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German Shorthaired Pointer dog breed profile

German Shorthaired Pointers might not be the best pets for apartment living.

Whether your dog is a purebred German Shorthaired Pointer or a German Shorthaired Pointer mix, learning about the breed can explain a lot about your pet's personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you're looking to adopt a German Shorthaired Pointer and want to do a bit of research first — we can help with that.

The German Shorthaired Pointer breed might be a great fit for active individuals looking for an equally agile dog to keep up with their day-to-day life. 

That said, if you’re an apartment dweller who’s not looking for more than a leisurely walk around the block once a day, these dogs probably aren’t the best fit. As beautiful and friendly as they are, they need a good match with their parents regarding exercise and personality.

The history of German Shorthaired Pointers

First and foremost, German Shorthaired Pointers are hunting pups. “These medium-to-large-sized athletic dogs were bred to be all-around hunting dogs. They’re accomplished hunting companions on land and in water,” Dr. Elizabeth Devitt, DVM, a general practice veterinarian and veterinary consultant for Fetch by The Dodo, says.

So when you think about what hunting entails — wide open spaces and lots of walking and running — that should tell you a lot about the breed’s characteristics. German Shorthaired Pointers are smart, aware, fast and have good stamina. They like their hunting job, and staying mentally stimulated is important to their happiness.

And as far as their name goes, the “pointer” part refers to a specific stance they take while hunting. “Pointing describes the body position of a hunting dog when they sense prey. Typically, they stand stock still, with their muzzle, gaze and one front paw raised in the direction of the quarry,” Dr. Devitt explains.

What do German Shorthaired Pointers look like?

When you think of a well-trained human athlete, they typically look strong, muscular and lean. German Shorthaired Pointers are the dog equivalent of that. 

“At anywhere from 55 to 70 pounds, and maybe less for females, they have a ‘well-balanced’ body. The coat’s usually some combination of liver (aka brown) and white. They have floppy ears and a long-ish muzzle with well-muscled jaws and webbed feet, making them good swimmers and dock divers,” Dr. Devitt says.

German Shorthaired Pointers have short fur and are often spotted or speckled, or a combination of the two, making them easy to identify and differentiate from other breeds once you’re familiar with what they look like.

And for those looking at short-haired breeds in the hopes that that means less shedding and vacuuming, think again. “Despite their short coat, they tend to shed a lot,” Dr. Devitt says.

RELATED: Siberian Husky dog breed profile

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German Shorthaired Pointers’ temperament

Part of what makes German Shorthaired Pointers appealing as a family pet is that they’re typically sweet and affectionate, which makes them easily trainable. However, their energetic nature can be too much for more laid-back environments. 

“These dogs are outgoing, smart and high-energy, which is a great combination if you can provide a lifestyle that matches their personality,” Dr. Devitt shares. “They need an action-oriented life. They make great running companions, kids can teach them to dock dive or do other dog sports or they can be obedience class stars.”

But it’s important to remember that if you’re not giving this breed the necessary activity, they will look for ways to get the movement themselves, and the results may be destructive. “These pets need exercise and attention. Without enough of either, you and your dog will be unhappy,” Dr. Devitt warns.

What health issues do German Shorthaired Pointers face?

German Shorthaired Pointers are a fairly healthy dog breed, Dr. Devitt explains. That said, they can “be prone to hip dysplasia, bloat and some inherited diseases,” she adds.

Knowing a dog’s family history may be helpful when it comes to inherited diseases. But if you’re unfamiliar with their background, being aware of the following possibilities can help you catch any issues. 

According to Dr. Devitt, the most common inherited conditions include heart disease, day blindness (which starts when they’re young and can cause blindness), degenerative myelopathy (a neurological disease) and Von Willebrand disease type II, a blood-clotting disorder.

Regarding general health concerns, parents should be aware that their activity level also affects their food needs. “They’re so energetic they may need a more calorie-dense diet than a regular maintenance food to maintain a healthy muscle mass,” Dr. Devitt notes.

German Shorthaired Pointer rescue

Are you interested in adopting a German Shorthaired Pointer, German Shorthaired Pointer mix or any pet at all? Check out our shelter partners to find your new best friend.

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo. 

Photo by Fabian Gieske on Unsplash

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