#11 The German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointers

While the exact origin of German Shorthaired Pointers (GSPs) is unknown, there is strong evidence that this dog is descended from a number of European hunting breeds including the German Bird Dog, the English Pointer, and the Arkwright Pointer. Like many dogs of European descent, the German Shorthaired Pointer was created for use the in the field, specifically to point out the presence of upland birds and waterfowl.  Breed standardization occurred late in the 19th century, with the first known studbook dating back to 1870.  However, it was not until 1930 that the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a happy-go-lucky dog, one that bonds strongly with its people. The breed is known for being quirky and affectionate, as well as extremely intelligent.  In the field, GSPs have boundless energy and will continue to work long past the point of exhaustion.  They are also trustworthy dogs, capable of working independently from their owners over long distances.  However, German Shorthaired Pointers are not suited for outdoor living given their companionate nature.  If not given adequate exercise such as running, hiking, or liberal play time, German Shorthaired Pointers can appear to be hyper dogs or even destructive.  They have a naturally strong prey drive and are best suited for houses without small animals such as cats or rabbits, but can be taught to live peacefully with these pets if properly socialized from a young age.  In addition to pointing, German Shorthaired Pointers can also be trained to track and retrieve.  Aggression from a GSP, particularly towards humans, is extremely rare but they can be good guard dogs in times of emergency if they feel their family is threatened.

German Shorthaired Pointers have a distinct look, with a barrel-type chest, long legs, docked tail, and long floppy ears. True to their name, they have a single short coat that is water-repellent and sheds year-round.  Despite being a medium-to-large sized dog, Pointers often require clothing in the winter to keep from being too cold.  Often, German Shorthaired Pointer owners are accused of keeping their dogs at an unhealthy weight, but in reality a healthy Pointer should have the last two ribs easily felt, and a distinct “tuck up” of the waist.  The GSP coat should be brown (liver) or liver and white.  Commonly, GSPs have unique mottled coloring that gives them a unique appearance.

As a relatively healthy breed, German Shorthaired Pointers are often considered tough and resilient, with only a few common disorders. Hip dysplasia can occur, as in all larger purebreds, as well as epilepsy, skin allergies, and ocular disorders.  Most importantly, GSP owners should be aware that the breed is extremely prone to bloat, which occurs when the stomach becomes filled with air, fluid, or food, typically in conjunction with the stomach flipping on its axis, leading to severe health consequences.  If not caught in time, bloat can be deadly.  Despite these health issues, German Shorthaired Pointers have a long lifespan for a dog their size, typically living 12 – 14 years.

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