German Shorthaired Pointer

Breed At A Glance


Energetic, trainable and eager to please

Life Expectancy
12-15 years

Average Height
Males 23-25 inches; Females 21-23 inches

Average Weight
Males 55-70 lbs; Females 45-60 lbs

Coat Color
Solid liver or liver & white, patched, ticked

Coat Length/Texture
Short, dense and sleek with a dense undercoat

Shedding Propensity
Consistent year round

Also known as Deutscher kurzhaariger Vorstehhund, Deutsch Kurzhaar, Kurzhaar, GSP

General Temperament

German Shorthaired Pointers are excellent hunting dogs, but also make lovable family companions. They are cooperative, intelligent and easily trained. They love all family members equally, and are good with children – although they can be quite lively and boisterous when young and therefore may need to be supervised with very small children. German Shorthaired Pointers generally do well with other dogs, but their strong hunting instinct makes them not always appropriate for households with smaller pets such as cats or rabbits. If socialized with these pets during puppyhood, however, they can learn what is prey and what is not.

The German Shorthaired Pointer loves to bark and will announce the arrival of visitors, making them good watchdogs. Although they are loyal and protective, they are not prone to attack and therefore are not good for actual guarding. They need to be close to their families, and can become destructive and nervous if left alone for extended periods.

Sufficient exercise is essential for the German Shorthaired Pointer. It will function best with a large fenced yard as well as plenty of walks and playtime with family members. If plentiful exercise is not provided, a GSP will feel compelled to exercise himself, and has no difficulty scaling a four or six-foot enclosure. The natural hunting instinct can sometimes result in the dog bringing home “trophies” such as dead rabbits, squirrels or even cats. in addition to hunting, the GSP can excel in agility, obedience and various field trials. They are not well suited for apartments or for inactive owners.

Breed History

The German Shorthaired Pointer (or GSP) evolved out of the old Spanish Pointer, which was imported into Germany in the 1600’s. German hunters required a scent dog that could point out prey, both mammal and bird, over a reasonable distance, and could retrieve game from land and water. Although it is impossible to identify all of breeds that were incorporated into the stock line after that time, it is commonly known that the English Pointer was added in the late 1800’s, adding speed and style to round out the GSP’s versatility as a hunting dog. Breeders were encouraged (by Prince Albrecht zu Solms-Braunfeld of the Royal House of Hanover) to focus on function rather than form, leading to the modern version of this breed.

Body Structure and Composition

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a lean, well-balanced, medium-sized dog. The muzzle is the same length as the skull, but never pointed. A large nose is preferred in this breed. The GSP’s ears are long and set high, laying flat against the head. The thighs are well-muscled, giving the dog a smooth, lithe gait. The GSP’s feet are webbed. The tail is often docked around 60%. The practical purpose of docking in hunting dogs is to minimize injury to the tail as they wag vigorously in the bush; in companion dogs, it is done more for vanity. This process has been outlawed in many countries.

Medical Information

German Shorthaired Pointers are a relatively healthy breed, although they are prone to Hip Dysplasia (when the head of the thigh bone no longer fits in the cup provided by the socket, resulting in lameness and arthritis-like symptoms). Epileptic seizures have also been a problem in some lines, along with skin and eye disorders.

Female GSP in some lines are prone to breast cancer. In males, unexplained swelling or growth of the nipples is considered normal and is fairly common. However, if the nipples become sensitive to the touch, a veterinarian should be consulted.

Contact with game in GSP hunting lines can result in the spread of fungi or bacteria in the mouth and gums, resulting in lesions. Additionally, scratches and cuts from normal hunting behavior can become infected. As with all floppy-eared dogs, special attention should be given to checking and cleaning the ears to help prevent infection.

Anecdotal Information

The German Shorthaired Pointer’s loyalty and intelligence has brought inspiration to many authors during the 20th century. Robert B. Parker’s most popular mystery series features a Boston detective known as Spenser who has had a series of three solid-liver GSPs, all named Pearl. In the book Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had, author Rick Bass reflects on living and hunting with a German Shorthaired Pointer in Montana. Sportswriter Mel Wallis, in his memoir Run, Rainey, Run, describes the extraordinary relationship he had with his versatile hunting GSP.

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