The Ultimate German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy Ownership Guide

12 minute read By Lucy Hughes
Reviewed by: Pawrade Team
May 31, 2024

Brown German Shorthaired Pointer mama and puppy

If you hear something is an “iconic symbol of versatility and resilience” and “blends expert craftsmanship with intelligent functionality,” you may wonder if we’re talking about a Swiss Army Knife, the catch-all knife ready to serve in all situations. While you may be correct, it could also describe a German Shorthaired Pointer! 

Also known as the Deutsch Kurzhaar and shortened to GSP, this sporting gun dog was developed in Germany to be the perfect hunting dog and companion at home praised for its versatility in both the field and front yard. The breed was named the “Everyuse Dog” as early as 1929 in an American Kennel Gazette article, calling German Shorthaired Pointers “the greatest all-around dog ever produced.”

German Shorthaired Pointer puppies are friendly, smart, and eager to please. Find out what it’s like to be the owner of an athletic, versatile German Shorthaired Pointer.

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Members of the German Shorthair Club of Washington

The History and Origin of German Shorthaired Pointer Puppies

To understand the history of German Shorthaired Pointers, one has to look back to the Kingdom of Prussia in modern-day Germany. The kingdom was full of huge fields and forests rich in resources, but only nobles, kings, and aristocrats were allowed to own land and hunt various animals for centuries. They utilized pointing dogs known by various names such as “net dog” and “quail dog” to help hunters capture prey. The name “setter” comes from the pointer dog “setting,” or sitting, next to the prey waiting on the hunter.

In the mid-1800s, political and economic changes shifted the power of who had access to the land, and more people found themselves with privileges previously reserved for the powerful and wealthy. Merchants, professionals, and other members of the middle class gained the means to acquire or rent land for hunting purposes. 

Now that more people were able to pursue game, hunters wished to develop a new breed of pointing dog meant to assist in hunting waterfowl and other birds, wild boar, deer, foxes, rabbits, and wildcats. German hunters went on foot in contrast with English hunters riding horses, so the dog had to be in tune with hunters. They wanted a dog with a keen sense of smell that could retrieve fallen game in water and on land without maiming it, was courageous and bold, and remained on point at game until hunters arrived. The group of hunters also wished to develop a companion and protection dog after the hunt ended, and of course, look aristocratic as a German dog. 

The quest for the perfect native German pointer continued into the 1860s. Their efforts had resulted in different dogs that were excellent in specialized areas, but they hadn’t created the total package yet. When hunters bred their dogs with English pointers to improve their function, appearance, and temperament, they finally produced a dog matching all the desired qualities instead of just an unreliable few from past breed mixing. Their new breed had such strong ideal traits that they are among the top-winning breeds in competitive hunting trials today.

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Bradley Cooper and Samson

The late 1800s and after World War II were periods of popularity for the new German Shorthaired Pointer. They debuted in the AKC Sporting Group in 1935. Massive efforts to save GSPs during World War II included sending them to other countries to preserve the breed, and people caught on the versatility of German Shorthaired Pointers, making them great pets and sporting dogs. Hunting clubs around the world with devoted members furthered their popularity. Today, German Shorthaired Pointers remain a popular breed, coming in at #10 on the AKC’s list of Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2023 between the Rottweiler and Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Famous German Shorthaired Pointer owners have included singer Tim McGraw and actor Bradley Cooper. 

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Physical Characteristics of German Shorthaired Pointers

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a noble, medium-sized dog with an aristocratic air. It has a sturdy, sleek, well-balanced physique with sloping shoulders, muscular legs, a strong back, and floppy ears. Their almond-shaped eyes have a friendly, inquisitive expression. German Shorthaired Pointers move smoothly and gracefully with their purposeful gait. 

As their name suggests, German Shorthaired Pointers do indeed have short hair that moderately sheds, but you won’t be making fur bunnies out of their shed hair. Their unique coats come in solid or combinations of liver (a reddish-brown color), black, roan, or white with or without distinctive ticked and patched patterns. 

As medium-sized dogs, German Shorthaired Pointers thrive in various living situations from the farm to an apartment if they have enough opportunities for exercise. Female German Shorthaired Pointers stand 21-23 in. and weigh 45-60 lbs. as adults. Males are a bit larger than females, standing 23-25 in. tall and weighing 55-70 lbs. 

In addition to their sleek, agile physique, German Shorthaired Pointers have webbed feet, another physical feature contributing to their status as the perfect hunting dog prepared for all terrains. Their webbed feet help them slog through wetlands, swim across rivers, and romp through creeks and back onto dry land again, their thick paw pads ready for any environment. 

German Shorthaired Pointers are born with long tails, but many owners opt to have the tail docked to about 40% in length. However, tail docking is a common practice only in North America.

How Active Are German Shorthaired Pointers? 

If you remember the Energizer Bunny commercials, German Shorthaired Pointers keep going, and going, and going! These high-energy dogs are wired to spend hours (and sometimes even days) out in nature pursuing game and waterfowl. Their elegant, athletic bodies were bred to move powerfully yet gracefully.  

A German Shorthaired Pointer will need a dedicated time for exercise every single day totaling 1-2 hours. While it can be split, a long session is still needed to get out all that energy and keep them healthy. An active individual or family with time to devote to a GSP’s exercise needs would be the best type of owner to satisfy their exercise requirements, as they will not do well in households with a sedentary lifestyle. 

If a GSP does not get enough exercise, you will run the risk of undesirable behaviors, such as chewing, barking, digging, or other destructive behavior. Because their noses have such an amazing ability to track prey, they should not be left off-leash without an enclosed area – even if you’ve been working on the recall command.

Your exercise choices with your German Shorthaired Pointer do not have to be the same walk around the block! As versatile dogs, GSPs enjoy a wide range of activities for exercise. Here are some ways to keep your German Shorthaired Pointer active

  • Rally
  • Hiking
  • Agility
  • Fly ball
  • Running
  • Fetching
  • Swimming
  • Scent work
  • Dock diving
  • Hunting trials 
  • Visits to the dog park 

In addition to physical exercise, German Shorthaired Pointers need opportunities for mental stimulation. They are quite intelligent and need to exercise their brains. You can help keep them engaged with activities like puzzle games and interactive toys, introducing new objects, teaching dog tricks to impress your friends, a scent scavenger hunt, and more. 

A tired German Shorthaired Pointer puppy is more likely to be a well-behaved, pleasant snuggle buddy, so make sure to give them what they need to stay fit and healthy.

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What’s the Personality Like of a German Shorthaired Pointer? 

A German Shorthaired Pointer is a hard worker as well as a lover at home. They are up for anything you want to do with them, even if you’re tired (but they won’t be)! Being a German Shorthaired Pointer puppy owner will never be a dull experience. Find out what it’s like to live with a GSP. 

Friendly with children 

German Shorthaired Pointers love children and make active, lively playmates for energetic kids. They do especially well with older children who understand how to play nicely with their family dog. A boisterous German Shorthaired Pointer may be too much with little children, but with any dog, adult supervision is needed for a smooth play session with small kids. 

High social needs

A German Shorthaired pointer is not the best fit for a sedentary family that likes to keep to themselves or people who are gone for a long time every day. GSPs have high social needs and want to be a part of the family. They also love playing with other dogs and are eager to meet people. 

Tenacious and bold

While a German Shorthaired Pointer can be very sweet, they are all business out in the field. Their tenacity shines through during encounters with wild animals, and their tough attitude means they will not back down once prey is spotted. They’re built to withstand angry animals and will boldly approach prey without harming or charging at it, keeping it in sight until hunters arrive. 

Extremely versatile

If you’re looking for a versatile family dog that also excels at pointing, hunting, and setting, the German Shorthaired Pointer checks all the boxes. They work hard, play, hard – and cuddle hard. Unlike other dogs that dominate in one area, a German Shorthaired Pointer dominates in all areas, both outdoors and snuggled up at your feet after a long day of playing.

Training Your German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy 

Training a GSP can be a rewarding experience overall to create a well-behaved dog, but the road to get there may not be as smooth. Because they’re so smart, German Shorthaired Pointer puppies can have a mind of their own and do things their way. Begin training your GSP from Day One, starting with teaching them their name and basic commands like “sit” and “down.” Once they get the hang of it, they’re generally eager to please and enjoy training sessions. After all, they were bred to be the perfect hunting dog and listen well to hunters’ commands. 

Training needs to be an everyday occurrence – do not rely on one class of puppy kindergarten to solve their training needs. When you build up their knowledge of basic commands, you can choose activities that require a higher level of training. 

Activity levels and training go paw-in-paw. German Shorthaired Pointer puppies need to stay active and thrive in a variety of dog sports that require a specific set of training, and you can work on your bond while engaging in fun activities with your German Shorthaired Pointer. A fenced-in yard is a great place to practice commands, as they will follow their noses to an enticing scent if you don’t have a secured spot. 

Socialization is key to a well-rounded German Shorthaired Pointer. Expose them to a variety of people, places, sights, sounds, and experiences to prepare them for any scenario they may encounter. If you have children, it’s important to introduce them at a young age to kids to be a well-behaved family member.

Grooming & Caring For a German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy

As with any puppy, proper grooming and care will help prolong the life of your beloved canine companion. GSPs can live 12-14 years, and there are several things you can do to ensure they live the best life possible. 

Grooming a GSP is easy

Unlike doodle dogs or long-haired dogs, grooming a German Shorthaired Pointer is a breeze. You’ll need a grooming glove or a brush made for short hair and run it through their fur every week or so, checking their skin for lumps, bumps, hot spots, or infections. They’ll only need a bath every 2-3 months or when they develop a doggy odor or get dirty from hunting and playing. 

Cutting your GSP’s nails will help maintain healthy paws and ensure their regal gait stays easy and free. Cleaning their ears and checking for infections is paramount to ear health, as their long, floppy ear folds can trap dirt, water, and bacteria, creating a breeding ground for yeast and bacterial infections. Keep their eyes free of crusty formations, and wipe their faces occasionally.

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Caring for your German Shorthaired Pointer puppy

Practicing preventative care is the best way to catch health issues early. Establish a relationship with a licensed veterinarian and take them to all well visits for vaccinations on a schedule. Feed them a nutritious diet for their height, age, and weight. 

While GSPs are a relatively healthy breed, there are some health concerns of German Shorthaired Pointers you should know about: 

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia occur when the ball and socket don’t develop properly or fit together in the joint. Their bones will grind against each other, resulting in painful movements. 
  • Bloat, or Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is a potentially fatal twisting of the stomach that traps gas, food, or fluid that occurs in dogs with deep chests. It is a severe condition that must be addressed immediately, requiring emergency surgery. 
  • Eye issues like progressive retinal atrophy can cause your puppy to go blind. Regular eye exams will also help prevent cataracts, retinal dysplasia,  ​​entropion, and ectropion.
  • Von Willebrand’s disease in dogs is a genetic blood clotting disorder causing excessive bleeding. Your vet can diagnose it through a blood test and recommend treatment options such as a blood transfusion. 

Pawrade Will Point You Toward the Right German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy

Are you convinced a German Shorthaired Pointer puppy is for you but aren’t sure where to find one? Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone could do all the heavy lifting to conduct a thorough search? 

Pawrade can help! 

We connect buyers like you to our extensive network of German Shorthaired Pointer breeders. We don’t just take anybody – we have a highly selective breeder screening process to ensure we accept the very best responsible breeders. Our breeder partners pledge to uphold our Puppy First Approach where we put the health and well-being of German Shorthaired Pointer puppies above all else. Each GSP puppy comes with a 3-year health guarantee and 30 days of MetLife insurance. We ensure your safety by utilizing a secure platform management system, PetPay, to eliminate any possibility of scams or fraudulent practices. All you have to do is focus on your precious puppy!

Let us help you find the perfect, versatile companion when you browse our German Shorthaired Pointer puppies for sale.  


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Lucy Hughes

Lucy Hughes has been teaching and writing professionally for half her life. She has a passion for helping people choose a puppy and lead an exciting life with their new furry companion. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and her beloved Golden Retriever, Bowie.

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