German Shorthaired Pointer
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|Other names||Deutscher kurzhaariger Vorstehhund|
|Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
The German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) is a medium to large sized breed of dog developed in the 19th century in Germany for hunting. A versatile hunting breed, being an all-purpose gun breed of dog suitable for both land and water, it is streamlined yet powerful with strong legs that make it able to move rapidly and turn quickly. It has moderately long floppy ears set high on the head. Its muzzle is long, broad, and strong, allowing it to retrieve even heavy game. The dog's profile should be straight or strongly Roman nosed; any dished appearance to the profile is incorrect. The eyes are generally brown, with darker eyes being desirable; yellow or "bird of prey" eyes are a fault. The tail is commonly docked, although this is now prohibited in some countries. In the current breed standard the tail is docked at approximately 40% of its length before it curves. In competition the dog is penalized if the tail is curved either up or down while the dog is moving.  When the GSP is in classic point stance, the tail should be held straight out from the body, forming a line with the pointing head and body. Like all German pointers, GSPs have webbed feet. They are known for going after water fowl in the water.
Coat and color
The German Shorthaired Pointer's coat is short and flat with a dense undercoat protected by stiff guard hairs making the coat water resistant and allowing the dog to stay warm in cold weather. This allows the German Shorthaired Pointer to be an agile hunter with high performance in both field and water. The color can be a dark brown, referred to as "liver" (incorrectly as "chocolate" or "chestnut"), black (although any area of black is cause for disqualification in American Kennel Club-sanctioned shows), black roan, white, liver roan, liver and white, or black and white. The American Kennel Club recognizes only a solid liver or liver and white coat. Commonly, the head is a solid or nearly solid color, and the body is speckled or "ticked" with liver and white, sometimes with large patches of solid color called "saddles." Roan coats are also common, with or without patching. Solid liver and solid black coats also occur, often with a small blaze of ticking or white on the chest. While the German standard permits a slight sandy colouring ("Gelber Brand") at the extremities, this colouring is rare, and a dog displaying any yellow colouring is disqualified in AKC and CKC shows. The colouring of the GSP provides camouflage in the winter seasons. The coat can be very glossy if washed.
The temperament of dogs can be affected by different factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. The German Shorthaired Pointer was developed to be a dog suited for family life, as well as a versatile hunter. Therefore its temperament is that of an intelligent, bold, boisterous, eccentric, and characteristically affectionate dog that is cooperative and easily trained. This breed is smart, friendly, willing, and enthusiastic. The GSP is usually good with children, although care should be taken because the breed can be boisterous especially when young. These dogs love interaction with humans and are suitable pets for active families who will give them an outlet for their considerable energy; they must be avidly run multiple times a week. The breed should be socialized, which includes exposure to different people, sights, sounds, and experiences when they are young. This early socializing will help to ensure that your German Shorthaired Pointer puppy will grow up to be a well-rounded dog. An important part of training would be to enroll your dog into a training class. Most German Shorthaired Pointers make excellent watchdogs. The breed generally gets along well with other dogs, though females appear to be much more dominant during interbreed interaction. A strong hunting instinct is correct for the breed, which is not always good for other small pets such as cats or rabbits.
The German Shorthaired Pointer needs plenty of vigorous activity and thrives with lots of exercise and running. This need for exercise, coupled with the breed's natural instinct to hunt, means that training is an absolute necessity. The GSP's distinctly independent character means that any unused energy will likely result in the dog amusing itself, most probably in an undesirable manner.
Failure by the owner to give this active and intelligent dog sufficient exercise and/or proper training can produce a German shorthaired pointer that appears hyperactive or that has destructive tendencies. Thus the breed is not a suitable pet for an inactive home or for inexperienced dog owners. Although these dogs form very strong attachments with their owners, a bored GSP that receives insufficient exercise may feel compelled to exercise himself. These dogs are athletic and can escape from four- to six-foot enclosures with little difficulty. Regular hunting, running, carting, bikejoring, skijoring, mushing, dog scootering or other vigorous activity can alleviate this desire to escape. The natural instinct to hunt may result in the dog hunting alone and sometimes bringing home occasional dead trophies, such as cats, rats, pigeons and other urban animals. In addition to exercise, especially formal hunting, the GSP needs to be taught to distinguish legitimate prey and off limits animals.
Like the other German pointers (the German wirehaired pointer and the less well known German longhaired pointer), the GSP can perform virtually all gun dog roles. It is pointer and retriever, an upland bird dog and water dog. The GSP can be used for hunting larger and more dangerous game. It is an excellent swimmer but also works well in rough terrain. It is tenacious, tireless, hardy, and reliable. German Shorthaired Pointers are proficient with many different types of game and sport, including trailing, retrieving, and pointing pheasant, quail, grouse, waterfowl, raccoons, possum, and even deer.
Most German shorthaired pointers are tough, healthy dogs, but the breed can be subject to a number of hereditary disorders due to their breeding. Some of these health disorders include, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD), pannus, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), epilepsy, skin disorders and cancerous lesions in the mouth, on the skin and other areas of the body. As with other breeds, un-spayed female GSPs are prone to breast cancer. This risk is reduced if they are spayed.
Many factors, like genetics, environment, and diet can all contribute to hip dysplasia, which is a deformity of the hip joint. Not all German shorthaired pointers will develop displasia, but as the disease is determined by multi-genetic factors, only an OFA X-ray and screening by a qualified veterinary practitioner will determine whether the condition is present. No amount of exercise will correct it, and care should be taken to prevent slippage on smooth flooring. In severe cases, surgical correction may be required. Like many other deep-chested dogs, German shorthaired pointers are highly prone to gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat. This is a life-threatening condition, requiring immediate veterinary treatment. GDV occurs especially if the dog is fed one large meal a day, eats rapidly, drinks large amounts of water after eating, or exercises vigorously after eating. In GDV, the stomach distends with gas or air and then twists (torsion), so that the dog is unable to rid the excess air in stomach through burping or vomiting. Also, the normal return of blood to the heart is impeded, causing a drop in blood pressure and the dog will go into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog may die. Some symptoms of GDV are: distended abdomen, excessive salivation, retching without throwing up, restlessness, depression, lethargy, and weakness. Precautions against GVD include: refraining from feeding immediately before or after exercise, feeding several smaller meals throughout the day instead of a single large meal, and avoiding the consumption of large amounts of water with dry food.
As with any other hunting dog, contact with game can cause the spread of fungi and bacteria that can easily colonise in the gums or cause infections on open wounds and small cuts from scratching against plants and bushes during a regular hunting session.
German Shorthaired Pointers along with other sporting dogs requires a lot of exercise and space to run. GSPs have a lot of energy, they are one of the most energetic breeds. Therefore if not given the right amount of attention, they can become bored and destructive. GSPs do not do well left alone all day or if relegated to a kennel without plenty of human interaction.
GSPs are a very clean breed. The short GSP coat needs very little grooming, just occasional brushing. They typically shed constantly. GSPs should be bathed only when needed.
Like all dogs with flop ears, GSP can be prone to ear infections and their ears require regular checking and cleaning.
The GSP has a median lifespan of 9 years in a Danish survey and 12 years in a UK survey. In the UK survey about 1 in 8 lived to >15 years with the longest lived dog living to 17 years.
As the GSP is a medium/large, active breed, the dogs can require considerable food. Older or less active GSPs can also become obese if fed more than suitable for the individual's activity levels. A healthy weight should permit the last two ribs to be felt under the coat and the dog should have a distinct waist or "tuck-up".
Due to the short GSP coat, body heat management is not generally a problem. However, the GSP's high levels of activity require the breed to drink considerable amounts of water to prevent dehydration. Early symptoms of dehydration show itself as thick saliva and urine with an excessively strong and distinct smell.
German Shorthaired pointers are still currently used as versatile hunting and gun dogs. With their high intelligence and athleticism the German Shorthaired Pointer performs well in many AKC sports such as, Agility, Dock Diving, Obedience along with Service Dog work.
The precise origin of the German Shorthaired Pointer is unclear. According to the American Kennel Club, it is likely that the GSP is descended from a breed known as the German Bird Dog, which itself is related to the Old Spanish Pointer introduced to Germany in the 17th century. It is also likely that various German hound and tracking dogs, as well as the English Pointer and the Arkwright Pointer also contributed to the development of the breed. However, as the first studbook was not created until 1870, it is impossible to identify all of the dogs that went into creating this breed. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930.
In art and literature
Thomas Mann's great love for his German Shorthaired is told in the book Bashan and I. Robert B. Parker's most popular mystery series features a Boston detective known only as Spenser who has had a series of three solid-liver German shorthairs, all named Pearl: one who stood with him during a bear charge in his rural youth; one given to his girlfriend by her ex-husband; and the third Pearl, to keep company with Spenser and his girlfriend in their late middle age. Author Parker appears on many of the Spenser dust jackets with a solid-liver GSP male identical to the three incarnations of Pearl in the series.
Rick Bass's ruminations on living and hunting with a German shorthaired pointer in Montana can be found in the book Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had.
Sportswriter Mel Ellis' memoir Run, Rainey, Run, explores the extraordinary relationship he had with an extremely intelligent and versatile hunting German shorthaired pointer.
The 1978 film "Days of Heaven," written and directed by Terrence Malick, features a brief scene of dogs hunting the prairie. The GSP shown is Jocko von Stolzhafen, twice GSP National Champion (Field) and perhaps the best GSP of his era. A year or so later Jocko vanished while running at a training camp, presumably stolen.
The logo of the Westminster Kennel Club is a Pointer, not a German shorthaired pointer, though frequently mistaken for the latter.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to German Shorthaired Pointer.|
- Koshyk, Craig. "The Pointing Dog Breed of the Week: German Shorthaired Pointer". Retrieved October 30, 2015.
- German Shorthaired Pointer at Curlie
- German Shorthaired Pointer working on the field
- German Shorthaired Pointer working in the water
- German Shorthaired Pointer blog with Migle Narbutaite
- "German Shorthaired Pointer" (Video). Dogs 101 Season 2. Animal Planet. August 4, 2013 – via YouTube.