Get to the point: An in-depth look at the German shorthaired pointer
The vet’s office
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Do you have an active, busy lifestyle and want a dog to keep up with you? The German shorthaired pointer (GSP) may be the dog for you. The breed standard describes a “friendly, intelligent, and willing to please” dog with “a keen enthusiasm for work.” This enthusiasm comes with high energy, so these dogs need a job like hunting, agility, obedience, or even just jogging.
Pointing dogs were first recorded in the 13th century. In the 17th century, air scenting (“gun”) dogs were separated from the tracking spaniels. During this time, countries and states were in flux, so these gun dogs were spread throughout Europe. Once Germany became more stable in the 1850s, refinement of their pointing dogs began. The breed standard started to take form in 1879, but breed evolution continued.
The GSP in Germany was almost decimated with the two World Wars. Most lines in East Germany were completely lost. However, the breed was brought over to the U.S. in the 1920s and perpetuated in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The American Kennel Club welcomed the GSP in 1930, and the breed standard has undergone only a few changes since 1946.
GSPs’ “grace of outline, clean-cut head, sloping shoulders, deep chest, powerful back, strong quarters, good bone composition, adequate muscle, well carried tail, and taut coat produce a look of nobility and indicate a heritage of purposefully conducted breeding.” Often called elegant, their muscular necks “slope downwards on beautifully curving lines.” The dark eyes are “of medium size, full of intelligence and expression, good-humored and yet radiating energy.”
As the names states, GSPs have a short, dense coat. Despite the similar names, the GSP, the German wirehaired pointer, and the German longhaired pointer were all developed independently with only a few common ancestors. GSPs only have a few accepted colors adding to their already unique profile. They can be solid liver, liver with white flecks, liver roan, or white with liver patches.
A generally healthy breed, there are some things to consider when getting a puppy. GSPs can develop hip and elbow dysplasia, so parents with good conformation are important. “Day blindness” is a rare genetic disease to watch for as well. GSPs can be born with certain heart defects or blood clotting disorders such as von Willebrand’s disease. Epilepsy causing seizures has been diagnosed in some GSPs. As with most breeds, cancer is always a concern. With their deep chests, stomach bloat and torsion can be a deadly problem.
Just like in school, doing your homework and asking questions will pay off in the long run when finding your new, active best friend.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.