German Shorthaired Pointers, known simply as Kurzhaar (Shorthair) in Germany, are excellent hunting dogs with a friendly personality. Their behavior and temperament make them excellent companions and family dogs. This article discusses German Shorthaired Pointer breeding in detail as well as various behavioral and physiological traits, such as:
- Life expectancy and health
- Exercise and diet
- Working opportunities
The German Shorthaired Pointer breeding process has its own set of benefits and challenges. We shall introduce you to GSP breeding, their trainability, how much their pups cost, and breeding aspects particular to them.
Background of German Shorthaired Pointer Breeding
In the 17th century, Century De Selincourt coined the term Gundogs. These were breeds that made excellent hunting companions. Bargues, or pointers, are gundogs that hunt with a high nose and halt when they pick up the scent. The use their muzzles to direct their human companions towards their target.
The Garmen Shorthaired Pointer that we know was is the result of centuries of breeding, but its exact origin is unknown. Dogs capable of pointing have existed for centuries. Germans and French referred to these dogs as Quail dogs and the Italians called then net-dogs.
Before Germany was formed and central Europe was ruled by a monarchy, pointer dogs were used in formal hunting invitations as well as gifts between different states. Records and writings from that period describing these dogs indicate a striking resemblance to the modern GSP.
Experimenting With Breeding
The exact origin of this breed is not known, but AKC believes GSP descended from the German Bird Dog. These dogs were crossbred in the 1600s to produce the perfect hunting dog. Unfortunately, the resulting dog howled too much during hunts, and that made it an unsuitable gundog.
But, further attempts with different dogs, such as Bloodhounds, Foxhounds, French hounds, Arkwright Pointer and the English Pointer led to the GSP being born.
Creation of a Perfect Pointer
The breed initially came to be sometime in the 1800s. It first gained widespread popularity with the Germans. The studbook for the German Shorthaired Pointer was created in 1870, so there is no sure-shot way of knowing exactly what breeds went into making the modern GSP.
By 1932, Joseph Burkhart began importing dogs in Wisconsin. At the same time, Jack Shattuck from Minnesota bought a pup from Bob/Arta litter. These two were the pioneers in promoting and perfecting the process of breeding German Shorthaired pointer.
In America, this breed was introduced in Wisconsin-Minnesota areas. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the German Shorthaired Pointer as a breed in 1936. By 1938, the GSP actually began to gain some breed strength. AKC accepted the application for the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America, Inc. (GSPCA) with Joseph Burkhart and Jack Shattuck as the first officers.
The GSPCA set the breed standard. They started with slight variations to the German variant and approved the first standard back in 1946. The conformation standard has since been revised. Major revisions came in the years:
- 1972 and
- 1992, to align it with other AKC breed standards.
One of the Most Popular Dog Breeds
German Shorthaired Pointer is one of the most recognizable breeds. In fact, the American Kennel Club (AKC) ranks it as the 9th most popular breed of 2018. The reason is their physical and behavioral attributes. The German Shorthaired Pointer’s temperament is friendly and energetic.
But, they are so much more than hunting companions in today’s world. They make excellent family dogs, love to play games, and are easily sociable. They are great companions for when you want to go on a hike, swimming or anywhere.
German Shorthaired Pointer is a medium to large breed dog with a lean and strong build. While a German Shorthaired pointer’s size can vary, the AKC has defined the height and weight range in which healthy GSPs should fall. Let’s take a look at German Shorthaired pointer features.
Height: Males measure 23 to 25 inches at the wither, While females are 21-23 inches ar the wither.
Weight: Male pointers weigh 55 to 70 pounds, while female pointers weigh 45 to 60 pounds.
Body: A well-muscled medium-build body that is either square or a little longer than tall.
Muzzle & head: Muzzle and head both are squared and moderately shaped.
Ears: GSP ears are long, velvety and set high. They are a distinctive feature of this breed and become even more noticeable when the dog is running or jumping.
Eyes: The eyes are Set back in the skull.
Tail: Their tails are docked high and are about 40 to 50 percent of the GSP’s length.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of this breed. The German Shorthaired Pointer color is defined by a liver shade. Their heads and ears are predominantly brown/liver-colored. While their muzzles and bodies can be either liver or liver and white. Varieties include German Shorthaired pointers in liver roan, liver & white, Liver, black & white, white & chocolate, brown.
Their coat, apart from having a distinct look, has evolved to provide physiological benefits. The German Shorthaired pointer has, as the name suggests, has an easy-care short-haired coat. They also have a dense undercoat that protected by stiff “guard hair”.
Their coat provides ample warmth, insulation, and is water-resistant. As you can imagine, this coat makes them excellent hunting companions on land or in water.
Before anything else, the German Shorthaired Pointer is an excellent hunting companion and pointer breed. The attributes that make it so good at hunting have various positive and negative aspects of everyday life.
Let me explain.
German Shorthaired Pointers absolutely love adventure! Be it going on a hiking trail, or camping in the woods, or catching fish in the river. GSPs are over the moon when they can really stretch out those muscles. Moreover, they are highly energetic dogs. They love going on walks, playing catch, and talking to their human companions.
But they are also fearless. This makes them tougher than other sporting breeds. They can hold their own against wild animals. But on the flip side, owners need to cautious when their GSP interacts with small animals or other house pets.
Apart from hunting and running, German Shorthaired Pointers love being with their families. By nature, they are very playful and good with other dogs as well as children. Moreover, these dogs are very intelligent, and obedient.
German Shorthaired Pointer vs German Longhaired Pointer
The German Longhaired Pointer (GLP) is closely generically related to its cousin, the German Shorthaired Pointer. The German Longhaired Pointer is a large breed; its 24-28 inches tall, and weighs around 66lbs. It features a shiny and wavy dark brown/roan colored coat.
While it looks different, it has much the same temperament and physiology as the GSP. Both dogs were bred in Germany to be pointers. Both, the Germans Long Haired Pointer and the German Shorthaired Pointer, shed moderately. They also have the same temperament. Moreover, they are both moderately difficult to train.
The German Longhaired Pointer is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). But, it can be recorded in the AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS) for purebred dogs not yet eligible for AKC recognition.
As a Sporting, Hunting & Working Breed
Before we talk about the work opportunities for German Shorthaired Pointers, let’s go over the behavioral traits that make them popular work dogs:
- Very affectionate and loyal
- Lean body and quick reflexes help them move fast and turn quickly
- The water-resistant coat makes them suitable for use on land as well as wet landscapes (marshes, ravines, etc.).
- GSPs are obedient and easy to train
- Being a pointer, they can pick up scents easily.
The amalgamation of all these features makes these dogs suitable for a variety of tasks. This means these dogs can be much more than a pet and actually aid humans in their lives.
For instance, GSP can be great for police work and picking up scents. They make excellent working dogs, assistant dogs, and guide dogs since they can be trained well, albeit with consistent efforts.
Health Issues when Breeding German Shorthaired Pointers
German Shorthaired Pointer is generally a healthy breed, but are prone to a number of health complications. Therefore, they require regular veterinary care.
Lifespan of a German Shorthaired Pointer
According to AKC, German Shorthaired pointers live between 12-14 years. In some surveys, the average age for GSP is 9 years. But most dogs live from 12 to fifteen years or more. Reportedly, it is not uncommon to find 18 years old GSPs.
They are prone to various health conditions though. Some of these conditions affect most dog breeds. A few health complications are hereditary to this breed.
Don’t worry too much, though, German Shorthaired Pointers are generally healthy dogs. But like all other dog breeds, there are various health concerns owners should be aware of.
Central Diabetes Insipidus
Central Diabetes Insipidus (CDI) results in insufficient secretion of a hormone in the hypothalamus of the brain. This leads to the kidneys being unable to retain water. German Shorthaired Pointers have been recorded with this condition.
Physical trauma, tumors, or congenital deformities can cause damage to the neurohypophyseal system, which can lead to CDI. This disease dilutes urine (polyuria) and an increase in thirst. This disease runs the risk of the dog becoming severely dehydrated as well as medical complications that lead to acute renal failure. Therefore, if gone untreated, CDI can be fatal.
Treatment is fairly simple. Nasal sprays containing synthetic AVP (desmopressin acetate) are used. Unless there is an underlying medical complication (i.e. brain tumor), CDI generally lasts 1-3 weeks. If treated appropriately, it can be cured in 2.
The thyroid gland is located on either side of the trachea and regulates the body’s metabolic rate. Hypothyroidism is developed when the body’s immune system, due to some complication, adversely impacts the thyroid glands by going after thyroid cells. The exact cause of this autoimmune disorder is unknown.
While the body tries to counter this by oversecreting the hormone, but soon it is unable to do so. If the thyroid gland isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone, the body’s metabolic rate will slow down.
Symptoms include lethargy, weight gain, and loss of appetite. A German Shorthaired Pointer suffering from Hypothyroidism may be prone to hair fall, dry/patchy skin, bacterial skin infection, ear infection, as well as adverse behavioral changes.
Tests for thyroid levels in the blood are used for diagnosis. If the results show a deficiency, your vet will prescribe synthetic thyroid supplements for your GSP. While this condition has no cure, it can be easily treated. But, your dog will have to continue taking hormone supplements for the rest of its life.
Canine Cleft Palate
A congenial Cleft Palate is an abnormal opening in the palate. It is the consequence of two sides of the palate failing to fuse together during embryonic development. This leads to an opening between the roof of the mouth and nasal passageways. Cleft Palate is a congenital disorder.
Here are a few symptoms German Shorthaired Pointers suffering from a cleft palate may experience:
- Runny nose
- Aspiration pneumonia
- Respiration problems, caused by aspiration pneumonia
- Trouble in nursing and sucking
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Hampering of growth
Diagnosis for Cleft Palate is simple: visual inspection. Treatment requires surgery; some cases may require multiple surgeries. Surgeries are conducted when puppies are 3-4 months old. Until that time, they are fed through either a long nipple or feeding tube.
Entropion in Dogs
Entropion is a condition characterized by eyelids rolling inwards. This can occur with upper or lower eyelids, as well on the side of the eyes (medial and lateral). Contact with the cornea causes pain and irritation in the cornea, perforations, and corneal ulcers. Moreover, it can lead to pigment development in the cornea. This will compromise the dog’s vision. This condition affects various dog breeds, including the German Shorthaired Pointers.
There are temporary and permanent treatments for this condition. Temporary treatments are performed by owners manually rolling out the eyelids of their dogs. Alternatively, a temporary “tacking” procedure can be performed by veterinarians. If temporary treatments don’t work, surgery is the next route. Hotz-Celsus (also called blepharoplasty) is done to surgically remove tissue in order to pull the eyelids outward.
Nasal Cavity Tumors (Chondrosarcoma)
A Chondrosarcoma (CSA) is the second most common tumor in dogs. The German Shorthaired Pointers are predisposed to nasal tumors. CSA in nasal and paranasal cavities is first formed in the mesenchymal tissue. The mesenchymal tissue is present throughout the body. CSA originates in this tissue and metastasizes to other body parts. Adult males over the age of 7 are more disposed to CSA as compared to younger and female GSPs.
The tumor can have many direct and indirect painful symptoms:
- Sporadic nosebleeds
- Discharge of pus
- Dyspnea: sneezing and difficulty breathing
- Epiphora: increased tear production
- Facial deformity
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Seizures (in cases with brain involvement)
These are some of the prominent symptoms of CSA. But diagnosis can be very complicated. The vet will need the complete medical history of your GSP leading up to the symptoms. That is:
- regular blood tests
- complete blood count
- a biochemistry profile
- platelet count.
After ruling out bacterial and fungal infections, your GSP will need further scans to check for the existence of tumors. Detailed scans are needed for final diagnoses; X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs are used.
CSA is a life-threatening, and very aggressive tumor. The location of the affected area is complicated, which is why surgery can be too risky. Hence, the preferred treatment is radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The use of antibiotics/anti-fungal medicines is also effective for fungal and bacterial infections.
Epilepsy is a broad term used to identifies a disease that causes recurrent seizures. There could be caused by:
- brain tumor
Other reasons include complications in your GSP’s blood, kidneys, or other organs. But in some rare cases, epilepsy may be caused by no identifiable underlying cause. This condition is called idiopathic epilepsy.
There are two kinds of seizures. They are:
- Grand Mal: General seizures: Involuntary twitching or jerking of all four limbs and even loss of consciousness.
- Focal: Partial seizures: Seizures that occur in a specific portion/limb of the body
Partial seizures can progress to generalized seizures as well. Seizures can cause other involuntary behaviors, such as:
It can be painful watching your pet suffer through seizures, but most often they cause little or no permanent harm. But if the seizures last too long, take your pet to the vet immediately. That is: if a seizure lasts more than 5 mins, or two consecutive seizures occur back to back.
Your vet will conduct various tests on your GSP to diagnose ad determine the underlying cause. There is no cure for Epilepsy. Anticonvulsant drugs can be used to manage it. Phenobarbital is used to reduce the frequency of seizures. Potassium bromide is used if Phenobarbital doesn’t work.
Bloat, or Canine Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), is a rapidly progressive life-threatening condition in dogs with deep, narrow chests. Therefore, GSPs are an at-risk breed. This disease causes your pointer’s stomach to dilate. Due to this, neither food nor gases may be expelled. As it dilates and expands, the pressure in the stomach builds up. At its worse, the stomach can become so dilated that it rotates inside the abdomen.
This disease can have severe and painful consequences, such as:
- the severing of blood flow from the abdomen to the heart
- loss of blood flow to the lining of the stomach
- rupturing of the stomach wall
- Loss in breathing, due to excessive pressure on the lungs and diaphragm.
As a result, the body suffers from inadequate ventilation. A dog suffering from GDV will:
- look very uncomfortable, as if in pain.
- have an enlarged and stiff abdominal area
This condition can quickly become fatal, in as little as 30 minutes. Often times, a singular large meal can cause GDV. In such a situation, get your GSP to the ER immediately. This complication is common in older dogs.
Canine Heart disease
German Shorthaired Pointers are susceptible to a variety of heart conditions. They can suffer from various heart complications early on and later in life. Early detection increases the chances of successful treatment. Therefore, it is important to have regular checkups. These include checking for heart murmurs and abnormal heart patterns.
You should get yearly heart check-ups for your GSP. They could range from X-rays to an ECG, or an echocardiogram, depending on your dog’s heart’s health. Extra care and prevention of heart disease can go a long way. Dental care, as well as consistent weight control, can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease in your dog.
German Shorthaired Pointer is by far the most at-risk breed at developing Aortic stenosis. Other heart conditions include Chronic Valvular Disease and Myocardial Disease.
Blood coagulation, or clotting, is a hereditary issue that can affect most dog breeds. The medical term for this clotting, or bleeding disorder, is Von Willebrand disease type II (VWDII). Dogs with this condition have decreased levels and abnormal functioning of a protein needed for blood clotting.
Dogs affected by VWDII are more susceptible to bruising easily, nosebleeds, and extended periods of bleeding after injury or trauma. In some cases, this disease can be fatal. Mostly, this condition is only diagnosed after surgery or bleeding after an injury. Therefore, doctors must access to a blood bank for transfusions ready. This disease has no side effects or symptoms apart from bleeding. Fortunately, dogs with this condition can have a healthy life and a normal lifespan.
Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture
Cranial cruciate ligament disease, or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), is he acute, or progressive failure of the cranial cruciate ligament. This results in complications with the stifle joint. Stifle joint is the joint between the thigh bone and two lower leg bones.
Depending on whether it is a partial or complete rupture, the symptoms may vary. When affected by this condition, your GSP will keep its leg in a partially bent position (flexion). It will also cause degeneration of muscle and tissue in the affected leg.
ACL is caused due to repetitive injury to the joint, or abnormal joint growth. Obesity can increase the risk of injury. Surgery, post-surgery care, and physical therapy are the preferred way of treating dogs more than 33lbs (15kgs). On lighter dogs, conservative treatment as outpatients is also useful.
The German Shorthaired Pointer breed can suffer from this disease with no underlying cause. Problems with the Lymphatic system cause excessive interstitial fluid to build up in the bloodstream and tissues.
This disease causes your dog’s legs to swell up. The swelling is not painful but can hurt when pressed due to weight. Lymphography is used for diagnosis.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition. But the good news is that Lymphedema isn’t fatal. Lymphedema can be managed by:
- pressure bandages
- fluid drainage
How To Breed German Shorthaired Pointers
If breeders know how to breed German Shorthaired Pointers, there should not be many issues with the pregnancy. This includes using proper bloodlines and a superior pedigree. Minimizing hereditary health complications and producing consistent litters can be very profitable, as these dogs are expensive.
Average Litter Size
German Shorthaired Pointer’s average litter size ranges from 8 to 12 puppies. But, smaller or larger litters are not uncommon. Their litter size is better than other breeds their size. This is great news for breeders: they can definitely reap more profits with larger litters.
Obviously, the size of the breed constrains its litter size. The German Shorthaired Pointer is a medium-sized breed.
Usually, there aren’t many birthing problems with GSPs. Females have two uterus horns and whelp pups in pairs. It is not uncommon for females to rest while birthing. In nature, female German Shorthaired Pointers would dig a den to give birth in. You should make sure your bitch has a private and cozy place to give birth in.
In some cases, the age factor may make giving birth stressful. Sometimes, a large puppy may block the birth channel. If the bitch is restless and in pain, wait one hour before intervening. There is no set rule, but the seriousness of the situation can be judged by how stressed out the mother is. In serious cases, you should be at the vet’s clinic.
How much do German Shorthaired Pointers cost?
Pedigree German Shorthaired Pointers for sale cost anywhere between $1,300 to $5,500. A run-of-the-mill pointer with no proper paperwork will cost about $700.
A German Shorthaired Pointer’s price can vary greatly. But, GSPs associated with certain factors will fetch a much higher price. These factors are:
- proper documentation
- association to a superior pedigree
- superior bloodlines
- belonging to reputable kennels
Once a breeder starts producing healthy and consistent pedigree litters, they can sell each puppy for thousands of dollars. Imagine how much money a litter of 8 to 12 puppies would bring in! Breeders that tick all the boxes can make a lot of money!
Is a German shorthaired pointer a good family dog?
German Shorthaired Pointers are friendly, kind, non-aggressive towards humans, and obedient. Taking these dogs out for exercise, or even spending time indoors can be incredibly rewarding. Moreover, they are loyal and very protective. Therefore, GSPs make excellent watchdogs.
Are German shorthaired pointers hard to train?
German Shorthaired Pointers are moderately difficult to train. They may not be able to focus easily. Consistent efforts can be very effective with German Shorthaired Pointers. Good training is essential for GSPs to be good family dogs. They are highly energetic dogs. If not trained properly, they can get into destructive behaviors.
Moreover, early socialization is very important. If not given proper attention, they can get anxious and anti-social when they grow up. But socialized early on are very amiable as they grow up.
How much exercise do GSPs need?
German Shorthaired Pointers are very energetic dogs. They are physically active and need lots of exercise. here are a few activities for your dog:
- dog walks
- decoy training
- retrieving training
- agility training
You can also take your GSP to the woods for a walk. You can also use bird scented dummies while you’re there. Basically, anything that requires running is good for your GSP. These dogs need at least 1 to 2 hours of exercise every day. Otherwise, they start showing destructive behaviors.
Breeding German Shorthaired Pointers, if done right, can be a very rewarding business. These dogs bring in good money, and superior bloodlines give a good name to the kennel. Moreover, they are perhaps one of the most versatile breeds. These dogs are intelligent, friendly, obedient, and non-aggressive if trained well. Moreover, they make excellent work dogs.
While German Shorthaired Pointers are susceptible to a number of health complications, most of them are manageable. Therefore, these dogs can live long and healthy lives. They do require a lot of attention. GSPs not socialized and trained can become shy, and unsociable.