german shorthaired pointer
german shorthaired pointer

Hunting Dog Profile: The Beloved, Athletic German Shorthaired Pointer

Commonly known as the GSP, the German Shorthaired Pointer is one of the most well-loved hunting dogs of all time.

I’ve known many German Shorthaired Pointers throughout my lifetime. And it’s clear that this silly, loving, and wildly energetic Pointer makes an impression wherever they go.

The great marks of the GSP are its high drive for birds, its unmatchable ability to go, and its affectionate and silly personality. As intense as a German Shorthaired Pointer can be in the field, it can also learn to be the ultimate couch dog.

There is something both luxurious and gratuitous in the breed. Nearly everything they do — be it hunting, lazing, sports like skijoring, or loving — is over the top. They are hilarious and curious creatures.

Read on for more about the German Shorthaired Pointer.

The German Shorthaired Pointer, by the Numbers

german shorthaired pointer
(Photo/Jose Almeida)

A medium-to-large-size breed, the GSP can vary in size. Though breed standards state that the dog should be anywhere from 21 to 25 inches long and 40 to 70 pounds, I’ve met petite GSPs that are much smaller, and large GSPs that push 90 to 100 pounds on a healthy day.

They’re typically liver-and-white but can be black-and-white on occasion. However, black-and-whites are typically German and not currently recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Bloodlines can give an inside view of how big your puppy may be; pay attention there. And though there are many GSP breeders out there — it’s the AKC’s 19th most popular dog in the United States — it tends to be a healthier breed than many.

Still, you’ll want to make sure your pup has his hips, elbows, heart, and eyes examined and screened by the breeder. Common health issues like hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and elbow dysplasia can happen.

The German Shorthaired Pointer can live 10 to 12 years or more if healthy. But, their younger years can be marked by an excess of energy. If you don’t have the kind of household that is active enough for a high-octane GSP, better to look at other breeds that are more easily managed.

But, if you’re looking to run, hike, swim, hunt, and cavort with a canine companion, the GSP is a hell of a bundle of energetic perfection.

Hunting With the German Shorthaired Pointer

german shorthaired pointer
(Photo/JL Snader)

It’s not hard to figure out where the GSP originated. It is, of course, a German bird dog. A few hundred years of careful breeding have lent themselves to a dog that is, for many, the ultimate hunting organism.

The GSP has an excellent sense of smell, a very high hunting drive, a will to please, webbed feet (they’re excellent swimmers), and a point that rivals the best of the best. For many German Shorthaired Pointers, their instincts are so high that they simply need a combination of gentle shaping and basic foundational training to be an excellent field companion.

As a pointer, the GSP travels long distances to cover ground and find birds. They’re expected to stay on point and wait for foot hunters to catch up.

E-collars are great tools for training GSPs. And e-collars with GPS capability can help handlers manage the high-speed dogs from afar. These collars can provide a ton of info, like whether the dog is on point, on a scent, or simply at a location out of sight.

GSPs can certainly be a truly versatile hunting dog, though they may need extra training on the waterfowl retrieving side. And though they love to swim, they can get cold easily. It’s a good idea to buy a neoprene vest to help their core temps in cold water or while sitting in a hunting blind.

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Final Thoughts

German Shorthaired Pointers are popular in the hunting realm for a reason: They are badass dogs who can truly do it all. And they love every minute.

Whether you’re looking for a dog breed that can field trial, participate in dog sports, or simply be a great family dog for an active family, the GSP is an easy-to-train addition to your high-energy household. Beyond hunting, they thrive in high-energy agility sports like skijoring and do best if their human guardians can keep up with their need for speed.

Keep your activity levels high and your GSP will meet you more than halfway, becoming a beloved friend and partner for life.

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Nicole Qualtieri
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Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.