The German Shorthaired Pointer is one of the least well-known popular dogs. He has steadily risen in the American Kennel Club popularity contest each year. And recently, he has consistently found himself amongst the top 10 most popular dog breeds. More popular than Huskies, Boxer dogs, and Dachshunds, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a dog breed that’s surged in popularity as a family dog across the world in the last decade.
Maybe that’s why you’re here! Either you have seen many of them strutting their stuff in your neighborhood, or you’ve already decided this is the perfect breed for your family. Either way, in this breed guide, we will supply all the knowledge that you need.
When adopting any type of puppy, you need to ensure it’s the perfect breed for your activity levels and family needs. But we know that you’ll also want to be the best caninie parent that you can be! So, let’s look at this famous hunting breed in more detail, and find out if it’s the perfect fit for your next canine companion.
This popular breed originates from 17th century Germany. German hunters desired a perfect hunting dog. In mixing several dog breeds, they created the breed that we all know and love today. Using the German Bird Dog, also known as the German Pointer and English and Spanish Pointers, with a little bit of Bloodhound thrown in, this breed was born.
German Shorthaired Pointers were bred to hunt in the day and night and collect all types of quarry with his strong scenting ability. They are sleek and powerful, pleasing to the eye, and a loving family companion. They first came to the US in 1925, and slowly but surely, he has become extremely popular with hunters and families alike. His cousin, the German Wirehaired Pointer, looks very similar, just with a shaggier coat. And the German Longhaired Pointer looks more Spaniel-like.
The breed is well known as an all-round dog, with a little bit of everything to offer. The first and possibly most important thing to know is that he is super energetic. He should only be taken on by an active family who can guarantee him between 60 and 90 minutes of intense exercise every day. We have a section dedicated to his exercise needs, but you mustn’t underestimate how active they are.
Lot’s of energy and curiosity means you can expect a breed that’s tons of fun. If you are looking for a canine sibling to entertain the kids, this pup is ideal. He will happily fetch and play all day long with whoever is willing to give him the attention. He loves to swim, play tug of war, and partake in agility courses. All-weekend hiking? No problem! Doggy athletic competitions? He’s got it covered.
As long as you can tire this pup out, he will be the happiest doggo going. With his family, he is super affectionate. And unless you’ve met this impressive hunting dog, you’d be surprised just how gentle and loving the breed is. They make excellent cuddle companions.
Pointers are calm in the home, which makes him the ideal pet for family life. They are well-mannered, neither too boisterous nor sedentary. This breed enjoys relaxing in the house, knowing that you are relaxing somewhere nearby. They don’t like to be left alone for too long, so they are best placed with a family where someone can be home during the daytime. Separation anxiety can be an issue if not addressed early.
He is dutiful and very eager to please his family. This means that with early training, he will be an obedient canine companion. This can only be a good thing and makes him ideal for first-time dog owners. You also need to know that he has a strong prey drive, and there is every chance that he will leg it at the scent or sight of a squirrel.
Size & Appearance
Pointers are medium to large-sized dogs. He weighs between 45 and 70 pounds, with male dogs tending to be larger than their female counterparts. They measure between 21 and 25 inches tall, from paw to shoulder. He is a well-proportioned dog, and he is athletic and muscular. His short coat shows off his muscle-bound powerful body.
His muzzle and face are square but well-proportioned. He has a large fleshy nose, according to his breed standard, the bigger, the better. His eyes are almond-shaped and large. He often has a good-humored and intelligent expression. His ears are long and drop just below his jawline. His tail is always docked and sits straight, never curved or bent.
Coat & Colors
This breed has short hair. But surprisingly, it is thick and water-repellant. When you stroke him, his coat is soft and sleek. He sheds lightly throughout the year and slightly heavier during the shedding seasons. This is one of his appeals, in that he is a clean dog who sheds minimally and requires little grooming.
He sports a variety of three main shades, black, liver, and white. Rarely will he be all black or all liver in color. But mostly, he will sport a mixture of either black and white and liver and white. Some coats will be described as roan, which is a mixture of white and pigmented hairs that do not ‘gray out.’ Patches of color are also common, with colored heads and speckled bodies being common.
As you already know, these pups have high levels of energy and exercise requirements. It’s worth repeating one more time – if you don’t lead an active lifestyle, they are not the dog breed for you. You must guarantee between 60 and 90 minutes of exercise every day. No excuses!
If you cannot commit to this, or you regularly skip on his exercise needs, both you and him will be very unhappy together. He is only well-mannered if all of his needs are met. If they are not, he will become overly anxious and destructive. He is a traditional hunting dog who could happily spend all day out in the field, so do not expect him to sit tight all day.
His exercise needs to be intense for him to be happy. A stroll around the block will not cut it. Think trips to the park and hours of fetching a ball from the water. Or an hour of jogging around the forest. Or hunting all day. He is intelligent, too, so be sure to mix his activity schedule up. A trip to the local doggy park is a fantastic way to burn energy and polish his socialization skills.
His intelligent and curious mind needs to be stimulated throughout the day too. He needs both interactive play in the yard with his family. He will also need solo playtime, which is where doggy toys come in. All dogs are different and prefer different types of toys, but a mixture is ideal to suit whatever mood he is in. Chew toys, ropes, balls, and puzzle-solving treat-dispensing toys are all fantastic and will keep him out of trouble.
Pointers are not suited to apartment living. He is a country gent and loves the outdoors and fresh air. Being cooped up in an apartment all day, no matter how large, is not his ideal home. They need access to a yard, and it needs to be secured because he will chase birds and squirrels. This breed is super agile and can climb pretty high, too, especially if he’s got a long run-up, so make sure your fences are high.
He is a well-mannered dog and not overly boisterous in the home, meaning that he is an ideal canine sibling for children. Always supervise dogs and children, but you can rely on this breed to play gently. If he is socialized well, he will do well with other dogs in the home. But his high prey drive means he is not suited to living with other animals, including birds, rodents, and cats.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is an intelligent and trainable dog. This makes him an ideal companion for first-time dog owners. But, you will still need to put effort into his training because he needs to be shown the doggy ropes. Do not expect him to work it out alone.
The first part of his training that you need to think about is the socialization process. He needs to be mixed with as many dogs and other humans from an early age. This will ensure that he grows into the well-mannered and polite dog. It also requires you to expose him to grooming, loud noises in and out of the home, which builds confidence.
Positive reinforcement training is the best method to train this breed. But because he is a sensitive breed, he will not react well to stern or harsh training. You definitely don’t want a fearful hunting companion that’s likely to run away rather than recall.
It’s a great idea to crate train this breed. Crate training is beneficial for all dogs, especially those who can become overly anxious when left alone. A crate provides a safe haven that he can call his own. And it can also keep him out of trouble when you have to leave him at home alone.
Recall will be the most challenging training task. Although Pointers will almost always come back, there’s a big chance that he will not if he has caught sight or scent of a bird or squirrel. If you let him off-leash, you need to be certain that he will come back. Thankfully, the breed’s responsiveness is one of the reasons why he is commonly chosen as a hunting dog.
The Pointer is a healthy dog breed. He enjoys a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. The best way to keep him healthy is to keep up to date with regular veterinary health checks and vaccines. Exercise and top quality nutrition also go a long way to keeping him in tip-top condition and perhaps extend his life with you.
Just like all purebred dogs, his breed is predisposed to certain health conditions more than others. Below are the most commonly found health concerns in the breed. So it’s a great idea to read up on these conditions and recognize their associated symptoms.
Hip & elbow dysplasia: Joint dysplasia in the hip and elbow joint is common in medium and large breeds. It occurs when the joints do not form as they should, which causes increased grinding. Over time, this leads to increased pain and will affect his mobility.
Eye conditions: This is one of the few breeds that suffer from a condition known as cone degeneration. It is essentially day-blindness; his vision in bright light is impaired but fine in normal conditions. It is inherited from his parents and can be identified through a DNA test. Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness in older dogs.
Cardiac concerns: Some dogs suffer from a condition known as aortic stenosis. This is caused by a partial blockage to the blood leaving his heart, making his heart work harder. Fainting during exercise is a sign to look out for.
Cancer – The German Shorthaired Pointer breed club found that this was a common problem found in the breed. With mammary tumors, lymphosarcoma, and mast cell tumors being the most commonly reported.
On average, Pointers will consume between two to three cups of food every day. This will vary, depending on his age, size, and energy levels. Of course, if he is a working dog, he might need more than this. If he regularly leaves food in his bowl, you should decrease the amount that you feed him.
He needs a well-balanced diet that offers him high-quality meat protein, carbohydrates, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Dried kibble is a safe way to ensure that he gets everything that he needs and is safe and convenient for you. It will also help to lower a buildup of plaque compared to wet foods. We advise feeding him a large breed formula, especially as a puppy. This is because they have increased glucosamine levels, which is ideal for an active lifestyle.
This pup is at risk of suffering from a condition known as gastric torsion, also known as bloat. This usually occurs when eating, and it is a life-threatening condition. So, it is something to be aware of. Never feed him immediately before or after exercise, and spread his food allowance into several different food sittings throughout the day.
Pointers have short and sleek hair. They also have a relatively easy grooming schedule. And unlike other dogs, he isn’t considered to be a heavy shedder. Brushing him once a week with a bristle brush will help remove dead hairs, dirt, and keep him looking smart. With that being said, you should still expect a little dog hair on your sofa and clothing.
His weather and dirt resistant coat is very clean, and dirt rarely sticks to him. This means that he only needs to be bathed once every three or four months, as and when he needs it. Do not wash him more than this. Otherwise, you will upset the balance of his natural coat oils, which help to keep him clean. Use a gentle doggy shampoo that uses natural ingredients that will not irritate
His large ears will collect more dirt than his coat. For this reason, it is advised that you clean his ears once a week to remove the collection of gunk. He will also need weekly dental cleaning to keep periodontal diseases at bay. Always use doggy toothpaste as human toothpaste is toxic to dogs.
The Pointer, with his short coat and exposed underbelly and legs, will regularly become scratched when out exercising. Running through foliage and bushes will scrape his belly. When you brush him, be sure to take a look to make sure that the cuts do not become infected. A regular wipe down after walks with warm water will minimize the risk of infections.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
The breed has become very popular in America, and you shouldn’t have to travel too far to find a reputable breeder. If you do, rest assured that the extra travel is worth it when you find your healthy and happy Pointer pup. Reputable breeders will only breed healthy dogs and will take good care of their puppies.
The average price of a puppy from a reputable breeder will cost around $1,000 and up. If you are looking for an award-winning hunter or a show Pointer, you can expect to pay more than this. Rare all-black or all-liver colored Pointers might also be priced higher than their more commonly colored siblings. There are also other costs to factor into the puppy price, including setting up. Things such as crates, collars, harnesses, and dog toys all add up. And not forgetting medical insurance and veterinary costs.
Puppy mills take advantage of the need for popular dog breeds, and the Pointer is one of them. Puppy mills will breed unhealthy dogs and ignore the health needs of their pups. All to minimize their expenditure and maximize their profits. They will lure owners in with lower prices, so please do not be tempted.
Always do your research when looking for a top-quality breeder. Speak to other owners who might be able to refer you to their breeder, but still be sure to do your own research. Look for good reviews, and always meet them and their pups in person. A great place to start is the American Kennel Club’s list of reputable German Shorthaired Pointer breeders.
Rescues & Shelters
If you are thinking about rescuing a dog instead, why not head out to your local rescue shelter. Being one of the most popular dog breeds around, unfortunately, there is likely to be quite a few of them about. The costs involved in rescuing a dog from a shelter are much less than buying a puppy from a breeder.
If you have tried this, but you can’t find one, or you haven’t found the right dog, fear not! Many rescue organizations dedicate their efforts to one specific breed. Most of them can be found online. The National German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue lists rescue shelters state by state.
As Family Pets
- These dogs are extremely active.
- They should be placed with an equally energetic family.
- He will need to be exercised hard for 60 to 90 minutes every day.
- Expect to spend time playing with your pointer puppy each day.
- They have a very high prey drive.
- Pointers chase birds, rodents, and cats.
- He needs access to a secured yard to be happy.
- He is a very sweet and gentle dog who is affectionate with his family.
- Pointers can be anxious and hate to be left alone
- They are quite friendly with strangers.
- Pointers are generally more friendly with their immediate family.
- They are great with children and other dogs.
- Other types of household pets may be a problem due to prey drive.
- He is an obedient dog who is very easy to train compared to other breeds.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a beautiful breed who is sociable and sweet. Overall, he is very well-mannered and a pleasure to be around. As long as you can spend most of your time with him and exercise him hard, he will shower you in kisses and doggy affection. He is very versatile, and as long as you can meet his needs, he will slot himself into your family smoothly.
He is pleasant with other dogs and humans, and he will make friends easily. Just maybe not the local squirrels or your neighbor’s cat! This country gent is a sophisticated dog, but he isn’t afraid to get his paws dirty or be a total goofball with his humans. All in all, we are totally smitten by the breed, and we hope you are too!