The German Shorthaired Pointer is a stunning dog which is athletic, loyal and loads of fun. If you’re a sporty family looking for a four-legged companion, this breed could be the perfect addition to your household.
The agile German Shorthaired Pointer belongs to the gundogs group and is the quintessential working dog. Known as a hunt, point and retrieve breed, it was trained to work alongside hunters in the field to serve and help. While the German Shorthaired Pointer is still used in this capacity in some parts of the world, it is widely considered an outstanding family dog and makes a wonderful companion for those suited to the needs of this breed.
German Shorthaired Pointer puppies are so adorable that it’s very easy to convince yourself this is the right dog for you, but experts warn the German Shorthaired Pointer is not for everyone and you need to do your homework before rushing out to buy one.
As its name suggests, the German Shorthaired Pointer originated in Germany in the 19th century and is said to have developed into the almost ideal gundog by 1907. The breed made its debut in Australia in the mid 1950s and has been popular ever since.
German Shorthaired Pointer owner Ellen True is physically active and has always enjoyed jogging in the morning before beginning her day. She felt vulnerable in the early, dark hours of winter and decided to get a companion to run with her. Sam became her running mate as well as a firm favourite of the whole family.
“He made such a difference to my morning jogs,” says Ellen. “He sets the pace for me and I feel very safe with him by my side.”
Ellen is a strong advocate of the German Shorthaired Pointer but stresses the many aspects of this dog’s development that need to be strictly adhered to if owners want a strong, healthy adult dog. This is one breed you need to be suited to, she stresses, and if its high energy needs don’t match your lifestyle, it’s best to look at other breeds which are more suited to your family’s way of life.
Ellen emphasises the importance of buying a pup from a reliable and registered breeder and to see the pup’s parents if possible.
A team player
The German Shorthaired Pointer is an especially intelligent breed and will excel at activities such as obedience and agility. These pooches love fetching and retrieving and especially enjoy swimming. Despite its high energy levels, the German Shorthaired Pointer does not necessarily need an enormous yard as long as it gets plenty of exercise each day, but it is not suited to apartment living. Breeders say it is important to have a well-fenced garden as this breed’s strong hunting instincts will see it transformed into an agile escape artist at the first available opportunity.
Having been bred to work closely with its hunter-owners, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a very people-oriented dog and a strong team player. It will be unhappy if excluded from the ‘pack’ and needs to be included as one of the family. Despite its large size, the German Shorthaired Pointer is very adaptable and is easy to live with – inside and out.
As well as being one of the most adept hunters and retrievers in the dog world, the gorgeous German Shorthaired Pointer is also one of the most cheerful, fun and loyal breeds around. It grows extremely attached to its family and is good with children. Although as with all breeds, it must be supervised around younger children.
“This is an amazing dog,” says Ellen. “The German Shorthaired Pointer can be whatever you want it to be — a training partner, a playmate for the kids, or a best friend. It will love you and repay your kindness ten-fold. Our Sam is a dog in a million.”
German Shorthaired Pointer vs German Wirehaired Pointer
They may sound similar, but the German Wirehaired Pointer is a totally separate breed to the German Shorthaired Pointer. The GWP is bigger and heavier than the German Shorthaired Pointer, and not as square in shape.
The most obvious difference between the two breeds is the coat, which is the GWP’s most distinctive feature. This dog’s coat is so dense that it protects against cold even in icy water. Naturally, it is more difficult to maintain and needs to be brushed at least twice a week. It may also need stripping from time to time and sheds heavily in summer.
Like the GSD, the GWP is a very energetic dog and needs to be kept well exercised and stimulated. It is extremely agile both on land and in water, due to its versatile coat, and will be most happy if allowed to participate in lots of physical activities.
Five fast facts
Personality: The German Shorthaired Pointer is a happy, fun-loving, energetic and loyal pooch. A working gundog breed, it is highly intelligent and will do anything to please its family.
Favourite activities: This breed is very active and will excel at most field sports. Daily exercise is a must, and they will also love regular swims, retrieving and playing ball in the backyard with the family. They develop especially close bonds with their owners and need to be taken in as one of the ‘pack’.
Backyard requirements: Definitely not suited to apartments, the German Shorthaired Pointer needs a decent-sized backyard with solid fencing to prevent any attempts to escape and go ‘hunting’. Because of its origins, the German Shorthaired Pointer is an active, athletic dog which will not be happy if left in the yard with no recourse to exercise and stimulation.
Watchdog qualities: Experts point out that some German Shorthaired Pointers will be more friendly than others, but all will alert you with a loud bark to any strangers entering your property. Some will be more reserved than others with people they don’t know.
Hereditary diseases: This breed is a normally healthy one. Conditions to look out for include hip dysplasia and entropian. Because of its floppy ears, the GSD can be prone to ear infections so make sure you regularly check and clean ears.
Care of the breed
Daily: The German Shorthaired Pointer is a finely tuned athlete and requires daily exercise and stimulation to keep it happy and healthy. If you are unable to take your pooch out and least once, preferably twice, a day for a good dose of exercise, reconsider buying this breed. Feed an appropriate diet (speak to your breeder or vet) and make sure your pooch always has access to fresh water.
Weekly: Wipe coat with a chamois or hound’s glove to keep it shiny and healthy. Check ears and eyes. Check your pooch’s feet and remove any debris that may have collected from outdoor activity.
Monthly: Check if nails need clipping. Bath once a month if necessary.
Other: If you live in a high-tick area, check your German Shorthaired Pointer’s body during the summer tick season and apply anti-tick treatment as necessary. Gastrointestinal worming every three months for adults, more frequently for puppies, heartworming and vaccinations.