Classified as a working dog, the German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) was developed in Germany in the late 1880s to hunt as well as provide loyal companionship to his owners. They love working with their human families and watching over them, and can be particularly good with children.
Your German shorthaired pointer has an extremely high energy level. The ideal family for this dog is one that likes to exercise – jogging, biking, hiking or swimming. A short walk is not going to be enough for him. He was bred to track, hunt and retrieve, and at least one hour of vigorous exercise daily will be required to burn off all that energy and keep him from becoming bored. GSPs have webbed feet and love to swim. He’ll love to hike around lakes or rivers, retrieving sticks or balls you throw into the water or catching Frisbees, as long as you want to throw them. If you jog, he can keep up. If you ride a bike, he’ll lope along beside you.
GSPs love to be with their family, especially outdoors. This breed is good-natured and great with kids, although he can get excited and unintentionally knock down a little one. They will bark to alert, but these dogs are not aggressive. They do, however, have a very strong prey drive, so should not be trusted with cats or small dogs, as they might mistake them for something they should chase. It’s best not to have two males, as sometimes they will exhibit competition aggression. This friendly dog is eager and alert. He was specifically bred to interact with people and loves being with his family. As long as he gets enough exercise, he makes a great family pet and housedog.
This intensely energetic breed needs obedience training to learn self-discipline. He is intelligent and learns quickly, but he can be distracted easily. He picks up hunting commands quickly, but to learn basic obedience he needs consistency and lots of positive reinforcement. Start training early, keep the sessions short, and be gentle, patient and firm. Once he is trained properly, he will remember all his manners and obey all members of the family.
This is a fairly healthy breed, with few medical issues to be concerned about. Hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy are seen, but are not common. Separation anxiety can occur, however, because these dogs are so attached to their families. They can express their anxiety and depression through destructive chewing, digging or excessive barking. Again, it is crucial to provide your GSP with sufficient physical activity, but they generally will be happiest if one or more family members stays at home or doesn’t work long hours.
Leslie Darling has been a writer since 2003, writing regularly for "Mississippi Magazine" and "South Mississippi Living," specializing in food and wine, animals and pets, and all things Southern. She is a graduate of the University of New Orleans.