Adopting a GSP

What you need to know about living with a GSP

Is the German Shorthaired Pointer the right breed for you?


German Shorthaired Pointers are big on brain power; in fact, they thrive on mental stimulation and problem-solving. That is why some owners put them through agility training, tracking trials, field trials, and even show their dogs. GSPs learn quickly and are extremely responsive. They are not usually stubborn or resistant to training, but they are very bright clowns with a great sense of humor and can get creative if lessons are too long or repetitive. So keep training sessions brief, frequent and fun. These dogs are very eager to please their people!

Downtime Destruction

The GSP adores its family and will not appreciate being left alone for long hours. They may also find a destructive outlet for any pent up energy by chewing on items in your home—furniture, curtains and shoes, for example. Bored dogs might also resort to barking or may try to make a break for it and go hunting alone. A yard with a 6-foot fence is essential for this breed, and even then fences aren’t fail-proof to a determined and powerful dog. Apart from the many dangers faced by a free-roaming dog, owners won’t appreciate the trophies, such as dead rabbits, birds and deer carcasses, it may bring home!

A Good Family Dog

This breed loves its people and wants to be with its family as much as possible. GSPs are loyal, gentle and affectionate to all family members. This outgoing and friendly breed makes a great playmate for older children and adores active outdoor games. However, care should be taken in households with small children and inactive seniors as an untrained GSP can be quite rambunctious and can easily knock them down unintentionally. Most GSPs are very affectionate and would sell their souls to be on your lap, lying at your feet…even sleeping on your bed. The bed part may not work for you, but at the very least they want to be right there in any room that you are in. If you isolate them they will whine and whimper (this especially applies to puppies). They just simply want to be with you! German Shorthaired Pointers are also excellent watch dogs in the home.

Prey Drive

German Shorthaired Pointers usually live amicably with other dogs, although some GSPs have aggressive tendencies toward dogs of the same sex. GSPs as a breed are not good with cats and small pets unless introduced to them at an early age. This behavior is part of being a GSP as they were bred to hunt. You can teach them to live with other small animals, but their strong prey drive makes it dangerous if the cat runs from the dog. Visitors to your yard, such as rabbits, squirrels and even the neighbor’s cat, may literally be seen as fair game. These instincts are stronger in some dogs than in others, but please consider the other animals in your home before adopting a GSP.

A Breed Apart

This is not a breed for a family of couch potatoes nor for the inexperienced dog owner. But for the right person or family, the friendly and handsome GSP is a do everything, go everywhere kind of dog. Vigorous daily exercise and constant togetherness is a GSP’s dream come true.

In 1929, the American Kennel Gazette published an article titled, Meet the Everyuse Dog. C.R. Thornton, who bred the first American litter in 1925, wrote, “As a breed, the German all-purpose dog will do it all and do it well.” He paid tribute to the dog for being willing and able to take on any challenge and to adapt to any situation. Thornton didn’t stop with that brief tribute. He went on to praise the diverse virtues of the GSP: “I have never attempted hunting anything, from a mouse to a moose, that they were not ready and willing to assist…Good disposition. Love to be caressed. Take kindly to children, and show almost human intelligence in looking after small tots. As companions and pals, they are next to man…I find them a sensible, intelligent watch dog…they are the greatest all-around dog ever produced.”

Portions of the above text were taken from the article, Sporting Sensation, written by Stephanie Horan in the July 2009 issue of DogWorld.