The German Shorthaired Pointer – Friendly and Smart

German Shorthaired Pointer

The German Shorthaired Pointer Dog is an active, bright gun dog.

The German Shorthaired Pointer breed is a medium-size to large dog, which is the 9th most popular dog breed in the USA in 2019, according to AKC statistics. They are enthusiastic, amiable and friendly, and make great companions. Because of the relatively long name, they are frequently referred to by their initials – ‘GSP’.

Image courtesy Kempfer Gun Dogs

German Shorthaired Pointer

The GSP is an excellent family dog, as it was bred to live with a family as well as being a versatile all-round gun dog. They are affectionate and co-operative,and love human company.

However they were also bred to be capable of working all day, and so need several good long runs per week to burn up that energy. The German Shorthaired Pointer dog is not really suited to owners who are not physically active, and is also not the ideal breed for a first-time dog owner.

As dogs used in hunting, the GSP may have a tendency to go after any small animals such as rabbits, gerbils and cats, although this can be minimized by early socialization with these animals.

This is an athletic breed, and if you have a big back yard, it will need fencing that is at least 6 feet high, otherwise your GSP will get out. With their need for exercise, they make great dogs to run with, and do well in Canicross events.

The GSP is also a very strong swimmer, with webbed feet, and they love to get into water at any opportunity.

They get along well with other dogs, and enjoy playing with them in an open space. They are well-mannered, and cautious of strangers initially, but not in a nervous way.

This breed is still used for hunting, pointing and retrieving, and are common sights at tests and competitions involving Agility, Obedience, and Swimming.  With their acut sense of smell, they are used as service dogs in drug detection

A German Shorthaired Pointer dog sitting down outdoors, with his tongue hanging out.
German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer Dog – Breed History

In the 1700s, German hunters were using different dogs for pointing, flushing and retrieving, but wanted a single dog that could do all these jobs, and more. They wanted a dog with a good nose that could track at night, a steady pointer, a flusher of all game birds, and able to retrieve on land or from water.

They also wanted a dog with great endurance, able to work a long day, and with a companionable nature. It seemed like a tall order, but during the 1800s hunters worked with master breeders over generations of dogs, to eventually produce what we recognize today as the German Shorthaired Pointer.

The first studbook (parenthood register) was not created until 1870, so the exact dog  breeds used in the development of the GSP before that time are not definite. The GSP was recognized officially by the AKC in 1930.

Vital Statistics;

Height;  23 inches to 25 inches (male), and 21 inches to 23 inches (female)

Weight;  55lbs – 70lbs (male), and 45lbs to 60lbs (female)

Life Span;  10 to 12 years


Liver;  Liver and White with speckling.

A German Shorthaired Pointer dog standing in a grassy field on a sunny day.
Image courtesy

Ease of training

German Shorthaired Pointer dogs are intelligent and need something to do. They enjoy training, and should have basic training sessions from a very young age. It’s important to keep the sessions short, say 5 minutes initially, and repeated 3 times a day. This helps to prevent distractions and boredom setting in.

As the months pass, you can increase the length of each session to 10 minutes, again 3 times a day. You must be consistent with your commands and rewards, using lavish praise and treats for correct responses. Do not accept half-hearted responses, otherwise the dog will learn that the half-hearted response is correct.

We have a page on this website that reviews the 7 best dog training books. I recommend you take a look at that page now, by clicking HERE.

A German Shorthaired Pointer puppy standing on green grass, with a timber log lying in the background.
German Shorthaired Pointer puppy


The coat is short and flat, with a dense undercoat. The topcoat is also dense, with coarse hairs, resulting in a water resistant layer that is slightly oily.

As a short-haired breed, it is easy to groom. A good brushing is needed every day or two with a firm brush, but this only takes a few minutes. Despite being short-haired, the GSP DOES shed, – and quite a lot! Due to the coarse nature of the hairs they can become embedded in rugs, carpets and clothing, and may be difficult to remove.

A bath is only needed occasionally, when the dog gets particularly muddy or starts to develop a ‘doggy’ odor. Even if the dog is muddy, you can usually remove the worst with a damp towel, then let the dog dry off naturally before removing any remaining dirt with a stiff brush. The coat is so dense that nearly all dirt stays on or ner the surface.

The long ears should be checked each week, or more often if the dog has been out in brush and woodland, for any signs of redness, swelling, infection, or injuries.

The claws should be checked monthly for excessive growth, and trimmed to prevent cracking or splitting.

A German Shorthaired Pointer dog sitting down on grass facing the camera
A German Shorthaired Pointer dog sitting down on grass facing the camera


The German Shorthaired Pointer dog breed will make a reasonable watch dog, as they are cautious of strangers, and will bark to alert you of something out of the ordinary. They are alert and have an excellent sense of smell (as a scent hound). They will quickly pick up on anyone in the vicinity.

However, as a guard dog, they are not so good. They are friendly and amiable, and willing to please, so they are unlikely to challenge a stranger with anything more than barking. More likely is that they will welcome a stranger if they approach in a friendly manner!

If you want a dog that will give you physical protection, I suggest you look for another breed.

Health Considerations

German pointers are a generally healthy breed, with few issues that are breed-specific. However there are a couple of conditions that need to be monitored;

  •  Hip Dysplasia
  •  Progressive retinal atrophy (an eye condition)
  •  Gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat)
  •  Heart ISSUES

An anti-gulping bowl can help prevent bloat, by slowing down how fast the dog can eat.

anti-gulping bowl
Anti gulping bowl

Fun Feeder Go Slow Anti-Gulping Dog Bowl

  • Encourages eating and drinking at a slower pace
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Encourages pet to eat or drink at a slower pace preventing indigestion, vomiting and bloating
  • Suitable for wet or dry food; Great solution for dogs who eat and drink quickly


Famous German Shorthaired Pointer Dogs

The German Shorthaired Pointer dog is mentioned in several books, such as ‘Bashan and I’ by Thomas Mann, and also books by Rick Bass and Mel Ellis.

The film ‘Days of Heaven’ has a short hunting scene featuring GSPs.

Please let me know if you are aware of any more gamous GSPs, by using the Contact Me link. Thank you!

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