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Spotlight – The German Shorthaired Pointer

Val Cairney July 14, 2023 29


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German shorthaired pointer

Hi everyone and thanks for joining me on this spotlight episode of Val Talk’s Pets.  One of the breeds of dog that I have heard increase in popularity over the last little while is the German shorthaired pointer or what people are referring to as GSP’s.  I remember when only a handful of particular people had heard of the GSP but now it seems like every week I hear that someone has a GSP.  So, let’s take a little journey into the German shorthaired pointer.

The German shorthaired pointer is defined as a medium sized dog, but I’m a little confused because I see at least two on my way to work most days, and they do not look like medium sized dogs.  They actually look pretty big and even the photos of the dog looks like they push to more of a larger dog than medium.  But let’s see what we can find out. True to its name the GSP was developed in Germany in the 19th century.  The GSP is considered a sporting dog and as Wikipedia points out, they are “energetic and powerful, with strong legs and great endurance.  (They) are a versatile all-purpose gun dog suitable for hunting and retrieving on both land and water, with a strong drive to find and chase game.” 

A “gun dog” by definition can also be called a bird dog, “are types of hunting dogs developed to assist hunters in finding and retrieving game.  Instead of using the looser term “hunting dog” a “gun dog” “refers to the canines that are trained to work alongside a loud firearm while hunting or retrieving game.” (Wikipedia)

Let’s look at the breed standard from the Canadian Kennel Club.  According to CKC.ca, “males will measure 23 – 25 inches at the shoulder and weigh 55 – 75 pounds.  Females will be about 2 inches and 10 pounds less.” In terms of their coat, the GSP has a short coat, a bit longer on the underside and back haunches.  The colour “may be solid liver, liver and white spotted, liver and white ticked or liver roan.” (CKC.ca)  GSP’s have a large brown nose, floppy ears and dark, almond shaped eyes.  And according to Continental Kennel Club, the GSP has webbed paws.  And although some breeders do dock tails, the natural tail is preferred.  A docked tail will traditionally cut 40 percent of the original length. (ckcusa.com) Let’s just interject here, so leave the poor dog’s tail the way it was intended!

Continental Kennel Club says the modern GSP “likely descends from the German Bird Dog, a breed that was mixed between the Pachon Navarro or Spanish Pointer and Bloodhounds.  In the late nineteenth century breeders added various tracking dogs and the English Pointer to the bloodline, expertly melding elegance with efficiency to create the German Short Haired pointer.”  The GSP breeders were encouraged to “cultivate the breed’s functionality as a hunting companion.”  And because the breed “exceeded expectations, nineteenth century German hunters, realizing the dog’s value, fully recognized the breed.” 

Now this is quite interesting.  At the end of WWII, Germany felt the threat of conquest so many German citizens fearing the invasion of the Allies, would secret away priceless possessions and champion dogs was one of them.  “German breeders shipped their finest dogs to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia for protection.  However, Yugoslavia joined the Eastern Bloc (transitioning into the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) after the war and the resulting Iron Curtain separated many breeders from their prized dogs.  Without access to quality breeding stock, West German breeders struggled to improve the breed with limited resources in the advent of the Cold War.”  The story was different in the United States so the breed was established officially with breed standards after the war.  

The temperament of a GSP according to ckcusa.com is “intelligent and friendly.”  The GSP “loves to work and loves to move.  Their stable temperament and can-do attitude make them great candidates as a pet for active families.  They can be trained to use their nose in many disciplines, including fieldwork, search and rescue or tracking and article search.  They also excel in other events, such as obedience and agility.  They bond strongly with their family and are tolerant of other dogs and people.  They enjoy hard work, and daily exercise is necessary for this breed to curb potential behaviour issues.” 

Okay, so let’s look at any health issues a GSP may have.  As always it is important to make sure that the breeder is responsible and reputable and the parents have all health clearances.  The GSP Club of America “strongly recommends that breeding dogs have health clearances for: Hip Dysplasia, Congenital Cardiac Disease, Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Cone Degeneration Disease, plus Elbow Dysplasia.  

As for the day to day care of a GSP they are fairly low maintenance.  They shed moderately which is good, so a brush once a week works well.  And because the coat is short, if you have a GSP in a country that experiences winter, a coat for outside time is a good idea.  As for food, there are no specific dietary requirements for a GSP so good quality food is all that is needed.  The biggest thing with a GSP is exercise.  If you are not interested in having a very active dog this isn’t the dog for you.  But, an active family, or for the specific use as a gun dog, the GSP is a great choice. 

So hopefully, all these people I see or hear about acquiring a German short haired pointer are active people that can dedicate the time needed to exercise and stimulate a GSP properly.  As always, making sure the breeding is top notch and the dog is registered properly is a must.  Overall, the GSP can be a great family pet for an active family.  So, doing some research into this breed may just show that the German Short Haired pointer is the dog for you, because as I say, knowing is caring. 

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Val Cairney

Hi everyone, and welcome to Val Talk’s Pets, the forum for pet parents and enthusiasts alike. So, I have been working in the pet industry now for almost 10 years and, on a daily basis, I handle a lot of issues and questions arising from pet parents. I am not a veterinarian but I do have certifications in Canine, Feline, Small Animal, Fish and Herptile and Avian Health and Nutrition from the University of California, Davis Extension, the Vet College.

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