German Shorthaired Pointer
The German Shorthaired Pointer, also known as the Deutsher Kurzhaariger Vorstehhund, the Deutsch Kurzhaar, the Kurzhaar and the GSP, is an energetic, intelligent breed that enjoys having a job to do but also thrives as a human companion with a strong desire to please. Potential owners of this breed should be aware of its high energy and intelligence, traits which contribute to its need for vigorous daily exercise and regular mental stimulation to alleviate boredom. The GSP also has a strong hunting instinct and must be trained to learn that cats, birds and other small animals are not acceptable prey.
The German Shorthaired Pointer was admitted to the American Kennel Club's Stud Book in 1930. The first AKC-licensed specialty show for German Shorthairs was held by the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America at the 1941 International Kennel Club show in Chicago, and the first AKC-licensed field trial for the breed was held by the parent club in Minnesota in 1944. The GSP is a member of the American Kennel Club's Sporting Group.
Mature male German Shorthairs should stand 23 to 25 inches at the withers, and females should be 21 to 23 inches in height. Dogs should weigh between 55 and 70 pounds, while bitches should weigh 45 to 60 pounds. Their short, thick double coat is easy to care for and must be liver or liver-and-white, often with speckling, under the American Kennel Club standard, although solid black and black-and-white with or without ticking are permitted in some registries. The German Shorthaired Pointer's tail is traditionally docked shortly after birth. Its soft, floppy ears should be cleaned on a regular basis and checked frequently for signs of infection or foreign material.
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.
Bred to be versatile hunting dogs, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a much a loving family companion as he is a focused field assistant. GSP's love to be with people and are happiest when outdoors among friends. This breed is excellent with kids, though toddlers may get knocked over by a well meaning dog, so play should always be supervised. They are excellent watchdogs, and can be counted on to bark when there is a person approaching the home. Their bark is not aggressive, however, it's simply an alert. For an active, outdoorsy family, the German Shorthaired Pointer is an ideal choice.
One to two hours of vigorous outdoor exercise is a minimum for this energetic breed. They experience an extended puppyhood and adult GSP's are just as bouncy and rowdy as puppies, so burning off excess energy is a must. Couch potatoes and apartment dwellers are not an appropriate match for a Shorthaired Pointer, as confinement quickly leads to anxiety and destructiveness.
Hunting is their favorite activity and they can spend an entire day in the field acting as trackers, pointers and retrievers. Hunters value them for their independent nature, and their instincts are inborn, so they require very little training in the field.
Their webbed feet makes them efficient water retrievers, and these dogs love to swim. Hikes around lakes or rivers are the German Shorthaired Pointer's idea of heaven and will retrieve sticks from the water as long as someone is willing to toss them. They can keep up on jogs and bike rides and are excellent at catching frisbees.
When outdoors, it is important that the Pointer be kept on a leash or in a fenced in yard. They are chasers and will take off like a shot after birds, cats or other small animals. Fences should be at least six feet high and be well rooted below the ground. Pointers can leap higher than you might think, and if leaping doesn't work, they'll resort to digging in order to get out and search for adventure.
German Shorthaired Pointers can be difficult to train. They pick up hunting commands quickly, but basic household obedience is a completely different story. They are distracted by every sight, sound and smell and if they catch something interesting it can be nearly impossible to get them re-focused on the task at hand. Training should be conducted early and sessions should be kept short. Positive reinforcement and a gentle but always consistent hand are the keys to training a GSP.
Separation Anxiety is common among this people-oriented breed. They attach themselves deeply to their family and become easily depressed when left alone. They express this through chewing, digging and excessive barking. Providing German Shorthaired Pointers with enough physical activity to tire them out can stave off anxiousness, but they are generally best suited for families with a stay at home parent or for those who don't work long hours.
While Shorthaired Pointers are generally easy going creatures, they should not be trusted around cats or small dogs. Their desire to chase will overcome them at some point, even if they are raised alongside these smaller animals. Males can sometimes exhibit aggression toward other male dogs, so if you have a male GSP, any other dogs brought into the home should be female.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a versatile hunter, an all-purpose gun dog capable of high performance in field and water. The judgement of Shorthairs in the show ring reflects this basic characteristic. The overall picture which is created in the observer's eye is that of an aristocratic, well balanced, symmetrical animal with conformation indicating power, endurance and agility and a look of intelligence and animation. The dog is neither unduly small nor conspicuously large. It gives the impression of medium size, but is like the proper hunter, "with a short back, but standing over plenty of ground." Symmetry and field quality are most essential. A dog in hard and lean field condition is not to be penalized; however, overly fat or poorly muscled dogs are to be penalized. A dog well balanced in all points is preferable to one with outstanding good qualities and defects. 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. Further evidence of this heritage is movement which is balanced, alertly coordinated and without wasted motion.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Size--height of dogs, measured at the withers, 23 to 25 inches. Height of bitches, measured at the withers, 21 to 23 inches. Deviations of one inch above or below the described heights are to be severely penalized. Weight of dogs 55 to 70 pounds. Weight of bitches 45 to 60 pounds. Proportion--measuring from the forechest to the rearmost projection of the rump and from the withers to the ground, the Shorthair is permissibly either square or slightly longer than he is tall. Substance--thin and fine bones are by no means desirable in a dog which must possess strength and be able to work over any type of terrain. The main importance is not laid so much on the size of bone, but rather on the bone being in proper proportion to the body. Bone structure too heavy or too light is a fault. Tall and leggy dogs, dogs which are ponderous because of excess substance, doggy bitches, and bitchy dogs are to be faulted.
The head is clean-cut, is neither too light nor too heavy, and is in proper proportion to the body. The eyes are of medium size, full of intelligence and expression, good-humored and yet radiating energy, neither protruding nor sunken. The eye is almond shaped, not circular. The preferred color is dark brown. Light yellow eyes are not desirable and are a fault. Closely set eyes are to be faulted. China or wall eyes are to be disqualified. The ears are broad and set fairly high, lie flat and never hang away from the head. Their placement is just above eye level. The ears when laid in front without being pulled, should extend to the corner of the mouth. In the case of heavier dogs, the ears are correspondingly longer. Ears too long or fleshy are to be faulted. The skull is reasonably broad, arched on the side and slightly round on top. Unlike the Pointer, the median line between the eyes at the forehead is not too deep and the occipital bone is not very conspicuous. The foreface rises gradually from nose to forehead. The rise is more strongly pronounced in the dog than in the bitch. The jaw is powerful and the muscles well developed. The line to the forehead rises gradually and never has a definite stop as that of the Pointer, but rather a stop-effect when viewed from the side, due to the position of the eyebrows. The muzzle is sufficiently long to enable the dog to seize game properly and be able to carry it for a long time. A pointed muzzle is not desirable. The depth is in the right proportion to the length, both in the muzzle and in the skull proper. The length of the muzzle should equal the length of skull. A dish-shaped muzzle is a fault. A definite Pointer stop is a serious fault. Too many wrinkles in the forehead is a fault. The nose is brown, the larger the better, and with nostrils well opened and broad. A spotted nose is not desirable. A flesh colored nose disqualifies. The chops fall away from the somewhat projecting nose. Lips are full and deep yet are never flewy. The teeth are strong and healthy. The molars intermesh properly. The bite is a true scissors bite. A perfect level bite is not desirable and must be penalized. Extreme overshot or undershot disqualifies.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is of proper length to permit the jaws reaching game to be retrieved, sloping downwards on beautifully curving lines. The nape is rather muscular, becoming gradually larger toward the shoulders. Moderate throatiness is permitted. The skin is close and tight. The chest in general gives the impression of depth rather than breadth; for all that, it is in correct proportion to the other parts of the body. The chest reaches down to the elbows, the ribs forming the thorax show a rib spring and are not flat or slabsided; they are not perfectly round or barrel-shaped. The back ribs reach well down. The circumference of the thorax immediately behind the elbows is smaller than that of the thorax about a hand's breadth behind elbows, so that the upper arm has room for movement. Tuck-up is apparent. The back is short, strong, and straight with a slight rise from the root of the tail to the withers. The loin is strong, is of moderate length, and is slightly arched. An excessively long, roached or swayed back must be penalized. The hips are broad with hip sockets wide apart and fall slightly toward the tail in a graceful curve. A steep croup is a fault. The tail is set high and firm, and must be docked, leaving approximately 40% of its length. The tail hangs down when the dog is quiet and is held horizontally when he is walking. The tail must never be curved over the back toward the head when the dog is moving. A tail curved or bent toward the head is to be severely penalized.
The shoulders are sloping, movable, and well covered with muscle. The shoulder blades lie flat and are well laid back nearing a 45 degree angle. The upper arm (the bones between the shoulder and elbow joint) is as long as possible, standing away somewhat from the trunk so that the straight and closely muscled legs, when viewed from the front, appear to be parallel. Elbows which stand away from the body or are too close result in toes turning inwards or outwards and must be faulted. Pasterns are strong, short and nearly vertical with a slight spring. Loose, short-bladed or straight shoulders must be faulted. Knuckling over is to be faulted. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed. The feet are compact, close-knit and round to spoon-shaped. The toes are sufficiently arched and heavily nailed. The pads are strong, hard and thick.
Thighs are strong and well muscled. Stifles are well bent. Hock joints are well angulated and strong with straight bone structure from hock to pad. Angulation of both stifle and hock joint is such as to achieve the optimal balance of drive and traction. Hocks turn neither in nor out. Cowhocked legs are a serious fault.
The hair is short and thick and feels tough to the hand; it is somewhat longer on the underside of the tail and the back edges of the haunches. The hair is softer, thinner and shorter on the ears and the head. Any dog with long hair in the body coat is to be severely penalized.
The coat may be of solid liver or a combination of liver and white such as liver and white ticked, liver patched and white ticked, or liver roan. A dog with any area of black, red, orange, lemon or tan, or a dog solid white will be disqualified.
A smooth lithe gait is essential. It is to be noted that as gait increases from the walk to a faster speed, the legs converge beneath the body. The tendency to single track is desirable. The forelegs reach well ahead as if to pull in the ground without giving the appearance of a hackney gait. The hindquarters drive the back legs smoothly and with great power.
The Shorthair is friendly, intelligent, and willing to please. The first impression is that of a keen enthusiasm for work without indication of nervous or flightly character.
China or wall eyes.
Flesh colored nose.
Extreme overshot or undershot.
A dog with any area of black, red, orange, lemon, or tan, or a dog solid white.
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Sources: American Kennel Club