German Shorthaired Pointer

katy towle 26 July 2021


Breed history

This multi-purpose dog was in development for a few hundred years before eventually being established in Germany during the 1800’s. They were specifically bred to be effective on both land and water and to pursue a range of prey, rather than just one or two types of animals.

The term ’pointer’ refers to the pointing stance that these dogs do to alert their owner of the location of their prey. They will lower their head and raise a paw, letting the human hunter know exactly where to look.

Importantly, the German Shorthaired Pointer has always been a working dog that makes a good companion. They are household pets as well as hunters, meaning that they can usually adapt well to suburban life.

General appearance

Handsome and almost regal in their appearance, the Pointer is a dog that would look stunning in an oil painting in your sitting room!

They have a short and shiny coat that can be a number of colours including chocolate brown and white, black and white or liver and white. Their skull is broad and their muzzle should not be too short. Their almond shaped eyes should be dark brown and their velvety ears hang close to their face. They have a deep chest and athletic body, ending in a long and straight tail. Interestingly, they have webbed feet; an attribute which makes them confident and speedy swimmers.

While breed members once had their tails docked, this is no longer seen as an ethical thing to do and the practice of tail docking is illegal within the UK.

Temperament

The perfect choice for an active family, the GSP is happiest when running about in the fresh air. They love to be physically challenged and will never turn down a long hike or mountain climb. Despite their athleticism, they do have an ‘off switch’ and will happily relax with their owner once their exercise needs have been met. As this time, they can be soppy and sweet, curling up for lots of cuddles on the sofa.

It isn’t likely that a GSP will ever lose their prey drive so owners should be aware that they are less likely than other breeds to co-exist peacefully with small animals. Some can learn to socialize with cats if introduced to them from a young age. Most find squirrels and rabbits difficult to ignore when out of the home.

Anecdotally, some individuals are reserved with strangers and may become territorial of their property or owner. Try to combat this by socialising your GSP thoroughly during puppyhood.

Health considerations 

This athlete typically enjoys a long and healthy life but there are certainly health issues that can be prevalent within the breed. These include:

Bloat: All deep-chested dogs are at an increased risk of bloat, or ‘gastric dilatation volvulus’. It is unclear why some individuals will develop this condition while others do not. Theories including diet (wet vs dry), conformation, exercise and genetics have all been put forward. When a dog develops bloat, signs come on quickly. They can include restlessness, panting, drooling and a tense and bloated abdomen. Prompt treatment is required to correct the issue and, if treatment is delayed, this condition can be fatal.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This genetic condition results in the death of the rod cells within the eye. Sadly, dogs become more blind with time. There is no current treatment but some experts do advise on anti-oxidant supplementation.

Hip Dysplasia: Hip joint laxity eventually leads to arthritis which is a painful condition that affects mobility.  X-rays can confirm a vet’s suspicion and we can grade the hips to determine how badly they are affected. Treatment is multi-modal and may consist of a tailored exercise programme, anti-inflammatories, pain relief and joint supplements such as Pooch & Mutt’s Joint Daily Care Supplement. The ingredients such as Glucosamine and Collagen can help to minimise inflammation within the joint and reduce pain.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy: This heart condition tends to affect middle-aged to older dogs and can reduce their lifespan. The heart muscle becomes weakened and can no longer pump effectively. Signs can include a reduced willingness to exercise and a heart murmur that is picked up by a vet when they listen to the chest with a stethoscope.

Trainability 

Clever and obedient, these dogs are easy to train if their owner is experienced. They can be independent and strong-willed, so novice owners may find that they push boundaries if given too much leeway.

These dogs thrive when provided with ample training and can become quickly bored if left to their own devices for too long.

Grooming

While the coat of the GSP is short and low maintenance, they do shed substantially. They are by no means a hypoallergenic breed. Due to this, it is sensible to give them a good brush through each day; a task some will do outside of the home to keep their carpets and sofas as fur free as possible.

As they have pendulous ears, ear infections can occur. To avoid this, clean out any wax with an ear cleaner a couple of times a month. It is also wise to dry out the ear canals thoroughly after your GSP has gone for a bath or swim.

Exercise

A dog that was initially bred to hunt, it is little wonder that the German Shorthaired Pointer loves to exercise. A minimum of 90 minutes a day is advised and exercising for less time than this is likely to result in a bored and frustrated dog who develops behavioural issues.

These clever pedigrees like variety and won’t take kindly to being brought on the same route day in and day out. Keep their walks varied and bring them to places such as beaches, forests and fields.

Feeding considerations

The GSP is prone to obesity if fed the wrong diet and under-exercised. They do well on a high protein diet and we should keep a close eye on their calorie intake.

You'll find a handy feeding calculator on every product page here at Pooch & Mutt to help you identify how much of our health led recipes are right for the age, size and weight of your dog.

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