Is a German Shorthaired Pointer right for you?
Shorthaired Pointers (GSP) 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 realized
in the German Shorthaired Pointer. These same goals highlight many issues that
should be considered prior to choosing a GSP as your companion.
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.
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. 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.
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
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.
are, by nature, often not very amicable with cats and other small furry or
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.
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.
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. (Written by Ute Wullkotte, former GSP Rescue National Chair)