quickly take on the role of a dominant dog which can make them harder to handle.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a smart dog and a fast learner. The downside to this is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits as they are the good. As such their training has to begin early and it has to be consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life so they understand what owners expect of them. GSPs are never happier than when they are given something to do which is why they are so amenable to learning new things.
They excel at many canine sports which includes activities like flyball, agility and obedience because they thrive on the attention they are given during their training and the one-to-one contact when they are competing with their handlers. The key to successfully training a GSP is to make their training as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions that much shorter which helps dogs stay more focussed on what it’s being asked of them, bearing in mind that the more intelligent a dog is, the faster they get bored. They do not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training methods, but they do respond extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these intelligent and quick witted dogs, especially when there are high value rewards involved.
German Shorthaired Pointers are known to be very good around children. However, because of their large size and the fact they can be rather boisterous, they are best suited to families where the children are slightly older and who therefore know how to behave around dogs. Any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous which could end up with someone being knocked over and hurt, albeit by accident. They can be a little "off" with children they don't know so care has to be taken when the kids have friends over.
When dogs have been well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on well with other dogs they meet and if they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together. However, a GSP would think nothing of chasing off any other cats they encounter because they would see them as fair game. Care has to be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets because of their high prey drive as such any contact is best avoided.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a German Shorthaired Pointer is between 12 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The GSP is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, German Shorthaired Pointers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The German Shorthaired Pointer as their name suggests boasts having a short, close lying coat and as such they are low maintenance on the grooming front. A weekly brush and wipe over with a chamois leather is all it takes to keep their coats shiny and in good condition.
They shed steadily throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things and to remove dead and shed hair from a dog's coat. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a high energy, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need at least 2 hour's exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible, but only in a safe and secure environment. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a GSP would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active, high-energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, GSP puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a German Shorthaired Pointer puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Because GSPs are known to suffer from bloat, it is really important for them to be fed twice a day instead of giving a dog one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand for their feed bowls which makes it easier for dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down to reach their food. Dogs should never be exercised just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more at risk of suffering from gastric torsion.
If you are looking to buy a German Shorthaired Pointer, you would need to pay anything from £650 to over £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old GSP in northern England would be £21.87 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £57.54 a month (quote as of August 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a German Shorthaired Pointer and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a German Shorthaired Pointer would be between £70 to £110 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred pedigree puppy.
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