While we here at site genuinely adore all canines (mutts included), we recognize that many dog owners are breed loyal. Our “Breed of the Month” series celebrates those iconic dog breeds that have amassed widespread popularity and/or developed a cult following. For August 2016, we feature the German shorthaired pointer.
Whether you’re looking for a top-flight bird dog, or just a great family companion, you can’t go wrong with a German shorthaired pointer.
The German shorthaired pointer (GSP) is friendly, active, highly intelligent, and always ready to please.
The GSP is a medium-sized dog with webbed feet, a water-repellent coat, long muzzle, and clean cut head. An adult GSP stands about 20 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weighs 50 to 80 pounds.
According to the American Kennel Club, GSPs are the 11th most popular dog breed in America. If you have an active lifestyle and the time to devote to their care, a GSP may be just the lifelong buddy you are seeking.
Here’s what makes GSPs so great, and what you need to know before adopting one of your own.
They’re Active — Really Active
GSPs love to run, play, and swim. And hunt, fetch, and chase. And did we mention run? Seriously, these dogs have energy to burn. If a GSP spends all day alone, the stage is set for boredom, destructive behavior, house soiling, and compulsive behaviors. But, if you’re an active owner and/or have a family that will give him plenty of mental and physical stimulation, a GSP can be a great pet.
They’re Highly Trainable
GSPs are genetically-predisposed to be physically active, but that doesn’t mean they are uncontrollable — they are actually highly trainable. They can be stubborn, however, so positive training works best. GSPs will pick up basic commands like sit, stay, down, and come, in a snap, and they’re quick to learn how to hunt, fetch, and walk on a leash.
They’re Healthy and Strong
GSPs are normally a healthy breed — with an average lifespan of 11-13 years — but like all breeds they may be susceptible to certain conditions as a result of genetic predisposition. Of particular concern are hip dysplasia and congenital heart issues. But with regular veterinary exams and vaccinations, they will generally remain quite healthy. Recommended vaccines include rabies, DHLPP (distemper and leptospirosis), and lyme, especially if they will be in rural or forested areas.
They’re Easy to Groom
Though GSPs have short coats that are easy to care for, the breed is still inclined to shed fairly heavily. They require frequent brushing, and their nails should be kept short to avoid cracking and splitting. If your GSP goes swimming, you should clean their ears afterward with a regular canine ear cleaner and some cotton to help avoid ear infections.(?)
Is a GSP Right For You?
Although the GSP is a friendly, intelligent, and active breed, they are not for everyone. Before deciding on this breed, take the following into account:
They are not recommended for first time dog owners because they are not an “easy” breed. They require a great deal of exercise, attention, and training in order to successfully be a member of the family. If you’ve never had a hunting breed before, you should consider another breed as your first dog.
They are strong for their size, making it difficult to control or restrain them if they see something they want to chase. Since they are bred as hunting dogs, they will chase pretty much anything that runs, moves, flits, or flees, so they need to be leashed at all times unless you are in a large open area free of hazards.
They are not good city dogs, despite being medium-sized. Again, because of their energetic nature, they are not going to be happy with one or two daily walks. They require a lot of time and energy, and if forced to sit around at home they will become bored and destructive.
They will not give up when there is something that they want and because they can jump as high as six feet, they are excellent counter surfers. This means any dangerous items, such as raw meat, knives, chocolate, baked goods, and medications must be kept off of counters and in secure, inaccessible places.
If you plan to acquire your GSP from a breeder, be sure to do your research and take a tour of their facilities. Reputable breeders are happy to show people around their grounds. In addition, good breeders will genetically test their breeding stock to help reduce the likelihood of congenital illness in their puppies. Keep in mind that there are also breed rescues that can help you find a GSP that may need a new home because of poorly prepared or neglectful owners.