What Is the Origin of the German Pointer Dog or German Shorthaired Breed?

by Jane Meggitt Google
    German shorthaired pointers quickly become members of the family.

    German shorthaired pointers quickly become members of the family.

    Noel Hendrickson/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Your athletic, energetic, adorably spotted German shorthaired pointer, or GSP, excels at both hunting and companionship. The GSP is a 19th century version of a "designer dog," a mix of the finest hunting lines of the period. The end result is a hunting and field dog par excellence, combined with the temperament of a family pet.

    The GSP we know today dates back to mid-19th century Germany. Breeders wanted not only an outstanding sporting and gun dog, but a canine whose looks were as good as his talent. He was specially bred for biddability, or a desire to work with and please his person. In short, German breeders wanted to create the ultimate hunting dog, and GSP aficionados would agree they were successful. Even though the GSP makes a good family pet, he retains a high energy level that requires channeling if he's not used for hunting.

    Through his bloodlines, your GSP is related to some of the oldest hunting breeds in Europe. These include the English foxhound and English pointer, German bird and tracking dogs and the Spanish pointer. German breeders took the best traits from these breeds to infuse into the GSP. English pointer blood helped refine the GSP's physical appearance, while some of the other types brought sharp scenting skills and intelligence. The GSP's head differs from that of most pointers, with the muzzle ideally the same length as the skull.

    German breeders wanted an all-around utility dog. According to the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America, 19th century breeders were aiming for a multi-tasking canine. Although designated a pointer, the GSP also retrieves and hunts small and large game, ranging from grouse to deer. He performs his duties not only on land and in vegetation, but also in water. German breeders looked for lines with easy trainability and natural instincts, so all of these abilities were inherent in the resulting puppies. The GSP not only wants to work, he aims to please.

    In 1930, the GSP entered the American Kennel Club stud book. The breed standard, updated in 1992, calls for a dog with medium bone structure ranging in height from 21 to 25 inches high at the shoulder, with males larger than females. At maturity, males should weigh between 55 to 70 pounds, with females at 45 to 60 pounds. Acceptable coat colors include liver and white and solid liver, but any black, tan or red areas result in disqualification for showing and breeding purposes.

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    • Noel Hendrickson/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, her work has appeared in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.

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