German shorthaired pointers
The German Shorthaired Pointer was developed as a hunting dog and today he still excels in that capacity. This is a breed that is more than just a hunter, but those wanting “just a pet” would do well to remember their hunting heritage.
This is an adaptable breed with keen scent senses and intelligence for any job you want to teach them. He loves an active family and requires minimal grooming to keep his short coat in condition.
This is a dog that is as eager to hunt pheasant and waterfowl as he is raccoons. He’s an easy going dog with a heritage of German bird dogs bred to English pointers to refine and lend elegance without sacrificing the athletic abilities of the breed. Some claims of blood from an old Spanish pointer, English foxhounds and German tracking hounds added to genetic “installation” of desired characteristics.
They are versatile all purpose gun dogs that were selectively bred for trainability and then style and scenting abilities to produce a dog that is outstanding all around in the field as well as in the home.
This is a powerful dog that should cover some ground but without coarseness. They are by the standard 55-70 pounds and 23-25 inches in size. Proper bone is important – too heavy alters the picture while too light alters function.
Liver and white is the key color here. It may be liver and white ticked, patched, white ticked or liver roan but must be liver and white. Dogs with black, lemon, tan, solid white or orange are disqualified as that is more pointer qualities and coloring than the distinct German shorthair.
In motion these dogs should reach forward as well as driving with power from the hindquarters, allowing efficient movement to cover as much ground as possible. They have participated in field trials for the breed since 1944. Due to tail injuries the breed requirement is that the tail is docked to 40% of the original length. In motion the tail should never curve back towards the head.
Whether for show or hunting this is a dog that should be well muscled with a form-to-function type of movement. Muscling should be firm with the ability to do a job not just look curvy but have soft, flabby muscles. The smooth coat is tight against the body which allows the GSP to work in a variety of brush without needing extensive grooming.
Today breeders often focus on the same traits of bidibility, instincts and intelligence that allow them to excel as gun dogs along with the physical requirements to get the job done. Intelligence only goes so far if the dog isn’t willing to learn what you want to teach him!
The German Shorthaired Pointer club of America still values those dogs that can get the national championships in field trials as well as conformation. Indeed a large portion of the site is on field trials, hunting tests, gun dog information, versatility dogs and, of course, show dogs.
Because this is a breed that hunts first you can expect a high energy dog that needs considerable activity to be happy. Although dogs proven in the field are by nature healthy enough to get the job done it pays to remember there are diseases to watch for. If you are buying a puppy the parents should be tested to insure they are healthy genetically as well as appearance.
Hip dysplasia, congenital cardiac disease, eye disorders and cone degeneration are all things that should be eliminated by testing. Elbow dysplasia and autoimmune thyroiditis are also factors.
One of the most specific to German Shorthairs is cone degeneration – CD. This is rare but does show up in some lines. This is a recessive genetic trait – the parents do not have to have it if they carry it genetically. This causes day blindness due to the cells in the retina is not normal in response. By 8-12 weeks puppies affected will show signs of vision problems that are noticeable. In bright areas it can be painful for an affected dog as they can’t adjust to dim the night. They retain the night or dim lit vision, but bright lights render them unable to see. Obviously this is a devastating disease that alters the life of an outgoing hunting dog forever. Tests can return three results – normal is free of the disease and can be bred to any other GSP. “C” indicates a carrier – they carry the disease but do not have it themselves. Because it is a recessive they can be bred to ‘normal’ dogs and be fine – but a carrier bred to a carrier can and most likely will through “A” dogs – affected. These or homozygous and will get CD.
If breeding GSP this is an important consideration to test for as well as understanding dominant and recessive breeding. Breeding a carrier to a normal dog produces half normal and half carriers. However breeding carrier to carrier produces half carriers, ¼ normal and ¼ that will have the disease. Breeding carrier to affected increases to ½ the pups that will get the disease while the other ½ carries it. Clearly, breeding carriers only to normal dogs is important as well as making educated decisions on breeding.
Another unique disease to GSP is lupoid dermatosis which seems to be hereditary but studies are still being done. This shows itself usually between 6 months and 3 years with a scaly skin and lesions that are painful. Symptoms may come and to with little reason and skin infections may be present. There is no treatment so eliminating animals with the disease from the breeding population can stop the disease before it gets a foothold in the breed.
Although these are serious disorders remember the breed’s #1 function is as a gun dog. This takes a healthy animal!
This is a breed that for those who don’t hunt can excel at agility, rally, DockDog competition, tracking, obedience and anywhere the ability to work with their owner towards a common goal is prized. This gives an outlet for that high energy drive the dog possesses. They want to be with people, working with people and learning.
Open area, a happy dog and a partnership creates a bond. On a fall morning you’re in the meadows and your GSP snaps to a point as he notices a bird in the grass ahead and for a moment all is right with the world. A view with a beautiful, functional dog that wants to work with YOU. Life is good!
This is not a breed for everyone but for those in an active home he can be an awesome dog.