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German Shorthaired Pointer - History and Health

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
German Shorthaired Pointer


Little documentation about the origin of the German Shorthaired Pointer existed before the Klub Kurzhaar Stud Book was formed in the 1870s, although certainly German hunters spent many years before then breeding for a versatile, obedient, all-around dog. The early Shorthairs descended from the German Bird Dog, the old Spanish Pointer and local German scent-hounds, track and trail dogs, gun dogs and water dogs that varied widely in appearance. These early pointers were rather heavy-bodied and slow. Starting in the late 1880s and continuing throughout the 1900s, German breeders successfully refined the GSP to stamp in a keen intelligence and an elegant, more refined dog with improved stance, style and scenting skills. Through selective breeding that included crosses with the English Pointer, itself a mixture of the Spanish Pointer and Foxhound, they also were able to rid the breed of its aversion to water and lack of aggressiveness towards predators and prey.

American sportsmen enthusiastically welcomed the German Shorthaired Pointer to this country starting in the early 1900s, and it remains popular today. According to the American Kennel Club: “It is indeed rare to find wrapped up in one package a staunchly pointing bird dog; a keen-nosed night trailer; a proven duck dog; a natural retriever on land and water, with pleasing conformation and markings and great powers of endurance; and an intelligent family watchdog and companion.” Today, German Shorthaired Pointers are used to flush and hunt pheasant, quail, grouse, partridge, jacksnipe, woodcock, duck, rabbits, raccoons and possums. They also are used to trail and hold at bay deer and other larger game. Their naturally water-repellant coat and webbed feet enable them to work well in rough terrain and icy water. Their versatility is summed by a hunters’ saying: “If you can’t find anything with a Shorthair, there’s nothing there.” The German Shorthaired Pointer boasts one of the most dual championships (field trial and show) of any breed in the United States.


The average life expectancy for the GSP is between 12 and 14 years. Breed health concerns may include bloat, central diabetes insipidus, cleft palate, cranial cruciate ligament rupture (CCL or ACL), epilepsy, eye problems, hereditary lupoid dermatosis, oropharyngeal neoplasia and nasal cavity tumors, von Willebrand disease and XX sex reversal.

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