Selecting a German Shorthaired Pointer

Choosing a German Shorthaired Pointer

The German shorthaired pointer is an excellent hunting dog with many loyal fans. A truly man-made breed, this dog it thought to have assisted hunters since the 17th century.

History and Origin

As the name implies, the German shorthaired pointer originated in Germany and may have been around since the 1600s. German hunters were longing for a highly intelligent hunting dog with excellent scenting powers. To achieve the perfect hunting companion, German hunters crossed the old Spanish pointer with bloodhounds, resulting in the German shorthaired pointer we know today. By 1872, the breed was registered in the German Kennel Club Stud Book.

Since his development, the German shorthaired pointer has been used as a bird dog and retriever. This breed is one of the best hunting dogs around and over the years has been used to hunt rabbits, birds, duck and even larger game. The popularity of the breed continued to grow and eventually, the German shorthaired pointer was imported to other countries. By the 1920s, a significant number of German shorthaired pointers had arrived in the United States. By 1930, the German shorthaired pointer was accepted in the sporting group of the American Kennel Club.

Today, the German shorthaired pointer is more popular in the United States and Great Britain than he is in his home country. In Germany, the German wirehaired pointer, a separate breed from the shorthaired pointer, is more popular.

Appearance and Size

The German shorthaired pointer is a medium-sized dog with webbed feet and a water repellant coat. The breed has a long muzzle and clean cut head. The ears are wide, set high on the head and lie flat. The ears should never hang away from the head. The shoulders are sloped and well muscled. The thighs are also well muscled. The back is short and firm, and the tail is usually docked to 40 percent of its natural length.

The coat of the German shorthaired pointer is short and thick. The color is often solid brown, liver or white. It can also be patches of liver and white or ticked (small flecking with a white background). Although they look similar, the wirehaired pointer and the shorthaired pointer are two separate breeds.

An adult German shorthaired pointer stands about 20 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weighs 50 to 80 pounds.


The German shorthaired pointer is an active and energetic breed that thrives on activity. Loyal and affectionate, the German shorthaired pointer is eager to please. This breed tends to become hopelessly devoted to his family and has a potential to become overly attached.

Home and Family Relations

This dog is a great companion and good family pet for the active family. This is not the dog for a couch potato. The German shorthaired pointer craves exercise and activity. In fact, this dog is a great companion for the jogging enthusiast in the family. An affectionate and generally even-tempered dog, he can do well with children if exposed to them early in life. This pointer loves nothing better than participating in fun games or hunting through the day and then curling up on the sofa at night. One important aspect of the German shorthaired pointer is that he must be made part of the family. He has to feel part of the group and many do not do well in kennels.

Due to their need for exercise and activity, the German shorthaired pointer does not do well when confined in an apartment. The breed needs space and must have a fenced yard in which to play.


The German shorthaired pointer has a short hair coat and requires little grooming. Weekly wiping with a wet towel will keep this breed clean and shiny.


The German shorthaired pointer is an intelligent dog and is highly trainable but can be stubborn. Firm, fair and consistent training is required. If trained properly, this pointer can excel in obedience and hunting. This breed has a natural guarding instinct and must have at least basic obedience training.

Special Care

This breed is relatively easy to care for but absolutely must have daily exercise. If left to his own devices, the German shorthaired pointer will find something to do and it is usually destructive.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the German shorthaired pointer is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

Gastric torsion (bloat) is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.

Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.

Hot spots are areas of itchy moist skin irritation.

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately. Without enough thyroid hormone, illness can occur.

Otitis externa is an infection of the ears.

Lick granuloma is considered a behavioral disorder and can occur in response to a variety of stressors.

In addition, although these occur infrequently, the following disorders have also been reported:

Cataracts cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.

Von Willebrand’s Disease is a disorder that results in the inability to clot blood. Affected animals will bleed extensively following trauma or surgery.

Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.

Melanoma is a specific type of cancer that is often malignant.

The average life span of the German shorthaired pointer is 12 to 14 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.