The Breed History
Many breeds have been crossed to produce this elegant hunting dog including the English foxhound, German bird dog, Schweisshunde, Spanish pointer, English pointer and perhaps others. This breed was first exported to North America in the 1920s, and first entered into the AKC registry in 1930.
Breeding for Function
This dog has earned the reputation of being a versatile and obedient all-purpose fur and feather hunting dog. Their keen nose, intelligence and high athleticism combine to produce a dependable hunting companion under harsh conditions. Their utility extends beyond their pointer name to include scent work, water work, retriever, and medium game dog. They are valued as companions, trackers, field trial, obedience, and hunting dogs.
Height at Withers: female 21-23" (53-58.5 cm), male 23-25" (58.5-63.5 cm)
Weight: females 45-60 lb (20.5-27.5 kg), males 55-70 lb (25-32 kg). Coat: The short glossy, firm hair is colored liver or liver and white in patches, ticking, or liver roan.
Longevity: 12-15 years.
Points of Conformation: This dog is of medium size and athletic build, close to square, with medium bone and muscling, and an alert demeanor. Their skulls are mesocephalic, their almond-shaped eyes are medium-sized and dark brown. The ears lie flat and are pendulous, jaws are powerful, muzzle is square, stop is graduated but not definite (in contrast to a Pointer stop), and the muzzle profile should not be dished. Their brown nose is large and projects out somewhat. The neck is long and slightly arched, chest is deep and ribs well-sprung. They are moderately tucked in the abdomen and the loin is arched. The back is short and tail is set high and generally docked; it's carried low at rest and horizontally when in motion. Dewclaws may be removed, and feet are well arched and toes webbed. Limbs are straight, but the dog will single track at a faster trot. The stride is long and smooth, they possess an elastic agile way of moving. These well-balanced dogs are bred for no extreme points.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
They make good companion dogs as well as hunting companions. Because they are bred to work all day, a dog kept for a companion requires a high level of exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy both physically and emotionally. They are intelligent and active around the house, and need close human companionship. Their grooming needs are low, and they are average shedders. They are alarm barkers, aloof with strangers, and develop a strong bond with their caregiver. These dogs can dig and jump out of a yard if left unattended. They are not suitable for apartment life.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 4.4% affected. Reported at a frequency of 1.19% in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Cone Degeneration (CD): An autosomal recessive disease causing day-blindness, colorblindness, and photophobia between 8 and 12 weeks of age, due to the absence of retinal cone function. Ophthalmoscopic examination remains normal. A genetic test exists, and Optigen testing shows 14% of German Shorthaired Pointers test as carriers. CERF does not recommend breeding any German Shorthaired Pointer affected with CD.
von Willebrand's disease (vWD): Type II vWD in the German Shorthaired Pointer is a serious, sometimes fatal, autosomal recessive bleeding disorder. Cryoprecipitate is more effective, with fewer side effects, than fresh frozen plasma in controlling bleeding episodes. A genetic test is available.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 1.2% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Too few German Shorthaired Pointers have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Sry-Negative XX Sex Reversal (Hermaphrodism): An autosomal recessive disorder, where outwardly male dogs are chromosomal females (XX), and there is an absence of "male" causing SRY. Reported at a frequency of 0.74% in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 8.1% positive for thyroid auto-antibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 6.28% of German Shorthaired Pointers CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Mammary Tumors: Cancer presenting primarily in unspayed females. Reported at a frequency of 5.55% of females in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Behavioral Abnormalities: Noise phobia is reported at a frequency of 5.04% and dog to dog aggression at 4.92% in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Umbilical Hernia: Congenital opening of the body wall at the umbilicus. Should be closed surgically if large. Reported at a frequency of 4.06% in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Cryptorchidism (Retained Testicles): Can be unilateral or bilateral. Reported at a frequency of 4.04% of males in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 3.52% of German Shorthaired Pointers CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Cataracts: Anterior cortex punctate and posterior cortex intermediate cataracts predominate in the breed. Onset 6-18 months of age. Unknown mode of inheritance. Identified in 3.30% of German Shorthaired Pointers CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. Reported at a frequency of 2.72% in the 2005 GSP Health Survey. CERF does not recommend breeding any German Shorthaired Pointer with a cataract.
Malocclusion (Overbite, Underbite): In a 1992 Health Survey, bite problems was listed as the most frequent abnormality, with 3.23% affected. One study of severe overbites in a German Shorthaired Pointer kennel suggested an autosomal recessive inheritance. Most experts believe that bites are polygenically inherited, with different sets of genes controlling maxillary and mandibular jaw length, and the number and placement of teeth. Overbite is reported at a frequency of 2.51% in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Idiopathic Epilepsy: Inherited seizures. Control with anticonvulsant medication. Unknown mode of inheritance. Dorn reports a 16.78x odds ratio in German Shorthaired Pointers versus other breeds. Reported at a frequency of 2.87% in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Humeral Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD): Polygenically inherited cartilage defect of the humeral head. Causes shoulder joint pain and lameness in young growing dogs. Mild cases can resolve with rest, while more severe cases require surgery. 50% of cases are bilateral. Reported 5.5x odds ratio versus other breeds.
Demodicosis, Generalized: Dorn reports a 4.77x odds ratio versus other breeds. Demodectic mange has an underlying immunodeficiency in its pathogenesis. Reported at a frequency of 2.61% in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat, GDV): Polygenically inherited, life-threatening twisting of the stomach within the abdomen. Requires immediate veterinary attention. Reported at a frequency of 1.59% in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Mast Cell Tumor (MCT): Skin tumors that produce histamine, causing inflammation and ulceration. They can reoccur locally or with distant metastasis. Reported at a frequency of 1.56% in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Allergies: Inhalent or food. Presents with pruritis and pyotraumatic dermatitis (hot spots). Inhalent allergy is reported at a frequency of 1.41%, and food allergy at 1.28% in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Entropion: A rolling in of the eyelids that can cause corneal irritation and ulceration. Reported at a frequency of 1.25% in the 2005 GSP Health Survey.
Retinal Dysplasia: Retinal folds, geographic, and generalized retinal dysplasia with detachment are recognized in the breed. Reported in 1.23% of German Shorthaired Pointers CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any German Shorthaired Pointer with retinal dysplasia.
Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus/Lupoid Dermatosis: An immune-mediated inflammatory disease presenting with variably painful and itchy scaling and crusting around face, ears, back, hocks and scrotum. Onset between three months to three years of age. Can wax and wane, or be persistent. Diagnosis is by skin biopsy. Treated with immunosuppressive drugs and fatty acid supplements. Usually progressive with a poor long term prognosis. Diagnosed in German Shorthaired Pointers worldwide. Undefined mode of inheritance.
Acquired Myasthenia Gravis: German Shorthaired Pointers are a breed at increased risk of developing generalized or focal acquired myasthenia gravis. The most common presenting signs were generalized weakness, with or without megaesophagus. Diagnosis is by identifying acetylcholine receptor antibodies.
Oral Cancer: One study found that German Shorthaired Pointers were a breed with a significantly higher risk of developing oral and pharyngeal tumors, as compared with all breeds combined.
Hemivertebra: Rare inherited disorder of thoracic scoliosis due to hemivertebra. Autosomal recessive inheritance is suggested.
Everted Cartilage of the Third Eyelid: A scroll-like curling of the cartilage of the third eyelid, usually everting the margin. Can be unilateral or bilateral, and cause ocular irritation.
Persistent Hyperplastic Tunica Vasculosa Lentis and Primary Vitreous (PHTVL/PHPV): A congenital defect resulting from abnormalities in the development and regression of the embryologic vascular network surrounding the lens. Can cause posterior lenticonus/globus, colobomata, intralenticular hemorrhage and/ or secondary cataracts. CERF does not recommend breeding any German Shorthaired Pointer with PHTVL/PHPV. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Atresia Ani (Imperforate Anus): An increased incidence of this congenital condition is reported in the breed, with a frequency of 0.028%, and an odds ratio of 5.79x. Treatment is surgery.
Acral Mutilation Syndrome, Brachygnathism, Epidermosis Bullosa, Factor IX Deficiency, Factor XII Deficiency, GM-2 Gangliosidosis, Hypoadrenocorticism, Lymphedema, Seasonal Flank Alopecia, and Subaortic Stenosis are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Paroxysmal Dyskinesia: A male German Shorthaired Pointer presented with an intermittent gait abnormality initially seen at 1 year of age. With excitement, the dog developed kyphosis, and bilateral hip and stifle flexion with ambulation. The episodes usually lasted up to 30 minutes. The condition was eliminated with anticonvulsant medication, and returned when the medication was stopped.
Hemophilia A: Factor VIII deficiency, was diagnosed in a male German Shorthaired Pointer as a result of testing for a coagulopathy. This is an X-linked recessive genetic disorder.
Branchial Cyst: A 7 year-old spayed German Shorthaired Pointer was determined to have a branchial cyst in the subcutaneous tissues of the cervical/facial area.
Muscular Dystrophy: X-linked recessive muscular dystrophy was identified in a family of German Shorthaired Pointers, due to a large deletion in the dystrophin gene.
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for cone degeneration (CD) is available from Optigen.
Direct tests for black, red/orange and brown colors, and black or brown nose are available from HealthGene and VetGen.
Direct test for vWD is available from VetGen.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Cardiac Evaluation by a specialist/cardiologist, hip radiographs, CERF eye evaluation (each year until 6, then every 2 years), and direct genetic test for cone degeneration. Optional tests include elbow radiographs, and thyroid profile including autoantibodies. (See CHIC website; caninehealthinfo.org).
Recommend patella evaluation.
- Breed name synonyms: GSP, Kurzhaar, Deutscher Kurzhaariger Vorstehund, German Shorthair, German Pointer
- Registries: AKC, CKC, UKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club)
- AKC rank (year 2008): 16 (11,110 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: German Shorthaired Pointer of America Inc.: gspca.org
German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Canada: gspcanada.com
The German Shorthaired Pointer Club (UK): gsp.org.uk
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