That’s the word which comes to mind when asked to describe this breed. Add to that: athletic, intelligent, sensitive, out-going, and people-oriented and you begin to get the flavor of this special breed.
Is this a dog for everyone?
No! This is a dog which can do well in a city yard or on an expansive ranch only if it is trained and has access to its human family. The breed was developed as a close, versatile hunting dog and home companion. Equally dependable in finding game and protecting home and hearth, this breed was bred to work and live closely with their human partners. We at Lieb’lhof TopGun Shorthairs have coined a term to describe that relationship: “Velcro Companions.” Their high intelligence makes them easily trainable, but also tends to mischief-making when ignored.
In appearance, the Shorthair should exhibit an athletic, lithe, deep-chested outline. The head and expression is handsome and denotes intelligence and interest. The muzzle is usually equally as long as the skull, and does not give the impression of pointedness. The lips are soft and overlap the lower jaw slightly, giving a rectangular outline. Coloring is just about any combination of liver (a deep brown) and white. The dark head and ears may sport a blaze or be solid-colored. Body color can be a range from white to speckled to roan (mixed liver and white hairs), with or without patch, or it may be solid liver (usually with some white on chest or toes.)
A Shorthair’s movement is easy, athletic and enthusiastic. They revel in activity that is directed and shared by their human partner. They do well in field work, obedience and show ring, agility, and water work. As with any breed, they do best when trained early and worked often. As a companlon, they are loyal and protective, loving and affectionate. They are clean, easily-groomed and great travelers.
To fully enjoy ownership of a German Shorthair, you need to commit to a lifestyle which includes this dog as a family member, and travelling companion. We highly recommend planned activities which develop this breed’s notable talents, just as you plan to develop the talents of the children in your family. Providing outlets for their intelligence and abilities insures that they will become secure and happy in their environment.
IS A GSP THE RIGHT DOG FOR YOU?
Ute Wullkotte, Former National GSP Rescue Chair
Now that a GSP has won Best of Show at Westminster, there will no doubt be a lot of well-meaning people interested in owning one. If you are one of these people, please read the following before you move forward with your decision. Despite what you saw on TV, this breed can be a handful, and is definitely not one that should be left alone for most of the day while you and the family are elswhere.
GSPs have so much energy they live about a foot off the floor for the first two or three years of their life. If you don’t have the time for them, get a Lab or some other laid-back breed… or you might be sorry. And there will be one more GSP living in a crate 24/7 at the rescue center. Please, please, please, put yourself in the dog’s position — think before you make such an important decision.
It is a special time in your life. You are considering adopting a displaced GSP, or acquiring a GSP from a reputable breeder, and making it part of your family. You have decided to welcome a new dog into your home, making it part of your family and your life. This is a lifetime commitment that, like any relationship, should not be taken lightly and can present its share of challenges.
Many things should be considered and many questions asked prior to selecting the breed and dog that would be appropriate for you, your family and your lifestyle:
• Why do I want a dog?
• Does my family want a dog?
• What am I looking for in a dog?
• Will I have the time it requires?
• The facilities it needs?
• How large will it get?
• How much maintenance will it need?
• What are its characteristics?
• How will it deal with strangers (both human and animal)?
• How difficult and how necessary will training be?
These are just a few of the many questions that should be considered before selecting the breed and dog that is best suited to you, your family and your lifestyle. German Shorthaired Pointers (GSPs) are not the breed for everyone. They certainly are not for the faint of heart or weak of spirit! They are a special breed with specific needs.
GSPs were originally bred with several definite goals in mind: A versatile, tireless hunting dog capable of hunting feathered and furred game, pointing or treeing as necessary, retrieving to hand over land or water, and tracking wounded game. A dog capable of dispatching predators. A dog who is a loving, loyal family companion and hearth-warmer. A vigilant watchdog capable of guarding his home and family. All of these goals and more have been achieved in the German Shorthaired Pointer. These same goals highlight many issues that should be considered prior to choosing a GSP as your companion.
GSPs retain a puppy level of energy throughout their lives. They require physical and mental stimuli to help keep this energy at a manageable level. A family with an active lifestyle geared toward activities that would include the dog is ideal. Access to areas with plenty of room for running, such as the home property, the park, the woods, etc., is beneficial. Devoting necessary time to fulfill a GSP’s drive to “work” and learn through training and play and to satisfy its need for human companionship is essential. A sense of humor should be a prerequisite for any future GSP owner. A GSP can be quite mischievous and its pranks often not appreciated by humans.
While GSPs are generally great with kids, care must be exercised around small children. A GSP’s eagerness and playfulness could at times lead to unintentional injuries. (Note: Proper introduction of children to any canine, regardless of breed, and teaching children appropriate behavior around dogs in general, is essential. To NEVER leave any dog unattended with an infant should be an absolute.) GSPs can be protective of their home and their humans. As a very social and human friendly breed, the GSP loves to be around people and activity, and handles this well, assuming it has been properly socialized. The tendency to protect territory and “pack” can be present in some GSPs more than others. We recommend you not encourage this trait should it exist.
GSPs are hunters. This does not mean they would be unhappy in a non-hunting home. It does, however, mean that other avenues to direct their energies may have to be found. GSPs get bored very easily if not kept busy. They are very inquisitive and can be quite inventive when entertaining themselves. Unfortunately, many things they consider fun (such as playing with all the neat toys in the kitchen garbage can, unspooling toilet paper, digging in the flowerbed, jumping or climbing fences, shredding pillows or furniture, and the list goes on) we consider destructive.
GSPs are very people oriented, sometimes to the point of being clingy (following your every step around the house, for example). They thrive upon human interaction and need it to be truly happy. They do best, whether hunting, competing, or just kept as companions, if allowed to live as a part of the family unit as a housedog rather than a yard or kennel dog.
GSPs are, by nature, often not very amicable with cats and other small furry or feathery pets. They can be trained to leave them alone and share home space, but their hunting instinct may interfere at times. When raised with such creatures, GSPs often do well. However, caution should always be used with any other small pet companions such as cats, rabbits, gerbils, birds, and some toy breed dogs.
The GSP and its owner will both benefit from obedience and other types of training. A GSP’s intelligence and independent-mindedness can often lead to pitfalls if not planned for. Many GSPs can be counted on to ignore commands if it doesn’t feel that obeying the command is the proper thing to do at that point in time. Training shapes the GSP, teaching it both control and confidence in obeying commands. They thrive upon structure and leadership, instinctively realizing the need for this. GSPs tend to be easily trained, as they are a very biddable breed. As a working breed, they literally love and need to work.
None of the breed’s characteristics are insurmountable obstacles. The key to success lies in realizing that these characteristics can exist and being prepared to deal with them. GSPs are very keen and will learn a variety of tasks presented to them. They are not only known as great hunting companions and accomplished Field Trial and Hunt Test Competitors, but have done well in the show ring, obedience and agility trials, Search and Rescue (SAR), bomb and drug detection, sledding, and as human patient therapy dogs.
To many GSP owners the most revered attribute of this breed certainly is the unwavering devotion and loyalty they bestow upon their human companions. They truly are a man’s best friend.
Patte of CheckSix Shorthairs:
So, you saw Westminster and watched the GSP win Best in Show and now you think you want a Shorthair. Let’s cut to the chase…they don’t come in a package like you saw on T.V. any more than the ThighMaster hidden under your bed is going to give you thighs like Suzanne Somers. They start out as cute little puppies that turn into something akin to a teenager on speed.
If (and it’s a big “IF”) you are lucky to get one well-bred that comes from stock, with health clearances, and has been socialized, you’re still not ahead of the game. It doesn’t mean they will be easy to train or live with it, it just means you won’t be adding a new wing to your vet’s existing office building.
They are bright, creative clowns that are always one step ahead of you, enticing you to catch them, if you can. They can dismantle a room, rearrange your furniture and do some creative gardening in less than five seconds. Anything that moves or flits about is fair game and the quickest way to reach it is a straight line regardless if it is across the furniture or through your favorite flower bed. Anything left on the floor becomes theirs to be appropriately investigated via a good chewing or tug of war with whoever decides to pick up the other end, and one swift counter surf can take care of anything not previously found on the floor.
They will eat anything that doesn’t bite them first and, depending upon the circumstances, will either barf, fart or both, depending on who is there to witness. If you have small children, they will collide with them in ways that are beyond the imagination. Add another dog or cat to the equation and you have organized chaos.
To add insult to injury they live longer than you have the energy to get the best of them, and in their golden years have you waiting on them hand and foot, catering to their every whim. Training them in any particular venue only adds to the excitement and increases the odds that a root canal without anesthesia is something you would to look forward to experiencing.
The truth is:
GSPs are great dogs but NOT for everyone.
This is a dog which can do well in a city yard or on an expansive ranch only if it is trained and has access to its human family. The breed was developed as a close, versatile hunting dog and home companion. Equally dependable in finding game and protecting home and hearth, this breed was bred to work and live closely with their human partners. We have coined a term to describe that relationship: “Velcro Companions.” Their high intelligence makes them easily trainable, but also tends to mischief-making when ignored…
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Consider adopting a GSP rather than buying one from a breeder.
We encourage ‘rescue’ as the responsible and honorable way to acquire a companion, whether for hunting or as a house pet. The last year has been very hard times for GSP rescuers confronted with 200+ dogs in need and just one local GSP Club whose membership supports rescue, training and education….
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The link below will give you more insight into living with a GSP:
If you have specific questions about GSPs, please contact us.