The German short-haired pointer (GSP) is renowned for its hunting skills, keen sense of smell and high intelligence. It is commonly used to trail and retrieve game birds, such as quail and ducks, as well as animals such as raccoon and deer. Its even temperament makes it a good family pet and it's often used as a watchdog.
Though versions of the GSP can be traced back to the 1600s, the version that is known today was bred in the mid- to late 1800s. It is believe to be a cross between the Spanish pointer and the bloodhound. Dr. Charles Thorton imported the first German short-haired pointer to the United States in 1925 and the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930. The breed had to be rebuilt in the wake of World War II as many Germans hid their dogs for safekeeping in Iron Curtain countries, making them inaccessible for breeding and limiting the gene pool of the finest specimens. The breed advanced well during the 1950s. In 1968, three of the top four finishers in the AKC National Field Trail Championship were German short-haired pointers. As of 2011, the GPS is ranked No. 19 among the recognized AKC breeds.
Size and Look
The German short-haired pointer is considered a medium-sized dog. Full-grown, it can weigh between 45 and 70 pounds, depending on the sex, and stands 21 to 25 inches tall at the withers. It has short, thick hair and its coat is either solid brown (liver) or brown and white. A GSP with any red, black, orange, yellow or tan coloring would be disqualified from AKC shows. The eyes are almond-shaped and the preferred color is brown.
German short-haired pointers are renowned for their high energy, which is why they are such good hunting dogs. Consequently, they need plenty of exercise. At least an hour of intensive off-leash exercise daily is recommended. Without it, GSPs can become withdrawn, nervous and possibly exhibit destructive behavior, such as chewing and digging. The breed prefers the company of people and doesn't like to be left alone without something to do. If not kept busy, they're likely to get into mischief. They're renowned escape artists, so tall fences are requisite. They can be shy around strangers and will bark at noises, which is why they're often used as watchdogs.
GSPs in Literature
The German short-haired pointer's popularity has led to myriad appearances in the work of several modern-day novelists. New York Times best-selling novelist Robert Parker, renowned for his ongoing series of novels featuring the Boston detective Spenser, has given his main character three GSPs, all named Pearl. Parker's dust jacket photos often depict him posing with a German short-haired pointer. The book, "Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had," by Rick Bass, is about the author's life and times living with a German short-haired pointer. Outdoors writer Mel Wallis wrote the book, "Run, Rainey, Run" about his adventures with a GSP.
By Robert Dumas
About the Author
Robert Dumas has been a journalist for over 25 years. In 2007 he was the winner of the prestigious Maggie Award for magazine writing and has also received the American Society of Business Publication Editors Award. He has worked in trade journalism and community-based journalism, and spent several years as a sportswriter. Robert holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications.