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German Shorthaired Pointer 101

German Shorthaired Pointer with a sunset behind the dog

The German Shorthair Pointer has a beautiful face, a distinctive coloring, and a happy disposition. It can be a friendly, and affectionate family dog, but what else do you need to know about the German Shorthair Pointer.


Germany has some incredible forestry, and with that comes a wide range of terrain and game for hunters. As the terrain was so varied, hunters needed a bird dog that could walk all the different types of ground, had an amazing sense of smell, and was disciplined to stay on point, alerting the hunters to the game, specifically birds. They began selectively breeding different breeds to create the dog they needed.

This began throughout the 1700’s, which was a key breeding period for the GSP. The breeds of dogs during this time were grouped collectively by type, and specific breeds hadn’t yet emerged. The breeders would breed birding dogs with tracking dogs. By the beginning of the 1800’s specific breeds were beginning to emerge.

Prince Albrecht zu Solms-Braunfels in the mid 1800’s, was an avid hunter, and encouraged other breeders to breed for function, and not form. Essentially, he wanted to breed dogs for a specific job - bird hunting - and not for their appearance. He, and other breeders of the time, bred continental pointers, Spanish pointers, and various bloodhound breeds. The bloodhound is what makes the GSP a good bird tracking dog. Years later, English pointer was bred in as well, to increase the agility of the dog, and so that the breed would look more like a pointer, and less like a bloodhound.

The result of selective breeding is an agile dog, with lots of stamina. The GSP is a great water dog, and has webbed feet which makes it as agile in the water as it is on the ground.

Personality and Training

German shorthair pointers are very intelligent, friendly, and well-mannered. As long as they have been raised properly, with lots of training from a young age. They’re capable of learning from eight weeks of age, so early obedience training is key in raising a well adjusted dog.

They’re a very active breed, and need a lot of outdoor activities. However, their intelligence should never be neglected, and they need to keep their minds stimulated. Exercises such as fetch, obstacle courses, agility, and other dog sports are a good way of combining their need for mental stimulation with their need for outdoor exercise.

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They are considered to be an adolescent dog between the ages of six months and two years, which means that proper training during this time period is crucial. Bored GSP’s can become destructive, or begin digging, and barking behaviors.

It’s also important to keep in mind that these dogs were bred as a hunting dog, and have a strong prey drive. They will need a lot of training to prevent chasing behaviors, and even then some dogs will always chase after smaller animals.

The German Shorthair Pointer is a very loyal breed, and adapts very well to family life. As they can be quite boisterous as youngsters, they can be better suited to families with older children. They are a very social breed, and love to be around other dogs.

GSP’s are also good watchdogs. They will give some sort of alarm bark towards strangers, but they aren’t aggressive. This makes them ideal to watch over a family home.


German Shorthair Pointers are, as the name suggests, short haired. This means that they only require grooming every few days. However, even though they are a short haired dog, they do still shed hair, and are not a hypoallergenic breed.

The other important thing to remember for grooming is that they can be prone to ear infections, like many breeds with a flopping ear. Ears need to be inspected, and cleaned regularly to help prevent build up and subsequent infections.

It’s also important that you check your GSP’s teeth regularly. This breed isn’t usually known for dental disease, and generally have good teeth, however, you can help by brushing their teeth twice a week.

Some dogs do not enjoy being groomed, and may sulk or just generally be annoyed and complain about it. Consider CBD supplements before grooming as this will allow them to be less stress and anxious about the situation.

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Common Health Problems

German Shorthair Pointers generally live for twelve to fourteen years. Common health problems are usually minor, with only a few potentially major health concerns occurring in the breed.

Hip Dysplasia

Most large dog breeds tend to be prone to hip, elbow or knee dysplasia. This is where the joint doesn’t sit in the socket properly, causing pain, and lameness. GSP’s have quite a low rate of dysplasia, however, they should still have their hips and elbows routinely checked. Mild cases can be managed with lifestyle changes, and medications, though severe cases may need to be surgically corrected.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

German Shorthair Pointers can be prone to eye issues. They can be prone to cataracts at an early age, between six and eighteen months. They can also be prone to degenerative eye conditions, collectively called Progressive Retinal Atrophy, or PRA.

PRA is the term used for a collection of eye conditions, including cone degeneration, rod dysplasia, and CPRA, or Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy. These conditions can cause vision loss, or complete blindness. There is no medical treatment for PRA; however, supplements, and lifestyle changes may be able to slow the progression.


German Shorthair Pointers are a large chested breeds, and therefore, they can be prone to bloat.Bloat is known by many other names such as flipped stomach or stomach torsion. It occurs when the stomach swells, and food and gas become trapped. The swollen stomach can flip over on itself, which cuts off the blood supply.

Bloat needs immediate medical attention as it is a very serious, potentially lethal condition. It can not be treated by any home remedy, and it will not correct itself. Dogs with bloat will need to be admitted to the veterinary hospital and have a surgical procedure.

Routine Health Exams

All dogs should have regular health checks with their veterinarian, but there are some health checks for German Shorthair Pointer that you should ask your vet to carry out:

  • Joint checks - While they are not overly prone to joint dysplasia, ask your vet to check all joints at your dog’s health check.
  • Eye checks - Eye issues are common so it’s very important that you ask for regular eye checks.
  • Cone Degeneration DNA - Even if the dog is not showing any symptoms of cone degeneration, he or she could be a carrier. It is exceptionally important for any breeding dog to have this DNA test.
  • Cardiac tests - Large chested breeds such as the German Shorthair Pointer can be prone to cardiac issues. Recently, subaortic stenosis, which is an obstruction in the heart, has become a concern within the breed.

Is A German Shorthair Pointer The Right Dog For You?

German Shorthaired pointer looking sheepishly at the camera

If you are a very active, athletic person, who can devote a lot of time to training and exercise, then a German Shorthair Pointer could be the perfect canine companion for you. 

Meet the Author

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.

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