German shorthaired pointer hereditary health and longevity
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German shorthaired pointer hereditary health and longevity

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Health & Safety

The German shorthaired pointer is a German breed of dog that is classed as medium to large in size. Bred in the 19th century for hunting, the dog is of course a point-hunter, meaning that they pinpoint potential game and “point” to alert the hunter to its presence.

Classed as a member of the sporting dog group, the German shorthaired pointer is a very adaptable dog that can also make for an excellent pet, although they require a high degree of exercise and stimulation, which can make them challenging to own.

They are leggy, lithe and muscular dogs, who should not be heavy, but rather have a build in proportion to their height. Their coats are short with a thick undercoat, covered with guard hairs and making the coat both warm and water resistant. They can be seen in colours ranging from liver to black, or either black and white or liver and white. The breed also notably has webbed feet, and they are equally at home in the water or on land!

If you are considering buying or adopting a German shorthaired pointer, it is important to find out as much as you can about the breed first. One important element of this is investigating the general health of the breed, and their average longevity. We will cover these factors in more detail within this article.

German shorthaired pointer longevity

The average longevity of the German shorthaired pointer is 12-14 years, which places them towards the middle to top of the average for other breeds of a similar size and build. This indicates that the breed as a whole is healthy and robust, and fit for life.

Genetic diversity and conformation

The coefficient of inbreeding statistic for the German shorthaired pointer is 5.3%, which places them within the acceptable range of 6.25% or lower that is considered to be the ideal for pedigree dog breeds. This indicates that the German shorthaired pointer is genetically diverse, and not subjected to a significant degree of inbreeding.

While the conformation of the breed as a whole is considered to be well balanced and healthy, the deep chest of the breed does place them at risk of bloat, or GDV. This is an acute condition that causes the stomach to fill with gas, and potentially twist over on itself, and requires prompt surgical intervention.

Health tests for the German shorthaired pointer

A range of testing programmes and health schemes are in place for the German shorthaired pointer breed, in order to collate a full picture of the breed’s health and work to eradicate hereditary health problems. Recommended tests and schemes for dogs of the breed are:

  • Hip score testing, with the breed average being 9.3. Breeders should seek to reduce this figure within their own breed lines.
  • Testing for certain eye conditions, including progressive retinal atrophy and cone degeneration.
  • Von Willebrand’s disease, as blood clotting disorder.
  • Lupoid dermatosis, a disease of the skin.
  • Cone degeneration of the eyes, which leads to blindness in natural light and pain in bright light.
  • Junctional epidermolysis bullosa, a disease that becomes apparent in puppies prior to weaning, and is usually fatal.

Other health conditions within the breed

As well as the conditions mentioned above, a range of other conditions have been identified within the German shorthaired pointer too, and the list is quite exhaustive! While this might seem rather off-putting at first, it is of course important to remember that some of these conditions can be successfully corrected or managed, and that no dog is likely to suffer from a significant number of them!

  • Panosteitis, a painful bone condition that is most commonly diagnosed in young male dogs.
  • Shoulder osteochondrosis, an abnormal development of the joint cartilage of the shoulder.
  • Acral mutilation syndrome, a condition caused by self-injury by means of biting, licking and scratching their own feet and legs.
  • Sub-aortic stenosis, a heart condition caused by a progressive heart murmur.
  • Various cancers, including nasal carcinoma and mammary carcinoma.
  • Atopy, a hypersensitivity to certain protein particles, including pollen.
  • Epilepsy, which can often be managed with medication.
  • Cherry eye, a condition that causes the tear glands to evert and lie in the front of the eye, leading to a red, inflamed appearance.
  • Entropion of the eyelids, causing them to turn inwards and rub on the cornea.
  • Polyarthritis, an autoimmune condition.
  • Epidermolysis bullosa, a condition that causes the skin to form blisters as a response to knocks and injuries, which can be severe.
  • Cutaneous lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune condition causing ulcers and scales to develop on the face and body.
  • Haemophilia, a blood clotting disorder.
  • Hemivertebrae, an abnormal development of the vertebrae that causes compression of the spinal cord.
  • Muscular dystrophy.
  • Myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune condition.
  • GM2 gangliosidosis, a progressive neuromuscular dysfunction that leads to stunted growth.
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